Tiger's successor Skeezix
Tiger's successor Skeezix

The mercury was close to 100 degrees, when I traveled to muggy South Central Texas one summer to photograph race yearlings for a prominent farm whose manager greeted me at the door with a warning.

“We had to do something about the rats in the rafters,” he said, as he opened the office door and I realized immediately that the rats were still in the rafters, only now they were dead and decomposing.

I could sympathize with the problem of rats in the rafters. At one time I could look up and see hairless tails hanging down over our barn isle. But that was before Tiger, the big male house cat that I adopted from the Humane Society, came to live at our barn.

The first night that Tiger spent in his new domain, he left me a gift of 13 dead rats, lined up neatly in front of the feed room. The next morning I found an even dozen. And so it went for several weeks, until the body count began to dwindle and there were no more rats’ tails in the rafters.

At the same time, it became harder to find Tiger, who had always come when I called him. Sometimes I wouldn’t see him for several days and his food would go untouched.

Then our neighbor mentioned the great cat that had taken up residence in his barn. It turned out that Tiger was somewhat of a “day hand.” He would stay with one outfit until his job was done, then move to another for the next roundup.

Now comes news in today’s Wall Street Journal that there is something just as appealing to cats as rodents – Calvin Kleins’s Obsession cologne for men. Its a staple for zoos that use it to keep their big cats content and it is also used as a lure for research in the wild. Click here to read the article.