Caught in the Act!

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A gray cat crouches beneath the Christmas tree, looking at the ornaments and contemplating her next move.
Gracie, plotting her next move.

Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed bird ornaments on my Christmas tree. It was a sad year when my mother told me that my favorite bird ornaments were too tattered and worn to put on the tree. As an adult, you can easily tell which ornaments on my tree were gifts because they are not any kind of animal, bird, insect, or fish. Yes, we decorate our tree with various critters — moths, robins, flamingos, dragons, zebras, trout, dogs, cats, etc. We also place gift ornaments on the tree, but they clearly expand the theme past its representation of the natural world.

Three white squirrel ornaments on the table beneath the tree. They've lost their hangers, but we still love them.
A few years ago, I bought four white squirrel ornaments for the tree. Gracie loved them! In no short order, these three were removed from the tree and toyed with. The one on the left has only one ear and no eyes, but his disability does not detract from his beauty. The middle one lost a tail and ears, and we fondly call him our “hamster.” The one on the right is encouraging her friends; She is still intact, but no hanger. Amazingly, Gracie was not interested in the squirrels this year.

Our cats have primarily shown no interest in our tree in recent years until Gracie. She was shyly curious, and we usually discovered her nighttime naughtiness when we got up in the morning. This summer, as my husband mowed the grass and tended the backyard, we found several ornaments that she had carried out through the dog door. It seems that her antics were broader than we had first known.

Last year, as we took down our tree, I found a perfect cat bed hollowed out within the branches. Like a deer laying in grass leaves a depression, we found a cat-sized depression about 2/3 of the way up the tree. Gracie! Nami is too elderly to care about scaling the tree, but we were on to Gracie. This year, I finally put up my breakable ornaments, knowing that the tree won’t fall over when she roots around in its branches.

A tattered blue bird ornament has lost its eyes, beak, and tail. It still brings color to the tree, but it is clearly the cat's favoite.
This blue bird was one of Gracice’s finds last year. You can barely tell it is a bird!

We put our tree up for two weeks before Christmas this year and will take it down quickly. We limit the amount of tree-time mainly because of our parrot, Sugar. He has a history of plucking all the leaves off our artificial trees or plants, so we don’t want our Christmas tree up so long that he plots its demise. As I took ornaments out of boxes this year, I found some that were pretty beat up last year. One went back on the tree, and the other went in the trash.

A Goffin's cockatoo is smiling for the camera. He's a white bird with tiny coral-colored feathers on his cheeks, up against the beak.
You may not be able to see the metaphorical horns sticking up on this bird’s head. Make no mistake, he’s mischievous!

I figure that Christmas is for everyone, even our cats. They need a little entertainment from the winter doldrums, too. I don’t hold it against them if they play with the ornaments. They don’t need to last forever; they just need to delight us and bring us fond memories. Sharing our holiday with the cats brings us much amusement during the dark days of winter. I think Gracie had a good time this year!

This shows the core of what was once a bird ornament. There are a couple of small yellow feathers toward the rear of the bird, but every other feather and downy covering has been removed. The black paint for the beak has rubbed off in patches. There are no eyes or wings any more.
This is Gracie’s work from last year. As I threw it in the trash, I admired the authentic goosebumps on the plucked bird’s body. Those ornament designers go for more realism than I thought!


    1. They don’t pay any attention to the gift ornaments we’ve received: angels, cats, etc. A stuffed reindeer doll got some attention until I took it away; it was really too large to be easily carried by a cat. Most of their attentions have been directed at ornaments that were soft and mouth-sized, mostly the birds, squirrels, and small sheep. So I think it is the size and softness that is the attraction, with bonus points if the ornament has feathers!


  1. MOL…Gracie must have had a lot of fun with the birdies…I know I would have too…MOL…The birdie has a sweet expression, naughty, but sweet, I think they do that to make you laugh😸Loved this post!
    🎊Pawkisses for a Happy New Year to all of you
    and hope that all your wishes come true in 2022✨🐾😽💞

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gracie is naughtier than my Rosie. I don’t put breakables on anymore just in case, but out of 11 cats, Rosie was the only one that took some ornaments off. I agree Christmas is for them too so I don’t mind. I hope you have a happy and healthy new year. XO

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  3. Made me smile reading this of your cats antics. It doesn’t surprise me, for when I had a cat, Miley, the baubles would come off the tree.
    I never witnessed Miley in the act, but I would find them later. Even sometimes a couple of months later from the tree being took down. Lol

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  4. Karel I have a huge smile on my face hearing about your fur babies’ antics with the tree! I purposefully put cat friendly (and now puppy friendly) ornaments on the lower branches. It makes us all happy (like Gracie)!

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    1. Right? Our lower branches all have non-breakable ornaments for that reason. Fortunately for Gracie, she has pretty good reach when standing on her hind legs, and her favorite bird ornaments are non-breakable and found within her extended reach. Funny, but our dogs have no interest in the tree or it’s decorations. I hope your puppy is similarly focused on you and not the tree.


      1. Thank you! So far the tree is still standing and he doesn’t seem to care about the ornaments at this moment. Of course he is not left unsupervised either. Our cat liked to sleep on the tree skirt under the tree, but since the puppy moved in, she hasn’t been around it often unless she’s sure that he’s crated and sleeping! LOL I always used to put kitty friendly ornaments on the bottom branches just for the cats too. 🙂

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  5. Naughty Gracie! We had a cat that was so enamored of one of our ornaments (she would steal it from the tree and sleep with it) that we finally gave up and let her have it. Animals make life so much richer!

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    1. I have no problem giving over some of our ornaments for the cats. After all, they like them better than some of the toys we buy just for them. I wasn’t happy when a brand-new owl ornament was found in the back yard, but realized that it’s materials were highly attractive to a cat.🤷🏻‍♀️what did I expect? I think it’s sweet that you just let your kitty keep her favorite one!


  6. Enjoyed your sharing the holiday traditions. Doing our own thing and not be limited by what others do is important. Realizing one doesn’t have to go big and bold is liberating.
    I see the decorations of my neighbor as I look out my computer room window. No muss or fuss for me. 🙂

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      1. This was delightful! She actually climbed the tree, haha! Whenever I leave home, I tell Penny, “Be very naughty. I’ll never know.” At Christmas, I maintain my usual good-bye, with an addendum: “Be very naughty. I’ll never know… although the state of the tree will give you away. Get after it anyway, kitten!” She does, and it delights me like Gracie does you. Cheers, C

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