I’m very fond of cats and Christmas trees; I just don’t think they mix well. I have had dozens of cats, and while some may have cast a disdainful eye at my holiday decorations, the majority have deliberately dismantled them. My tree would be better off if I could decorate it and then place it in a very large, clear, acrylic box in which to gaze at it. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
The oddest story I can retell regarding cats and Christmas trees also happens to be the oldest. When I was six years old I had a small, white kitten who was going to enjoy his first Christmas holiday. This was back in the “old days” when people put tinsel on the tree. (I can almost hear those old enough to remember going “ah-ha!”). There is a reason that tinsel and cats don’t mix: they sometimes eat it. My kitten couldn’t resist those sparkly strands of tinsel strewn upon the tree and dangling down. He started eating them. Once we realized what he was doing, we quickly removed all of the tinsel from the tree. Several days later the eaten tinsel reappeared you-know-where, stringing you-know-what like pearls on a string.
We never used tinsel again.
The most calamitous episode in my memory was the Christmas of 1980. It was a great day by all accounts with one singular catastrophe- the wrecking of the tree before the presents were even unwrapped. Imagine this- my family is laughing and enjoying a hearty breakfast when all of a sudden there was a horrific crash in the adjoining room. We listened in stunned silence to the sound of glass breaking, bells hitting the floor and the unmistakable sound of cat claws trying to gain purchase on a high-gloss floor. Seconds later, the perpetrator zipped through the kitchen with a tail as round as a pop can.
We learned after that to tie the tree to a wall with high-tensile strength fishing line.
Another memorable Christmas included my Burmese and a collection of hand-blown glass ornaments. Now you may think that cats don’t think logically, but I can assure you that they have cold, calculating minds. This particular cat was fond of trees, especially fresh trees and all of their pine-scented goodness. He was also attracted to his reflection in the shiny balls that were hung from each bough with care.
Each day of the week leading up to Christmas Eve I would come home from work to find one or two broken ornaments on the floor. There were only two dozen ornaments on the tree, so the numbers were dwindling quickly. The night before Christmas I was enjoying a quiet evening at home until the noise of yet another ornament crashing to the floor broke the silence. I arose from my bed to see what was a matter and found my cat batting ornaments from the tree and watching them hit the floor with a clatter. What was really disturbing is that he seemed to be purposefully hitting one ornament so that it would hit another nearby ornament like kitty pocket pool.
We started using unbreakable and small stuffed ornaments after this incident.
So the lesson learned here my friends is that cats and Christmas trees don’t mix well. You can fool yourself into thinking that your tree will be okay, at least until you see a little furry face peeking at you from between the branches four feet up in the air.
Tonight I will be decorating my tree and will be securely fastening it to the wall as well as duct taping the stand to the floor. I suggest that you, newbie cat owners, do the same.