Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And a Friday in a pear tree...

Friday loves Christmas. He lives to chew on bows, pounce tissue paper and climb the tree. Over the years, I've learned a few things about living with him during the holidays. I don't put bows on packages until I'm loading them in the car. That saves a lot of embarrassing explaining to friends and family about why the bow on their gift looks like it was attacked by an angry paper shredder. When wrapping, I just give him his own sheet of tissue paper. He can amuse himself for hours and forgets that I have a stack of the crinkly paper right next to me. Ok, he doesn't forget and sometimes he gets two sheets but it avoids a sudden and unexpected pounce to the paper while I'm assembling the wrapping. Finally, I mash the hooks for the ornaments down tight and don't worry about the tree. I confess, I think it's really funny when he peaks out at me and at eight years old he's cut down on his tree time. Still, hanging out in the tree is high on his list of fun things and with an 8 month old kitten in the house, he often uses it as a kitten-free hideout.

Yesterday, I strolled in the dining room to wrap a few gifts and organize the room. Friday and the kitten, Seti, were chasing each other through the house. Friday believes he is very, very fast. He knows in his heart he could win the Kentucky Derby when the truth is he's actually quite slow. Still, he enjoys the delusion and the kitten was ruining it since the kitten actually is fast and Friday was repeated pounced. He “zipped” into the dining room with me, got tackled, again, and headed for his refuge in the branches of plastic. The tree rattled as he climbed up and settled in. I walked over and peeked in at him. He beamed at me, pleased with himself.

He was still and the tree didn't seem in danger of collapsing so I returned to my wrapping. After several minutes, he again began to wiggle around causing the branches to shake and the ornaments to bounce. He kept this up much longer than usual. Concerned he was playing with an ornament or attacking the lights I went back to the tree to check on him. He gazed at me. The look of self-congratulations replaced by concern. I stuck my hands in and tried to lift. He growled low in his throat. Can't be. I ran my fingers around him and sure enough he'd managed to wedge himself in the tree. He was firmly stuck, a strange, fluffy Christmas ornament! I couldn't help it. I laughed at him. The brilliant cat who can open doors with his paws managed to get himself stuck, again! For such a smart cat he really has a knack of getting into some unusual situations. After some finessing on my part and copious growling on his part I freed him from the tree. He doesn't seem any worse for wear but he hasn't been back in the tree since!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Kitten Under (In) the Christmas Tree

I have psychosis which Dictionary.com defines as, “any severe form of mental disorder, as schizophrenia or paranoia.” What mental disorder I have is questionable, what is certain is that whatever it may be, it's severe. How do I know I suffer from such affliction you may ask? It's simple. I put up a Christmas tree. Why did I put up a Christmas tree? Was it to celebrate one of my favorite holidays? Was it to enjoy the warm twinkling of the lights? NO! I put up a Christmas tree because I didn't think it was fair to ask my new kitten, Seti, to miss out on the joys of slapping ornaments, climbing to eye level with me or (his favorite) attacking the tree skirt and dragging it to the other side of the room. Textbook psychosis.

I first became anti-put-up-Christmas-tree when Friday was young. Christmas is Friday's favorite holiday. It contains all his favorite toys: bows, paper and, of course, trees. He decided the tree made a killer cat fort. It's an ancient fake-tree (I shudder to think what sap from a real tree would do to his thick fur. He bleeds me for brushing him; cutting little clumps of sap-soaked fur would be like voluntarily entering a torture chamber.). At least seven years ago, Friday climbed to the top of the tree for a nap. There's still a bald spot. I'll never forget walking through the living room and being possessed with the feeling that the tree was looking at me.

Once, he used the tree to hide cookies he stole from my grandfather. Who knew cats like Gingersnaps? As I prepared to put a large package behind the tree I noticed the cookie stash. There was a whole cookie, a half a cookie and a pile of suspicious crumbs. Grandpa shouldn't have fallen asleep and left his snacks unguarded around such a sneaky thief.

What have I learned from my years of living with Friday during the holidays? As I scoop the tree skirt up another time I sigh and realize I've learned nothing more than to bend the ornament hooks down really tight and pray no one chews on the light strands. Still, watching the cats play with the decorations makes me feel better about not having cable. There's nothing on more entertaining than a cat at Christmas!