3. Incarcerated

Cat in Santa hat illustration

The cretins have locked me in again. I can only assume it is down to the cold, white fluff which is falling from the sky. It may be chilly, but it’s awfully pretty to look at and rather fun to frolic in. I suppose it will have to suffice that I watch it through the window, since I have been unjustifiably incarcerated.

The worst thing about the locked door? Having to shit in sawdust, like a damn rodent. I don’t think the humans quite understand the importance of feeling grass beneath your paws when you relieve yourself. Imagine if I took their strange, porcelain throne away from them; they’d feel degraded. Perhaps one day I’ll do exactly that and present them with a plastic box instead; I think they’d soon realise that it pays to let a cat keep to his normal toileting habits.

It’s somewhat of a ritual, this locking me in business. I seem to recall they did it last year when the white fluff fell. Perhaps they’re worried I’ll get a chill if they let me roam free when it coats the ground, but I have this wonderful thing called a fur coat which is far more hardy than they give me credit for.

Another peculiar ritual that the humans indulge in is bringing in a tree from the outdoors and adorning it, and the rest of the house, with delightfully pretty toys. The decorations remain for a little under a month during the coldest season, and I am shouted at every time I try to play with them. These toys are the most exquisite playthings a cat could ask for. They glimmer in the light. They reflect my face back at me. They dance in the breeze and they plead with me to play. And yet when I do, I receive irritated mewlings from humans who forbid me from doing so. It is sheer torture.

But there is always the night time. Perhaps I’ll have a jaunt beneath the colourful tree this evening, while the humans are all tucked safely in bed. The big ones placed a few new parcels beneath it just a few hours ago, and they all have rather enticing lengths of sparkly yarn attached to them.

It makes no sense, the ritual the humans indulge in with these parcels. They spend hours wrapping useless items up in paper and string, only to rip it all off in a matter of seconds. What would be the harm in me ripping it off for them? After all, I have much sharper nails and am capable of shredding the paper into teeny tiny flakes that decorate the carpet so beautifully. But the last time I tried that I received a torrent of hateful shouting.

The branches of the colourful tree deliver the most wonderful tickles along my back, but I shan’t be distracted by that now. There is a parcel which must remain the centre of my attention. It is enormous; it stands taller than I and almost as long, and although its paper wrapping is plain and drab, it’s adorned with an exquisitely shiny bow which cascades down its side and drapes along the floor. I’ll just lay on my back before it for a little while to take in its splendid beauty. And perhaps I’ll just run the edge of the ribbon through my claws.

Mine! You are mine now, shiny ribbon. You’re hooked into my talons and, oh dear, I’ll have to just pull and pull until you can be free. What is it that’s so satisfying about scrabbling pieces of string between the paws? I can’t explain it, but it simply fills me with joy. It gives the old claws a good stretch, I suppose, and it’s far less messy than ripping the giblets out of a mouse.

Oo, shiny. Shiny, shiny round thing floating above my head, what are you? I’ll give you a quick tap with my paw to make you bounce and swing back and forth, but it still doesn’t explain you. Why do the humans place hundreds of you upon this tree? What purpose do you serve other than to reflect back my face in a distorted sphere? Why do you enthral me so? I’ll just give you another quick thwack and then we’ll see.

It escaped! It fell off its branch and ran away into the corner. I’ll find you, little shiny ball. You’ll be mine soon enough. I’ll just pick my way through all these parcels and take the opportunity for back scratches from those delightfully prickly branches.

And what are you, fuzzy, thick string with thousands of shiny tendrils? I shall call you sparkle caterpillar. You are most intriguing. I have an innate desire to wrap you around my torso and roll around on the floor. But you appear to be stuck. I’ll just give you a little tug. And another. Perhaps if I get you in my teeth and my paws I’ll do a better job. There we go, now I have some purchase.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh bugger it, the whole tree is coming with you that is not what I wanted, not what I had planned, shit, shit, shit, I’ll just run underneath the coffee table and hide.

Well. That made an awful racket. But I quite think it serves the humans right for keeping an entire tree in a pot rather than securely in the ground outside where it belongs.


Fabulous, now the great drooling imbecile is going to start to howl. Here she is, bombing down the stairs with her tail stuck in the air like she has any kind of authority in this household. She is the lowest of the pack. Even the small humans have more intelligence than her.


Don’t come near me, you snivelling mess. How anyone can put up with an animal that screams the house down every time something goes bump in the night is beyond me. It wants taking out back and putting out of its misery. I’d do it myself if I had opposable thumbs. And a shotgun.


I can smell your damn breath from across the room and I know you’ve been eating from my bowl and my litter tray. You revolt me. Get away from me! Don’t make me hurt you.


I’m ever so glad you can’t climb or jump, you foul cyst of a creature. I’ll just hop up onto the mantelpiece while you do your inane security check. That’s it, have a sniff in every corner. Yes, I’m sure some pathetic growling and whining is guaranteed to scare off any intruders. Oh, you’re coming to check on me, are you? Wouldn’t it be an awful shame if this ornament were to fall on your head… oops.

HAHAHAHA, you idiot!

Was that the ornament I heard crack or was it your head? Must be the ornament – you’re far too thick-skulled to have sustained any real damage. It might even have knocked some sense into you.

Yes, you trot off to bed, you stinking pustule of dog flesh.

Speaking of flesh – I’m feeling a little peckish. I wonder if one of the humans has been stupid enough to leave some titbits out in the kitchen. Let’s have a look. I’ll just pick my way around all the sharp sprinkles surrounding the tree – that doesn’t look safe at all. I think I preferred the shiny spheres when they were still spherical. Perhaps it was a mistake, knocking the tree down.

Never mind, the humans will clean up the danger and make everything look pretty again for me. They always do.

It certainly smells good in the kitchen. It often does at the time of year that they install the tree in the corner and all of the sparkly things. Every time I do my best to widen my eyes and appeal for a scrap here and there, but do they give me any? Of course not.

Instead, they produce what appears to be a sock filled with revolting catnip flavoured monstrosities, and look at me expectantly as though I’m supposed to bow down to their generosity. Less of the catnip flavour, more of the real catnip, please. Or if that’s not possible, a few flakes of roasted bird on my dinner would do.

Speaking of birds… I think I spy a very big one. They’ve tried to shield it from me underneath that peculiar mirrored paper, but I see it. I smell it. It is raw – bird sushi. My favourite.

If the humans saw me jump up onto this counter there’d be hell to pay, but what they don’t know is that whenever they’re not around, I am up here playing king of the kitchen. It’s the perfect spot for a touch of intimate hygiene. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I’ve licked where the sun doesn’t shine while sitting upon their pristine kitchen counters – it serves them right for attempting to banish me from any part of their house.

I’ll just peel back this mirror and have a little nibble on the bird leg. I never could resist a drumstick, and this is a terribly big one. Where do the humans find these enormous birds? And why on earth do they only eat them when the tree is in the corner? Human rituals are beyond me, but I shan’t complain too much because tonight I have had quite the party. Plus, I have the added satisfaction of knowing that I will cause a little bit of misery in the morning when they witness toothmarks in their bird and chaos in the living room. Serves the cretins right for locking me in.

All that eating has made me rather sleepy. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I’m stuck indoors; the white fluff is falling outside with some vigour and it makes me feel cold just watching it from the window. I think I’ll find a little space on one of the beds to curl up on.

Oh. Oh dear. Perhaps the bird sushi wasn’t quite as fresh as I thought. I think I might be seeing it again in just.. a… few… seconds… ugh…

That’s better. And right at the bottom of the stairs. I do hope one of the children wanders down barefooted in the morning. That would be the icing on a most splendid evening.

To bed we go and – oh, look at that, vomit on my paws. Never mind – it’ll come off on the carpet. Up the stairs we go, and which bedroom shall I choose?

Perhaps I’ll snuggle up with the smallest human. She kicks off an awful lot of heat, and she probably won’t notice the eau de barf because she often smells a little strange herself. Her bedroom door is always left slightly ajar, too, which allows for easy access onto a beautifully soft bed.

Look at her – sleeping like an angel. She could almost be cute when she’s away in dreamland. It’s a far improvement on her conscious state, when she is little more than a sticky-handed grope.

I’ll just crawl up here and settle down on her chest. And then I’ll give her cheek a little lick because all of a sudden I feel a great fondness for her. There’s something about the tree in the corner, the shiny decorations, and the white fluff falling from the sky which makes my heart feel full and happy. Perhaps there’s something special in these peculiar rituals after all.

The little one stirs and gives me a quick tickle under the chin. Queue chainsaws – this is purrfection.

Read more in the Night Before Christmas short story series.

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Author: Ellie Scott

Ellie Scott is a freelance content writer and copywriter from Yorkshire. She writes speculative and silly short stories and flash fiction, writing-related blogs posts, and book reviews for short attention spans. Her most common pastimes include procrastinating on Twitter (@itsemscott) and hibernating on her sofa with a book and a (very large) glass of gin.

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