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I almost ruined Christmas

Weeks ago, Mike and I planned the date to get our Christmas tree. We picked the first Saturday in December that we had the boys. Yesterday was the day! Long before that, we figured out where it would go in our little house that doesn’t have much open space. We joked about putting it in the bathroom since it’s the biggest room in the house. Ultimately, we decided upon the space where Maeby’s cat condo resides since the monstrosity is surely bigger than any tree we would buy and we could tuck her condo in a corner in the dining room where she could sit on her throne and watch us eat.

We had a great time! I borrowed Sarah’s truck and met Mike and the boys down at the lot in town. Liam didn’t care what tree we picked. He was excited about all of them. Finn’s attraction was to the fire they had blazing to keep the patrons warm, the shed that was full of power tools and machetes, and the back end of the lot where we couldn’t see him. While Mike chased Finn, Liam and went to the row of Silver Tips and picked out our tree. Silver Tips are my the boys’ favorite. Mike had budgeted, and though we went a little over what we wanted to spend, we walked away with a beautiful tree that reached the ceiling. He had made me the boys very happy.


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We headed home in our separate vehicles. On the less than three minute drive home, I was struck with a thought that should have occurred to me long before we had a tree bought and paid for in the back of the truck. Maeby AND THE TREE. I’m not talking about a cat and all the craziness that could happen with her batting off the ornaments or climbing to the top. I’m talking about a tree that I am bringing into the house and not having any idea if it’s a danger to her should she decided to chomp on the needles. For those of you that don’t follow my blog, Maeby came very close to death this past summer after I brought a bouquet of flowers into the house and she chomped on a tiger lily.

I pulled up to the curb, picked up my phone, and Googled, “christmas trees safe for cats,” and then clicked on the first thing that came up. The article made my heart drop. I read, “highly toxic to cats potentially causing liver damage and death.” That’s all I needed. Mike and the boys pulled up facing me in the truck and it was obvious to him that something was wrong. He gave me a puzzled look. I stepped out and read him the first paragraph. I love this man. He said, “Okay, we will have a Christmas tree on the porch.”

My friends across the street were outside and I told them what I read. The told me that was crazy. They have always had cats with trees. Mike said the same thing. I realized that many years ago, I had cats around Christmas trees. Was the site giving misinformation? I needed to get on my computer and research. I was distressed. I wanted a tree in our house, but the week spent with my cat in the hospital on death’s door was traumatizing. Mike was quick to realize this. He said there was no way we could bring the tree in. He told me I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I needed more information, and I also wanted to see what she would do.

Of course she was curious and wanted to explore it. That was fine. We sat close and watched her sniffing and pawing it. So far so good, and then…CHOMP. “NO!” I yelled, and then Mike picked up the tree and took it back outside. Liam went nuts. “My tree! My tree!” I calmed him and told him we would have a tree. On the verge of tears, I asked Mike if we could get a fake one. I told him I would try to get our money back from the lot. He was fine with whatever I wanted to do.

But first I took to the internet. I was getting vague and different information. The word “death” only appeared on that one site. I decided to call the hospital that took care of Maeby. The girl who answered remembered her well and understood my concern. She talked to the doctor who told her she didn’t think ingesting pine needles would result in the same toxicity, but the shape of the needle can be hazardous, and also not to let her drink the water. She advised we go to for information and to separate her from the tree when we weren’t home.

I went to the website of and the information there about Christmas trees appeared to be about the same as what the vet said. I still wasn’t satisfied because I wanted to know about the specific tree. I tried to look at the list of hundreds of plants toxic and non-toxic to cats, but I couldn’t find Silver Tip. In clicking around the site, I found an 800 number for poison control. Bingo. It said there was a $65 consultation fee. I called it anyway. I was hoping they could just answer a general question.

The woman on the phone was fantastic, and she didn’t charge me! Together we researched the species of tree and then she told me to hold on. After speaking with their expert, I was told the toxicity in the tree, which is actually a fir, is nothing like what lilies will do to a cat. It won’t affect the organs. She might vomit or have diarrhea, but it won’t kill her.

Whew! We brought the tree in, we decorated, and as of this writing, which is 24 hours with a tree in the house, Maeby is showing very little interest. Occasionally she bats at an ornament, but that is all.

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What tree?


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