Playing Cat and Mouse

Today I read one of my favorite blogs, The Kitchen Witch, and found myself strangely comforted to read about her experiences as Cat Lady.  Her cats sounded more obnoxious than ours!  Since misery does love company, here is a retelling of an earlier post about Mittens and the green ribbon saga:

Our oldest daughter, Boo, was never fully convinced she was ours.  Heck, we wondered, too.  Perhaps a switch in the hospital nursery wherein her birth mother sneaked back in and left her behind in trade for a baby that actually slept?

Delicious irony of ironies, when she married and had children, her baby boys made her own infant sleeping patterns look narcoleptic.   Ah, sweet Karma.

During her teenage years,  Boo, more than either of our other children, believed she was saddled with the uncoolest family in town.  She was just entering high school when we moved from North Carolina to Wisconsin and indeed, we were “different.”

Those sausage-y things on buns so popular up there?  We learned that “brats” rhymes with “pots” and not “rats.”

Wisconsin folks went “up north” for vacations; we headed south to see all the relatives, loading the luggage in the Sears Turtle carrier on top of the station wagon.  We plugged a portable TV into the cigarette lighter and strung it over the seats so the kids lie back and watch TV between old radio tapes of  The Shadow and Our Miss Brooks.  We did look a little… um…Clampett-esque.  Still, all of us now think of those as happy years… our own version of Little House on the Prairie.

During those years, I was into the Mother Earth stuff.  Handmade items saved money on gifts.  My best efforts were felt mice ornaments made from patterns I’d saved from magazines:  a night-capped mouse sleeping in a little hammock hanging between two Christmas tree branches, a robed church mouse holding a hymnal, and a baby mouse peeking out of a tiny embroidered Christmas stocking.   City mice!

They took inordinate amounts of time to make, but almost nothing in supplies, so the craft basket that sat beside my chair held some fabric scraps, a few felt squares in mousey and Christmas colors, and a few yards of quarter-inch of  red or green ribbon.  It was all handwork, so I’d work on them evenings.  They were easy to package and mail since they were non-breakable and lightweight.

One year my ornament construction was cut short because my green ribbon supply disappeared and there were no substitutes to be had in that small Wisconsin town.  Anything Christmasy sold fast there.  With a foot or so of snow on the ground, folks hung their Christmas decorations early and dragged their feet about taking them down.   (I’m not being critical;  who would want to be out in sub-zero weather,  pulling light strings off frozen shrubbery?!)

Christmas Eve morning I rose early to bake cinnamon rolls.  Mittens, a most obnoxious cat, padded down the stairs after me.  That was unusual; he usually ignored me except to sneak up on me when I was standing at the sink or range and bite me sharply on the heel right at my Achilles tendon.  Although I had rescued the ungrateful feline from traffic, I’m convinced he never forgave me for having him neutered.

When he followed me into the kitchen that Christmas Eve morning,  I noticed something trailing behind him.  I thought he had something stuck to his foot, but on closer examination, saw it was coming from him…trailing from behind…HIS behind.  I screamed for Dearly Beloved.

Mittens is losing his intestines!

Before DB could get near enough to check, the cat ran to the back of the house (litter box territory) dragging his kite tail behind him.  When he reappeared and ran under the dining room table,  it looked as if he had an even longer train of. . . whatever.  To be grossly graphic, it had bumps along it,  little brown pompoms.

I was frantic, but completely at a loss as to what to do to help him.  The vet’s office was closed.

Should I try to stuff it back in?

Cut it off and try to staunch any bleeding?

Was he dying?

Then, as I crawled on all fours, trying to pull him from beneath the table,  I saw a flash of green along the “hanging chads.”  My Christmas ribbon!  This was The Passing of the Green.

It was alarming, but at the same time,  so ridiculous it was funny, especially considering what I’d thought was happening.  When you think your cat is losing his guts, realizing he’s crapping a green streak is much less alarming.

While two of our children worried for the cat, the third–Boo, our sophisticated high schooler–stood at the top of the stairs of this House of Horrors and shrieked between retching sounds.

(URP!) Things like this don’t HAPPEN to other families…!  (URP!)  I KNOW I was switched at birth!  Even our  (URP!) cat is gross!!  I know I must belong to a NORMAL family out there somewhere!  (BLEH, URP!)

Everything came out fine.  I mean that literally.  Boo’s stomach and temper settled, the cinnamon rolls rose, and the cat seasonally decorated his litter box in festive green for the next several days.   The ribbon which could have caused serious injury, I suppose,  passed through–all four feet or so of it.

During her college years, and even today, whenever any of us mail a Christmas package to Boo and her family, we don’t have to put a nametag on hers.  She knows; it’s the one tied with the green ribbon.

green bow


12 thoughts on “Playing Cat and Mouse

  1. That is just too funny about your cat. Four feet?? Gadzooks, that kitty was full of it.
    Loved your ornaments, they are precious.
    Also loved “Our Miss Brooks” and still get Mother Earth News.
    Poor Boo, hope she has finally reconciled her self to being your child.

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. You’ll never ever believe this, but those felt mice? Those are the ones mom made that we loved the best growing up. She didn’t do the one sleeping in the stocking, but the one with the mouse peeking out of the top of the stocking with the embroidery on it I recognized at once! Same embroidery pattern and everything. Did you do the santa mouse, too? Mom also made the one with the mouse holding the music. I think she had six in all. I’m all a-smile! It was like this pleasant shock of recognition, especially since I rarely get home for Christmas anymore. THANK YOU!!

    And too funny about the cat. Back in the day when tree tinsel was the rage, our cat would spend the Christmas season passing silver strands. It could have killed him, I suppose, but everything came out OK.

  3. Ha! I used to read Norwegian fairy tales to my daughter (both of my maternal grandmother’s parents were from Norway) and there was one story about Troll Babies. It seems the Trolls would sneak into nurseries at night and swap their horrible Troll babies for good human babies. Apparently, the parents never caught on to the ruse and lived their lives wondering how their children could be so awful. Hmm…makes one wonder.

    My mother’s friend had a kitten that had (my friend thought) dental floss coming out of its behind. When she went to grab it, it wasn’t…well…solid. Never did figure out just what it was. Toothpaste, maybe? On a similar note, my cat loves that narrow curling ribbon. I have to hide the Christmas presents or else she defoliates them.

  4. dancingwithfrogs

    It’s nice to know where family traditions come from…. yours is from the cats bum.

  5. Oh my goodness, this is so funny in truth and in the telling! My sister’s cat kept sneezing for days a while back and just as we were finally going to take her to the vet, I noticed something hanging out of her nose. Upon closer inspection I discovered it was long piece of grass. A few more good sneezes and it was out and was somewhere in the 3-inch long range. She curled up and went to sleep like it was nothings. Cats are strange creatures.

    You handmade ornaments are wonderful and I’m sure eventually your daughter realized she was just in the family she wanted to be a part of!

  6. You are hilarious!!! ANd I love the mice ornaments, especially the one sleeping on a pillow.

    My cat bit me gently on the neck this morning while I was sleeping. She was hungry. I thought there was a vampire in the bedroom. Don’t tell her about the Achilles tendon or she’ll be trying that too!

  7. Sharon

    The cat and the ribbon! We had to quit putting those foil “icicles” on the Christmas tree. Sarkis, our Siamese, loved to play with them. We didn’t notice he like to eat them, too! Until he was “trailing” one. I just held onto it while he walked away and that was all the help he needed.

  8. I LOVE this one! Now I want to send your daughter Boo a present too just so I can tie a green ribbon on it! 🙂

    I love family traditions. Even the wacky ones. Actually, the wackier the better because there is always a great story behind it that makes the family the way it is. 🙂 All good eggs, y’all. 🙂

  9. LOL! Thankfully my cats never ate things like this through the years, but my son’s pomeranian just had to have expensive surgery to remove a stuffed toy he managed to swallow, but that couldn’t pass though his duodenum, poor little dog!

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