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

The joy of animal companions!

DogsNicola here talking about animal companions. Something I’ve noticed quite a lot during lockdown is the number of people who have been getting a dog to keep them company. The prices of pedigree puppies have soared; lots of people have posted excitedly on social media about the pleasure of getting new pets. It’s wonderful if caring for an animal has brought people the benefit of companionship, exercise and uncritical love (maybe not in the case of cats) but this did also set off some warning bells for me.

We all know that a pet is forever not just for Lockdown.

There is no doubt, though, that the antics of various animals have lifted the spirits of a lot of us. My new favourite online stars are Dandies
Olive and Mabel
, two Labradors belonging to the sports commentator Andrew Cotter. His deadpan commentaries of their various activities are very funny and the dogs are utterly adorable. Lots of people have dropped into my Facebook page to see various photos and videos of Angus as we go out and about together, and my writing friend Kate Hardy is posting a diary of her progress training her new spaniel puppy, Dexter. I spend a lot longer that I should watching cute cat videos on Twitter and I’m sure there are plenty of other pets out there doing wonderful cheering things – rabbits, ferrets, even fish making their owners happy.

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Cats and Writers, with examples

Singi disapproving

My writer cat, Singi

Joanna here: Just a small blog today, about writers and cats.

Writers and cats are rather ham and eggs, Laurel and Hardy, beans and franks partners. Obvious buddies.

There must be a reason for it. Some cats are obviously born with printers' ink under their claws.

I think it’s because writers sit for long periods of time not doing anything exciting like pounding in nails or cutting hair or making fine adjustment to the sniper scopes on precision rifles. They go typetypetypetype typetypetypetype typetypetypetype typetypetypetype and then sit for several minutes staring into the middle distance.

This is pretty much what cats do, allowing for an absence of taWench twainpetty tap tap.

 

“If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering, outspoken fellow, but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.
     Mark Twain

 

That's a high compliment from Twain there. A good writer never says a word too much.

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Creatures great and small

Wench Marguerite GérardJoanna here, talking about one of the minor constants in my books.

I love me some animals. All kinds, from wild tigers to tame kitty cats. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Also parrots and penguins. The feistier they are, the better I like them. I try to put a pet as a character in each of my books because they are arguably an improvement over humans.

Spymaster’s Lady introduces us to Tiny, the huge black dog that guards the house. Annique calls him that "monster dog that stalks the halls, slavering and famished, seeking human flesh." She considers Tiny, not so much a dog, as "a wolf and possibly also part elephant." Annique is not one of the world's dog fanciers. But then, she spent her innocent girlhood sneaking into houses and stealing secrets. This gives one an ambivalent relationship with guard dogs.Wench Mrs. D. le B. Bennett

Doyle found Tiny wandering by the London docks. "We think it's part wolfhound." Perhaps Tiny is the result of a mésalliance between an Irish wolfhound and a Newfoundland. They're both ancient breeds, becoming fairly widespread by the early Nineteenth Century. A cross between the two could plausibly have shown up in a cosmopolitan seaport like London. It would be one formidable dog.

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What the Animals Got for Christmas

Cat in chair smallI don't forget the animals at Christmas. They may not know what's going on, but they know it involves food.

If I left them out of the festivities, the dog would gaze at me sadly, wondering how she'd failed me. What she'd done wrong.  
The cat would stomp over and bite my ankles. Mandy with toys 2

So they both got finely chopped chicken served to them in a lordly dish with much crooning and praise.

Up there's the cat in her accustomed cat-coma, sleeping off Christmas dinner, cat version.
I didn't buy her any toys. She turns her nose up at toys.

Christmas birdAnd to the right here is the dog, slightly more alert than the feline. Note the new squeaky toy. It's blue. It has eyes. And spots. And three (count 'em three!!) air bladders inside, each squeaking at a different note. The dog has a high old time playing tunes on it.

Outside is the accustomed tribute for the birds. Sunflower seeds. Only the best for my feathered friends.

The dog is grateful.

The cat, as usual, accepts my tribute.

Who knows what birds feel?