Maleah Stringer has been a columnist since 2003. Her column, Animal Connection, has helped raise awareness in our community concerning the connection between animal abuse and human violence and encourages the community to treat animals with compassion.


Read her columns below or each week at

Tiny kittens terrorize the tree

December 3, 2020 


Animal intake for November 2020: 149

I love Christmas and decorating my house — a friend once told me that it looks like Christmas at Macy’s. I took that as a compliment.

Yes, I go a little crazy. I have decorations from my childhood as well as those I have collected over the years. And now I have my mom’s treasured decorations. She loved to decorate for Christmas as well.

I have gone back and forth on whether to put up a Christmas tree this year. One because I’m just having a hard time getting into the spirit of it and just the thought of the time involved exhausts me. And the other is I have two new kittens in the house who are wilder than bats and will see a Christmas tree as their playground.

After much thought, I took the plunge Thanksgiving weekend and decorated in my normal fashion. The two new cats — Zip, the one-eyed kitten, and Allie, both black cats — watched my every move with a wild-eyed fascination. Both of these cats were meek, mild and scared to death at the shelter; who knew they would turn into terrors?

I tried to decorate the tree, strategically placing anything breakable near the top. It looks a little unbalanced but I can live with that. I was a bit surprised that once done they showed little interest; I was doing a happy dance in my head. My other cats for the most part have just randomly swatted ornaments over the years as most cats will.

The disinterest was short-lived. I went out to walk and came back to ornaments scattered on the floor. I put them back on the tree and rearranged. Some of the ornaments on the floor came from near the top ... apparently nothing is safe. Yes, I have a spray bottle and use it when I see them headed to the tree. They do not care. They have figured out if I am not there, there is no water assault.

At one point, I looked up and Zip was racing across the room with an ornament dangling from his mouth, his one eye wild with glee. I am finding ornaments all over the house in very odd places. One Santa ornament was in a litter box, another dropped in the water bowl.

I woke up in the middle of the night to ornaments hitting the floor. I turned on light and I see my one-eyed terror staring at me from the middle of the tree. The tree has not even been up 24 hours. There is another month of this. 

Do I let them beat me and take the tree down or do I continue to play this little game with them for the next month? I know it’s only a matter of time that I come home from work and find the tree on the ground. The only solution other than taking the tree down or locking them in one room is to build an enclosure around the tree, which by the way feels like I have crossed into crazy land. But even then, I see them climbing up the sides and sitting on the top reaching in trying to snag ornaments. I have to ask myself who exactly is in charge here?

It’s obvious ... the cats. But for now the tree stays up and I am not going to crazy land. At least not today ...

Thought for the week: “Gratitude is the gift of sight in the darkest of times.”


Maleah Stringer is Executive Director of The

Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson.

She can be reached at 765-356-0900 or at

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