Molly Fisk: Cats at Christmas

346345968_0e50ac31b3_zPhoto by Shannon via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I thought about putting up a Christmas tree this year, and then I just started to laugh. A person with seven cats, four of them teenagers, would have to be seriously deluded to put up a tree and think it would stay standing for even one night. I can’t keep paintings on the wall below shoulder height around here, much less something as familiar for climbing as an actual tree!

So far this year my cats have broken three cereal bowls, two cat-food bowls, one nearly full bottle of vanilla, a pair of 2.5 magnification reading glasses, a really lovely serving bowl my cousin Rapp made for me in 1982, and a jar of homemade grape jelly. That’s just in the kitchen. I came home from a trip last weekend late at night, unpacking most of my bag, and then fell into bed. In the morning, it took me half an hour to find my toothbrush, located as it was in my ditty bag, which turned out to be under the bed where someone had dragged it by its ribbon-like drawstring.

Speaking of ribbons, who but a cat-lover would lock herself in the bathroom to wrap presents and then store them in the car? Vast quantities of red, green and silver ribbon have been systematically unspooled across my living room floor when I wasn’t looking, and sometimes even when I was looking. Anything faintly resembling a string is fair game, which is why sometimes I will find a used teabag under the bathtub. This will teach me to try to re-use my tea bags, the way my grandmother taught me.

What’s a Xmas decoration-loving woman to do? Well, I put a swag on the front door, so I get the mingled scent of pine, balsam, cedar and juniper berries when I enter and leave the house. So far the cats have ignored this, despite the little bell on a string of tin letters that spell out N-O-E-L which I tied to the greenery. I am intending to hang, but have not yet hung, another swag high up on a beam in the living room where I can display a few of the most iconic family ornaments without danger of ruin. The Christmas cards I’ve received are lying flat on a tray on my dining room table, quite covered with muddy paw prints.

And we haven’t even gotten to the food. Who knew cats liked pecans? Or lukewarm egg nog latte dregs? Or kale for heaven’s sake, which isn’t even a Xmas dish? All seven cats, even the one whose leg will probably have to be amputated in a few months, can and will execute a standing broad jump to the kitchen counter at any moment of the day or night. I can’t leave one fish oil pill out of its bottle as a reminder to take it, because the clear golden lozenge will appear underfoot the next morning, drained of its gooey center, the outside collapsed in on itself like a deflated balloon. You would think these cats had been starving in the streets for a month instead of having unlimited dry food in their bowls and a quarter can each of wet food every single day at 5 o’clock. The yelling and screaming demonstration they put on when I open the cat food cans is a bizarre but potent combination of baby bird and piranha.

Even though it’s almost Xmas, I have not put out little stockings for my cats. I’m a sap and a sucker for their whims, yes. My neck is covered with hickeys where two of the kittens still try to nurse. On cold nights I let them curl up next to my head on the pillow and sometimes they drool into my hair. I do indeed recite poetry to them in both English and Norwegian. But at a certain point, even I draw the line.

They can have cream on Xmas morning. Maybe I’ll split a can of real tuna into seven chunks as a special treat. But no stockings. Absolutely not.

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  • Susan January 1, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Gotta Love Cats!

    Great story.

  • Alexis Rhone Fancher December 23, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Molly, this is the best piece on cats and Christmas I have ever had the pleasure to read. Always wonderful to read your work. Have a lovely, cat-filled, pleasure-filled Christmas! xoxo Alexis.

  • Carol Hoorn December 19, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Glad to see the count collection of cats is au currant. I got nervous
    for a moment knowing there are just five cat bowls.
    These days I just have my status as grandma cat lover to my granddaughters two cats. The family now lives in Sebastopol a half hour drive for me, just 23 minutes for them.
    I find myself mailing gifts and care packages now. I have been told that the cats don’t use the two blankets I sent them, but the family does! Fortunately, the little cat beds I brought are in the garage for them.
    Just two days ago, they have been joined in the garage by a spurned now four day old black lamb.Maybe they will enjoy a few drops of milk from its every four hour feeding.They get only a quarter cup each of dry food(fortunately, high quality) twice a day-no wet food!Maybe they need a fairy godmother, but at least they have this
    does what she can, Grandma.

  • Sue Brusseau December 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Molly, thank you for taking us home with you, to vicariously enjoy the lives of your cats. It sounds as though they are succeeding at contributing just enough “cat chaos”, to keep life unpredictable. The next “Kitty Hickey” could be just around the corner!

  • Sally Bahner December 19, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I always say every day is Christmas for my cats. BTW, free feeding dry food is the pits — they’ll be more satisfied with an increased amount of wet food.

  • Molly Fisk December 19, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Just to keep the record straight, this was written a few years ago. When I say, on Facebook, 5 out of 5 cats think X, those are accurate numbers. 😉

    Yes, Shirley, stockings are definitely for us!

  • Shirley December 19, 2015 at 8:31 am

    I have always had a Christmas stocking for my cat, but he really doesn’t care! You aren’t depriving them of anything important to them. Stockings are for us.