The holiday season should be a joyous time for all members of the household, even the four-legged ones. Unfortunately, some cats only reluctantly seem to embrace the Christmas spirit.
So if you have a puss that starts pouting over the holidays, don’t blame him or her entirely — pet owners might bear some of the responsibility.
Consider our cat, for instance. Each Christmas, he usually finds himself decorated with a brightly colored, cheerful holiday hat, vest, and matching multicolored collar studded with numerous festive brass bells, by a family member who has threatened to do the same with me if I identify her.
Personally, however, I find decorating a cat rather pointless. After all, they can’t see color as distinctly as we do, so fail to appreciate the sartorial splendor of such glamorous body ornamentation.
Then there’s those infuriating collar bells that drive both me and the cat nuts. No self-respecting feline can be expected to maintain its dignity, let alone a good disposition, with a constant tingling tormenting it night and day.
The perpetual, shrill jingling will disrupt essential activities, such as maintaining personal hygiene and the satisfaction derived from a session of vigorous scratching. And as far as stalking is concerned, mice can hear even the most stealthy cat tinkling from three blocks away, so hunting must be suspended until the new year. It’s enough to unhinge the most congenial feline temperament.
With the appearance of the Christmas tree, we usually hope that kitty will begin to enjoy the spirit of the season. But in reality, the tree holds few fond memories for the cat ever since he chewed through the light cord as an adventurous young kitten. Sure, that was the year he broke the neighborhood tree climbing record — reaching the top in a mere 3 milliseconds — but at what cost? He forever remains cynical of nature’s greatest seasonal scratching post.
Christmas Eve brings more torment in the form of a delicious glass of creamy milk that mysteriously appears out of reach, high on a shelf above the lounge room fireplace. But just as the cat devises a plan to scale the furniture and reach the tasty white nectar for a midnight snack, some paunchy, bearded intruder breaks into the house — materializing in the hearth, of all places — and drinks it. And just when kitty thought someone with whiskers named Santa Claws might be a pal.
Needless to say, the cat is unimpressed, and by Christmas day its nerves are shot to hell. If you think your sweet little kids can turn nasty when they don’t receive that much sought after present on their wish list, wait until you experience a crabby kitty Christmas.
I should also offer an additional warning to fellow cat owners. Don’t fall for that old Christmas stunt our cat pulls every year. You know, a desperate attempt for revenge by rolling over kind of sickly looking, just as we’re all sitting down to dinner, clutching his side and meowing like some frantic feline in agony: “Meow, my spleen, meow, my spleen — I’m dying here, take me to the Doc….NOW!”
Naturally we fell for it the first year.
Well, after spending three hours looking for a vet open on Christmas Day, the doc smirked and said: “Fell for that old trick, huh? Cats don’t have spleens, dummy! That’ll be $150, please. And Merry Christmas.”
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 600 magazines and newspapers.