Have you ever dealt with the frustration of trying to keep a pet out of your holiday decorations? Even if it’s not a particular battle of yours, odds are you’ve seen the memes circulating at this time of year. People get creative with their solutions, and it makes for entertaining viewing. Of course, if you’re the person coping with the destructive pet, it gets less comical.
Because it’s shocking the amount of damage a 6-pound cat can do!
That’s right, despite the fact I wrote an article this year on keeping cats out of Christmas trees, Tonks defies every attempt we make. She is a mini machine of absolute destruction, hell-bent on taking out the tree. And it’s not even the ornaments she’s after. Oh, no, this tiny demon of feline grace and prowess infiltrates the tree and bends branches out of shape before a single ornament comes out of its box. One moment, she’s on her cat perch. The next, you hear the telltale sound of a body slithering between plastic. Look over, and there’s a face peeping out at you from half-way up the tree. (Admittedly, she’s never made it to top, but that’s probably because we hear her before she gets that far)
In 2018, when she was only eight-months-old (and not fully grown), she destroyed our first Christmas tree. This is the result of her climbing. Branches mangled beyond repair. Holes gaping from her wedging her body through spaces we never imagined she’d fit. We’d set the tree up early, as a test to see how she’d react. No ornaments (we weren’t completely foolish), no ribbons – just the tree itself. The poor thing never stood a chance. We DID eventually decorate the tree, but it didn’t look as pretty as usual. Turns out the branches weren’t designed to hold a six-pound kitten’s explorations. And, of course, she continued her wanton destruction despite the additional obstacles of ribbon and ornaments. We found ourselves picking up and replacing at least three or four ornaments every morning. Not to mention repositioning the tree skirt that the little bugger insisted on burrowing under. (That stopped once there were gifts under the tree, though) And don’t get me started on her interest in the snowflakes on the wood stove, the garland on the shelves, or the stockings on the stone work around the stove.
When it came time to replace the poor abused Christmas tree, we got strange looks from salespeople. Apparently, “Do you think these branches can support an eight-pound cat?” wasn’t a question they routinely heard. Nor were they used to people pushing down on the demo trees, debating sturdiness. (We entertained other shoppers, though) It took us weeks to track down our current tree, which passed our testing in the store. Of course, our best guesses were nothing compared to the actual demon herself.
Would this new tree survive? Or would it suffer the same fate as the original?
(And, seriously, why has the artificial tree industry not come up with a cat rating?)
Amazingly enough, the new acquisition came through with flying colors. I wish I could say Tonks lost her interest with climbing the Christmas tree, but I’d be lying. She just hasn’t destroyed this new one (yet). And the morning ornament round-up continued last year unabated. Of course, we’re always smart enough to put the unbreakable ornaments at the bottom so they’ll survive the fall.
This year, we adopted a new tactic. Maybe, if we found a suitably soft tree skirt, we could divert Tonks’s obsession with the tree. As you can see, our plan worked – a little too well. We almost couldn’t get the skirt UNDER the tree. After letting it sit on the chair unattended, she claimed it as her own. It took a lot of coaxing to get the fluffy skirt away from her and out to the den. And she HAS been a little less interested in the tree this year (though she has a current obsession with one of the ornaments that has a jingle bell attached – an “alarm” to tell us she’s climbing into the branches). Unfortunately, as soon as we started adding the gifts under the tree, she lost most of her snuggle room on the tree skirt – and she’s let us know her displeasure by scratching at the presents and trying to move them out of the way. (Sometimes you can get a little TOO smart for your own good)
Tonks is the first cat I’ve owned who’s developed an obsession with climbing the branches. No one else cares (though Firefly “chews” on the branches – something he’s done both before and after he had all of his teeth pulled). Then again, our tiny demon does a lot of things no other cat does, so it’s not entirely a surprise. However, she’s given me a new appreciation for those annual battles. So the next time you see one of those cat Christmas tree memes, understand that the struggle is REAL.