“Why do you have mousetraps in your Christmas village?”

My friend had stopped by for a few minutes and was checking out my Christmas decorations.  On my sideboard I had put up a miniature Christmas village with fleece snow, ceramic buildings, a skating pond (which is actually a mirror), and small porcelain figurines and accessories.  The village is part of my yearly Christmas tradition.

“Because we have cats,” I responded.

She obviously didn’t get it.  She doesn’t have pets.  “Uh, I thought cats were supposed to take care of mice problems.”  She glanced around uneasily, as if swarms of furry little rodents would pop out of the woodwork at any moment and plunge her into a remake of  the seventies horror film “Willard,” in which a large colony of rats terrorize people.

“We don’t have mice,” I replied, defensively.

“Well then … wait.  The mousetraps are upside down.  You can’t catch mice if the traps are upside down.”

“I’m not trying to catch mice.  We don’t have mice,” I repeated, a little offended that she would think we were rodent infested.  “We have cats.  The cats like to jump up onto the sideboard, walk around the village, chew on the snow, bat the breakable people to the floor, and rearrange the décor to suit themselves, while shedding all over everything.  The mousetraps are a deterrent to keep them off.  If they hit a mousetrap, it will spring and scare them away without hurting them.”

She looked at me like I was crazy.

Granted, my village looks a little odd with what would seem to be giant mousetraps everywhere, in disproportion to the size of everything else.  Maybe I should think of it as the village of Hamelin before the Pied Piper showed up.  But at least it is mostly intact.  People without pets don’t understand the great lengths we pet people must go through to “pet-proof” our homes, especially around the holidays.

On an end table in the living room, there is a squirt bottle filled with water to spray kitties out of the Christmas tree.  As the song goes, there is one partridge in a pear tree, not two cats in a Christmas tree.  The fragile ornaments must always go on the upper branches, as happy tails and irresistible hanging objects are too much temptation for playful four-footed creatures. The Christmas tree holder is also a huge attraction for both the dogs and the cats to help themselves to a handy drink of water rather than walking all the way into the kitchen.

Anything set on the hearth or low coffee table is fair game for being batted across the floor or chewed up.  Decorations on shelves must be placed back towards the wall, as objects in the way of where a cat wants to lounge will most likely be shoved off.

This isn’t only during the holidays.  Our cats frequently rearrange things to suit themselves, such as pushing my husband’s mustache trimmer off the bathroom counter onto the tile floor, where it broke into a thousand pieces.  It had obviously been in someone’s way.  His F-16 model also crashed landed on the floor several years ago.  This is something we still don’t talk about. Our computer wires have been chewed and replaced so many times we’ve lost count.  All the animals can manage to open our sliding doors into the closets.  We never know what we’ll find on the floor which previously lived on the shelves; and whatever the cats knock off, the dogs chew.  At mealtime, one person has to guard the table while another finishes setting out the food.  Yes, it’s embarrassing to admit, but our animals are not well behaved.

Such is the joy of pet ownership.  I truly feel sorry for people who don’t face these daily challenges and hence, lead structured and boring lives, where everything stays in its place and there is no layer of pet hair on every surface.  These people will unlikely have a Meowy Christmas or Happy Howlidays.