Once upon a time, there lived a lonely cat called Ebbie. She was lonely because she hated Christmas, whereas all the other cats loved it because they got new toys and would find turkey giblets in their food bowl.
Her owner also loved Christmas and spent a lot of time putting up decorations and trimming the tree and was very annoyed when Ebbie spent the same amount of time pulling down the fairy lights and trying to gnaw on the baubles.
‘Christmas isn’t a time for cats!’ she said to Ebbie, who went off to sulk in the airing cupboard, making sure to chew on a few of her owner’s towels. She wanted to do a protest wee in there as well, but she didn’t dare do so because then her owner would put her out for the night and it was -2°C outside – and everyone knows that 20°C is the minimum feline temperature.
Ebbie spent all day sitting in the window waiting for the snow to melt, but it never did. Spotting a robin brazenly lording it over the lawn, she rushed the catflap, but the robin flew away and Ebbie was left with wet feet and, even worse, a wet tail. She made muddy footprints all over the kitchen floor and her owner was so annoyed that she fed Ebbie the Asda smartprice cat food from the back of the cupboard rather than her usual Whiskas pouches.
It was Christmas Eve and Ebbie’s owner had left out a mince pie and a glass of sherry for Father Christmas even though she was 35 years old and had known Santa doesn’t exist since she was eight. Ebbie jumped onto the mantlepiece and nibbled at the offerings, before realising it was only boring human food so she jumped down again.
She sniffed the stockings hung up above the fireplace; she could tell that one of them had fish-treats in it, but she knew that if she used her claws to bring it down, her owner would not secretly feed her any turkey slices from the Christmas lunch table. Her former owners would be coming ’round, the ones who’d dumped her here when they’d acquired that horrible mewling machine that made an awful noise all day and all night. Ebbie had only been trying to quieten it by sitting on its head – she thought she had been doing them a favour, but the former owners had put her in a box, put the box in the car and left the box, and her, here.
Ebbie stared out of the window at the bright white night garden. All the birds and squirrels that plagued the lawn in the daytime were asleep. She sniffed the air. Something smelled different. Something smelled meaty, like when her owner had once cooked venison, of frost and tinsel and….magic. Above her in the black sky amongst the stars was a sleigh held by six ugly looking deer and driven by a man in a red suit coming to land in the owner’s garden. Ebbie sat up straight, ears pricked, eyes alert. An intruder! The man, dressed all in red and white, stood up, got off the sleigh, patted the deer one by one, paying particular attention to the leader of the pack who had a ridiculous bright red nose like he’d been drinking all day, then walked up to the front door, holding a large sack. All at once he was in the living room with Ebbie. He must’ve used the cat flap, she thought. Fortunately he had left the deer on the lawn, they were nibbling grass through the snow.
‘Ho ho ho,’ said the man, ‘I am Santa Claws. What might your name be?’
‘Ebbie,’ she miaowed.
‘And what would you like for Catmas, young Ebbie?’ he asked.
‘Fish on earth and goodwill to all cats,’ said Ebbie.
‘Ho ho ho,’ said the stranger. ‘I think I can do better than that.’ And out of his sack he produced a Santa Cat outfit.
Ebbie recoiled in horror. ‘You must be joking,’ she said, ‘I’d rather scratch your eyes out than wear that.’
‘Don’t you know the true meaning of Christmas?’ asked Santa Claws. ‘It’s dressing up stupidly, eating too much and being pissed before the pubs have even opened. And anyway, this is what your owner asked me for Christmas.’
‘It looks like something a dog would wear,’ huffed Ebbie. ‘And I don’t believe you, my owner would never ask for something so offensive to me.’
‘Just wear it,’ snapped Santa.
‘Not bleedin’ likely,’ said Ebbie.
Santa made a grab for her and she responded by attacking his hand. He was wearing gloves so she didn’t manage to break his skin, so she tried fruitlessly to bite him on the ankle through his boots.
‘Ebenezer Cat, you will wear this cute Santa outfit!’ shouted Santa Claws, waving his sleighbells around and suddenly Ebbie’s chest and front legs were stuck in a tight-fitting red and white furred top, complete with a humiliating hat that she couldn’t shake off no matter how many times she rolled around on the floor tossing her head and clawing at it.
‘It’s a magic hat’, laughed Santa.
‘You. Will. Pay. For. This.’ hissed Ebbie, flying at his face, claws outstretched.
The next morning, Ebbie’s owner came down the stairs, bleary eyed. She’d had a few too many port and lemons at the pub and couldn’t remember whether she’d got the turkey out of the freezer yet. She opened the living room door where an awful sight greeted her. There were pine needles and baubles and tinsel everywhere, the glass of sherry she’d left for Santa was dribbling onto the presents under the tree, the remains of the mince pie were mashed into the carpet, Christmas cards were ripped to shreds, and there was a smell of raw meat and blood and urine.
‘Ebbie, what have you done? You’re going to be banished outside at night if you carry on – ‘ But then she looked at her pet. Ebbie was dressed in the cutest little Christmas outfit, oh, she looked so adorable, she’d have to take some pics on her phone and upload them onto Facebook straight away.
‘Did you get into that Santa outfit all by yourself,’ she cooed to Ebbie, picking her up and cuddling her. ‘You clever little puss. Did you get dressed up just so you can show Tim and Beth how much happier you are living here with me rather than with them and that noisy baby? You’re going to get extra turkey portions today, I’ll see to that.’
And so Ebbie had learned the true meaning of Catmas. Doing what other people want you to do.
Short Story Sunday Festive Special
This story is part of Short Story Sunday’s ‘5 Days of Christmas’ Festive Special which features an original festive tale each day in the four days before Christmas leading up to the grand finale with a very special fifth and final story on Christmas Day.
Don’t Miss Day 5: Tune in tomorrow for the grand finale of our Festive Special which features a deliciously-dark tale about a housemaid’s changing relationship with her annual Christmas Pudding preparations and the upper-class family she labours for. (Warning: Reader’s may want to avoid reading this story directly after they have eaten their Christmas Pudding…!)
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