Things seemed peaceful when I went to bed on Wednesday night. We'd just finished signing and addressing the Christmas cards and they were ready to be mailed. The cats seemed mellow; Harris was hanging out on the chair in front of the tree, just in case I needed another Christmasy photo of him:
Is that a scheming expression? Or is that just Harris?
We sleep with a sound machine making fan noise in the background so we miss a lot of nocturnal feline activity. My husband woke me up early, telling me that there was something strange lying on the floor that I had to see, because he didn't know what it was. It was this:
That was had been one of my newest ornaments, a wool felt mouse wearing an acorn cap and carrying a tiny knitted bag and traveling stick, like the top figure in the photo below:
Traveling mice from a company called Roost.
Pretty cute, huh? Some of our cats thought so....
I'd put him up as high I as could manage on the side of tree, although the armchair had been in my way, and so it clearly hadn't been high enough. I'd wrapped the twine cord many times around the branch so no one could pull the ornament off the tree. But I obviously hadn't done it as well as I thought I had. If you look at the closeup below, you can find the ornament toward the back of the tree, to the left of the orange glass ball:
How did the cats recognize the ornament as a mouse — official prey that apparently legally obligates them to attack and kill at all cost? I documented the crime scene and cleaned it up, noting that the twine had not been eaten, although it appeared that one wool ear had. I also wondered how much styrofoam and wool had been ingested. Hard to know.
Then I found my ill-fated Vermont owl ornament on the floor, missing its foot, which had been nearly severed in a previous incident. I had also hung it in what I foolishly believed was a safe spot, wrapping its flimsy thread hanger "very securely" around and around the branch:
This poor ornament just can't win.
How someone managed to pull this one down, I don't know. (I will need my pruners when I take down the tree, to clip off the tips of the dry branches and then slowly unravel each twisted and tangled cord.) Do they recognize this rather abstract figure is a bird, or do they just have strong convictions against its survival for other reasons? I am hoping that the black thread hanger, which was loose, is still on the tree. Because it's gone from the owl. You can find the owl in the closeup, too. I stepped on the missing foot, which was lying on the carpet, later.
We had to make annual checkup appointments for Harris and Toffee anyway, so I mentioned the wreckage as we scheduled them for Saturday. I assume it was one of them, or perhaps Lion. We heard the familiar drill: watch them for signs of vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite, etc.
My friend Robin told me, when she was here with Freya, that wearing out the cats with play sessions, especially before bed, would help keep the cats from going after ornaments and tree lights. We were too tired to do it that night and now we're paying the price. At this point, I'm alternating numbness with worry. I've been through this too many times before... I keep doing my best to protect the cats from themselves and failing. So we'll play the waiting game and watch for signs of serious trouble, as well as signs of styrofoam, wool, and bits of thread turning up on the floor or in the litter box. Sometimes this can takes weeks or months; more often nothing reappears. (I'll keep you posted, like it or not).