Why You Always See Cats at Breweries

Don't be alarmed if you spot a cat while sipping your beer—it's just doing its job.

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If I had things my way, I’d bring my cats Miso and Tofu everywhere with me. Commuting to the office? Much better with my trusty cats by my side. A trip to the grocery store? They’d help by picking out their favorite treats. Out to grab a glass of wine on a patio somewhere? They’d make the perfect companions. In fact, that last notion isn’t too far off from reality—more and more breweries and wineries are employing cats.

How cats end up at breweries and wineries

Chicago’s Empirical Brewery calls its in-house cats “pest control at its best.” It’s a method that can be a win-win situation, if you do it right. The cats, with the Ghostbusters-themed names of Raymond and Venkman, were rescued from a local shelter and now have their forever home at Empirical where they’re on the prowl, protecting the brewery’s grain supply from rats, mice, and other rodents. It’s a system employed by breweries across the world, as depicted by Cats on Tap, a site that provides a map of where brewery cats can be found.

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At wineries, the cats are most useful in the fields. According to Wine Enthusiast, Black Cat Winery (named after a stray cat who wandered onto the property) has had as many as 13 cats on the land fending off rodents like gophers that tunnel through the roots of the grapevines and destroy the plants. The book Wine Cats showcases 108 cats in three different countries guarding the precious supply.

These cat careers are not only helpful to the breweries and wineries, but to shelters that are overrun with cats who aren’t always equipped to be domestic pets. While there are certainly plenty of friendly brewery and winery cats, those who are more timid or anxious around humans can still be placed in a permanent home with plenty of space to roam and hide when necessary. These are animals at risk of being put down if left unadopted by individuals or families. Employing a cat can save its life.

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Cat-inspired beers and wines

Last year, Empirical Brewery released a beer called Nine Lives, depicting all the brewery’s feline inhabitants as cats on the label, Block Club Chicago reports. Sales from that beer benefited Tree House Humane Society, from which Raymond and Venkman were adopted. And of course every bottle that Black Cat Winery puts out has cat representation, too.

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If you’re like me and wish your cat could have a drink right alongside you, there’s an option for that, too. Pet Winery has “wines,” “beers,” and “champagnes” that are cat- and dog-friendly. When you pour yourself a glass of rosé, why not pour some Purrgundy for your pet? If it’s a special occasion, you can pop a bottle of Mëow & Chandon. The formula for these drinks includes plenty of catnip, allowing your cat to enjoy a buzz of their own.