Cat Memories from the Christmas Tree

By Karen

Yesterday I finally finished decorating the tree with my cat ornaments (and a few rodents and birds). I counted 153 altogether. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that Roc and Tony have been mostly paws off…

Last night, Max even spent a few hours hanging out under the tree…

I started this ornament collection after the “1983 Christmas of Broken Glass and Tinsel Terror.” I was in an apartment and my tuxedo cat Rex was a kitten. Rex loved Christmas.

My tree, which stood near the front door, was decorated in typical glass balls and tinsel, which Rex’s more mature sisters Coco and Cleo had never bothered.

But Rex liked to stroll under the tree holding his tail straight up to catch tinsel, which he’d drag all over. I have no idea if or how much of it he ate, but he lived to be 18 1/2 so it didn’t hurt him.

While I was at work, Rex would amuse himself by smashing ornaments against the door. After he took out a whole box, I decided we had to become unbreakable — and no more tinsel.

These are some of the first cat-proof ornaments I found, and they always hang at the bottom in case anyone gets playful…

This is another very old one and it’s just one of my favorites…

Today I’ll show you the personalized collection, which started after I moved into the house and got a bigger tree. Fred, who I adopted as a stray in 1993, got the first one…

Yul came along in 1996 just a few days before Christmas, so I had to work fast to include him. I didn’t have many photos of him yet and tried to fix his glowing kitten eyes with a pen. As you can see, that didn’t work out too well, but he eventually did have that crazy persona…

Fancy Feast began selling an annual ornament in 1984. Their 2001 edition was a picture frame, and I gave it to Rex because by then he was the senior cat…

Adele joined us in 2000, but I don’t remember why I didn’t get around to giving her an ornament until 2002…

In 2009, we lost Fred, and that’s when Cole came to celebrate his first Christmas in a real home after spending three years at the Richmond Animal League waiting to be adopted…

Max joined the family in 2011 after we lost Yul…

Then, in 2015, we sadly lost Cole many years before his time, and Roc came and took the place by storm. Roc has fulfilled his destiny of being named after the human Yul Brynner’s son Rock, because my Roc shows the same maniacal daredevil streak that Yul the cat had…

And, of course, in 2019, after Adele finished her very long life, we found Tony, who brings me lots of laughs and joy every day…

PS: Roc and Max insist I show you this ornament of them. It’s from when Roc first arrived. They were pals and Max mistakenly thought he could be a good influence. It features a special Cats Working message…

Putting up the tree was a grueling chore, but now that it’s done, it is nice having it around again. I guess it’s like having babies; you forget the pain.

6 Responses to Cat Memories from the Christmas Tree

  1. Mary Hunter says:

    Karen,
    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane with all of your wonderful cats. I believe when I first discovered your blog the typing kitties were Adele, Fred and Yul, all intelligent and beautiful cats. After all, they think…and type!
    I love your tree and the great kitty ornaments. That’s a really good idea and such a special way to keep our former kitties in our memories.
    My tuxedo cat, Cleo, has zero interest in the tree. She acts like it’s not even there. It’s just the weirdest thing. Maybe that’s a good thing! Anyway, thanks for the blog and here’s to a very interesting Christmas season!

  2. catsworking says:

    Mary, you’re right. The original crew here was Fred, Yul and Adele.

    Years ago, I used to keep four cats, and I had Cleo, Rex, Fred and Yul. Cleo made it to about 20, and was far older than the other three. She and Rex were friends.

    After Cleo died, I had the three boys for quite a while (like today with Max, Roc and Tony), then one day I decided we needed to mix things up so I adopted Adele. She became very tight with Fred and Yul, but Rex was starting his journey into kidney failure and wasn’t playful and eventually passed.

    Adele, Fred and Yul were tight for many years together and inspired my book, How to Work Like a CAT. After Fred and then Yul died (also kidney failure), Adele never really accepted any of the boys I adopted. Well, I take that back. It took five years, but she DID finally befriend Cole, but then HE died of kidney failure a year later.

    Adele hated Max, who I adopted as a kitten just one day after Yul died. I didn’t realize how upset Adele must have been, and I think she always blamed Max for Yul’s passing. Max and Cole were pretty tight.

    Adele had no use for Roc, who I got as a friend for Max after Cole died. I think by then she was just done with making friends. Max and Roc were friends when Roc was a kitten, but then Roc grew up to bully Max (probably learned it from Adele), so I got Tony to distract Roc, and it mostly works, although Tony has learned to chase Max from watching Roc do it.

  3. Anita says:

    Karen, your cat ornament tree is gorgeous! I love all the photos. We also have a ornament of our kitty who is now passed on our tree. It’s actually a picture of him under the Xmas tree one year. I used to have tons of stuffed reindeers of all sizes that I put under the tree and he would go sleep with them at night. It was so adorable. Cats can be such mischievous monsters but then they do something like that and your heart melts all over again.

    My new flocked tree came in yesterday afternoon. I’m so excited. my husband is right, it might be a big mess. We will see. I’m going to build it outside then quickly bring it in to it’s resting place.

    A couple of years ago I bought flocking in a spray can which I’ve never used. My husband is just worried the flocking will be a big mess but nothing was worst than the glitter ribbon I used on the tree last year. At least the flocking would come off in chunks where I am still sweeping up the glitter from our the cracks of our hardwood floors.

    Our new neighbor is as quiet as the previous one who was in Mexico all winter so that’s quiet! I never see him come and go which is so strange. My husband said he saw him this week pulling his car into the garage. He is definitely a mystery man.

    At least for now we are through the worst with the construction noise. They are laying the plumbing lines next week which shouldn’t be too noisy. It’s still so bizarre to do this right now.

    We do have a 55+ community near us which I swear will be my next stop. They have a community pool because none of the houses have lots big enough for one. And I know they don’t allow the basketball stands where are everywhere here.

    Looks like all of California will be back to “stay at home” orders by the end of next week. We were going to travel next weekend to see my grandson but that likely won’t happen now. I have no clue when we will get back there to see him.

    I’m so grateful to at least have a nice home with a remodeled kitchen and fairly big yard to wonder around in. Do not know what people do that live in small apartments. It must be really hard.

    Enjoy your beautiful house this weekend and adorable room mates! I will be raking leaves for the millionth time. We have the most beautiful Autumn Flame Maple in our front yard that is in all it’s glory every year at Thanksgiving. But then the leaves start dropping and don’t stop for two weeks. It’s supposed to be very windy tomorrow so we need to get out there and pick the next batch up before it goes all over the neighborhood. At least I’m not shoveling snow!

  4. catsworking says:

    Anita, I had my leaves blown a few weeks ago, but I did it too soon and the yard really needs it again. But at $150 a pop, I usually only do it once. On the other hand, the moss will probably appreciate being under a blanket of leaves through the winter. Speaking of which, they’re saying we may get a little snow on Monday, an inch, if that. First snow of the season.

    I NEVER spend any time in my yard and I’ve never had furniture on my deck because I don’t use that, either. I might as well live in an apartment. There are a million branches that need picking up and I should do it, but I never do. The last time I did any serious yard work, I got poison ivy that made my forearm look like hamburger.

    With my tree, it’s the green needles and bits of gold garland I find in the carpet year-round. This morning I found an ornament hook on the rug. There shouldn’t be any stray hooks. I felt around under the couch, but found nothing. When I take the tree down, I’ll know the cats have stashed an ornament somewhere, probably in one of their toy boxes to make it blend in! Each ornament has its own bag or box so they’re cushioned in the big storage containers, which is why it takes forever to deal with them. But every year I find a couple that need a bit of gluing or some little fix.

    I have a young couple living next door now and I can only see their house if I’m standing at the kitchen sink, so I notice if their vehicles are there, but I rarely see them. The guy is a police officer, which is nice to have nearby. She worked in a salon doing facials and such, but got laid off and is doing a work-from-home job, so we’re like co-workers.

    Virginia is getting close to 3,000 cases a day, where we had been at 1,000 for quite a while. The paper today said we’re supposed to get 480K doses of vaccine soon, which will all go to medical people with direct COVID contact, and then nursing home residents. But they say you need two shots, and the sloppy media reporting doesn’t specify if the 480K will do 480K people completely, or only 240K people.

    I’ve been hearing a chainsaw fairly nearby off and on all day. I’m afraid to look out the windows to find where the latest hole in the skyline is.

  5. Randi says:

    Karen, I just love your personalized collection of ornaments with all your cats in – SO cute! What a brilliant idea! You’ll be setting a new trend. 🙂

  6. catsworking says:

    When I was doing this post, I realized that three of my cats have no ornaments, the first three girls: Coco, Cleo and Ginger. But I wasn’t collecting cat ornaments then and they all were gone by the time I did my first personalized one.

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