06/30/2012 02:16 pm ET

Feral Cats Catching Rats? Chicago Ward Has A Unique Solution For Rodent Problem

A North Side Chicago neighborhood is putting area feral cats to work battling its rat problem.

CBS Chicago reports that Chicago's 47th Ward is working on a pilot program with the Tree House Humane Society where neutered, vaccinated and microchipped feral cats are being sent back out to the streets to try and deter pesky rodents.

Jenny Schlueter, the shelter's development director, explained to the station that the "Working Cats" program is an alternative to the city spreading ineffective -- and expensive -- rat poison. Instead, the presence -- specifically, the odor -- alone of a cat can help scare away rats.

If successful, the program could expand to other parts of the city.

A similar program was previously instituted in Los Angeles to help not only to help deter rats, but also to save the homeless cats' lives. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Los Angeles Police considered the program to be a success. The program is facilitated by the Voices for the Animals Foundation.

Some groups, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have criticized such programs, the Washington Post reports.