By Katrina Taylor

So, it is the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. Well of course there wasn’t a mouse stirring, not while I’m on patrol. Anyway, none of this ‘not a creature was stirring bizzo’. I was stirring! Who am I? I’m Cappuccino the wonder cat, Cappy to the chosen few. Why was I stirring? Because the night belongs to us pussycats and my normally tranquil life had been turned on its head a few days ago.

So, there I was, unconscious on Donita’s bed dreaming that I was beating up that cream puff of a poodle at number 25, when there was a loud knock at the front door. Not a loud knock like that of an overly zealous salesman, but that of Armageddon, BANG, BANG, BANG! After levitating off the geometric print bedspread I realized that it wasn’t the second coming. It was something far worse than that, it was the relatives! Aargh! Peace on earth and good will to all men, I think not. Well not when you’re a cat and the rellies rock up to stay for Christmas.

I stick my head out of the bedroom door, ready to glare at the approaching enemy.
Donita opens the front door, exclaiming, “Mum, Dad, you’re early, I wasn’t expecting you till this arvo.”
“You know your Dad, he likes to get away early to avoid the rush,” explains Nola as she gives her youngest daughter a hug.
“That, and besides I wanted to get the pick of the Christmas trees left at the Apex stall,” Jim adds as he struggles through the doorway with the luggage and down the hall. “Move it or lose it cat,” he gruffly orders. I swerve to narrowly avoid a size 12 boot aimed at my head.
“I see that you’ve still got that dopey cat,” he scoffs.
“Cappy’s not dopey, he’s much smarter than that brain dead mutt of yours, Rusty. You didn’t bring that peeing machine with you again did you?” Danita demands, blocking her dad’s way.
Nola quickly steps in to separate the warring factions. “No love, we decided to put Rusty in the kennels while we were away, so your lounge suite will be safe.”
“Thanks Mum you are a lifesaver,” Donita sighs with relief, “it took me ages to get the pee smell out after last Christmas.”
I stroll out of the bedroom and through the open front door with my tail held high. Yes! The psychotic Jack Russell has gone to the dog prison. Hopefully they throw away the key.

After the commotion caused by the invaders unloading their car and claiming the spare room had subsided, I decide to slip back inside via my cat door to inspect the damage. There was stuff everywhere and furniture had been moved around. My fur bristles with anxiety; I don’t like this, not one little bit. I retreat to the top of Donita’s wardrobe for a little nap to calm my nerves.

Lunch is barely over when Jim gets up from the table and heads for the front door. “Are you ready to go and get the Christmas tree Don?”
“Yeah, sure Dad, and don’t take an hour to choose a tree this time either, that’s so embarrassing.”
“but, I did get the best tree that they had, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, yeah Dad, whatever you reckon,” replies Donita as she heads for the car.

Ah, peace and quiet for a while. It’s finally safe to emerge from my hidey hole. Jim stomps around the house like an elephant in army boots. Nothing is safe whilst Captain Stompy is in the house. At least Nola’s not as bad, she tries not to step on my tail and generally leaves me alone. Except for last year, when she bought me a cat Christmas T-shirt and insisted on putting it on me to see how cute I’d look. That cat shirt didn’t go on without a fight, let me tell you. And, I definitely did not look cute, I looked like a dork! Then, indignities of indignities, everyone laughed hysterically and insisted on taking stacks of photos, oh the humility! Even that lower life form Rusty laughed at me! Despite looking ridiculous in his dog Christmas t-shirt.

Later, Jim’s old blue station wagon rolls up the gravel driveway with the carefully chosen tree strapped to its roof racks. I spy them from my vantage point in the lounge window. Prepare for peace to be shattered in 5-4-3-2-1 cue rumpus. It’s time to go and watch the show. I select a balcony seat on top of the bookcase- an uninterrupted view with absolutely no chance of being stomped on. This should be good. After much pushing, pulling, and threats of turning the tree into toothpicks Jim eventually manoeuvres it into a bucket in the corner of the cramped lounge room.

Donita opens the boxes of decorations, and starts sorting them ready for hanging. After a few minutes of intense observation, I reckon that she could use some assistance. I leap off the bookcase, rebound off the couch and land neatly beside an open box of baubles. With a single claw I deftly remove a large purple bauble, place it on the floor and bat it about. I love how baubles glide and whirl across the carpet. I give it an extra hard smack which sends it under the couch. No problem, there are plenty more where that came from. Without warning Donita looks up from her decoration sorting. In a quiver of a cats whisker I strike a pose- all cuteness and innocence. She gives me a look that says ‘I know you are up to something buster,’ before turning her attention back to the pile of decorations in front of her.

After wedging three more baubbles under the couch I go in search of something far more physical. I perch on the edge of the armchair that is closest to the unsuspecting tree. I check the distance between me and the tree. Yes, I can easily make that. Yahoo, I execute a perfect landing in the middle of the large pine tree, and start to climb higher.
“Hey Cappuccino, get out of the Christmas tree. Who do you think you are, Tarzan?” Donita orders as she spies me through the tangle of Christmas lights that she is attempting to straighten.
Oh-o, I’m toast; I only get my full name when I’m in trouble. I reluctantly jump down and stomp out of the room in a huff. I know when I’m not wanted. I’ll be back later when the tree is fully decorated with tinsel and baubles- my favourite seasonal cat toys. Besides which it’s time for my next snooze. I’m going to need all of the sleep I can get as its going to be a very long festive season.

The following two days are consumed with frenetic activity as the Newman family strive to make sure that this Christmas ‘beats the pants off’ the last one. Donita and Nola clean polish and vacuum anything that stays still long enough before slathering it in decorations. Nola spends hours wrapping a carload of presents, whilst secretly hoping that the grandkids will like her presents better than those from their other grandma. As chief cook, she frets that there will not be sufficient food for Christmas lunch, despite having bought enough to feed a small African village for the better part of a week.

Meanwhile, Jim sets to work, knocking off the extensive list of handyman jobs that his daughter has been saving up for him since his last visit. Then he Runs the mower over the lawn to make it match ready for the annual Christmas arvo cricket match. Finally, he strings up Christmas lights across the front veranda, before planting glow in the dark candy canes in the front garden..

In between wrapping presents and baking trays of sweet treats, Donita endeavours to keep the yuletide chaos in check. But, by Christmas Eve it looks like Christmas has thrown up all over the place.

As for me, this little cream moggie keeps right out of the hubbub, preferring to save my energy for Christmas Day when I’ll have to spend all of my time avoiding a house full of adults and two bratty little kids.

Donita and her Mum spend all of Christmas Eve cooking, thus making the kitchen my favourite place to hang out, offering my services as chief taste tester. After all, I wouldn’t want them to eat anything that wasn’t just right. They oblige by dropping titbits in my bowl, slithers of ham, morsels of chicken, and if I’m really lucky, a small chunk of ducky.

“What time will Larissa, Nick and the kids get here?” Asks Nola as she drains the potatoes for the potato salad.
“Some time after breakfast, as soon as they can drag Ryan and Chloe away from their swag of presents,” replies Danita as she spoons whipped cream on top of the finished trifle.
I purr around her ankles begging her to give me some cream. I just love cream, but hold the trifle thank you, its nasty! Strawberries and peaches are gross, and jelly freaks me out, the way it just sits there and wobbles. I don’t like my food wobbling! Come on, give the cute kitty some cream, I purr louder, you know you want to.
Donita finally looks down, “what are you looking for Cappy?”
“Meow!” As if you didn’t know.,
“Some cream?”
To reply, I stand up on my back legs, placing my front paws on the edge of the bench.
“ok, you talked me into it,” she says, dolloping a spoonful of delicious sweetness into my bowl.
Slurp, yummy, I’m one happy kitty.

Sometime after the humans have finally retired for the night, I awake with a yawn and a stretch. Time to go on the prowl and see what is stirring. I leap off Donita’s bed making a soundless four point landing on the floor before slinking through the partly open door and down the hallway. The spare room door is closed, good, no interruptions. I stroll into the lounge room to survey my prospects. One decorated Christmas tree with heaps of presents beneath it, Ho, Ho, Ho!

Look at all of these lovely sparkling presents just waiting for me to unwrap. I wonder which one is mine? How about you in the glittering silver paper with the red ribbon? Scratch, scratch, shred, shred. It’s something soft, a new cat blanket maybe? Oh please let it be a new red cat blanky, my old one is really crusty. What no blanket? Just a hot pink T-shirt! yuk, it’s a girl’s shirt. I flick it aside in disgust. At least I can still chew on the red ribbon, mmm, this tastes festive.

There’s got to be a better present somewhere here. What about you in the snowman paper? I turn my attention to a round present. Scratch, scratch, hey stop rolling away. I lunge at my prize as it attempts to make its escape. Uh, something is stuck to my paw, quick get it off! I squeak as I frantically wave my paw in the air to get the nasty stuff off. Oh no, its sticky tape the mortal enemy of the feline species. It gets on our claws, paws, fur and whiskers and wont’ get off, no matter what we do. Don’t even think about chewing it off, it tastes awful, worse than worming tablets, pooh. Ok, keep calm and remember what you did last time I tell myself as I try not to hyper ventilate. I find an exposed end of the obnoxious adhesive and slowly rub my paw across the carpet catching the exposed section in the pile. Success, the tape sticks to the carpet. That’s Cappy one and sticky tape zero.

Now, where was I? Oh that’s right, shred, shred. Could it be a new cat ball? Oh please let it be a new cat ball. What on earth? A cricket ball? How am I supposed to bat something that heavy around the house? And there’s no bells inside it to tinkle as I send it spinning across the floor. What sort of ball doesn’t have tinckly bells inside? A boring one! Well let’s just see how easily Ryan manages to bowl out granddad tomorrow with the stitching hanging out all over the place, ‘How’s that!’ These cheap cricket balls have dodgy stitching. Rip, rip, rip, rip, ah, that’s much better.

How about something a bit bigger? What about this large box covered in blue paper with Christmas stockings on it. Ok then, let’s see what’s behind door number three. Is it a new scratchy post.. a new cat gym.. or a new cat bed complete with built in heater and Garfield cushion? Scratch, scratch, scratch. Man this paper is tough. Shred, shred, shred. It’s a.. new drill set! What? What am I supposed to do with a drill set? I’m a cat, not a beaver! Argh, why aren’t there any good presents this year, only stupid ones? I turn and walk off in disgust. Wait a minute. I slowly turn back and eye the box of tools as genius switches on its light bulb in my head. I could.. use the drill set to make myself a cat door in the fridge! Merry Christmas to me!

Hang on, I hear someone approaching. I quickly leap up onto an armchair and curl up into a ball. The perfect picture of serenity. I faine sleep until the footsteps return to their point of origin. Phew, that was close. All of this present opening has made me a tad peckish. I think I’ll go and peruse the late night menu in the kitchen.