Who Are You Grateful For This Year?

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com (no, not George–I couldn’t find the pictures of him when I wrote this)

I could bore you with the “usual” gratitude of my amazing husband, my youngest goofball—I mean child—as well as my oldest goofball — really, I mean my child. I love them all.

I could tell you about the critters that live in the house with us, the ones we invited in, and a few that invited themselves — specifically one cat and who knows how many spiders. Do not knock my spiders. Seriously. My entire house stays covered in cobwebs all year because the spiders and I have a deal. As do the ones who live inside all year. Inside spiders have two rules to follow—stay out of my shower and stay out of my bed. After that, feel free to eat whatever you can catch and I thank you for that.

I think I shall talk about that cat that invited itself to live with us.

And in order to do that I have to talk about the one person I wish his own actions to be done to him, a million times worse than he has done to others.

This year, I am grateful to the idiot who decided it was his job to rid our neighborhood of feral cats. My guess is he (and it is a he according to the neighbor who told us about this person when her own little cat escaped her house and she freaked out fearing her cat was going to be poisoned and die from this escape) is new to this neighborhood and unaware that we’ve had a huge rat issue in the past few years. It has died down a bit the past two years, but five or six years or so ago, they cleaned out a hoarder’s house about three or four houses down from us. When I tell you these rats that came directly out of that house were bigger than the eight-pound cats in our house I am not in any way exaggerating. My poor husband had to kill a few with a shovel once they fell into a rat trap. We do not use poison, unless absolutely at our wits ends, because of the hawks, cats, dogs, coyotes, and other animals that may eat dead poisoned critters.

So, that was half the back story.

As for the rest, about two years, two and a half years ago, this dark grey and white cat started to show up at our door. I fed him because I feed everything. If it seems hungry, be it raccoon, pole cat (that’s a possum), stray cat, bird, squirrel, rabbit, I don’t care. I feed it. It’s been bothering me this past year that I cannot feed the birds due to bird flu, but I’d rather everyone here locally be healthy.

Anyway, this cat. We fed him. He’d hang out on our porch. He’d sit in the open front door, with our screen door shut (and the glass in place over the screen, for safety’s sake) and he’d hang out with our cats. He’d sit there and stare at everyone. He’d lay around and nap. For over two years. It reached the point that if neither my husband nor I saw him for two or three days, we would get worried.

Enter the lady who lives one house behind us and over one whose little cat got out. We met her when she and her significant other were creeping around in our backyard with flashlights and setting off our security cameras.

As soon as I got a hold of that story, George went missing for a day or two. George is our cat in question. When he did show up, he wasn’t looking so hot. He had such massive stomach issues that he could not control them. That’s when my husband and I began to discuss bringing his butt into the house and fostering him until we could find him a place of his own.

It took us two weeks to talk the cat into a covered box to drag him into the house and keep him in a room of his own until we could get him to the vet. For two weeks, he looked awful and he had those uncontrollable stomach issues.

When we took him to the vet, he had not a single flea on him and nearly all internal parasites were dead and gone. He did have some tapeworm eggs left over, but we got rid of those pretty quick. So yes, George was poisoned.

So, the jerk who is poisoning all the feral cats around here didn’t seem to be killing anything. All he seemed to be doing was torturing any cat that ate whatever it was he was putting out. I stand by hoping that he gets the same treatment he puts out. How you treat those smaller and weaker than you denotes what sort of person you are at heart. I shall leave it at that.

But now, because of that man’s ignorance and cruelty, I have this fabulous cat living in my house. For that I am grateful. George, it turns out, must have started coming to our house for food—and he was also known to bring along friends of his to make sure they ate—as soon as he was thrown out of whatever house or shed he came from.

If you want to learn more about the difference between feral and stray cats, check out this website: https://stlfco.org/#information

George is the most loving guy. He is FIV positive; the vet says he was probably born that way as most cats who live outside. The vet did say our cats that are FIV negative will not get it. FIV is not easily caught and must be transferred via bites with blood and saliva exchange.

Watching him learn to be a house cat has been more entertaining than I can tell you. When we first brought him into the house, he slept for three to four days straight. He got up, ate, pooped, and crashed again. It’s all he could do.

Now, he is watching the other cats and is totally amazed. We have one cat we’ve had since he was a baby who loves the dogs to pieces and will rub all over them, climb all over them, and meow at them to love on him. George does not know what to think about this. Nearly four months into this process, George still is not loving the dogs, but he does walk right by them staring them down as he does it.

In the past few weeks, he has begun to get the zoomies. He plays with straws. He lives for catnip, but then again, he always has since we grow it every year. He is only now starting to stop being so worried about food and eating.

George is my guy. If he is not curled up on my chest asleep, he will sit on the arm of my chair beside me. He loves to be snuggled up with, but he does not always like to be petted. It can still overwhelm him when he gets touched too much. He is still not that friendly with the other cats in the house. They are not entirely cool with him. No one is fighting intensely, not anymore, but there is still some chasing and smacking going on. It is slowing down and improving so that works.

I was more worried about my guinea pigs. Here’s a cat that ruled this neighborhood — and you should have seen the chaos that we saw for the first two weeks after we dragged George in. So many cats all over the place. And then—nothing. I am praying that is more due to the weather than to human stupidity. But, I have two adult boar guinea pigs whom I love and adore. We brought a cat in the house who is used to hunting squirrels and rabbits and other things that are faster and bigger — probably not meaner though — than my piggers. George watches me feed them and tease them all day. (I tease them by feeding them carrots when they start begging for treats.) He watches me throw them hay and clean out their cages.

A few weeks ago, I walked in on George curled up against the outside of the cage, watching the piggers. My piggers are not in any way intimidated by cats or dogs—or Bigfoots, Mothmen, or anything else that they may encounter. Prey animals? Spike weighs 2.5 pounds and grabbed my 84-pound saluki mix’s face when she went to nose him. Then she licked him and you could almost hear the “YUCK!” coming from Spike. He let go then. These pigs fear nothing and no one.

I kept an eye on things, but it was my husband who caught George trying to play with the pigs the way every cat in this house tries to play with the pigs, by shoving an arm into the cage under the door and either grabbing hay or booping a pig on the butt. My husband watched to make sure the pigs were safe, and, yes, confirmed that George was just trying to play with them.

And that is why I am grateful for the idiot who tried to kill all the feral cats in this neighborhood.