Here's Wendy, sitting in front of our beautiful Christmas tree during the snowstorm last night. She even let me move in for a close-up:
Is it me, or does she look a bit guilty — like she knows something's up, but isn't about to rat on her brothers?
While sweeping up needles under the tree this afternoon, I noticed that yet another light was out. Then I noticed the bulb was GONE. As in, chewed out of its socket. By A Cat. I panicked and freaked out, called to my husband to come over and witness this horror, and then found that a couple more bulbs on that string had been chewed off, too. I found little fragments of them on the floor, including the tips, among the needles. I pressed the shards against my fingers, hard, and they didn't seem all that sharp, at least.
Deep breaths. We had no idea when this had happened, and all the cats seem perfectly well: eating, playing, using their box, getting into trouble. We often heard crunching under the tree, but thought it was just the boys chewing off twigs and sprays, which they carry proudly around the house, trotting with their ears back.
I called our vet, of course, but her office was closed because of the storm. There seemed to be no point in going to the ER when all the cats seemed fine. And I already knew what to do, thanks to last month's Mystery of the Missing Gold Cord: watch closely for the various signs of trouble (for weeks, if necessary), keep checking the litter box for other signs, and squirt 2 or 3 ml of vaseline into Harris and Toffee's mouths up to three times a day.
We knew we had to take down the tree, pronto. So we spent several hours on that project, a week sooner than we'd planned. Unfortunately, we forgot to buy a tree disposal bag and no one has them anymore, so we'll be sawing our 9-foot tree into convenient little pieces and taking it to the alley in lots of trash bags tomorrow. (It will remind me of what Huck does to his victims on "Scandal," a recent guilty pleasure of ours; we rarely watch TV but we inhaled all three seasons via Netflix around Christmas. We'll even use a vinyl shower curtain, like he does.)
We checked every light string multiple times as they came off the tree. The talley came to FIVE chewed-off bulbs; we also found one completely bitten-through wire. Don't ask me why I don't have an electrocuted cat or two, or why the house didn't burn down from a shorting wiring. All I know is that one of my cats, probably Toffee, is down to maybe two of his original nine lives.
I found decent-sized fragments of four white bulbs, and many little shards... possibly enough to make four complete bulbs, or close to it. (I will pull everything out again tomorrow and see what we've got. Tonight, I just couldn't handle the truth.) But a blue bulb is also missing; all I have is a tiny bit of it.
The apartment will be a mess until we get the tree out of here, sweep and vacuum, and rearrange the furniture. All the while, we'll be hunting for that blue bulb and awaiting further instructions from our vet.
I'm a wreck, of course. But the thing is, I'm getting USED to being a wreck over these cats. They keep trying to off themselves — or Toffee does, anyway. He's a great guy except for his... delusions of immortality or whatever.
Taking down the tree always depresses the heck out of me, by the way. I get morose, morbid, and even teary some years... not to mention frustrated and crazed as I struggle to put hundreds of fragile ornaments into their flimsy original boxes. Then I have to fit those dozens of boxes very precisely into the big storage boxes that we stuff into our tiny crawlspace. At least this time, I had legitimate reasons to be thinking about things like, you know... death.
This latest disaster, like the last one, is all my fault, of course. I should have known that, just because a certain He (or They) pretended to ignore the lights for the first several nights the tree was up and we were vigilant, He (or They) intended to lull us into a false security so He (or They) could snack on them later. I don't know what we'll do next year, if we're stupid enough to have another tree... see if there are cat-proof lights, for one thing.
We love our cats, but we also love having a Christmas tree, and this is the first time we've had any kind of medical drama in 30+ years of having both. Maybe next year, we should adopt the old European tradition of lighting lots of little wax candles all over it instead. Now THERE's an idea. A pretty hot idea.
At least we wouldn't have to spend hours taking it down.