Like many of you, we have added a new piece to our Living Room, a nine-foot Christmas Tree. In the past, the tree has been a place where our cats would sleep and occasionally play with dangling ornaments. This year, Sham-Rock, our photogenic, male cat, seems more stressed than in the past.
The tree skirt has long had the smell of another gray cat, Rockford, who is sort of a namesake for Shammy. Although “fixed,” Rockford was in that 10% who continue to mark despite being snipped. One would think that a young male cat smelling the presence of another male cat would cause stress…except in Shammy’s case he would often sleep under the tree.
We did have a Happy little dog in the house just before the season. I held Shammy close to Happy. Shammy sniffed Happy. Happy sniffed Shammy. The two, dog and cat, touched noses…so cute. Then, Sham-Rock hissed. Happy playfully bit Shammy’s leg. Humans panicked, except my husband, “He hissed. Happy figured it was play time.” No, but that was long enough ago…that couldn’t be it.
There is the new appliance in the kitchen. Shammy got used to the old dishwasher. We gave ourselves a new one for Christmas, and although it is much quieter and much prettier, it is different. No that is not it, either.
So, what has stressed out Shammy? Well, after thoughtful consideration it is not the tree, but the position of the tree. We put the tree in the middle of his runway.
To explain, Sham-Rock gets the frenzies nightly. When the frenzies hit, his eyes dilate, his tail puffs, and the hair on his back stands on end. He runs full speed through the house, he makes a chortling meow as he goes. Because of the setup of our house, he can run from our second floor bedroom down the stairs, through the hall and be at full speed when he hits the middle of the living room.
Or…he could do that, before we put the tree at the point where living room and hall meet.
And humans think the season is stressful.