by MDB blogger and veterinarian Dr. Amanda Glew
The night is dark, except for the reflected light of the snow in the sky. There is an eerie silence as I lay in bed, wondering what is about to happen. My heart jumps as I suddenly hear the crash, almost thankful that it has occurred. The whole family tumbles out of bed to the family room of our bungalow to view the disaster. There it is, the tree is down amongst a jumble of broken ornaments, and within the branches looking nonchalant is Beeba, the rather portly family cat. Such is one my most vivid childhood memories at Christmas.
Those of us who have the privilege of sharing our lives with the feline species, undoubtedly also had the privilege of sharing Christmas with these 8 pound carnivorous friends. This usually means we have experienced some sort of tribulation, as these creatures are uncannily known to get into trouble during the holidays.
We always grew up with fresh trees, and even when artificial trees became the fashion, I remember my parents being determined to harvest our yearly tree. To this day, I refuse to have a plastic tree in my house, and insist on the annual hike to cut down our very own, which usually turns into a Charlie Brown look-alike. Of course, this means that there are pine needles being trekked throughout the house until June. I believe it is the scent of pine, which causes the cats to behave like they do around the indoor tree. Beeba was one of these, and thought it was her duty to climb up the trees branches, to be in the safety of the forest, surveying her domain.
It usually happened in the middle of the night, and I always seem to remember being awake at this time, just before catastrophe strikes. I imagine Beeba may have been moving a little too much to the side, or her rather large belly swung a little to the left, but suddenly, there would be a swoosh, and down would come our Christmas tree, shattering lights, baubles and all. The first time we all just laughed, the second time, my dad decided to get
handy, and suddenly our natural tree was tied to the ceiling by ropes and cords, securely preventing any lateral movements or swaying of the tree. To this day, my husband is never quite sure why I insist on placing numerous red ribbons to the top, tying them to the rafters, making our tree resemble some sort of bizarre flag.. It is the image of crushed glass, and ripped up gifts that makes me do it.
Then, there are the decorations. All cats seem to believe that decorations were bought for them. Well, they are shiny, small, tied with a cord. Some even have feathers on the end of them, so what do you expect? Having experimented with different decorations over the years, I have come to the conclusion that the lower branches require plastic or other unbreakable decorations, while higher branches can usually get away with some more fragile ones, unless you have a Beeba in your midst. This of course means that I will never get a Martha Stewart looking tree, as it is hard to balance out colors as a result.
Finally, since we now have male cats, I have also come to the conclusion that it is the very same pine needles that encourage them to mark their territory under the tree. It took us one year to figure this out, putting up with the inglorious smell of cat urine throughout the holidays, only realizing it when we opened up presents that the smell came up from below tree. We now line the bottom of the tree with plastic, and have spray bottles close at hand.
All this for the sake of real pine? I am already looking at the after Christmas day tree sales…..