Saturday, December 11, 2010
Decorating the Ceiling
The main thing about cats is that they are insatiably curious. Anything new must be sniffed, tasted and poked to find out of what use it might be. Usefulness for a cat falls into three categories: sleeping, eating and playing. Thus, any new object must be immediately placed into one or more of the categories of usefulness. For example, I would fall into all three categories since I provide warmth when sleeping with or on, I supply food upon demand, and, not only am I the provider of toys, but often the animator of them as well, in that I toss them about for the kitties to chase. This makes me very useful to Quint and Hedge.
Newness for cats can be either a newly acquired object that has been brought home from the store, an item that has never previously been part of the household, or it can be a toy whose existence has been conveniently forgotten and has now been rediscovered. In the case of the former, the categorization process must be engaged immediately. For the latter, the category has already been established, but newfound delight can be experienced as a result of the rediscovery process.
All of the previous information is quite pertinent to the upcoming season, that being Christmas. Over the years that we’ve been together, Carol and I have acquired a great many Christmas decorations, including a lovely artificial tree and lots and lots of decorations, some handmade, some purchased and a few that were received as gifts. Some of these decorations are quite unique and delicate. At Christmas time we enjoy unpacking all these things and using them to create a festive atmosphere in the house. Two years ago, when we first adopted Quint, we decided not the put up the tree so that he wouldn’t get himself into trouble by behaving in a way that is natural for kittens. The year after that, Hedge became part of our household, and so we applied the same logic and chose to forego the tree again. This year, we decided, once again, to take the pro-active, preventive route and left the tree in its box. At this point, we’ll probably continue this strategy indefinitely, more because we like our solution to the problem then for any mistrust of our now fully-grown cats.
Two years ago, I had this brilliant idea. Since our house has quite a high ceiling which is spanned by lovely wooden beams, I thought it might be interesting to decorate that ceiling, putting all the delicate decorations out of reach of the curious kitties, but still allowing us to enjoy them by simply looking up. It has worked out wonderfully. We like our decorated ceiling and the cats don’t get in too much trouble over the holidays. It’s also a challenge to find new and interesting ways to create that festive atmosphere, and still maintain our kitty-safe environment. Part of our responsibility in living with cats is to let them be themselves as much as possible and, yet, still maintain a shared environment that works for all of us. Decorating the ceiling has proved to be a nearly perfect solution to what could have been quite a problem. The only drawback in the scheme is that I have to be very careful not to fall off the ladder while I’m putting up the decorations. So, far, I’ve succeeded.