A Madison man was charged Thursday with animal cruelty after police said he admitted he shot and killed the family cat in April because his girlfriend is allergic to cats and because he had tripped over the cat.

But a daughter of Peter K. Stern, 51, told police that she thinks her father killed the cat, Tinkerbell, to show her what he is capable of doing and graphically described doing it because he knew it would be traumatic for her to hear about it, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

Stern appeared in court Thursday where a signature bond was set forbidding him to possess any weapons or have any contact with his daughter. In addition to animal mistreatment, a felony, he was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

“Yeah, I feel bad about it,” Stern told Madison police Detective Lindsey Ludden on May 23, two days after his daughter reported to police that her father told her he had killed Tinkerbell about five weeks earlier. “Yeah, I put it (down) with a .22 short. I put one shot while her head was in the bowl. I put her down.”

He said he loved Tinkerbell, but there had been several times when he went downstairs to feed her and she ran between his legs and tripped him. He said he didn’t have any problem caring for Tinkerbell, who was healthy, “but my girlfriend’s allergic to cats.”

The shooting happened on April 13, the complaint states.

According to the complaint:

Stern’s daughter, who is identified only by initials in the complaint, told police that Stern had killed Tinkerbell in the basement of the family home on Camilla Road, on Madison’s Far East Side. She said her father had told her he shot Tinkerbell using a gun equipped with a silencer and said he disposed of her remains in a trash bin outside his workplace.

When she told him she wished he had buried Tinkerbell, he retrieved her remains and buried the cat in the backyard, she told police.

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