Family cat 1, Christmas tree 0

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Christmas tree is standing upright in the living room with its decorations intact. This morning I sighed with relief at the sight, since I thought I might find it on the floor, ornaments chewed and scattered, thanks to the cat that now inhabits our space.

Having a cat inside is new for us and something I never thought I would allow. When my oldest daughter lived at home, she sneaked her cat into her room every chance she got, but it was without consent. For the most part that cat, along with others that over the years called this place home, lived outside.

Suddenly I find myself not only allowing a cat inside but also presenting toys for his amusement and carrying on conversations with him. This is not a planned relationship. It just happened, so I decided it must be fate that brought him here.

When a beautiful Siamese cat drops into your life, it must be destiny. Destiny or not, Percy — the name that fits him because he is so darn persistent about everything from being feed to being petted — is a part of the family in a way I never expected a cat to be a part of the family.

As we know, issues arise in families. Sometimes not all members of the unit act in ways other members find appropriate and that causes problems. That brings me back to the Christmas tree, which is of the artificial variety.

When we brought it inside Sunday, Percy got this look on his face that seemed to say, “Oh, look what they got just for me.” If cats smile, this one had a big one on his face.

For most of the afternoon, he sat under the tree watching the fire in the nearby fireplace. Every so often, he walked over, sniffed a branch, gave it a nibble, looked up at the lights and went back to napping.

I felt relieved.

“Maybe Percy isn’t going to bother the tree,” I said to my husband. “Maybe he isn’t interested in one that isn’t real.”

“Maybe,” my husband said, hoping for the best.

Things went well until Monday afternoon when I brought out the ornaments. Problems started with the ribbon I wove through the branches. Percy decided chasing it along the floor and around the tree was great fun. I didn’t agree and a conversation started.

“Stop it Percy!” I said firmly.

“Meow, meow,” he said, jumping for the end of the ribbon.

“STOP IT PERCY!” I raised my voice and stomped my foot.

“Meow, purr, purr, purr,” he said, running under the tree where he sat looking up at me with an I am so adorable look on his face.

When the final piece of ribbon disappeared in the tree, the cat lost interest and settled down for his afternoon siesta, allowing me to finish decorating without his “help.” It was a short-lived peace.

Two hours later, Percy woke up to a miracle. There before him was a tree filled with dangly things that sparkled when the twinkling white lights hit them. The combination of ornaments and lights was more than he could stand. He looked at me with such gratitude and headed straight for a wooden snowman hanging on a low branch.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was a battle of wills. Percy determined to play with his giant new toy and me just as determined that he would not.

Just after 10 p.m. I gave up, switched off the tree, promised treats, made threats and finally begged Percy to leave the tree alone while we slept.

And wonder of wonders, the tree is standing this morning. Of course, I have not turned on the lights today, which is electric cat temptation. So while I may have won the first battle, I fear that for Percy the 2008 Christmas Tree War is far from over.