Pet care: Furry assassin finds the perfect niche - Albuquerque Journal

Pet care: Furry assassin finds the perfect niche

Fourth in a series.

Mr. Lancaster Sr. was tall, lean and spry – I’d guess about 80 years old. He was a quiet, likable man who typeset and printed our medical forms. Friendly chitchat revealed that he lived quietly with his daughter.

There weren’t many veterinarians in Albuquerque in the late ’70s; everybody knew everybody. Of course, that made gossip a hot commodity. When Dr. Mike Adams encountered me at a continuing education conference, he could hardly contain his excitement. Clearly feeling the power of knowledge, he dropped the bomb that Mr. Lancaster was a convicted counterfeiter who’d been released from federal prison just three years earlier.

The old-timer’s history did not diminish our esteem for him. He’d gotten himself on the wrong side of the law and he’d paid the price. Mr. Lancaster Jr. – our new cat – on the other hand was a horse of a different color. Still a kid, he was a budding murderer of helpless creatures, normal for his species.

In its early years, my practice lived in a rented space, sandwiched between an equine veterinary clinic and a feed retailer. Grain was stored on each side. The open field out back served as a breeding ground for field mice. That environment, plus the fine dining experience offered by my neighbors, provided an endless supply of rodents.

Mice are born, they reproduce, and then they die. Ashes to ashes, just like the rest of us. It was their carcasses, moldering in the warm space above our suspended ceiling, that put a damper on the otherwise sweet ambiance of my space. We had a problem and young Mr. L needed gainful employment that did not involve predation on one-legged peepers.

It was Martha’s acute powers of olfaction that drove her to surreptitiously invite our fuzzy white pet into the storage room behind the equine clinic. At the end of his first day, his job satisfaction was evidenced by his ample girth. Young Mr. Lancaster happily scampered off to work each morning, reducing our cat food expenses.

Next week: A watch cat?

• For help with behavior problems, sign up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.


Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

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