Each Christmas, Mom insists upon giving presents to my cat Bubba. She wraps a myriad of silly little gifts and puts ribbons and bows and tags on them, just as if the cat cares. But he seems to enjoy the fluffy little toys on strings and the plastic balls with bells inside. And just like a kid, sometimes he plays with the bows and paper almost as long as he plays with the toys.

Of all the gifts, however, I think he especially looks forward to receiving the traditional little cans of cat food Mom always tries to disguise by wrapping them in various colors of paper. She knows I don’t normally give my cat canned food, but since Mom always finds a coupon she can use, and I’m the only kid who has a cat, Bubba is the obvious recipient.

A few days before Christmas last year, Bubba and I had a picnic dinner in the living room. With the twinkling tree lights as the backdrop, I opened him a can of Fancy Feast and emptied it onto a cut-glass saucer. He dined on a placemat decorated with a pretty Christmas design while I sat beside him on the floor and ate a tasty turkey and dressing microwave meal.

We enjoyed our quality time so much that the following night I repeated the experience. Bubba was thrilled! He gobbled up his dinner in no time flat and nosed around the packages to see if there might be more gourmet meals tucked away for him.

But the next night I had other plans, and for several days he got only his regular dry cat food in his regular bowl at its regular place. On Christmas Eve, however, I again reached under the tree to get out another ribbon-tied can. Imagine my surprise, and dismay! to discover Bubba had brought his own special offering to the banquet table.

In among the gifts, I found irrefutable evidence that on the night before Christmas, at least at my house, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”