A Jewish Cat’s Purr-spective on Hanukkah and Christmas

Athena is fascinated by the lights on the Hanukkah menorah.

Athena in the glow of our electric Hanukkah menorah.

Imagining a conversation with my cat:

“Well, that hisses me off.” Athena stomps across the couch, turns around twice, sits on my lap, and looks at me scornfully.

“And what is it this time?” My cat ignores the sarcasm.

“Where’s the tree?”

“What tree?”

She looks around the room. “The Christmas tree. You know. Tall thing. Green. Has branches. Everyone has a Christmas tree this time of year.”

“We don’t.” 

My cat arches her back in horror.

“We don’t celebrate Christmas,” I say. “We celebrate Hanukkah. We’re Jewish.”

Athena flattens her ears like an owl. “That’s not fair.”

“Why isn’t it fair?”

“All the other cats have one.” I am about to question how she knows what cats in other homes do, but I have a feeling she wouldn’t discuss the tools and techniques of the FBI (Feline Bureau of Investigation) or the CIA (Cat Intelligence Agency). 

Instead I ask, “What do you need a Christmas tree for anyway?”

Athena sighs. “First of all, it’s a tree. I could climb it, all the way to the top.”

“You wouldn’t make it that far, Athena. It would fall over from your weight.”

“Are you implying I’m fat?” Her eyes narrow.


She sits down, stretches her leg, and begins to clean her back end. Then, Athena stops mid-lick, as if a thought just occurred to her.  “I could help you decorate the tree. I could assist with those lovely strings of lights.”

“Oh, I bet you’d be a help.” I imagine my cat tangled in wires, happily gnawing on them.

“And I could test all the ornaments to make sure they’re securely fastened.” She paused. “And I could find any that happen to fall.”

I ponder what my cat would do when she found a shiny, rolly object, and realize I haven’t cleaned out the cat toys from under the couch recently.

“And that’s not all.” Athena’s tail starts twitching. “I could help you wrap presents.”

“And by ‘help,’ you mean lying on the wrapping paper, swatting at ribbons and hiding in boxes?”

Her eyes glow. She’s helped me with gift wrapping before. “Then you’d put them under the tree for me to enjoy.”

“Did you mean enjoy or destroy?”

Athena ignores me, though this is not surprising as she is a professional ignorer. “I’d even leave you a present.”

“I can imagine.” A few ideas of what kind of gift my cat would leave me come to my mind; none of them smell pretty and all involve some kind of clean up.

Athena was on a roll. “I’m missing out on so much Christmas fun. There are wires to chew on. Shiny objects to bat. And that smarmy little elf that’s always hiding from everyone: I’d find that dude and knock him right off that shelf onto his smug little — ”

“That’s enough, Athena.” I pick her up and put her on the floor. “The sun is setting. It’s time to light the candles and to set out the electric Hanukkah menorah.”

“You mean there’s lights? And fire?”

“Yes, Athena.” I see a manic gleam in her eyes. “We’ll keep the flames where you can’t reach them. But look at these glowing lights.”

I set our small electric hanukkiah on her window perch in the lving room window, where she can get up close and purr-sonal. 

“Oooh. I like this.” She rubs her head on the branches, and the menorah tilts precariously. I catch it before it falls.

After setting it back in place, I grab the nearest dreidel and give it a spin on the coffee table.

“Look, Athena!”

Athena inspects the dreidel.

Athena inspects the dreidel.

My cat’s eyes grow large and round. She leaps across the room to get a closer look. “That. Is. The. Coolest. Thing.” The top spins and sways. Athena stretches out her paw, extends a claw, and knocks the dreidel off its axis, toppling it with a clatter.

Athena sniffs the now-immobile top. She looks at me. “Do it again!”

Athena watches the dreidel spin.

Athena watches the dreidel spin.


I set it a-spin. Again. And again. And again. Athena watches and swats and chases the dreidel as it spins its way across the table, sometimes continuing on the floor. Again. And again. And again.

My cat is happy—a true Hanukkah miracle.

How do your pets celebrate the holidays?

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Posted in: Cat Funny, Funny

36 Comments on "A Jewish Cat’s Purr-spective on Hanukkah and Christmas"

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  1. Athena, whatever you do, don’t give up the secrets of the FBI and CIA! Humans can’t know! Hanukkah sounds very exciting, too. We’re all lucky to have holidays to celebrate in our own ways.

  2. Anita Aurit says:

    Meowza Athena,
    Hanukkah sounds purrfectly wonderful! We especially liked the blue dreidel thingy that spins and moves! Since there are five of us and my brother and I are still not quite mature enough to handle the whole Catmas thing, the female human doesn’t put up a tree but she does decorate. And there are knitted socks hanging from the fireplace mantle that say “Cats love Christmas too”. We always find some goodies in there.
    Purrs & Head Bonks,
    Alberto and The Tribe of Five

  3. I see you’re finding the joy in the holiday, Athena! Christmas brings a lot of new “toys” but so does Hanukkah!

  4. Jana Rade says:

    I love that menorah. I wish I was Jewish now. It’s so beautiful. My mom’s dad had some Jewish roots; all it got him, though, was time in a concentration camp.

    • Yikes! He must have made it out, so good for him. It’s one of the reasons we put our Hanukkah menorahs in our windows, to shine a light in the world for religious freedom, and freedom from tyranny.

  5. Ha! Chester likes to leave me presents under the tree too 🙁 We don’t have a tree this year but that’s just because it’s too much hassle.

  6. sherri says:

    I love this menorah…also I love your muted calico. I recently got one named Daisy and now I`m noticing them everywhere.

  7. I love your menorah – so elegant and simple! I’m sure for Athena, the attraction is more about the lights themselves. Cats are great admirers of anything bright, so I’m sure Athena will enjoy at least eight days of celebrating.

  8. Sonja says:

    What a beautiful photo! I know how hard it is to photograph black cats! Bright lights…. moth to a flame. 🙂

  9. Kamira G. says:

    See Athena. There is much joy and delight in Christmas and Hanukkah!Happy Holidays and Happy New year!

  10. Cathy Armato says:

    What a great post, I loved it, it’s so clever & fun! Thanks for making me chuckle this morning, believe me I needed it. That Menorah is so sleek & beautiful, one of the nicest I’ve seen. Your photos are lovely, I had to Pin both of them! Wishing you a wonderfully Happy Hanukkah!!

  11. Dash Kitten says:

    You did make us smile! Thank you for a great post.

    I remember when our Silver was a kitten, that year we got FOUR decorations on the Christmas tree. Four!! He was the rest as he ran up and down it like a crazy thing *sigh *

  12. Irene McHugh says:

    We don’t do much for the holidays around here. Bernie and Lizzie have a few Christmas toys that we bring out for the season. I consider those toys the Christmas decor as well. Lizzie saw your dreidel, Athena, and she would like to paw at it with you. Bernie is a soulful little guy, so he appreciated the classic beauty of your Menorah.

    • Aw, thank you. I think toys as holiday decor is one of the smartest ideas I’ve heard. Everyone is happy, and nobody worries about anything getting destroyed. (My dog Tucker likes to steal dreidels and gnaw on them.)

  13. Beth says:

    Happy Hanukkah! I always enjoy seeing and reading about other family’s celebrations. Your menorah is really lovely and it seems like Athena had lots of fun with the dreidel.

  14. Athena is lovely. Anything that has movement at our home is loved by the beagles. Even something as simple as an empty wrapping paper tube. The humans kind of like them too.

  15. Don’t fret Athena. We aren’t Jewish and we don’t have a Christmas tree. Mom Paula said something about us getting into too much mischief. Sigh. One day we may have one.

  16. I could just see and hear this conversation going on…so funny. So glad Athena found something to bring her joy besides a Christmas tree 🙂

  17. Sadie says:

    This made my Monday morning – thanks for the laugh(s). I love that you have an ‘electric’ Hanukkah menorah so no whiskers are singed. Please excuse my ignorance but I’m curious, does each branch have it’s own switch?

  18. Very Cute! It is important for all of us to celebrate the holidays our way. I am happy to see you celebrating Hanukkah with your furbabies.

  19. Rachel says:

    What a lovely story! This is the first year that Rooney has decided to “help” unwrap gifts in advance. Luckily he was mostly unsuccessful. Every year with Rooney we celebrate with a special meal and some new gifts for him. This year, he got a new dog bed 🙂 Happy Holidays!

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