Media – Idiosyncratic Cat Parenting

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Morbid Fascination?
Cats are interesting and entertaining creatures; their people maybe even more so. I’m rather fond of these folks, being part of this societal subset myself. The 1959 Cadillac hearse that rolled up in front of my veterinary clinic drove home the point.

Brianna Peabody and her mom Nettie shared a house, and a decent sized yard in Albuquerque’s North valley, with no fewer than 26 cats. Hoarders? No. Doting pet parents of a generous sized family – yes. Some people with innumerable pets can’t or don’t care for them. The Peabodys did everything necessary for Melody, Malady, Milhous (affectionately called Mr. President), Joan the Uninteresting, well, the individual personalities and their fitting monikers went on.

Nettie, a retired lady with a magnanimous personality, managed the household. Brianna worked full time as a mortician. Since death doesn’t take evenings, weekends, or holidays off, those who care for the departed and their survivors work odd hours. Most will freely share their macabre senses of humor when prompted. Brianna was no exception.

Nonetheless, passage into the next life was never taken lightly by Brianna or her mom. Their two dozen plus cats were as closely bonded to them as my family’s comparatively miniscule colony of two are to us. Brianna’s collection of 4 vintage hearses were a nod to her lighter side.

The Peabody cats’ ages ranged from mid-life to ancient. Brianna and Nettie wanted nothing but the best for them. Their needs always had our full attention. This family’s pre-digital, hand-written medical records of the late ‘70s commanded a shelf of its own.

Each cat arrived for its medical care in the family station wagon which, of course, was a hearse. Back in the day these vehicles were as long as a city bus with a bulbous protrusion above the windshield. One planned visit had a dozen kitties, each standing on its hind legs, peering out the windows of the sides of an aging black funeral coach. The Peabody colony was facing an infectious disease epidemic. It was feline leukemia blood testing day. Next week: Feline herd immunity.
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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 Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet behavioral or physical questions on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.