Friday, December 03, 2004

Feline Friday IX: Up a tree 

After more than a year of shopping and talking and then shopping some more, we finally found a very suitable cat tree. Suitable for the McKittens would've been fairly simple: one or more posts for scratching and climbing, and at least 3 horizontal surfaces for lounging. Suitable for Kimberly and Paul was a different matter altogether. First, Paul had to overcome his resistance to the idea of buying furniture for cats. After perhaps the hundredth time that I suggested that Sergei might not lounge on top of the armoire if he had his own furniture, Paul conceded the point. (Have I seen Sergei on the armoire since the cat tree arrived? Paul reads this blog, so I'm not telling.) Second, as we did not plan to drop a wad of cash on cat furniture just to hide it away in an upstairs bedroom, how the tree looked was important. Most cat trees did not pass the aesthetic bar for entry into our house, and those that did failed the budget test.

Then one day recently, on my way to pick up vegetables at the farmers' market, I passed a small pet supply store that had some almost acceptable looking cat trees. A sign in the window read All Cat Trees 25% Off. I went in. The cat trees in the window were OK: nice gray-sisal-wrapped 4x4 posts, carpeted flat perches. One of the sales staff noticed my attention to the trees and, pointing to the back of the store, said, "We have some more trees in the back." I turned, and there it was, the very suitable cat tree. It had three round posts, about 6" in diameter, covered in deep red sisal, and three perches - two curved, one flat with sides - covered in carpet that did not look like a remnant so cheap that I would not use it on anyone's floor. And, at 25% Off, it no longer qualified as an "if I'm going to spend this much money on furniture, it had better be heirloom quality" purchase.

I didn't get Paul to the shop to second the motion until the following weekend; he said "aye," handed over the credit card, and it was done. The Hulk strong young salesman hefted the tree with one hand, and practically tossed it into the Saab; Paul and I together managed to drag it out of the car, up the front steps and into the house... with only one or two stops.

And the McKittens? They took their own sweet time deciding on the suitability of the tree. First they had to become accustomed to the new smell... from upstairs, beneath our bed. (That's where they usually go when anyone or anything large and unfamiliar enters the house.) When Sasha came out, making tiny "pick-me-up" sounds, I cuddled him to me and started downstairs. He was fine until he caught sight of the cat tree. Then my gentle, timid boy turned into a squirming mass of fur and claw. Climbing over my shoulder, he leapt onto the stairs and headed for safety.

Eventually, it was adventure-boy Sergei who made first contact with the tree. His tentative scratching apparently released the scent of the catnip that the cat tree maker puts behind the sisal post wrapping. While Sergei is not a fan of catnip, Sasha is. Once he caught a whiff of 'nip, he was on that tree, and was soon rolling around on the top perch, quite stoned and making little sounds that I interpreted as kitty giggling. Eventually, he fell asleep, and Sergei joined him. Once the boys were dozing, Miss Lyra took a test scratch of a post, then settled in on the upper cradle. And that's when I caught them with this rather dark, fuzzy picture... but that's all I've got for today.