O Catscratch tree!

O Catscratch Tree O Catscratch Tree

How shredded are thy branches!

O Catscratch Tree O Catscratch Tree

How shredded are thy branches!

You’re dragged around my house all day

Pine pitch in fur won’t go away

O Catscratch Tree O Catscratch Tree

How shredded are thy branches!

I moved out of my mother’s house after college, when I got my first job. Living alone for the first time was different, especially when the holidays rolled around, but it wasn’t bad – I was still close enough to drive home for Christmas. But in my apartment, I had to have some cheer, so I put colored lights all around the living room. At the time, I had no pets other than a hamster on speed (working at an emergency veterinary hospital kept me around animals 24/7). Then a year later, my sister moved in, we got a bigger place, and decided it was time to get two kittens.

Yes, like many of you we’d been raised with pets. And I was in the Veterinary field as a profession. I’m no newbie. So we found two of the cutest kittens in all the world – Legend and Fable. Months of happy kitten raising went by, and Christmas rolled around again. My sister and I realized we could buy a tree, decorate it, and even though we were going to drive home for Christmas evening (I had to work that day) we could make our apartment look like the holidays.

So we bought a tree. Just a little one, cute as could be. It stood maybe four feet high, and sat in a nice solid base. We put bulbs on, and lights – no tinsel because that’s too dangerous around pets. And our kitties – now about 5 months old, looked at the pretty colors in amazement.

That night, as we slept, they played. I think I must have gotten up about seven times to pick the tree back up. The next day, when I came home from work, I had to retrieve the tree from the kitchen. That night, I had an idea – take the tree to bed with me, and close the door !


Fable could open doors, did I mention that?

It was an exciting holiday season, but they were young and the tree was too small. The next year, they were older, and our tree was a decent 5-footer. It lasted four days.

The year after that, we tried the opposite approach and got a 3 foot tree so I could lock it in the closet at night and during the day while we were at work.

Did I mention how Fable could open doors?

The year after that we tried to figure out how to hang a Christmas tree from the ceiling and couldn’t quite get our minds wrapped around it, so we put lights around the fireplace and called it good. And for years afterward, that was our Christmas decor. Lights inside the apartment. Then one year we moved out of the city and back to the town we grew up in, because I had a new job and my sister had always wanted to move back. Renting my father’s unused condo gave us lots more room, and we aquired two more kittens – Figment and Muse. That Christmas, the lights went up around the fireplace, and up this open-concept staircase in the condo.

Did you know if a 20lb grey and white cat puts Christmas lights in his mouth, you can see through his cheeks?

New Tradition: Christmas lights on the OUTSIDE only.

Those four cats are gone now, and we have two stray bizarro twins – Rumor and Secret. Rumor, the big fella, likes to drag things around the house. If he wants your coat, and it’s in the mud room, he’ll drag it to the living room. There’s a nice throw blanket on your bed? He’s pulled it to the kitchen. His brother, Secret, takes advantage of these feats and curls up in the coat, or the blanket, or the bra, or the panties, or whatever else his brother has dragged to where he feels they belong.

I haven’t seen a Christmas Tree in over 20 years!

I could have trained them, I am an expert in the field, after all. But really it was a nice excuse to avoid all the mess and fuss and disposal of a dead tree. We have a house now that’s ours, so we have trees in the yard we can decorate with lights and bird treats – we have archways and porches that we string with lights – we even have a timer turn them on at dusk and off at dawn. And we’re freed from the hassels of storing, putting out and putting away seasonal decorations.

Gone are those December nights, sitting around a beautfilly lit tree sparkling in the color of lighted splendor. Gone is the scent of pine in the house, mixing with the hot cocoa you’re sipping after a long day of playing in the snow. Gone are the long nights of wonder and remembrance, gazing into the antique decorations from holidays past.

Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On cometh the time for new ways and traditions!

What changed for you over the years? Have you made new traditions and cast off the old?

14 thoughts on “O Catscratch tree!

  1. My two cats have never bothered the tree, although Meggie likes to lay underneath and stare up at the pretty lights. She does, however, steal all bows. She is cheif bowthief and her sister isn’t much better. I no longer put bows on presents. It’s a waste of time. I’ve learned to keep her off the presents by putting a “cat box” under the tree. It’s just a flannel lined box, but Meg can’t resist curling up in it as she gazes at “her” beautiful tree.

    My parents have two heathen cats named Pyewacket and Pandora. They are death on trees. My mother insists on having a tree. They now have an artificial tree each year with a VERY stable base and she only puts non-breakable ornaments on it. But You can’t put anything on the top. Pye climbs it and will headbutt any star or angel placed up there until if falls. Pan likes to hide in the tree. She secrets herself about four feet up and grabs the unwary passerby.

  2. I typically don’t realistically expect anything more than to spend my Christmases at home with the pager, which makes me happy because I know I’m taking the oncall for someone with family, and if there’s anything I can do with my life during the holidays, it’s that.

    Of late a friend of mine has been ruining my holidays of content loneliness by dragging me over to his family’s for all sorts of holidays, Christmas included. This entirely rules my plans of listening to Linkin’ Park while watching YouTube funny animal Christmas videos, eating a turkey sandwich with a side of white cheddar popcorn, chased down with apple juice ’cause I could never get the hang of making that spiced cider stuff. Instead, there’s singing and shared Christmas movies and big dinners with real desserts and friends and a real crackling fire and companionship and general cheer. And my friend also works where I do, so if something does come up, I can use his network connection without fear.

    I am glad that they ruin my holidays. 🙂

  3. Hmm, the dogs have chewed some of the ornaments, and one of them broke my Dumbledore. Does that count?

    Overall, we’ve never had that much trouble. It’s the toddler I wonder about. So far she’s been good with Mom’s, but you never know.

  4. So, Tori, are you developing NEW Christmas traditions for your daughter – a blending of your old family ways and those of your husband, or are you still enjoying the traditions of your childhood and passing those on to her?

  5. When we had ferrets they used to chase each other through the tree, but never really did much damage.

    My dalmatian has already destroyed several ornaments because he’s got this monster tail that he wags when he’s happy and he’s always happy and it strikes the tree or ornaments and breaks them.

    So the only change we’ve ever made is we put the glass and breakable ornaments at the top of the tree.

  6. We’ve kind of blended. Last year, my parents and my brother arrived at 7am for a Christmas breakfast. Then we went to my husband’s family thing at noon, leaving us the evening and avoiding an overtired toddler. It went really well, except that my grandmother (my grandparents live with my parents) really wanted to see Piper open her presents.

    This year we are going to my parent’s for Christmas Eve brunch. When my brother and I were younger, my parents really worked hard to avoid piling on too much for Christmas day. They wanted us to have a chance to play with our toys instead of being rushed from house to house to house.

    That’s one tradition I really want to keep. The rest is just getting to spend time with family, and I don’t care how that happens, so long as we get to. I’m really hoping my cousin makes it in from Texas. I don’t hardly ever see her and I like her a lot. We spent a lot of time together growing up.

  7. I never had a full-sized tree until last year, when I no longer had a cat. When I did have a cat, I had this little 2-foot tall tree that I’d place in the corner on a teakwood turntable. Kat thought it was the best seasonal toy in the world. He’d sit in front of it and move the turntable back and forth. Because it was a miniature tree, it also had miniature ornaments. He’d carefully move them about the tree, lifting them off and placing them in new locations with his mouth. He only ever broke one, or maybe two, doing that.

    I also had some plastic, colored “bulbs” — the type used in ceramic trees — scattered around the base of the tree for decoration. They’d catch the light. He’d pick them up and drop them back onto the turntable, so they made these little ticking noises. He especially liked to do this in the morning when he was waiting for me to finish in the basement.

    As for bows. Yeah. Months later, I’d find them under the couch where he’d bat them when I wasn’t looking. He never messed with them after they were on the presents, though. He just liked to chase them across the hardwood floor.

  8. You know, it’s a funny post to come across, this one. Just yesterday, my wife and I got out the Christmas tree (artificial, clearly) and set it up. We sat on the couch and looked at it and realized that, over the course of the three years we’ve had the massive thing, the cats had thoroughly warped some of the branches, in the places where they stand to climb ever higher up the tree. (Chasing the ornaments which coincidentally also spend the Christmas season migrating north).

    “It looks terrible,” I said. So we took the tree down and packed it away in the box. Toby, the massive insatiable cat would have destroyed it this year anyway. He’s in his prime.

    So instead, we have bought window paints and my wife shall paint us a beautiful Christmas tree on our balcony doors. And I have rooted around and found all manner of Christmas lights and rope lights and so forth and shall hang them prettily around the window where the tree is painted. It is not a tree, but it is a pretty solution. And, given that the animals are probably not leaving my house anytime soon, Zach may grow up lacking in Christmas trees. It’ll do him good. Build character. 😀

  9. Our cat liked to climb so we put a couple of strings from the top of the tree to the wall and never had any trouble. However we did have cat-related problems of a different sort. We used to do tinsel (long spaghetti-like strands of silver) on the tree until the year I spent weeks pulling the things out of the cats butt. Seems he would eat them but of course the plastic didn’t dissolve and tried to exit a few days later. Unfortunately he could get them partway out using natural processes but was unable to achieve complete success, so he would wander the house with one black tail and several silver ones, then I would have to pull the things ever-so-slowly out (didn’t want to damage anything if it was knotted up). Although our cat is now fat and old, to this day we do not use tinsel any more.

  10. Yeah, we never used tinsel. Well, early on, with my parents, but I haven’t used the stuff in my own home, and won’t. It’s a bad idea with cats. That just can’t be pleasant to have hanging out yer bum. 🙂

  11. We did tinsel as a kid. My wife never did. We compromised. We don’t use tinsel. 🙂 She said it looked tacky if it was just thrown on and took too long to make pretty. I’m thinking of cleanup. On a real tree you just throw the whole shebang to the curb and let the city take care of it. But with artificial trees, you have to clean them all off before packing it away. I’m getting lazy in my old age. That’s also the reason we’ve gone to trees that already have the lights strung on them. Every year it seemed I was winding the lights tighter and tighter and we’d have to go out to get a new strand. When you plugged it in the lights in the entire neighborhood would dim and our tree made a sound like a power transformer, humming as it threw out something like 50 gigawatts of light. You could have tanned by that tree.

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