Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Five Reasons Not to Adopt Cats at Christmas

This is Lena.
 When we arrived at Petsmart the week before Christmas innocently seeking food for the LIOLI hound, we were greeted by an unexpected holiday morality play: a wall of homeless kittens. Their cages were all stacked right at the entrance so that one could not pass into the bowels of pet supplies without directly confronting their furry little faces peeking out and silently screaming for you to free them from their misery. The cats were surrounded by the saavy volunteers of the coastal humane society from whence they came, workers who had apparently received special expert training in the arts of manipulating the soul, spotting the suckers and separating them from the pack of other holiday shoppers. These volunteers, I'm sure, are part of some sort of pet adoption ninja order that trains them to lure you in with casual conversation and then nonchalantly take the kittens out of the cage so you can pet them. The secret is that the cage is actually a Pandora's box; the kittens can never go back in it. Once you've met them and realized that while your favorite dog will receive a candy-cane shaped bone for Christmas these little sleepy, fuzzy critters will receive a one way ticket to the gas chamber, you are forced to act, unless of course, you have no soul. (Thinking about it now, I think I will go down to the humane society and sign up for said ninja-training which would prove quite useful in my recruitment of church volunteers. But I digress.)

Needless to say, we left the store with the dog food...and two three month old kittens.

I should stop at this point and say that I have never had a cat before. I am mildly allergic and really am a dog person at heart. Thus being completely naive, I had no idea that adopting a cat--or two for that matter--at Christmas may be the worst idea ever. Why, you say? I'll tell you why.

#1 Christmas Trees. Christmas trees are to cats as Las Vegas is to those with substance abuse issues: tempting, dangerous, maddeningly omnipresent. Apparently, cats love nothing more than to tear around underneath Christmas trees, chewing the needles, pulling down the strings of lights, and creating a constant clanging from the ornaments placed thereon banging into one another. This is cute of course unless you would like to a) get anything in your life accomplished during the Christmas season, b) have your Christmas ornaments remain intact and/or c) prevent your cats from being electrocuted. I estimate that I spent about 46% of my time over the following two weeks crawling under the tree to haul them back out, given that my chosen punishment method, the spray bottle, was useless against the defense of greenery naturally provided by our Noble Fir.

#2 Wrapping and Ribbon. If trees are like Las Vegas for cats, ribbon is like meth. Its bouncy nature gives them so much pleasure, hours of kitty delight. But, like methamphetamines, eating ribbon can lead to serious and irreversible internal damage for cats. Allegedly, it can wrap its way around their tiny good. So instead of having our presents under the tree, they ended up stacked 5 high on the washer/dryer in the laundry room until the moment of Christmas arrived.

#3 Decorations of the table-top variety. As I indicated previously, this was the Christmas in which we went hog wild with decorating the LIOLI home, expressing our pent-up-from-city-living-holiday passions,   meaning most flat surfaces in our home were adorned with some sort of yuletide trinket: silver angels, illuminated snowmen, Santa statues carved from driftwood. This seemed like a great pre-cat idea. But in a post-catpocalyptic world, it turned out to be most unwise. Apparently a really fun game for cats is to climb on top of things--tables, shelves, dressers--and then push items of all kinds off the edge. (I'm not blaming them...that sounds kind of fun actually.) The practical side-effect of this feline extra-curricular was that every 3 hours or so, a crash-bang could be heard throughout the house and we would come running to find--fill in the blank--a Christmas angel, a painted Russian Christmas egg, or a mantle-top stocking holder, forced form its perch and was now lying on the floor, hopefully still in one piece.
This is Loomis.
#4 Poinsettias. Poinsettias, as you are likely aware, are beautiful plants whose gorgeous foliage does wonders for your holiday decorating.* We bought 6 of them and spread them throughout the house to help brighten up our living space for holiday parties. Poinsettias are also, apparently, deadly to cats. So what do cats do? They try to eat them all day long. So into the laundry room the poinsettias also went, making that space look like a holiday episode of hoarders.

#5 Holiday Entertaining Speaking of holiday parties, we had a few. The cats were not invited, because they are furry escapist devils whose bones do not appeared to be connected to one another. You grab for them as they streak by you out the door and you might as well be trying to grasp smoke. They are tiny pinballs running amuck amidst guests feet and acting out gladiator battles on the dining room table. Ultimately, they had to be quarantined into the guest bedroom which has left a mild odor of cat litter and mischief there.

The good news, if there is any, is that these two are finding a place in our home and hearts now that Christmas is done, and it seems the primary animal member of our home is adjusting fine to their presence. Next time though, I'll aim for a mid-summer adoption program and remember to steer clear of the pet store during December.

*I just read on Wikipedia that the star-shaped leaves of the poinsettia symbolize the Star of Bethlehem while the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus. Now that is some BS if I ever heard any, though a genius use of religious propaganda to boost sales. Cats, though, I think are very religious. They seem to constantly be chasing demons, or so I've chosen to see their periodic inexplicable outbursts during which they chase invisible things and punch at the air.

**KK, if you are reading this, greetings to Simon and Fiona, our cat sibling role models!

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