Monty, Cold Weather and Christmas

By Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

For the first time in his young life, Monty helped put up a real Christmas tree. The tree is set up on a low table. We laid some large flat boards over the top of the table and the tree stand is screwed into those boards. In this way the tree is more secure if Monty should try to climb it and the table top is protected from any water spilled while watering the tree.

I bought a new tree skirt to cover the water basin under the tree so that Monty won’t have access to it and drink water that could make him sick. I made sure the tree skirt does not hang down over the edge of the table, so that it will not be tempting as a place for Monty to hook his claws for a good scratch or a stretch, possibly pulling the tree down on himself, or at the very least, damaging the tree skirt.


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I have to say I’m shocked at how expensive Christmas is. The tree skirt was $30! Our tree was less than twenty, but we had to buy a pre-cut tree to get that price. If we had cut our own tree, as we usually like to do, it would have cost us between $40-$85! I had never bought new ornaments before, but I wanted unbreakable ones because of Monty. These were also very expensive, so I just bought a few. Our tree is not as decorated as in years past, but I left all the breakable glass ornaments (purchased second hand) in their boxes downstairs.

Monty handled the addition of a live tree to his indoor environment quite well. He seems to like it, especially since his outside time has been very limited by cold and snowy weather. He helped put up the tree by batting my hooks onto the floor and swatting ornaments with his paws. I used only unbreakable ornaments, so this was no problem. He sat between boxes of ornaments and I stroked him, reflecting that he really is just a little cat after all. Sometimes he seems larger than life to me, as large as his personality.

He can boss me right out of bed at three a.m. to give him food, after all. And yet, he is so small and vulnerable. He tolerated the petting, but he truly enjoyed watching me put up the tree. There is nothing better to him than watching humans do stuff. He did try to eat the pine needles. We bought a tree with long, soft needles rather than the short sharp ones. The long soft needles are less of a risk to Monty if he should ingest some of them. I’m careful to pick up any needles that fall, but very few have, since the tree is actually very fresh.


The other night Monty was sitting on his window perch just staring at the tree. I thought perhaps he was enjoying the lights. We are trying out the new LED Christmas tree lights this year, and they are very bright and festive. But I think it was the tree itself that was the source of his enjoyment. Monty hasn’t been getting much outside time. It has been bitterly cold, getting down to one or two degrees Fahrenheit overnight. He wants to go out, but he just can’t handle those temperatures. Even at ten above, he stayed out about one minute yesterday, and then came in meowing loudly. He has a very loud meow that means he is in pain. When it gets really cold it hurts! It hurts me too, but I have to go out in it and scrape the ice off my car windows and drive to work with my toes going completely numb. Monty is fortunate. He can come in and cry to Mom that the cold made him hurt and then get some tuna to make it all better.


I can’t help but think of how if I had not caught Monty that summer’s day four years ago, he would have had to endure that cold. It may have even taken his life. It might have taken the lives of his siblings. We had a sharp cold snap a few years ago, and after that I never saw them again, those cats I couldn’t catch that summer’s day. When I think of Monty’s sisters crying out in the cold, with no one there to open the door quickly and give them some tuna it just makes me grab Monty and hug him tight. He complains to be let down, annoyed little meows breaking through the loud purr he always makes when I pick him up. He’s a busy cat with things to do.


During the winter Monty’s fence between the house and the garage is often removed so that my husband can blow the snow from the driveway into the back yard. We put a wire fence across the porch steps, and with snow on the porch railings, that keeps Monty on the porch so that he can still go outside even if his fence is removed. Sometimes I leave the porch gate up even if the fence is in place, because it seems that when Monty gets cold, he just suddenly gets very cold and needs to come in right away. Until he gets a little more acclimated to the cold weather, it’s better if he explores close to the house. I should shovel the porch so that he has more snow free places to sit. He does not like snow between his toes. Yes, he is a very spoiled little cat. But he deserves it! He is definitely expressing some frustration with the cold weather and his increased confinement inside. I can leave and go cross country skiing, but he is missing his usual outside adventures. It has been a very cold December, but I’m hoping that soon he will get a little more used to the weather and be able to spend more time outside.


15 thoughts on “Monty, Cold Weather and Christmas”

  1. I think you’ve done a good job to safeguard the tree and Monty.
    I don’t think Monty will mess much with the tree. You must know that because you know him. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have one at all. I wouldn’t be able to have one unless I enclosed it in glass. I know the ONLY one that would mess with it would be Damon the hoarder. I can see his eyes twinkling now if he saw your tree. It would be beautiful today but bare tomorrow.

    • I think that’s why we waited four years to have a tree. We felt like we knew Monty would be ok wih it. He’s also not a rambunctious kitten anymore. Having the tree up on the table helps too. The tree stand is screwed into boards and the boards are clamped to the table. It’s pretty secure if he should decide to have a go at climbing– but I don’t think he will.

  2. I loved reading this and seeing the photos Ruth, now when you write about Monty’s daily doings on facebook I can picture in my mind just where he is.
    Ferals can survive very cold temperatures as long as they have somewhere dry to shelter and food to eat, but Monty has the best of both worlds, he can come into his warm home when he wants to.
    Jozef is only half feral but he can stand the cold a lot more than Walter can.

  3. I have to remark that I am very impressed with the care and attention that you apply to making sure Monty is safe and content. I am a bit surprised that he dislikes the cold that much. Cats are generally pretty good with the cold at least for a short period.

    It makes me think of the feral cats with nowhere to go for warmth. I would expect many die in the cold and I wonder if you have less feral cats than in the warmer states in the south.

    Thanks for writing this article Ruth.

    • It was my pleasure, Michael!

      I think Monty just has trouble with the very bitter cold temperatures– when it gets so cold that it hurts. Yesterday when it was over twenty degrees he sat for a good ten minutes on that cement block on the back porch. His paws were out of the snow and he was quite happy there. He’s used to our house, which is kept between 58 – 63 degrees Fahrenheit. So it makes sense that he can handle twenty degrees, but not the bitter cold. He has no tolerance built up for it. And even when you are more used to it, certain temperatures are just so cold that it hurts! He wants to be outside so badly, but when it’s that cold I know he’s going to last about thirty seconds out there and spend the rest of the day tearing around the house and meowing in frustration.

      • Wow Ruth – thanks for the great update. It sounds so cold there. It must be beautiful actually but I understand the restrictions. In Canada Gigi used get annoyed with the cold. When it got really cold she wouldn’t exit through her tunnel – she’d just meow for me to hold the door open while she went 3 steps out to take a leak and hop back in again. It was very cold at times and I think she used to meow in frustration about it occasionally. She would spend those extreme cold spells sleeping in warm places for hours on end.

        I am jealous that you and Monty can enjoy the wonderful outdoors together.

        It’s a great photo of Monty outside on your porch 🙂

    • I was going to reply that Monty is a very good boy who would never destroy the tree, but then I caught him sitting there on the floor staring at it. A paw came up and batted a wooden Santa Claus ornament. Then he tried to bite it. I could hear his teeth clinking against the ornament. I think if you bite Santa you get coal in your stocking.

    • Whenever I look at him I see Charlie. Visually they are similar. When they open their mouths they are quite different I gather from comments. I have not actually heard Monty’s voice. Charlie has a Siamese style voice.

      • I need to start recording Monty’s various meows– the “this is the way to my food bowl” meow, the frustrated meow, the “I’m so cold it hurts” meow and the “I’m just talking to myself” meow. He also chatters when prey is out of reach and growls when he wants company to leave.


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