In 1993, we lived in a third-floor walk-up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We had a long bar dividing the living room from the kitchen, and for Christmas, I set tapers along the bar. One afternoon our landlord was up there for some reason. Suddenly, he interrupted us to exclaim, "Your cat's on fire!" We had a long-haired cat named Figaro who liked to lounge on the bar. Apparently, in the midst of our conversation, she'd walked next to a candle... and her tail turned into a taper of its own.
She wasn't hurt; it was only the tip that was singed. But apparently someone in the house didn't learn her lesson... (ahem).
Five years later, in Salem, we also had a very fluffy, very mean cat named Cleo. She was half-feral... well, she was really mean (except to her momma; as Russell Crowe said in '3:10 to Yuma', "Even bad men love their mommas."). I had my Day of the Dead altar up, complete with marigolds, sugar skulls, pictures, and... candles. Tapers, to be exact.
I walked into the kitchen and smelled something horrid. Burnt and charred, and reminiscent of the time I'd burnt my own hair. And there sat Cleo, with a tail that looked like part of a melted black tire. She didn't seem to be aware of what was going on, but I called the local cat vet in a semi-panic.
She asked, suspiciously, "How did the cat burn its tail?" I answered, "I didn't INTENTIONALLY set my cat on fire! She walked next to a candle!" Trying to wipe the burnt hair off a mean cat's tail is like trying to tame a sack of snakes. I'm pretty sure we left some of it to fall off itself.
OD and Figaro, circa 1996. Cats just looooove children...
The lesson is: don't leave tapers anywhere this holiday season for your cats (or any animals) to walk next to and become feline torches. Hell, don't leave candles *anywhere* where they like to lounge. I don't leave candles anywhere anymore where my cats can catch on fire. While it may sound slightly comical, and my cats weren't harmed (although if they had egos, they would have been humiliated), no one wants to take a chance on their fur-babies actually getting hurt.