As soon as I brought the sections of the (apparently no longer) pre-lit tree up from the basement Thanksgiving weekend and laid them on the floor of the living room, I knew we were in for trouble, as immediately, there was a kitten playing hide-and-seek in the branches.
The big kitty boys were not immune to the tree, either, especially Fletcher. He was in the middle of everything as well. (Pete would have been, too, if not for still being so pissed off that Ruby came to live with us in the first place.)
I added the middle third of the tree, and she shot up that.
The only reason Ruby didn't climb up to the very tip-top of the tree was because the branches in the top tier were too close together and angled upward. But she was content to zip up and down the middle of the bottom two-thirds of the tree, occasionally stopping to chase her tail or do a little kitten spaz or to poke her head out an opening in the branches and peek out.
She helped me add string after string of lights to the (non) pre-lit tree.
She watched as I wrapped fishing line around the center post of the tree and secured it in two places to the wall, hopefully preventing her from tipping the tree over.
She even helped me put ornaments on the tree, although, to the casual observer, it looked a lot more like she was taking them off and running away with them.
|Think "Where's Ruby?" instead of|
"Where's Waldo?" or follow Fletcher's nose
We took pictures of her in the tree, eyes bright. She was so STINKING CUTE!
Then, she got sillier and crazier. The whole tree would shake (and we had an alarm bell of sorts on the tree: a tiny wind chime ornament that would ring when she started climbing the tree). She would chase her tail endlessly, making the wind chime dance and sing, but the tree never toppled over.
By this time, she had quit exiting the tree by climbing back down the center in the same way she climbed up, and instead, would stick her head through a hole in the branches and ski down the outside of the tree, ornaments flying in her wake (I wisely didn't put any of the precious or breakable ornaments on the tree this year, thinker that I am).
|Preparing for dismount.|
It was at this point that it ceased to be so cute that Ruby was in the tree, and we were resigned to saying, "Dammit, Ruby, get out of the tree!" and trying to extricate her before she knocked any more ornaments off the tree.
But finally, it was Christmas morning! Our family was gathered in the living room, everyone emptying their stockings. Santa remembered the kitties, too, and they had new toys scattered about already. We were just getting ready to open gifts when Ruby decided to make a dash up the tree. My husband was filming the kids with his phone and turned the camera on Ruby to document her Christmas tree climbing skills.
And that's when it all went wrong.
She was about four feet off the ground, chasing her tail, when she started crying, sharply. Then she began thrashing and making the worst sounds I have ever heard come out of an animal. The other two cats ran towards the tree, hesitated, then ran right back out of the room, their tails poofed out, their fur standing on end.
I jumped up and thrust my arms through the tree, where she was screaming and thrashing. As I grabbed for her, she sunk her needle sharp teeth into my finger, her claws scratching me, so frantic that I didn't know if I would be able to help her. I finally got my hands around her little body, and as she twisted and writhed, my fingers found the fishing line that secured the tree to the wall, twisted and wrapped around her hind foot. Since there is some stretch to fishing line (and this was very thin line), I was able to hook my finger under it, pull her foot free, and remove her from the tree.
|Bitten. To. The. Bone.|
My hands were shaking so hard that I couldn't pour the peroxide over my bites and scratches myself, so my husband did it for me, bandaged my hands, held me until I stopped crying. What if I couldn't get her loose? What if it had happened when we weren't home? What if, what if, what if?
About that time, Ruby sauntered into the kitchen, headed to the food dish, and had a little snack, as if nothing had happened, the little shit.
We all assembled in the living room again and opened our gifts. Ruby hung around the periphery, but didn't get very close to the tree. The boys didn't get very close to her. And as soon as all the gifts were opened, I cut the fishing line and removed it from the tree.
The tree didn't get knocked over.
|Choosing an ornament|
to take off the table
But she didn't try to climb the tree, not even when my fingers were wiggling inside it, fighting to untangle the strings of lights.
I don't know how long Ruby's memory will be of this event, whether she will remember next year when the tree goes up that horrific event of the last Christmas (my husband says I'm giving her way too much credit in the brains department in that case), but I do know her memory is at least 24 hours long, and she didn't climb that kitten-eating tree again.
One life down, Ruby. Eight to go.
|Watching me box up the ornaments|