We put our Christmas tree up right after Thanksgiving. Dan, Monika and one of their cousins hauled the boxes up from the basement. I helped them put the tree together and string the lights.
The tree wasn't up more than half an hour before Gus climbed up into its branches and over it went.
Gus is one of our house cats. We have two. Grace is the other. Some of you may have read Grace's story on my blog; for those who haven't, here's the short version:
The night before Thanksgiving of 2014, I decided to try saving a hypothermic barn kitten that had fallen in the gutter and gotten wet. After soaking her in a pail of warm water long enough for her heart to start beating regularly again, I brought her to the house and asked the kids to take over warming her up. At their request, I agreed that if the little kitten survived, I would consider letting her be our new house cat.
The kids took care of that little black-and-white feline like professional kitten rescuers. By the time I came back in from the barn that night, the kitten was dry and fluffy. The next day, the kids named her Grace and she's been our house cat ever since.
Grace is a great house cat. She's polite with the kids and she has great manners. The only problem was when Grace wanted to play. If we forgot to shut our bedroom door at night, Grace would spend the better part of the night trying to attack our toes through the blankets. During the day, she would stage attacks on the feet of whomever was walking by. For a long time, Daphne and Grace sparred like litter mates, and I wasn't sure if Daphne thought she was a cat or Grace thought she was a toddler.
The solution to Grace's overzealous playfulness was Gus.
We first met Gus in May when we brought our heifers to one of the pastures we rented for the summer. The owners of the pasture had several litters of kittens running around. Adorable as they all were, one fluffy black-and-white spotted kitten caught my eye. He had the most unique markings, which looked a lot like the spots on a Holstein cow. I carried him over to the truck to show the kids. They, like me, thought he was the cutest kitten ever and asked if we could bring him home.
The Holstein kitten was too young to leave his mother, so we left him there. But I thought about him quite a bit for the next couple weeks. I reckoned it would be nice for Grace to have another cat to play with. And then I'd convince myself that one cat in the house was enough. Finally, I stopped thinking about the little guy.
Then, one day in early August, Glen took Daphne along with him to bring mineral over to the heifers on pasture. I was in the kitchen when they got home. I heard the front door open and close. And then I heard, "Mommy! Kitten!"
I turned to look and, sure enough, Daphne was holding a kitten - a fluffy, black-and-white kitten with Holstein spots. I could hardly believe my eyes. The disbelief must have been evident on my face when Glen walked in. He held up his hands, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "What could I do?"
All I could do then was laugh.
"But he's not going to stay in the house," Glen quickly added.
"Oh, yes, he is!" I replied emphatically. "He's way too cute to put outside. What if the other cats chase him off?"
And, so, the Holstein-spotted kitten became our house cat and we named him Gus.
At first, it was very clear that Grace couldn't stand Gus. But she must have decided that companionship was better than independence, because she eventually stopped attacking Gus and befriended him. Now, Grace and Gus are best friends.
And instead of Grace attacking our feet at night, the two cats chase each other up and down the stairs and around the house for most of the night. It's amazing that two cats can sound so much like a herd of buffalo on the run.
Aside from playing the same, Grace and Gus are different cats. Grace is a bit shy, while Gus is unabashedly outgoing. Grace decides when she'd like attention from us, while Gus soaks up attention all day long. Grace doesn't like to be held much anymore. Gus is one of those rag-doll cats that just goes limp when the kids carry him around. After Dan and Monika went back to school this fall, Gus was Daphne's main distraction from the new quietness within the house. She'd drag him up into the recliner with her and rock him like a baby. Gus would just sit there and purr.
Grace is the epitome of proper; she never jumps up on the table. Gus, however, is a rascal; despite being sprayed too many times to count, he still jumps up on the table to look for pens and pencils. He pushes the pens off the table and then bats them around until they end up underneath the stove or refrigerator.
That's how Gus ended up in the Christmas tree. While Grace was content to simply sniff around the tree, Gus dove right in. I still haven't put any ornaments on the tree, because Gus keeps tipping it over. But that's OK with me. I much prefer the entertainment and companionship that Grace and Gus provide.
From all of us here: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!