Ah, Christmas: Time to hang wreaths on your doors and decorate your house. Time to find the perfect tree to grace your living room, singing Christmas carols as you walk through the woods or the tree sale lot. Time to pull out all those heirloom ornaments and revel in the fond memories of years gone by. And, of course, time for your cats to get into big trouble. Here are some of my favorite memories of feline shenanigans during that most wonderful time of the year.
For many years, we lived in a house with a 15-foot ceiling in a central common area, and that’s where we put up our Christmas tree. One year, after hours of careful decorating, we sat back to enjoy the fruits of our labor and a cup of hot chocolate. The ornaments glistened with light reflected from the hundreds of tiny bulbs we’d painstakingly arranged on the tree for just the perfect look. The tinsel sparkled in the tiny currents of air from the heat ducts. It was beautiful!
Before we realized what was happening, our cat, Purr Bear, came careening through the room and raced up the tree. It quickly became obvious that the stand we’d used was not large enough to support the tree when, as he launched his 15-pound bulk off a branch and onto a nearby shelf, the tree went in the opposite direction. It listed and swayed and finally came crashing down, stopped from complete collapse only by a nearby wall. From that day on, we secured our trees to the wall using 100-pound test fishing line. The cats still climbed, but no further holiday disasters ensued.
Back in the 1980s before most cat caretakers fully realized the dangers of "linear foreign bodies" in cats’ intestinal tracts, we, like many other families, hung tinsel on our tree. This naturally led to some … interesting … deposits in the litter box. One morning we even awoke to find our cat, Castor, looking a bit chagrined but still trying to hang onto a shred of dignity as a four-inch-long piece of tinsel dangled from his anus. Guess who got to help Castor clean his bottom. Yep, yours truly!
Among the many wise ideas my mother imparted to me was the importance of placing unbreakable ornaments near the bottom of the Christmas tree. When I began living on my own, I followed this practice religiously for several years. By that time, my cats hadn’t shown the least bit of interest in playing hockey with my ornaments, so I finally decided that I’d forgo the plastic ornaments and decorate only with the beautiful glass ones I’d collected. I realized the error of my ways the next morning when I woke up to find several of my favorite glass balls shattered into pieces on the floor under the tree.
I was so excited: For the first time the family was going to come to my house to celebrate Christmas! I’d spent hours cleaning, decorating, and braving the chaos of the supermarket to get last-minute holiday goodies. I reveled in the thrill of being Santa Claus and treating my relatives to a tableau of thoughtfully chosen and beautifully wrapped presents. People were going to start arriving early the next morning, so I set out the gifts under the tree the night before, arranging everything just so, and went to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.
The next morning I awoke to a scene of Christmas carnage. After I’d fallen soundly asleep, the little minxes had apparently decided it was time to play Swat and Bat, and my beautiful wrapping paper was shredded into ribbons.
The festivities were finished. The relatives had gone home and my home was filled with pleasant smells and good memories. All that remained to be done was clean up after dinner and put the leftovers away. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, until I turned away from the turkey for a mere second to get a storage container and some aluminum foil. The only warning I got that something was up was a single tap of the baking pan on the surface of the stove. I whirled around just in time to see Thomas jumping off the counter and scurrying behind the couch with a half-eaten drumstick.
None of these shenanigans made me angry; in fact, I laughed out loud when they happened and I still chuckle when I recall them. You can’t stay mad at cats.
What kinds of holiday shenanigans have your cats gotten up to? Share your stories in the comments.
About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.