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[Note: I’m trying to avoid headers referring to Christmas ‘going to the dogs’ or anything involving a combination of ‘Santa’ and ‘Paws.’ But it’s sooooo hard!]

Cats are to dogs what modern people are to the people we used to have. Cats are slimmer, cleaner, more attractive, disloyal, and lazy. It’s easy to understand why the cat has eclipsed the dog as modern America’s favorite pet. People like pets to possess the same qualities they do. Cats are irresponsible and recognize no authority, yet are completely dependent on others for their material needs. Cats cannot be made to do anything useful. Cats are mean for the fun of it. In fact, cats possess so many of the same qualities as some people (expensive girlfriends, for instance), that it’s often hard to tell the people and the cats apart.” P.J. O’Rourke, Modern Manners, 1983

Before I got married, I always had cats. I just thought of them as something you kept around the place, like the oven or your roommate’s boyfriend. The cats’ main functions were to keep feet warm in winter, to knock things off tables, and to throw up. (“Gosh, I’d LOVE to go with you to the all-night Albanian Film Festival, but my cat knocked that cheap bouquet you gave me onto the floor, drank the water with all that preservative meant to make your little carnations last longer, and now she’s really sick.”

My cats excelled at these skills. Puff, our college apartment cat, was a command vomiter. If you did anything to offend him—petting him, not petting him, breathing on a Tuesday, etc.—you’d find a hairball (or worse) on your pillow. Then there was our post-college apartment cat, Buster, who was deaf, epileptic, and given to spending long stretches of time with her head up a lampshade. My roommate’s boyfriend was convinced the cat was faking deafness, because if you even started to open a can of tuna, she would be at your feet. He tried sneaking up on Buster in the middle of the night and banging some pan lids together above her head. The cat didn’t flinch, but we did when the police summoned by the neighbors arrived. We never again questioned Buster’s loss of hearing, or my roommate’s loss of her soon-to-be ex.

And in fact, it really doesn’t matter if your cat is deaf or not. No cat comes when you call it. I remember a neighbor who inherited a cat with wanderlust and an unfortunate name. I can still see her standing on the back porch of her South Side Chicago apartment screaming, “Cocaine, Cocaine, COOOO-CAINE! The cat never responded, but the police did.

I did finally figure out how to call my cats. I’d open a can of tuna and seductively croon, “Tuna Juice!” They’d come running, although I’m sure the neighbors wondered why I couldn’t have named them Muffin or Fluffy. But my days as a cat owner came to a tragic end when my son proved allergic to the cat du jour. We found a good home for her, but my daughters thought I’d gotten rid of the wrong member of the family. They took to standing next to their brother, sneezing violently and telling me we had to send him to live on the farm.

Now that the holiday season is coming up, I especially miss the cats. Getting presents for some people is not easy, but the cats were always perfectly content with new catnip mice they could kill repeatedly and then shred. Simple pleasures.

But if Santa needs help with pet gift ideas, I’d say he won’t have any trouble filling Puff’s (custom hand-knitted fairisle monogrammed £60/$77) stockings.

For example, the discriminating feline might look forward to tearing apart Pet Hates Toys’ catnip filled Donald or Boris. (Somewhat surprisingly, Nigel is sold out and despite her sale price, they can’t give Theresa away…)

The exhausted Puff might then while away her remaining 23.5 hours in a day on her imperial empress pagoda bed –leaving her owner to figure out how to come up with the $1275 price tag…

Then there are the little touches which show you care (even though Puff couldn’t care less and will never publicly use them for anything except another bed)—the cat climbing tower (£824), exercise wheel (£800), Lord Lou life size chocolate Lab cat scratcher (£500), or day spa (sushi or caviar optional).

If your personal goals include becoming a professional cat lady and you’ve already bought the starter kit—

[image credit: Imgur]

—you might be interested in a craft tailored to your needs.

My favorite review from reader “Brooksie”:
4.0 out of 5 starsThis book saved my life
Are you a crazy cat lady? Have you got far too much spare time on your hands? Do you want to learn how to make a creepy finger puppet (akin to something a serial killer might make from his victim’s hair) out of your pets shed fur? Then you’re in luck! This book is exactly what you’re looking for!!
I was once like you. I used to sit in front of my telly box with my three cats(Prometheus, Socrates and Nigel), wondering how to fill my days, between shouting at rain and sorting through my collection of old Smash Hits magazines, all the while having no idea what to do with the 17 burlap sacks filled with cat hair going to waste in my shed. That is until I stumbled across this book…
Now I fill my days creating wonderful finger puppets from genuine cat fur and I have the pleasure of sharing my hobby with the world. I show my creations to strangers on the bus (although I’m quite unlucky in that I always decide to show my puppets to people who are getting off at the next stop), I’ve opened up an a web store selling my original creations ([…] – check it out!), I started a cat hair puppet show (although the police have warned me about it) and they make fantastic gifts for all the most important people in my life, like my therapist, my parole officer and the man I sometimes talk to in the supermarket whose name may or may not be Jim.
So buy this book and you to can turn your life around!!”[Amazon]

But no cat gift, no matter what the cost, will make your cat look stupid. Puff is simply not going to tolerate the inflatable unicorn horn, reindeer antlers, or even Santa hat. Those presents are for dogs.

Ugly Christmas sweater? Dogs don’t even notice they’re wearing them.

[Actually, the dog is the most dignified member of this display at Madame Tussauds.] [Image Credit: Sun]

Humiliating holiday costume? Give Barkley a dog treat and you’re on!

(As this attempts to be a family blog, I can’t show Santa’s backside. But it is disturbing at best….) [image credit: Amazon]

Purse dog carrier? Sure, why not. Of course, you can put Barkley in Prada, but he’ll be just as happy in Ikea. At least that’s what New Yorkers who want to travel with their dogs despite subway policy seem to think.

“No person may bring any animal on or into any conveyance or facility unless enclosed in a container.” –Metropolitan Transit Authority

Then there are the baby-carrier-like pouches which allow you to carry your dog strapped to your front in a position which is only natural to dogs in X-rated doggie magazines. My dog Peri would not mind if you picked her up in such a position, as long as you don’t mind if she removes some of your limbs and rearranges your face.

Santa probably won’t be bringing Peri the £300 heated orthopedic memory foam doggy bed either. But she doesn’t mind because she prefers to lie in the fireplace, ensuring we can never ever use it for actual fires. (Just in case anyone wants to come down the chimney and leave her very own chewable Letter Carrier under the tree. It could happen…)

So the dog and I have worked out a Christmas deal. I’ll give up any hope of getting her to wear hats, reindeer antlers, or silly sweaters that aren’t digital stickers, and she’ll give up her Christmas wish: eating the Letter Carrier. After Christmas though, all deals are off.