Working as a veterinary technician for eight years, one tends to accumulate animals—a motherless kitten here, a stray dog there. It’s normal for my family: We’ve always had animals in our home, at times as many as 10, and none from a pet shop or a puppy mill. Several years ago, after our last cat, Annie, passed away, we found ourselves cat-less for the first time in years. It was a strange feeling—no longer having to empty litter pans or watch for tails when closing drawers.
Annie, bottle-fed since two days of age, lived a long and happy life, but never learned that cats were supposed to chase (let alone eat) mice. Instead, she would barely acknowledge the occasional visitor as it scuttled along the baseboards. Annie's mere presence did seem to keep the mice wary, and after she passed, the mice arrived in droves. It was clear we needed not only a cat, but a mouser.
Social media is a wonderful thing, and it wasn’t long after posting our situation online that a woman in our area reached out to say she’d been caring for a stray orange tabby that needed a home. It was, she said, a young female and quite friendly toward people. So one afternoon we packed a pet carrier into the car and drove on down. As it turned out, the cat was a full-grown male, neutered and in generally good health, except for the fact he was without a tail. Our daughter, then in kindergarten, had already gotten very excited about the idea of a new cat, and returning home empty-handed was not an option. So we packed up our new companion and brought him home. We set him up with a new litter pan and Annie’s old food bowls, and waited to see how he’d get along with our dog—a hundred-pound mastiff mix named, Hammer.
After a few skittish days, Jackson “Jax” (named for Charlie Hunnam’s character on the HBO biker saga, Sons of Anarchy) began to acclimate. He adjusted quickly to Hammer (who was a big softy, and accustomed to living with cats), and began to make himself at home. It wasn’t long before he presented us with his first mouse, which he announced with a special holler that resembled a drunk trying to sing with a mouthful of ice cubes. Jax set the mouse--promoted to glory by the removal of his head--before us in tribute.
After that, it was something of a bloodbath. Jax was fast, perhaps the fastest cat we’d seen, and he did away with 23 mice in under two weeks. We began to set aside plastic grocery bags for disposal of the bodies; and got in the habit of checking our shoes before putting them on each morning, as sometimes Jax set aside a few mice for storage. Within a short time, Jax had reduced our mouse problem to zero. He had also attached himself to my husband, whom he began to treat as a sort of human pillow and can-opener.
We’ve since adopted two other cats, whom Jax tolerates with gentle disdain. Of the three, however, he remains our sole mouser. He has been generally healthy, other than a urethral blockage this summer that required an overnight at the vet. During his visit, we had him x-rayed. The missing tail, it turns out, is the result of a congenital defect and not an injury—though it certainly hasn’t slowed him down any.
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