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The Christmas Cat

Holiday antics of an 8-month-old kitten

By Jen SullivanPublished 9 months ago Updated 8 months ago 8 min read
Waiting for my train to go around again—the pine needles are his doing!

For many years I did not care for Christmas. Working retail will do that to you over time. Between the long hours and the rude customers who blame you for their poor gift planning, it’s hard to enjoy Christmas when you work in retail. However, my oldest cat, Loki, makes Christmas feel special, and I always cater to his holiday desires.

Loki came to us in May 2005 as a young kitten. He had been born into a feral cat colony—he was actually born on my dad’s front porch to a friendly feral female. I saw the six kittens when I visited my dad on my birthday but didn’t really look close at the wild babies. I never would have guessed that one of them would soon be so important to my family.

The mother cat was trapped, spayed, and released about a week after the kittens were born. Back then, it was thought that the mother cannot produce milk once she is spayed, so the kittens were taken in and bottle-fed. My dad kept insisting that I would be taking one of these kittens when they were old enough, and while we had tragically lost our cat Zelda that February to her fight with diabetes, we had two other cats and really did not need another.

Loki came to live with us once he was old enough to leave his mother, a birthday gift from my father. Dad ended up with three out of that litter, and eventually ended up with the remaining two when his girlfriend’s daughter moved in—she was the one who bottle-fed them and kept two for herself.

He always used to sleep this way

Loki was a very social kitten who loved to play, more so than any kitten I had ever had. Our other two cats were not happy with the little one, preferring to be left alone to sleep. My Luigi, a spoiled princess, seemed to be the target of Loki’s antics, so I started giving him extra toys to play with as a distraction.

That first Christmas was basically a disaster. We had decided on the name “Loki” because he was a troublemaker from the beginning. He would climb things, knock over glasses, walk on the table—things our other cats never did. Loki was the first cat to try my patience, always pushing the limits and testing the boundaries. By this point, I had over twenty years of experience with cats, but Loki was something different. He was special.

In my family, my brother Dave and I always disagreed on whether to get a live tree or not for Christmas. He does not like the look of artificial trees and I don’t like the sap and pine smell because of my allergies. That year we went with an artificial tree since Dave was living elsewhere. We put the tree up early so the house would be decorated for Thanksgiving. My brother Dan had invited his girlfriend’s parents and our mom wanted the house to look ready for the holidays, so we decorated for Christmas.

I have always been a lover of electric train sets, so we put a small village and my train under the tree that year. My brother and I decorated the tree and the living room was ready for Christmas.

He waits, plotting his next attack

Then Loki entered like Godzilla. His obsession with the ornaments got him into trouble more than once that year, and basically every year until I found nice shatterproof ornaments. None of our previous cats really cared about the Christmas tree. Luigi loved to sleep under the tree, or even just chill there, which was fitting since she had been a Christmas gift from my mom in 1992. Loki saw the tree as a play area, derailing the train and knocking down any ornaments he could reach.

His obsession with the shiny balls on the tree was nothing compared to his obsession with the star on the top. We had to pull him out of the tree several times and stop him from reaching the top. I suppose he was just attracted to the lights and glitter, the sparkle just too tempting to his curious personality.

Then one morning it finally happened. I had come downstairs and found the tree laying on the couch, the tree stand broken and ornaments scattered here and there. Loki had finally knocked over the tree to see the star. We had to use a thick rubber band to keep the stand together and the tree standing straight until it would go to the trash after Christmas, the stand too broken to use another year. Loki had seemed to satisfy his curiosity over the star, but his aggressive play toward ornaments and my train would continue.

Thanksgiving morning, the house was ready for our company to visit. My mom kept a close eye on Loki that morning to prevent another tree disaster. She wanted to take a bath before my brother and I were awake, so she made Loki go into the bathroom with her. He never minded being around water, as long as you were not putting him in it. Loki always found ways to entertain himself, sometimes good, sometimes destructive.

After our Thanksgiving meal, we were not as concerned about the tree, other than Loki possibly hurting himself or ingesting artificial pine needles. He liked to chew on the branches now and then for reasons known only to himself. Closer to Christmas, the stack of gifts under the tree started to grow, another tradition that Loki saw as just entertainment. He quickly learned that wrapping paper is a super fun toy, which was entertaining to us…when he wasn’t attacking gifts.

On Christmas day, we unwrapped the gifts for the cats. We usually got them toys or treats, if anything at all. Our cats never really cared about Christmas. That year, I got a toy for Loki—one of those round tracks with the ball inside. He played with it for hours, then lay next to it, watching TV, before falling asleep. That toy would buy the other cats some peace from the rambunctious Loki, giving him a distraction that would drain his energy. More than once I saw our cat Indy playing with Loki and the toy, the two passing the ball back and forth.

Opening his present

Watching TV with his new toy

Looking back years later, that first Christmas was rather funny. Even back then it was a little funny—that an eight-month-old kitten could cause that much chaos. Loki certainly lived up to his name, causing trouble and mischief whenever he could. He eventually mellowed and became one of the best cats I’ve ever had. His social personality made him friendly to both people and other pets, which was excellent for the skittish black cat we rescued in 2013. The two bonded quickly. Loki even serves as a sort of mediator when there is a scuffle between our pets, attempting to calm everyone down with his presence.

Loki latched on to Christmas over the years. He does not attack the tree as much anymore, his old age and arthritis slowing him down. Years back, he started understanding that he would get gifts on Christmas and that he was allowed to open them. We usually help him with it, but he is the only pet who will actually open his gifts. I think our dog is too well-behaved to do so, and the other cats just want to play with the paper. Loki knows that there is something inside that is better than wrapping paper.

I still don’t know how he knows it’s Christmas day. Perhaps he has connected the movie “A Christmas Story” to Christmas day, realizing that if that was repeatedly on TV, it was almost present time. My husband still doubts that Loki understands when it is Christmas, but I am telling you, that cat KNOWS he is getting presents, and he expects good ones every year. He usually wakes me up early on Christmas morning—something he doesn’t do most days—as if he is a child wanting to see what Santa brought him.

My handsome boy

There was one particular Christmas a few years ago that I remember his wake-up call extremely well. I rolled over and felt something cold and wet on my face, then opened my eyes to see Loki right there. I thought it was cat vomit and quickly rushed to the bathroom to scrub my face. It was 7:00 AM and I was not awake, or at least not before the face scrubbing.

I returned to my bed and saw it was not cat vomit, but a toy mouse. Loki has a habit of putting his toy mice in the water fountain—he has always done this, to the dismay of the other cats. He had brought his wet mouse and placed it on my pillow right next to my head. I gave him a hug and laughed at his mischievous way of waking me up. After I had my coffee and everyone was awake, he was opening his presents.

Truthfully, I buy our pets presents for my own entertainment. We do not have children, so I like to spoil our pets. Our dog is always so happy when she gets a new toy, making it a much more enjoyable Christmas. The cats get an assortment of toys and usually a bed or scratcher. We have three cats now, but when I am Christmas shopping for them, I mostly focus on what I know Loki will like. He is seventeen now and his health is declining rapidly. I never know when it will be his last Christmas, so I have made the last couple very memorable for him. He’s my special boy and he deserves all the toys and treats I can buy him.

My favorite picture of him

Update: With the assistance of a licensed veterinarian, Loki passed away peacefully on October 5, 2022. We miss him dearly, but he was ready to go. He will forever remain in our hearts.

April 10, 2005 - October 5, 2022


About the Creator

Jen Sullivan

I am a gamer, a geek, a writer, an entrepreneur, and a gardener, among many things. I have a lot of knowledge and opinions to share with the world, along with creations from my chaotic mind.

Follow me on Facebook: @jensully17

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  • Cathy holmes9 months ago

    Wonderful story. Loki and Abigail would be best pals.

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