Cats and Christmas Trees!

My Work Here is DoneCats and Christmas trees

By Mary Jo

Cats have been around since time immemorial and Christmas trees became popular in the mid-19th century, when Victoria and Albert introduced the German custom of decorating trees into the British royal palaces and from there to most of the English speaking world. (In other words, they went viral. <G>)

And if Victoria had a cat, it probably climbed her tree.  But cameras, especially easy Christmas-Ornament-Catto use cell phone cameras, have really helped cats in Christmas trees become a true internet meme. (The image of the black and fallen tree is from Facebook and I think of it as "My work here is done. <G>)

At least a couple of times when I was a kid in our farmhouse, cats brought down our tree  and very messy it was. That hasn't happened in many years because tree stands are much more stable now.

I've had a few cats who were Christmas tree climbers, and many of them enthusiastically bat at low hanging ornaments.  ("Look, they hung all these nice play toys just for me!")

The cat below, right, is the Mayhem Consultant's cat, Reggie the Rascal.  Don't believe that innocent look.  He has climbed trees and he loves scooting up tree decorating ladders, then prowling the valances.

Christmas and cats 2014 001But mostly my cats are content to lounge underneath and possibly check the tags to see who gets what.  Christmas 2020(That's PandaMax on the left, doing exactly that.)

 

The number of jokes about cats climbing trees and sometimes pulling trees them over got me to thinking about pets in Christmas trees in general.  Cats are small and agile and have claws designed for climbing.

Probably a ferret would also be a climber, but they aren't that common as pets. Parakeets and other pet birds can fly across a room and land on a branch and perhaps cause some damage if they're larger types like macaws. 

Christmas and cats 2014 005Dogs aren't built for climbing, but a friend of mine assures me that the enthusiastic wagging tail of a Labrador retriever can reap a serious harvest of ornaments!

Thus, the number one rule for pet owners who put up trees it to PUT UNBREAKABLE ORNAMENTS ON THE LOWER BRANCHES.

We have a nice collection of lightweight, hard to break plastic apples that look pretty and have a  high tolerance for being knocked across a room.  (They make a distinctive rattling sound as they roll merrily across a hardwood floor at 2:00 am.

FluffyXmas2022So the bottom line is that with decorating care it's possible to have both pets and trees which is good for those of us who love both.

Do you have experiences with pets and Christmas trees?  Tell us about them!

Mary Jo

Dressing For Christmas!

TrumpetersNicola here. Every year as Christmas approaches, I try to visit one of my favourite stately homes to see it “dressed” for Christmas. This is an official term, apparently, and involves a lot of decorating which puts my own Christmas tree and lights to shame! (For a start, I don't have four model trumpeters outside my house to welcome visitors!) It hasn’t been possible to keep this visiting tradition going during the pandemic, so this year it was a real treat to be able to go to Beaulieu in the New Forest and enjoy some spectacular decorations that totally put me in the Christmas mood.

Beaulieu is probably best known for its famous Motor Museum and whilst I did pop in to have a look at an Aston Martin or two (there was a James Bond exhibition on) my main interest was in the ruins of the abbey and Beaulieu Palace itself.

There isn’t much left of the abbey, once the largest Cistercian building in England. The ruins are rather atmospheric Abbey though. Like so many other monastic buildings, the abbey’s downfall came in 1538 with Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries when it was sold into private hands and much of the stone was taken away and used for other building projects. It’s still possible to see the scale of the whole estate and imagine it surrounded by a 12 foot high wall that stretched for a mile, with the great gatehouse (which still stands) and the river and quay where boats would unload their supplies.

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Christmastide: Trees and Reindogs

Cat 243 Dover

by Mary Jo

I have an adorable picture of myself when I was three or four sitting on Santa’s lap.  (All kids that age are adorable, it’s a law of nature.)  Unfortunately, since I have to finish a book by the end of the weekend, I haven’t the time to figure out my recalcitrant scanner, so I can’t scan the picture.  Maybe next year.

But I can talk about bringing in the tree.  I grew up in the snow country of Western New York, where green Christmases were unheard of and I thought it normal that snow drifts were routinely above my head.

The Great Tree Hunt

We lived on a 70+ acre farm, with the back section woods, including some 3000 Scotch pines that my father got from the extension service and planted back there.  DSCN0096 (He had a degree in forestry and liked trees.)

So come December, he’d hitch the tractor to the wagon (think of the buckboards in old TV Westerns and you wouldn’t be far off) and we’d go bouncing over snow hills to pick a Christmas tree.  Despite all those long-needled Scotch pines, we wanted a short needled spruce, and we had those, too.

A suitable tree would be chosen (my father’s vote was the deciding one), and he’d chop down the tree, put it on the wagon, and back to the house where with luck, my mother would have hot chocolate waiting.  She wisely avoided the expedition to the back 40. <G>

Interestingly, when I talked to my older sister last night to confirm details, she said I didn’t much like these expeditions because it was Cold!  And Wet!  And Uncomfortable!  Apparently I am my mother’s daughter, though I have no memory of disliking the process.  But I do remember the tree trips.

Putting up the Tree

Even more I remember erecting the tree with an old tobacco can as a base.  The physics of this were not geared for stability, so guy wires were improvised of heavy twine and fastened to doorknobs and hinges in the corner of the living room. 

Then the decorating.  My sister, who has always had more class than I, would careful drape each strand of tinsel in an exact place.  Then, and now, I have always believed that good taste can be overdone, especially at Christmas.  <G>  I liked lots of tinsel, glittering madly. (This was the old fashion lead foil tinsel, by the way.  The kind that breaks if you look at it cross-eyed.) 

Reggie at Christmas 001 Cats in Trees 

In an amazing bit of synchronicity with Joanna’s post yesterday about feline box sitting, it is also true that cats have a great affinity for trees.  Especially indoor trees.  With branches well spaced for climbing. 

More than once, I remember a tree crashing over despite the guy wires.  Smashing ornaments, swearing parents, and one or more cats hightailing it to the high timber, wearing their best “Who, me?” expressions. Ah, those were the days…!

Many things have changed over the years, but I am here to tell you that cats still like to climb Christmas trees.  No, the cat above is not from my childhood, but entirely current.  He is Reggie the Rascal, whom I have twice this year removed from the middle branches of the tree when he’s decided this isn’t a good idea, but he doesn’t know how to get down. 

The tree hasn’t fallen—yet—because bases are a lot more stable these days.  But all bets are off if Reggie decides to climb higher, since he is small but amazingly dense. 

Other Christmas Critters?

In keeping with the theme, here are some of Laura Resnick’s pictures of this year’s Cincinnati Reindog parade, sponsored by the Cincinnati SPCA to raise money and also provide great entertainment for all concerned.

Almost as good as riding in a car! 

Hannukah hundt 

Like my horns 

So—how do pets figure into your Christmas?  Cats in trees, dogs treating the tree as if it was outdoors, parrots perching in the branches?  If you have any good seasonal pet stories, by all means, share!

Santa's Elves Mary Jo, adding that this is your last day to make a comment that will enter you in our Word Wenches giveaway — a Word Wenches Library with a book from each of us for a winner picked at random from among all those who post on the blog in December! Good luck!