Still Life, With Cats

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Catmas

We decided that today was the day to put up the Christmas tree. Naturally, we had feline assistance (click any of the pictures below to embiggen).

Here is Sherman, looking oh-so-cute and innocent.


The second Richard started pulling down the ladder to the attic, however, he knew something was up.


Richard went up to the attic. I stayed below, camera at the ready. Sherman did not disappoint.


Yes, he climbed that all by himself. Shortly after I took this picture, he was unceremoniously removed from the ladder, and the room, and the doors were shut, so that we could extract all the Christmas items from the attic without also having to extract a cat.


Nutmeg, meanwhile, found the entire process boring and wished we would quit banging around in the room so she could focus on the birds outside.

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We dragged the tree box out to the living room. 0.1 nanoseconds after opening it, this is what we had.

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I’m not sure what he thinks might be in there. But then, this *is* the cat who is convinced that every single thing in the universe is a Thing for Cats.

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Once we’d pulled out a few sections of the tree, Rupert joined the party.

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Poor Azzie. He got so confused by the whole process, and sat by the open box trying to figure out what he’d missed.

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Richard stuck the first section of the tree into the stand. Sherman waited all of about 2 microseconds before climbing aboard.

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He was quite pleased with himself for having scaled the tree.

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He was not as pleased when we tried to convince him to get out of the way so we could put the next section into place.

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Of course once part 2 was up, he had to inspect our construction techniques, and also see if it might possibly now be tall enough to get to those shelves above the windows.

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Sorry, Sherman, we’ve got one more section to go. Time to move, little buddy.

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Luckily, there was a giant empty box, perfect for distracting him long enough so we could get the final piece assembled.

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Next came the decorating. You can see that one of the ornaments put itself on the tree. You might also notice that every other ornament on the tree is of the non-breakable, safe for cats kind. Some people can put all sorts of fragile, pretty things on their trees. Those people do not live with Sherman.

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And here it is, our fully decorated Catmas tree, complete with (if you make the picture larger you can see him) cat.

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‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Passing through

Sherman, at some point in the last week or so, ate some yarn.

I know, I know, I am a hard core knitter and there is yarn everywhere so really, this was inevitable, but I do try to keep it away from prying paws, and in the decade I’ve been knitting (has it been that long? I really have no idea) it has never been this kind of issue.

Anyway. The point is that Sherman ate some yarn. I did not realize this, however, at the time it was actually being eaten. I have my suspicions as to when this occurred, because his very best buddy and primary instigator of all things naughty, aka Rupert, likes to ‘liberate’ yarn from the very top shelves from time to time and there was one moment fairly recently when a ball of dark green sock yarn was discovered on the office floor, and two grey boys were sitting innocently nearby. However, I did not actually discover that yarn had been eaten until it started to be…..well how do I put this? When an item is eaten, eventually it will work its way through the gut and come out the other end. The eating of yarn was discovered when the yarn began to emerge, which happened Sunday night.

I know better than to simply pull the yarn, because I had no idea how long a piece we were dealing with, and string can be pretty deadly if it gets wrapped knotted up in the intestines. So instead I called the vet, grimly figuring that this was going to be expensive.

The vet, however, simply said that we didn’t need to bring him in; that as long as he was eating and drinking and using the litter box normally, that we should just wait and hopefully things would…pass…on their own. Considering that the yarn-eater in question had only moments prior to the call been tearing around the house like a wild thing with his partner in crime, I figured he wasn’t being bothered by his…uh…temporary extra tail. But still, it was a bit unnerving.

At lunch yesterday I went home to check on Sherman, who was still bouncing around completely undeterred by the fact that there was yarn dangling out of his nether regions. I was a bit worried that it would get caught on something, so I did manage to sneak up behind him with some scissors while he was distracted with food and trim it back a bit. This, by the way, was not the only time I had to do this yesterday. He managed to ingest quite a shockingly long piece of yarn.

I would just like to pause for a moment to point out that this a thing that never, ever, would occur to you when you get a cat – that at some point you might have to be sneaking up behind it with scissors to trim off yarn that is working its way through its gut.

Anyway. Thankfully by the time we went to bed last night, Sherman’s hind end was finally yarn free. Meanwhile I am pondering new methods of yarn storage. And also the best way to sterilize a pair of scissors.

I might end this tale with the hope that perhaps he has now learned his lesson, but really. This is a cat we are talking about here. More specifically this is Sherman. So instead I will simply say that this morning he bounced right onto my lap as if nothing at all had happened, and demanded scritches for nearly ten minutes before bounding back off to go wreak mayhem somewhere else. And I guess that is good enough.

Not a creature was stirring

The cats, apparently, are doing their best to see if they can make me have a heart attack. The other day I came home, dropped my purse on the table, placed my keys carefully and deliberately on TOP of my purse so I would see them and know right where they were, and then dashed off to gather things together before running back out the door to an event. I left things alone for a a max of five minutes. When I returned, ready to scoop up my purse and head out, my keys were nowhere in sight. I searched all over the table; checked my coat pockets more than once, dumped out my entire purse in my frantic race to find them, and then, finally, heard the sound of them clinking from below. Somehow my keys leaped off of my purse, scooted two feet over to the edge of the table, and then fell off, all on their own. Mmm hmm. Sure they did.

And then this morning, I was working on a knitting project – a project that has been beset with issues to the point where I am starting to feel a bit frantic because it is due back to the company in early January – and I realized I was missing a ball of yarn. I distinctly remember putting it in my project bag, after I ripped out the entire thing this past Tuesday (the fact that I am not telling you how many stitches that was is primarily because to do that calculation and actually figure it out would lead me to weeping) and wound it all back into balls. I cast on (again!) with the first ball, but the second ball had somehow mysteriously disappeared. The fact that I have had to shoo Rupert away from my project bag (he remains convinced that it holds Things For Cats) plays no part in the yarn’s disappearance, I am sure (</sarcasm>).

I panicked. Richard and I tore the house apart, looking under furniture, digging through trash,  checking under pillows and boxes and cats, but there was no sign of it. It wasn’t until several hours later, after we’d been out of the house for errands and had returned and commenced a fresh search, that it reappeared, lurking innocently underneath the loveseat.

Meanwhile, in the less-trying-to-induce-heart-attack mode and more in the seriously adorable mode, Nutmeg is apparently on a mission to denude the tree completely. She has been systematically removing the jingle bell ornaments one by one. Then she chases them all over  the house, before shoving them underneath a bed or some other piece of furniture where it’s harder to get to them, and then she goes back to the tree to repeat the process.

Note to self – buy a whole lot more jingle bell ornaments at the after Christmas sales this year.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Step by step

Tonight we put up the tree.

As you can see, this is a very involved process. First, you must give all of the parts a thorough inspection before you remove them from the box.

Next, you begin assembling the tree. First the base gets placed into the stand, and then the middle section, and finally the top part.

Hmm. Funny. The top part of the tree doesn’t look quite like the rest. Better check the instructions again.

Some Assembly Required

(Yes, those *are* tiny stuffed dragons on the ledges above the window. They are flying animals, after all.)

The Branch Inspector takes her job very seriously. “Excuse me. I believe this one is a little bit crooked.”

Branch Inspector


The Quality Control officer, however, remains decidedly unimpressed.

Ingrid Is Unimpressed

“Yeah, yeah, it’s a tree. Can I go back to napping now?

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

One year

2012-05-11 ShermanOne year ago today we went and picked up a tiny little scrap of grey fluff. He met all the cats and immediately decided that Rupert (the Highly Caffeinated Cat) was his Very Best Buddy in the whole world. And it didn’t take long for Rupert to figure out that here was a small minion he could take under his wing and mold into his own image.


2013-03-31 ShermanOnBlanketOver the past year Rupert has energetically taught Sherman all of his tricks (racing  around on the railing around the opening to the stairs, leaping to the top of the refrigerator cabinet, racing around on the ledges over the windows and doors, conducting the daily Great Race up and down the stairs and into and out of every single room at top speed and volume, dashing in between our feet when we’re walking – especially when going down the stairs, and, well, you get the drift).


2013-05-03 ShermanSleepingThere are days when we watch the two of them tearing around, leaving destruction in their wake, and wonder what the heck we were thinking. And then there are days when we realize that Rupert actually has someone who will *wear him out* (and for a cat whose full name is Goddammit Rupert Stop That, NO!, that’s saying something) and we agree that getting Rupert a Sherman was the best idea we could have ever come up with (even if that hadn’t been the intention in the first place).


I am sitting at my desk in our home office, typing this entry. Behind me, on the floor, lies this toy, and a pair of cats, and I do not have to turn my head to know that they are busily playing with it, because I can hear the soft smack of paws against the track, and the gentle rattle of the ball as it rolls back and forth. They have, in fact, been playing with this toy since we got home and I put it together, nearly 1 1/2 hours ago – oh, not all six cats at once, of course, but in twos and threes, trading off who is flopped on their side, wildly smacking at the ball or stuffing their paw into the track, and who is lounging off to one side, watching the entire process intently. It is rare to have a toy that enthralls the cats for so long, but at least in this household, this particular toy gets six paws up.

The toy was acquired during the annual Christmas Eve festivities at Richard’s parents’ place, where we spent most of the day. We drove down this morning, collecting all the presents and the biscuits I made yesterday, and a jar of spiced pear butter I made this fall, and a CD of Christmas music to play in the car. Presents were exchanged and pets were entertained. We chatted and laughed and ate delicious brunch food, and drank coffee, and it was a lovely, low key afternoon.

So now we are back home, with new books to read and DVDs to watch and a toy where I am not sure who is more entertained – the cats who are playing with it, or the humans who are watching them and laughing at their antics. Time to curl up with hot chocolate and laptops; with eBooks and knitting, and allow the day to fade quietly away.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

What lurks there in the dark

We have had the tree up for a while – in fact, since the weekend after Thanksgiving. It is a fake tree, because several years back we both realized we were tired of dealing with the mess of a real one, and it has turned out to be a good thing because half the cats in our house feel that the Christmas tree is an awesome toy that must be scaled on a regular basis.

We own a decent collection of beautiful ornaments to put on that tree, but ever since we got Rupert and Ingrid three years ago, we learned the hard way that putting anything breakable on the tree is just a very, very bad idea. Granted, we did have a collection of cheaper, soft ornaments that were always hung on the bottom, since all of our previous cats thought the dangling toys were too tempting, and usually at least one or two of them would be ‘liberated’ through the course of the holiday season. But before getting Rupert and Ingrid, we never had any actual tree climbers.

Rupert and Ingrid were soon joined by Nutmeg in the tree, in 2010,  and all three of them continued the trend last year. In 2010, at the after Christmas sales, I picked up a handful of super cheap, nonbreakable ornaments – the sort you can find 10 for a $1 in the clearance bin. They’re not my first choice for decorating, of course – I much prefer the individual ornaments collected over the years – but when one has a trio of tree-climbing cats, one has to make do.

This year, we still have a trio of cats in the tree. Although Ingrid no longer seems to have much interest in climbing it, her place has been taken, quite enthusiastically, by Sherman. This has not surprised us in the slightest, of course. Since pretty much the day we brought Sherman home back in May, Rupert took him under his wing and has made it his mission to teach Sherman *all* of his crazy habits, plus Sherman is still young enough to have plenty of bad habits of his own.

Case in point. This is what happened when we finally put the ornaments on the tree this evening.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

And then there were three

This past weekend we put up the Christmas tree. It is a very quick process, these years. We drag the extremely heavy box down from the attic, and we open it up and then we remove a cat, and we pull out each section of tree and we remove a cat, and then we set them all up and we remove a cat, and we hook all the cords together (and remove a cat) and then plug it in. And then poof, we’re all done. Because even though last year I did go buy some completely nonbreakable ornaments, we have come to the conclusion that it really is not worth even bothering with decorating.

That would be because of two reasons: Rupert and Ingrid

Rupert, the tabby terror

Ingrid the poofy

This year, we added Nutmeg to our little family. Nutmeg loves following Rupert around, and anything Rupert does, she is sure she needs to do too. So she came over and sniffed the tree, and we waited. And watched. And sure enough, after a day or two to ponder it, our tree gained its third (and final) ornament for the year.

Some people have all sorts of fancy ornaments and tinsel and garland.

Us? We just decorate our tree with cats.

‘Tis the season for Holidalies!