It’s awfully nice to have cats around during the holiday season.

Thurston, a large, 3-year-old, orange and white cat, needs time to acclimate to the presence of the tree. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

That’s not to say they aren’t good companions all year long, but during the winter — and in this pandemic — they are especially good company.

The minute I started wrapping gifts, they were right there, fascinated with every ribbon I cut and curled, every paper I sliced, every note written.

Thurston is a large, 3-year-old, orange and white cat; Bitsy is 14 years old and a gray, white and black tiger.

Thurston likes to pounce on her sometimes. She gets annoyed.

For the most part, they get along fine, particularly when they go outdoors where they are comrades against the fierce world.

Cats have their curiosities — things we haven’t quite figured out. We suspect they know more than they let on.

For instance, how does one explain the following phenomenon?

Whenever I go to the refrigerator and pluck out two little containers of yogurt and remove spoons from the drawer, Thurston is at my feet before I can get to the living room to hand one to Phil.

Thurston can be sleeping deeply in another room, but never fails to appear when yogurt is being fetched. Remove ice cream from the freezer or seltzer from the fridge and he doesn’t budge. But that yogurt.

Full disclosure: We always allow the cats to have a lick of the yogurt container after we’ve emptied them. That likely serves as an incentive. But we have tried retrieving yogurt several different ways and at different times of the day just to test Thurston. I tiptoe to the kitchen and open the silverware drawer without a sound and still, he appears out of nowhere.

Bitsy is old enough to know the drill when the Christmas tree comes into the house, and she is not fazed. Thurston, on the other hand, flees to another room when he deems a marauder has entered his quiet domain.

Bitsy watches intently as we set up the tree and I decorate; he stands at a distance. With time, he acclimates and they take naps under the tree. No matter how fresh the water is in their bowls, they drink water out of the tree stand all season long.

Bitsy, a 14-year-old white, black and gray tiger, knows the Christmas tree drill and is not fazed by it. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

The cats love to frolic in the snow and sun themselves on the deck, but they are not fond of rain. When they come in after an active day, Bitsy heads to the guest room where she snoozes on the bed by the window. Thurston goes to Phil’s closet in the bedroom, curls up in a dark corner on the floor and sleeps for hours. The house becomes strangely quiet.

By early evening, Bitsy will appear and, just as “Jeopardy!” starts, Thurston rounds the corner of the hallway. She curls up on a red throw beside Phil on the short sofa. Thurston leaps onto the long couch where I sit, nuzzles into the blue afghan my mother knit years ago, and purrs. Is there any better sound than that of a purring cat?

I don’t know what pet-less people do, especially during a pandemic. I can’t imagine being without ours. I’m sure dog owners feel the same.

The irony is, they rely on us for everything, yet we’re the ones who reap the benefits.

The way I see it, there’s no more purr-fect partners than cats during this pandemic holiday season.

Or at any other time, for that matter.


Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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