During the gold rush era in western history there were many ways to get rich without digging up dirt. One of the most unique money makers was by an enterprising ship’s captain in new boom town of San Francisco.
An army of rats and mice had taken over the town and he came upon a profitable solution to turn a tidy profit. He sailed down to Los Angles and went on a cat roundup. The picking were easy as the town was full of stray cats. With his ship literally crawling with felines he sailed back up to the City by the Bay and sold them for $10 apiece. History didn’t record how many loads he brought up from LA but one assumes it was a profitable endeavor.
Stealing cats was almost as popular in Cochise County as rustling cattle. If one hoped to get a good night’s sleep and protect his food supplies from the ubiquitous rodents he needed a good cat and the ornerier the better.
Tombstone chronicler George Parsons wrote of the problem in his journal: “The rats run about us all night making great racket…….Rolled over on one in the night and killed him–mashed him deader than a door nail.”
The demand for cats exceeded the supply. Steal one from your neighbor and two weeks somebody would steal him from you. Again we rely on the journal of George Parsons, “Tonight after church we came across two out promenading and (he and his two bunkmates) tried to capture one. I was successful and hurried mine home anxious to get there before I was clawed or bitten to death.”