Author Archives: heretherebespiders

About heretherebespiders

Immigrant American living in Ireland. Sarcastic, decrepit. Loads of interests: reading, plants, pets, food, art, writing, drinking, space, politics, feminism, quantum theory. Not 'girly' and not interested in being so.

Big Guy’s Story – Part Four

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My poor boy was so skinny, covered in sticking burrs, and had (shudder) ticks. I could feel that his hip bones were jutting up. Of course he was filthy. He was sneezing, and the insides of his ears? Truly disgusting.

He went missing August 30, and I didn’t get him back until September 17. He had a hard time of it, but again proved he is a survivor.

I rang our vet immediately and got an appointment for Saturday. Two days to wait! I also bought him a harness, a heating pad, and set up the shed properly with a cat bed and litter box. I still had to go to work from 10-6, and he would have to be locked in when I wasn’t home. No way was I risking him going for another wander.

Big Guy and I spent every moment possible when I was home on my lap, sitting together in the shed, with his harness on – just in case. He growled at my husband if he came out when we were together. BigGuy didn’t have a problem with being fed by him when I wasn’t home. Protective of me? Was I the safe place? A bit of each? I’ll never be sure.

When we went to the vet it was a different experience in Covid-19 times. I was allowed to go in with him. He got a lengthy ear cleaning as he had a raging, smelly ear infection (I wasn’t that close, and masked so am grateful I didn’t get the smell). We did a parasite treatment for the ticks, antibiotics for the cold along with ear drops. I also got him microchipped.

“So, I guess we have three cats now?” My husband said on the way home.

“Yep.”

I now had a gardening buddy! It was nice to have someone hanging out with me when I pottered about. He was very calm, as he wasn’t feeling well for a long while – both before and after the vet visit.

He met Lumi through the sliding glass door. It went well! Lumi loves excitement, and other cats. BigGuy didn’t seem to care much about Lumi. He kept calm and observed. He also met the dog while he was on my lap, and she was interested but walked away when I said ‘leave it.’ BG seemed to instantly understand that she was not a threat.

Before long, hubby was sending me pictures at lunch, and updates, and best of all? iDJ was getting huge nose-bumps. Boom! That was all it took for my man to also fall in love with BigGuy.

He was healing, and learning his new territory.

He was also very unhappy when I went inside without him! So… I let him in, of course. He was and is my White Shadow, and I wanted to see what happened.

He was great inside. He ignored Lumi yelling curses at him, ignored the dog, ignored Lokii freaking out with hisses and growls.

He did pee on our bed, and twice on Lokii’s pillow I leave in front of the fireplace so his cold Siamese bones can be warmed. All easily resolved with doing extra laundry and proper animal-pee spray cleaners. After his third day of venturing inside, he never did it again.

He now feels fantastic and doesn’t like me putting the harness on him! So he doesn’t go out much now – and who would want to, in a wet and windy Irish winter? When he does, I stay right by his side and he gets spooked by the sounds of the neighbours on either side, and wants right back in where it is safe. I might have some difficulty when the weather is better, but for now he hasn’t been outside in over two weeks and doesn’t miss it.

Who wouldn’t love being well-fed all the time and cuddles and play with a lunatic Bengal, and humans who cover you up to see if you like it? (He does)

He is SO DAMN SMART. He really thinks things through, and solves problems with kindness and love instead of violence and growling. When he wants me to get up – always after my alarm has gone off – he makes biscuits on me, purring like mad. If he wants food, or play, he makes his little trill ‘mrrrp?’ and we can’t resist.

He loves to play! His favourite game is chase. It worries Lumi a bit as that is a new game for him. But I play it just fine! He will hide in plain sight, clearly in hunting, butt-wiggle position, and I get to jump out at him. Or he jumps out at me! He has never clawed us, not once. And those huge paws are equipped with razors. He’s so gentle and tells us if he doesn’t want something by popping up in the air on his hind legs, but never scratching. It is such an amazing treat, getting to know him.

My favourite picture of him so far. And we have a lot!

Big Guy’s Story – Part Three

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He was missing. I was hopeful but upset. I had taken that week off work as I had unused holiday time. Going back to the stars aligning, it was part of my plan to be there for a week to help him settle in.

Instead, I spent several hours every day walking around and calling for him. I spoke to everyone I saw, as we knew there weren’t any other long-haired white cats in town.

I had one person, close by, say that they saw him early Monday morning. I kept going around and around that area but didn’t find him. So many people were on the lookout, but no sightings. One false alarm, because my friend Mrs MMC (who fosters cats) has a short-haired solid white cat who goes outside. It was her Monty, not our BigGuy.

The week, and the weekend, went by with nothing. I learned all about the local outdoor cat population, and found a sad case I couldn’t help who died. I reported the body to the spca, and worried more than ever.

When I had to go back to work, I made up lost cat signs. Himself printed them out, and he, and I, and his mam, set about posting them around town.

Mam was the winner! She had just put the sign up in our local hardware shop (the owners are good friends of all of us) when a woman stopped to chat. The woman eventually got around to remembering that she had seen a big white cat at the local school!

Mam rang us and immediately we went to look. I didn’t go into that area on my walks, as I didn’t know I could go in there. I’m not a local! It was also across our main road – while not super busy as it is a small town, I didn’t think BigGuy would cross the main road. We drove, and he dropped me off to let me look while he went to the shop. We were thinking it could be another failure so didn’t prepare.

I walked down an alley and saw a big, old, stone shed with a metal door that didn’t quite touch the ground. I called, ‘Big Guy! Big Guy! Come on!’

Instantly he came out from under the metal shed door! He was so happy to see me, giving little trills of excitement and pleasure. I rang hubby right away to go home and get the carrier so we could bring him home again. It was a tense wait, but BigGuy was not leaving my side. There was another cat there that was cursing at him but he completely ignored her and looked up at me, so wary and unsure but happy to see a friend.

Again I stuffed him into the carrier for the one minute drive home. He was less than happy about the shoving, but I wasn’t letting him go again.

Big Guy‘s Story – Part Two

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Before I got the kittens rehomed, I managed to get BigGuy neutered. He fell for roasted chicken, and I shoved his butt into the carrier and off we went to my vet, who had agreed to take him and do the neuter on behalf of the local SPCA.

We did it as a TNR (trap neuter release). The vets said he appeared to be about ten, but his teeth were pretty good for his age. He came out of the surgery just fine, so I took him back to work and let him go again. Part of my reasoning was that if I got Peggy done while the kittens were still around, he would protect them. I saw over the next few weeks that he stopped spraying pee everywhere (fantastic) while I also tried online to find a home for him. No one wanted a 10+ year old feral (former) tomcat, no matter how beautiful and kind.

He definitely became calmer and happier. And he showed me his incredibly fuzzy, curly belly! He was actually playing with string! I stopped looking for someone else to take him and started making plans to bring him home.

Hubby and I discussed at length how it might work. We bought a little cat-house for the outside, as we assumed he wouldn’t want to be indoors. We also had huge concerns about the dog. She likes cats, but definitely knows the difference between ‘her cats’ and ‘stranger cats.’ So, a ‘stranger cat’ in our back garden all the time was something we had to work around.

We both hated the idea of leaving him outside. But after the calamity and violence that happened between Lokii and Lumi when I tried to keep one of last year’s kittens, we knew we couldn’t just toss BG inside and hope for the best. Old man Lokii was not likely to want BigGuy anywhere near him. Also… the dog! What would BigGuy think of a massive dog in the house all the time? Was he scared of dogs? He should be, to have survived so long as a feral.

I put the little cat house together (smaller than expected), found a good sheltered spot for it, and when the stars aligned I went to work on a Saturday morning, got him into the carrier again, and brought him home!

I used tuna in oil to catch him this time. A tip for anyone doing cat-catching: DO NOT use tuna in oil! It got all over him. Especially his tail, which was horribly filthy already. At this point he didn’t want to go in the carrier again and did fight me a bit, then flailed about in the carrier. He came out with a dirty, oily, smelly, crud-encrusted stick instead of a tail.

Unfortunately, I was an idiot. Bound to happen; I’ve never done this before. I didn’t give him enough time to acclimate. I was accustomed to him following me around at work, and I expected the same from him at his new home. He spent the night in our tiny, junk-filled shed, and on Sunday morning I let him out with me and he went exploring.

Exploring right out of sight. He went over a wall and he was gone.

Big Guy‘s Story – Part One

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I’d seen him around work for a long time. I say ‘around’ because he never got close to me at all. I first noticed him after I had met and befriended Peggy. I’m not sure how many years it has been since I first spotted this white ghost slinking underneath cars in our parking lot.

I think this is the first photo I took of him, October 2019. He ran away when I got too close. This is a zoomed-in picture (hence the blur).

Once Peggy let me see her babies, this big white dude also trusted me enough to come and hang out (and get food).

He was so good with what I assumed were his kittens. Maybe they were, maybe not… he also assumed they were his or just loved Peggy. In any case, he let momma cats Peggy and Vickie and all of the kittens steal his food without a hiss or a swat. He moved aside and looked filthily regal, like a white lion watching over his pride. He still kept his distance from me.

I didn’t give up, and he eventually learned to trust me. I was spending most of my mental efforts on the three kittens Peggy had finally showed me. I needed to get them, and Peggy, help. Always I knew he had to be caught and neutered, too. So, while taming feral kittens, I worked on earning his trust.

From October to February… finally I got my first touch! I was so thrilled. He trusted me to get close enough after so long.

He had such a kind and attentive manner toward Peggy, despite her slapping him silly, daily. He protected the kittens and Peggy, even if she didn’t need (or want) him to. This tomcat was so special! I desperately wanted to clean him up, brush him, heal his wounds and keep him safe from more injuries, illness and parasites.

I’d fallen in love.

Piggy Peggy’s Last Update

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But don’t panic, it is good news!

About a month ago, Peggy was distancing herself from the latest batch of kittens I couldn’t prevent. She had three, and it took her so damn long to show them to me, I was frustrated.

Once she finally did, I set to work on the taming. As expected it took a long time.

First baby to come out!

Eventually the other two came out, and dad was there also. He is such a good kitten dad.

While this was going on, I got dad neutered. I had to give him a name for the paperwork, so I had to use the admittedly lame name Big Guy.

Next was to get Peggy spayed before she made more babies. Amazingly to me, two days after his neuter Big Guy was … trying to make more babies with his girl Peggy. Literally right next to me! It was kind of surreal. She couldn’t be in heat, she was still nursing, right? And he didn’t have swimmers any longer. I decided nothing could have happened and moved on to step two.

I needed to get those babies new homes. I found a lovely person online who had many more resources than I do, so I caught them all and we drove them to Co. Cork (from Co. Mayo). She was fantastic and got homes for all three very quickly.

Then, because I knew Peggy was ready to make more kittens, I went into overdrive to get her caught and spayed ASAP.

A volunteer from the local shelter came and helped me catch her, took her away to the veterinarian and … I will never see her again.

She WAS pregnant again. They made it not so, and spayed her, and the shelter found her a foster home while she recovered.

And now… her foster family has fallen in love and will keep her.

Of course I miss her, and our lunches every day. But I am so happy she finally found a forever home.

Kittens Kittens Everywhere

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I owe you all an update, especially for those who contributed to my county SPCA! They sure needed the funds, as they are still full up with kittens.

So, good news or bad news first? I think I’ll start with good, go to bad, and end with good.

Bear has a home! My husband and I drove him over 3 hours one way to deliver him to a lovely woman and her two children. He was terrified for less than a day, and is now ruling a house of three people and two boxer dogs. The youngest, a daughter, is is best buddies with him and I’ve seen many a photo of them cuddled up together. I can only share one picture for privacy reasons, but trust me, everyone is very, very happy!

Next, Elf has a home! Via Twitter I found a wonderful young couple in Belfast who fell in love with her. We met with them much closer than Belfast as they happened to be close by last weekend – it was only an hour and a half one way. Elf isn’t the same gregarious kitty that Bear is. She’s a few weeks younger, Vickie’s baby, and she hasn’t warmed to her family yet. She (and Bear) both litter trained immediately. But she is the kitten of a quite feral mom and she will take time.

Elf, with her paw on my boot on a very wet afternoon.

The bad news.

Jupiter was badly injured when I went to feed them on thanksgiving day. We can’t know how, but it’s possible he got into a car engine. His right ear was torn half off, and his back leg is broken. Since I had the day off, I caught him and took him to the SPCA veterinarian clinic right up the road. He had to have a pin put into his leg, and he is now recovering at the shelter. I can’t do any more for him but keep asking people to adopt him from there.

This Tuesday, Dot was hiding under a car, screaming. I’d seen her an hour before and she was fine. Now she also was missing half her right ear, and it was still bleeding. Again, I think she got into a coworker’s car engine. I can’t think what else could make such a clean cut. The next day, I saw she wasn’t able to hold her tail up so I feared it was broken. But she recovered.

They have also all been sneezing, especially Dot, so I’ve been given liquid antibiotics by the vet. This meant I had to catch them by the scruff and force it into them! Not fun.

Yesterday broke me. The runt of the family, who I haven’t even named other than Little One, was screaming from a back garden over the wall. I got her to come to me, and her right front foot was swollen and looked flattened. I started to cry. The SPCA volunteer was able to come and take her to the vet as I was at work and couldn’t leave. She later told me they think it is a bad infection. She wasn’t even limping the day before so I’m not sure about that.

I’d had enough: my heart couldn’t take seeing three of my babies hurt in a week.

The volunteer brought me a puppy cage and since it fit in my MINI, I took time after work yesterday to catch the last three babies (tuna works wonders). They are now home with me; safe, warm and well fed, if unable to run around freely.

Since they are still sneezing, I can’t let them anywhere near my boys. More antibiotics! So far I don’t think the lads know I’ve kittens, but the kittens sure heard Lumi talking! They all stood up and looked for him.

So I have, left to right, Rory, Shark, and Dot. I have a home for Shark, but it has to wait a bit. She’s (I think is a she?) really friendly! You might remember she was the first to eat from my hand. She really enjoys being petted, rubs her face on my hand, and lets me hold her.

Rory is a boy, and he was about as good as Shark when still out in the wild. He’s not happy being caged and hisses at me weakly when I go in the room. Dot is the one missing her ear, and younger than the other two, but she’s doing pretty good with being tamed, also.

A better picture of Rory and Dot (see the tiny nose dot? And the ‘freckle’ on her left muzzle?) from Wednesday. Enjoying the sunshine with Piggy Peggy.

So, that’s my news. Some very bad, some outstandingly good, and some both good and causing me a lot of work! I’ve cleaned that litter tray five times today…

Thank you again to everyone who donated, and one twice (Linda!). I also had a cash donation brought to me, and I was going to give it to the SPCA but I asked her if I could keep it to cover some of the food and petrol and she said absolutely yes. So we are doing well, just need homes for Rory and Dot!

Nothing Ever Goes as Planned

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I’ve been delaying an update on Piggy, Vickie, and the SEVEN kittens, because I have hardly a thing to say.

First, the SPCA is crammed full of kittens and there is no room for my seven. It’s so sad. So much irresponsibility regarding cats in this county. If you are feeding them, maybe it’s up to you to make sure that food isn’t making more kittens? Sigh.

Well, I am feeding them, and I do feel responsible. Even though I live 20 minutes away, these are my babies.

Firstly, I had difficulty getting a cat trap. So a few days of my week off were wasted in regards to cat trapping!

I did catch Vickie on Wednesday. I thought like a cat, and moved the trap a few times to make it seem ‘safe.’ I also had to distract all the babies with food, while also making sure she knew where more food was. It didn’t quite go as planned, as she went in twice and didn’t trigger the drop down door. The third time she did, but it also caught the all black kitten, Bear.

Me, watching Vickie not-trigger the trap!

Vickie freaked right the hell out, of course. My first surprise was how quiet she was, no vocalisations at all. Just banging around trying to escape. But when I picked up the trap with her and Bear in it she bit the hell out of him, right on the back of the neck. He screamed. It was horrible! I had to let him out, somehow, and I did.

My brilliant husband came with me and drove to the vet that would do the spay on Vickie, and I am so thankful as my adrenaline was through the roof making my hands shake and my brain less than perfectly functional. It’s also super hard to find parking so no way could I deal with all at once.

The volunteer I’ve been working with took Vickie back and released her, but I couldn’t get the trap back until Friday. Himself came with me again, with high hopes.

I sort of … pushed Piggy Peggy into the trap. She’s my friend, I didn’t want to trick her too much. But it didn’t work; she immediately got out the other side and then she was mad at me. Fail. She left the area completely and we gave up.

I couldn’t even try to get Piggy again this week. I work until 6, and the vet doing the TNR closes at 4. I also give a coworker a lift home so I couldn’t stay late even if they did stay open longer.

Also, Piggy was upset with me and didn’t appear until Wednesday this week. Then it rained like hell for two days. I’ve still been feeding the babies of course.

Yep, seven. Didn’t this start with four? I’m thinking four are Peggy’s, and a bit older, and the other five are Vickie’s. Bear, Shark, and Jupiter are definitely Peggy’s kids. It’s so hard to tell the other ones apart.

I did name another one yesterday. There is one very small baby with an all black face, and she has gotten so brave in the last two days! She is now Elf. Maybe she is the runt of Peggy’s litter?

I’ve been playing with them as well, and between the cheese and the toy, I get Elf, Shark, and Jupiter climbing up my legs. Touching is still iffy, but today I managed to get in some full-hand strokes, not just a finger on the back. The shy ones play by themselves after they eat, but the named ones stick by me.

Cheese please?

I was also given some wormer, seen here. Hoping those fat bellies are my good food and not worms. But it’s likely worms.

Today wasn’t so good. I heard a lot of sneezing. Peggy came up and didn’t want cheese, she only wanted to sit on the blanket beside me. I eventually got her to eat a little bit, but she definitely did not feel good. I rang the TNR vet and I can pick up some antibiotics tomorrow to put in the food. I hope they eat it. I also hope I can catch Peggy.

This whole experience has been harder than I thought, and scary, and stressful. I’m super happy I have Vickie spayed now but so much more needs done. I’d still love some donations for the SPCA, they might take the babies if room opens up.

Yesterday’s Loving

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First and most dear to me – thank you so very much for donations! Y’all know I think I’m tough, but every time I saw an email notification I started to cry. I am getting emotional again thinking about your amazing generosity! I really cannot thank you enough. If there is anything I can do for you, I will!

To the update:

I went to work yesterday, on a day off, to spend as much time as I could with the clowder.

I didn’t take many pictures. I was too involved with watching them interact and simply being at peace, with no time clock ticking in my head saying I had to go. I’m not one of those people who feel as if a phone has to be in my hand to record real life instead of experiencing it myself.

One of my close friends has fallen in love with the black one. She has named him Toto, Orsetto Toto (Teddy Bear – she is Italian). She can’t take him as she already has six cats – some fosters – in her two bedroom home.

I have fallen in love with the goopy-eyed one, and have named him Jupiter. He looks so much better now! Maybe it was finally getting some nutritious food that helped him heal. He is definitely a he: I was able to get a cheeky sneak peek under his tail yesterday!

I had to take a screenshot of the video of him just to get a picture for you. I don’t think I can add video here without the mental work than I’m not capable of right now.

So, I’m worried for them and a bit sad that I can’t see them until Tuesday, when the rescue operation will take place.

And… I think I counted a seventh kitten yesterday! I’m now thinking maybe some of these babies are Vickie’s? Some of them look smaller and are definitely more timid than the rest. Vickie is so skittish that I can’t tell if she is nursing or not. I’m very sure Piggy Peggy does not have seven teats ‘on the go’, as she lets me rub her belly!

It makes sense if some are Vickie’s. Explains how there were four, then five, six; now seven… please don’t let there be more in hiding!! I’m starting to feel underprepared, and a bit unsure. I must remember I have all week, with no time pressure, and Peggy (and I’m hoping Vickie also) can be spayed and returned in just a few days. Any kittens still hiding will be okay as long as I put food in places that are within close proximity to hiding places.

I can do this.

The Plan for Peggy and Co.

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I finally have the timing right: I know Piggy isn’t pregnant right now, I know where all of her kittens are and one teenager.

I also have all of next week off work! The Halloween stars have aligned to allow me to get them all help.

Look how close they will come now! My big steel-toe boot is right there.

I’ve been in contact with the county SPCA, which is very local. They are even aware of a colony directly across the main road. Likely it is a colony founded by one of Piggy’s daughters from a previous year, who has set up over there after surviving the crossing.

It’s the perfect time to stop this nonsense, give these babies a good life, and keep any more from being born and raised in the bushes beside a very busy warehouse.

It’s even more urgent as one of them has bad eyes. Bad eyes, but is also the friendliest and bravest kitten of the six.

This poor sick baby ate bits of cheese from my fingers, and then climbed up my leg in hopes of more!

I’m in love. Over and over again, I’m in love. Oh, with this little face especially.

Here is where I beg. Please, if you can, donate to help these lovely babies find forever homes.

We are also going to get Piggy Peggy (and hopefully Vickie) spayed and returned. They will keep their territory clear of other feral cats, and this is definitely Peggy’s turf. I am of course tempted to bring her home with me, but my boys are indoor only and so very bonded that she would have to spend most of her time outside in a strange place. What with my neighbour cat very decidedly, and violently, thinking this whole estate is her territory, it would be bad for them both. Of course if I can find Peggy a safer place I will be sad to lose my friend, but happy for her new, safer, life. As it stands, she knows very well how to be safe where she is. I won’t ever stop caring for her. If she looks ill or has parasites I will be there. Vickie… is very feral. In a few years I might tame her like I did Peggy. But it’s going to take a lot of time.

The SPCA is no-kill. If any of these kittens are seriously ill, there might be a problem to deal with at that point. First is to catch them, veterinarian check them, and get them used to humans more than my meagre attempts. They are young enough that there is lots of hope to tame them before it is too late.

So please, if you can, donate via PayPal by emailing it to my blog email. No matter how much it is, it helps. We need help, and it is such a burden on shelters to take in these unloved ones, give them health care, and find them homes.

Please. Heretherebespiders@gmail.com

…And on Wednesday, Even Closer…

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It was raining like hell on Wednesday, and I had little time with the cats as I had a personal emergency and so lost my lunch 45mins.

I fed them under the bushes so they wouldn’t get rained on too much. I got wet of course!

Something is wrong here…

Ah, no!

One two three four five … six. Six kittens now? I swear they are multiplying.

Six. Sigh. This gets worse every day. Except… look how close I am to them all. That’s very good! I stroked the ones who let me, but I move slowly and quietly and try not to hover my hand or arm overhead as that scares them.