Missy and the Spider

Missy unlike Skip was always up to catch bugs, mice, spiders, etc. You name it and she probably wanted to kill it.  One night this playfulness could have cost her life.  I’m stretching it a bit, but a Brown Recluse spider bite is serious in humans and even more serious in cats.  This incident happened when Missy was fairly young.

I was an avid reader growing up.  I used to use my extra allowance to buy books plus my parents and grandparents used to buy books for me.  It was nothing for me to buy 4 to 5 teen books on Friday and have them read by Monday.  Then the whole week, I would read and reread the books until I could get new ones.  If for some reason I was out of allowance or we didn’t make it to the store, I would just reread the books I had.  Once I turned sixteen, my Grandma started sneaking me adult romance novels to help me out with books.  Grandma gave me some of the less explicit romance novels. 😉  At sixteen, I now had to pay for gas for my car, so I had less money to go towards books even if dad did add $10 a week for gas (Oh how times have changed).

Since we were generally busy on Saturdays, cleaning or working outside, I read in the evening or late at night.  Plus Sundays was our day of relaxation, so I would spend my time reading.  Homework?  I did that at school.  I rarely brought homework home.  Math and English papers were the primary items that I brought home, but my math teacher took pity on us and rarely assigned homework on Fridays.  Fridays were our test days over the material we studied for that week.  In general over the weekend, I had no homework to do.

One Saturday late at night, after a successful book run that weekend, I was in bed reading a particularly good book, and it occurred to me that Missy wasn’t curled up next to me like usual.  I always read with the door shut due to the light and it was like 2 AM, and I knew Missy was in the room.  I looked around and she was on the floor playing with something.  I didn’t think anything of it; I just figured that she found one of her rabbit’s feet that she loved to play with.

I settled back down into the nice warm waterbed and my book.  Suddenly, I got startled out of my reading to see Missy jumping straight up and down at the foot of the bed.  It was spooky because she was literally jumping straight up and as soon as she landed, she’d jump again.

I got up and told Missy she was scaring me.  I knew something was wrong, but when I ran over to her, I saw nothing around that would cause her to jump up and down.  When she landed, I wrapped my hand under her to pick her up and instantly felt pain like someone stabbed me with a pin.  I kind of tossed her into my other hand and caught her while shaking my hand that was injured.

Missy was no longer freaking out and I still saw nothing on the floor.  I looked down at my hand and I saw two marks right next to my middle finger knuckle.  It had to be a spider, but I didn’t see the spider around.  I kept Missy in my left arm; she was perfectly happy there.  For some reason, I picked up a jacket on the back of a chair and went to hang it up.  My room used to be a mess, so I guess I decided to clean up to try and find the spider.

That’s when I noticed that my right hand was going numb; it wasn’t completely numb, but it was getting there as I had limited feeling.  I immediately headed with Missy to the bathroom.  I ran my right hand under cold water for several minutes.  I then opened my parents’ bedroom door and went to mom.  Now my mom sleeps pretty sound and doesn’t wake up very well, but she’s in the medical field, so she is the one I needed.  I shook her while saying “Mom, mom, come on mom wake up!”

Finally, she awoke and asked what was wrong in a very sleepy voice.  I told her I was bitten by a spider.  In her grogginess, she said “Get a baggy fill it with ice and ice it.”  And she promptly fell back asleep.  I said “Ok”, and with Missy still in my left arm (at least Missy was young at the time and very light), I headed to the kitchen.  I got a baggy out and filled it with ice.  I could have done it faster with Missy on the floor, but I was worried about her running back to the room and trying to kill the spider.  I didn’t want her hurt.  I grabbed a kitchen towel and headed back to the danger zone as the spider was still somewhere in my bedroom.

After about 30 minutes, I think mom in her sleep, realized that the bite must have been pretty serious for me to wake her.  I rarely complained about bug bites, so for me to actually wake her, told her that something more serious was going on.  Eventually, her brain kicked in and woke her up.  The next thing I know, my door is flying open.  She looked at me, and all lights were on in my room, Missy was still in my arms, an ice pack on my hand, and tears coming down my face.  I was spooked.  I’m not sure if I have ever been more spooked.

She sat down and asked to see my hand.  It was starting to swell up, and I told her I couldn’t’ feel it.  She went out and grabbed her evil tool kit that she uses to get splinters out.  Yes, it is evil, and if you have ever had her dig a splinter out of your hand, you would know just how evil it is.

She said, “This might hurt a bit.” And then lanced the bite open.  I didn’t feel a thing.  When she lanced it, liquid came out that had a rainbow shine to it from the light.  Mom immediately started sucking out the poison.  Once she got blood to come out, she stopped.  She then put alcohol on it and dressed it.  She told me to keep the ice on it.   Then she had me hold Missy, so that she could see if there were any bites on her.  Other than ticking Missy off, Missy was fine.  She never was bitten.

The next day, my hand was swollen again, so mom reopened it and did the same thing.  I also found and killed the spider the next morning.  It appears to have been a Brown Recluse.  I know people say the bite shouldn’t hurt when it first occurs, but I have a low tolerance for pain, so I felt every bit of the fangs breaking my skin.  Plus the bite was on my hand which was extra sensitive since earlier in the year I was hospitalized for dehydration and pneumonia.  They stuck my right hand three times for the IV, so my hand was extra sensitive.

What had happened was the spider was at the foot of the bed.  Missy at some point decided to kill it, but instead, the spider jumped on her mid section right where her heart was.  I have no idea how Missy knew that this was bad, but she did.  She started jumping to try and dislodge the spider.  The vet said that Brown Recluse spider bites can be very dangerous to a young cat especially if bit right where the heart is.  The vet said she was a lucky cat.

It took several months before the venom was completely gone from my hand.  If I hit my knuckle on anything, it would swell up and mom would relance it.  We’d see the venom come out.  Mom would keep extracting it until we saw blood come out.  I think the initial steps that we took that night were what kept me from having a severe issue like the Brown Recluse spider bite pictures you see out on websites.  Plus I was on antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids for chronic bronchitis at the time which was probably a tremendous help.

The interesting thing that I noticed after this incident was that mosquitoes avoided me.  They only attacked me when there was no one else around and were desperate.  Spiders were however attracted to me.  I got numerous bites from non-venomous spiders.  While those were felt, they did not even come close tot he bite I felt that night.  The location of where I was bit probably has something to do with how much the brown recluse spider bite hurt.  This could all be coincidence, but you just never know.

Btw, dad had an exterminator come out and treat our house; just in case the guy who bit me had any friends.  Missy…she was fine.  She still attacked spiders and everything else that moved.  She wasn’t fazed in the least.  I figure that I saved her life that night by taking the bite for her, and I’d do it again if I needed to because our bodies are a lot larger and can dilute the venom over a much larger space.

To this day, I can’t stand spiders and I am afraid of them.   I still have the scars today from the bite.  They are a lot fainter now, but I know where they are and can pick out the dots.  I can at least kill spider, but I do have to take a deep breath before doing so.  I imagine that my reaction to spiders is probably what has Skip scared of spiders.

Missy and I declared war on spiders.  I used to have no issue with them, but they drew first blood, so I really don’t care how much good they do.  If they come around me, they are dead no if and or buts.  Well, actually most are.  I won’t kill Daddy Long Legs.  While Daddy Long Legs are extremely poisonous, they can’t bite through our skin. I know that so, I will move them out of my way.  However, Missy just likes to kill bugs, and really doesn’t care what type they are. 🙂

And that is the story about Missy and the spider.


Everybody remembers their first pet very fondly and I am no different.  However with my first pet, everyone in my family has a Missy story to tell, and I mean everyone.  Some are good, and some are…hmmm…evidence that she wasn’t so sweet to everyone.

When I was a kid, dad had a dog named Sparky and mom had a cat named Precious.  I grew up with the two of them, but neither was mine.  Precious avoided me like the plague; due to my ill advised pulling out of his whiskers on one side when I was pretty young.  I got into deep, deep trouble over that.  I have no idea why I did it, but after that incident I was not one to harm the hair on the head of any other animal; unless it was suffering.  So, whatever punishment I got (probably a spanking, grounding, and chores) was enough to scare me straight.  Precious and I did make up once I was older and had a nice warm water bed. 🙂

Anyway, by the time I was thirteen, I had earned the trust of my parents that I was responsible enough for a pet.  Or at least mom was up for another cat; dad was still a dog person at that time and did not want to live with two cats.

Mom called the humane society on my birthday and a guy had just brought in a mommy with 6-week old kittens.  His apartment on campus wouldn’t allow pets and it broke his heart to take them to the shelter.  Dad and I met mom there and I was told I could pick out one kitten.

It’s there that my dad’s life changed because I picked out Missy.  And when I say his life changed, I mean big time.  Missy was the most stubborn, affectionate, fast, nimble, playful, protector, hunter, etc cat that I and my family have ever met.  Part of why my dad likes cats now is because of Missy.

When I held Missy, something set her apart from her sisters, and I decided on her.  Her first act was pulling a stitch out of my sweater. 🙂  Missy was half Abyssinian and half Siamese.  She looked like an old tabby cat, but her voice had the dialect of Siamese.

From day one Missy was a talker.  She would talk to you or wander through the house looking for you crying for you to answer.  She was really funny with hide and seek which was one of her favorite games.  I’d lose her somehow in our house and head over to dad’s bathroom (only named that because that’s where his stuff was).  He had a shower that we rarely used in there.  I’d quietly open the door and get inside.  Then I would holler as loud as I could “MISSSSY!!!”  She’d come flying through the bathroom.  When she got to either the bedroom or kitchen (depending on direction) she’d yell “MOM!”  I’d quietly say her name the next time “missy”.  She’d fly back through and would holler “MOM!” with urgency because she couldn’t find me.  I’m telling you she would have been a good mouser with as good of hearing as she had because the next time, I’d whisper “missy”.  She’d be right at the door.  Only the first time, did I have to step out to show her where I was.  After that, it didn’t take her long to figure it out.

Along with having awesome ears, Missy loved her tail.  Oh my, how she loved that tail.  It was the scrawniness tail you have ever seen, but she was quite proud of it.  It was the one thing that if you grabbed onto would get you bit.  She never broke the skin on the first bite; it was more of a warning.  If you continued to persist, she would go deeper until you got the idea that touching her tail was not the greatest idea in the world.  Missy would bite any kid that touched her tail.  The kids could pet her and pull her fur, and she wouldn’t say a thing.  As soon as the kids touched her tail though, there were words and usually teeth involved.  As far as I know she never bit a kid and broke the skin.  She definitely scared a few though.

What’s funny is that scrawny tail is why she was so nimble at walking on ledges or narrow fences.  She was very coordinated at maneuvering her tail to keep her body balanced.  So far, she is the most nimblest cat I have ever met.  Skip and Mason aren’t even in the same league they are so poor at being nimble and Oreo, well he’s better, but he has so much fur on his tail that he loses out.  Missy wins by a long shot.

Missy was leash trained and this time by leash trained, I mean you could walk around outside with Missy and she would follow.  Now she was a little slower than a dog because she had to smell everything, but just a little tug would get her moving again.  My favorite thing to watch was her jumping after a bug in the yard.  I’d be holding the leash, but she had plenty of slack.  The bug would jump and so would Missy.  Missy would have both paws out in front of her landing where she thought the bug would be.  She could play that game for hours.  Her other favorite outside activity was laying on a wood swing that we had.  I would tie her off on the swing; she’d climb up in it and lay across it.  When the wind blew, she was swinging.  🙂  She loved it.

One of the unfortunate things that did happened when Missy was really young was she got into some ivy that mom had up on the counter.  Ivy is poisonous to cats.  We came home from Christmas Eve at Grandma’s to a mess.  Missy knowing that she had a problem after eating the ivy started eating the real Christmas tree we had until she did what cats do and expelled the Ivy.  Not knowing what the problem was…Christmas tree or Ivy; Dad promptly placed the Christmas tree on the deck outside.  That’s how we celebrated Christmas next day with the tree lit up…outside.  On Christmas Day, Missy couldn’t keep any food down.  Mom suggested Second year Baby Food Meats because the food is already processed to try and get her system to relax.  Dad and I headed out and found the one grocery store that was open.  Missy loved the food.

It only took a week to get her back onto real cat food.  To this day, if a cat of mine is having trouble eating for whatever reason, we get the second year meats baby food.  Usually, it only takes a day or two for kitties to heal enough for regular food.  I don’t recommend the baby food for long term use because it’s baby food and has high sodium, but short term use, it works great.

Missy was rotten, but in a funny way.  🙂  One of the things she used to do was knock over the trash can for the dog.  Missy had the size and strength to do it where as our dog was little.  As far as I know Missy never actually ate anything out of the garbage, but merely assisted the dog.  My dad would be the first one up and in his bare feet (after walking through it in socks once) would walk in coffee grounds.  Sometimes he cleaned it up (it was his dog) and sometimes I was awoken (my cat) to clean it up.  Not too long after, mom and dad just bought a wood trash can that Missy couldn’t knock over.  You see we were human’s in training by the cat.  Some things were just easier to change rather than try and catch the stubborn cat in the act.

Missy was also a meat thief.  This is totally another story and funny, but as my aunt and uncle learned when they watched her once (only once as she was told she could not return) when we warned them about putting meat in the microwave when you leave the kitchen…we were serious.  This story is also where my dad got his big training and I think came to really respect Missy as more than a cat.  So, for now I will leave it that she was a meat thief. 😉

Another part of our training was to put the toilet seat down.  Missy loved water! And spray bottle containing water were play for her.  Before we got her, my parents and I rarely put the toilet seat down.  After finding Missy playing in a toilet which got her a prompt bath, we started putting the toilet seat down.  Any visitors were given instructions to put the seat down.  One of us would go and make sure they did when they were finished.  They probably never realized it as we did it by stealth.  She was the easiest cat to give a bath to and a single person could do it right in the kitchen sink.  She wasn’t running anywhere, she liked the water.  You could also blow dry her on the slowest setting.  Being vacuumed with the brush attachment was another of her odd favorite things.

The other thing Missy (she was really long) could do, that very few cats can do was open doors.  When we moved to our new house, Mom thought the lever handles on the doors looked nice and so she had dad replace all the round door handles with the lever kind.  Missy was smart enough that she figured out how to open them.  Obviously, if she was on the side where the door would open inward, she had no trouble.  But she was smart enough and worked hard enough at opening a door that opened inward from the opposite side.  It was really funny to watch because it took her several tries to get the door unlatched.  Once it was unlatched she’d work the door from underneath until it opened.  She loved standing on her tip toes to see over things.

Missy was really intelligent and you could see it in her eyes as she figured out how to get what she wanted.  Of course, what she wanted wasn’t necessarily what she should have or what she should do.  For example, Missy could not stand to see me pay any attention to Mechant (mom’s cat).  Mechant would pay the price for me even talking to her.  Missy would get into trouble for hitting Mechant.  And then the funniest thing would happen (funny now), whoever would tell her to go to her room for timeout.  She’d go trotting back to my room with a human following her to shut the door.  She’d be put into timeout for 15 minutes.  If Missy came out with a bad attitude which resulted in Mechant getting hit again, then we’d send her back to her room for another timeout.  The next time she came out, she wasn’t happy, but would avoid any confrontations.  For the record, there was a difference between her playing and just plain old hitting Mechant.  You’d have to be there, but we knew the difference.

Now I don’t want it to sound like Missy was a mean cat.  She wasn’t; even if she had the vet scared of her. 😉  Missy was more vocal (read Siamese which sounded really scary) than she was physical.  Her bark was actually way worse than her bite.  She was very sweet if you were dad, mom, my grandma (mom’s mom) or I.  All of us knew that to control Missy you had to get the upper hand and could not allow her to be alpha over you.  Most people (even dogs) would shy away which gave Missy power.  She once hit a German Shepard so hard that it ran tail back to its owner.  She would not back down, but would hold her ground.  If you stood up to her, she respected you.

I really miss her and some of the things she pulled.  Today they are funny, but boy she could get dad’s blood boiling.  He’s since been fully trained by Missy and our boys today don’t realize how good they have it.  We still enjoy telling Missy stories which usually begin with “Do you remember the time she…”  Everyone has a story to tell, and if I haven’t seen my aunts, uncles and cousins in awhile, they will ask about Skip and inevitably a Missy story is always told…usually with affection.  She touched a lot of people and even people who are dog people could appreciate and respect her.

Missy was the ultimate first pet and there will never, ever be another cat like her. 🙂  May everyone have a first pet that is as memorable as mine was.  Rest in peace, Missy!