Last in a series.
Acute hearing is among most cats’ best methods of detecting movement of nearby prey – but not for fuzzy Mr. Lancaster. Like the majority of blue-eyed white kitties, he was genetically as deaf as a post. Despite this handicap, he was an inspiration to all of us. We could have changed his name to “Mouse B. Gone.” Sadly, he was less adept at collaring thieves.
After three years as an associate veterinarian I realized a life goal of owning my own practice. I’d saved and invested heavily; providing good medicine requires serious equipment purchases. I was an intense young man. Now, I am no less intense but I am less young. Slow days were difficult in those early months.
When I arrived one morning, Mr. Lancaster was the only creature stirring but he had not spent the night alone. The front door had been forced open. Instruments and cash (not much of that) was stolen. I felt like I was clawing my way through a mud pit as I made a police report, filed an insurance claim and cleaned up the mess.
Mr. L was noticeably sanguine. His total silence, when Martha pointedly asked him to identify the perpetrator(s), was no surprise to me. Every day I wish pets would speak a human language but they insist on communicating as who they are: cats and dogs.
Amos, on the other hand, deduced that Mr. Lancaster’s slow blinking meant that he knew the intruder. This well-intentioned young man wasn’t the first person to believe he could divine the secrets of animal communication but nobody’s initials were found scratched in the cat litter.
Current understanding of animal behavior relies on peer-reviewed research. Our cat’s slow blinking indicated an affiliative emotional state. He didn’t care that we’d been ripped off; he just wanted Amos to pet him.
The one-legged duckling our predator-in-residence nearly lunched became a pet for one of our excellent clients. The burglar’s identity, however, remains shrouded in mystery. I wish him or her no misfortune, except maybe a decomposing mouse above their ceiling.
⋄ For help with behavior problems, you can 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 by 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.