Ohhhh.....I love to cook. I love everything about the process. The washing, the cutting, the different textures, the different colors, the scents, and flavors. Butter, and garlic, and seasoning, and herbs. Creating something new, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. With music playing in the background, you tap into a rhythm where your movements flow with ease and grace. There’s a harmony of sensory stimulation and physical activity. I find it calming, like meditation in motion.
Cooking with a dog in the vicinity of the kitchen is not a problem. The only thing that can go wrong is if you accidentally drop a piece of food on the floor and they get to it before you do. If they’re well trained, you can give them a verbal command to leave it, giving you the few extra seconds needed to retrieve it from the floor.
On this day, I was cooking while apartment and cat-sitting for my friend. Once again, I am not familiar with the behavior of cats. Dog’s will sit or lie on the floor and wait in the hope that you accidentally drop something. They’re patient and stalwart in this. Cats, not so much. Actually, not at all. So I learned.
I was in the culinary zone. The music was playing. I was humming and dancing while prepping and cooking the food. I planned on cooking the whole bag of shrimp. I would put half into a stir fry, and the other half would go into a pasta dish. I had shelled and rinsed them. I left them in the colander to drain in the sink. I went to the stove to stir garlic into the pan of melted butter. I sauteed the garlic, and the aroma was wonderful. Now, to add the shrimp.
I turned to go to the sink and then paused. There was something different. It took me a moment to process this new visual information. You may remember the song from Sesame Street, ‘One of these things doesn’t belong here’. A cat’s butt and tail in the air on top of the counter, with its face hidden in a shrimp filled colander, is what didn’t belong!
I firmly commanded, “Oscar, you get out of there. Right now!” His head popped up out of the colander, and before I could take a step toward him, he had jumped down from the counter and ran past the island in the middle of the kitchen. I went to the shrimp to see how much damage he’d done. It didn’t look disturbed. Perhaps he had just gotten to it and only sniffed it when I turned around.
Then I turned to look in the direction that Oscar had run to. He stood beside the table, staring at me, with a shrimp hanging out of the side of his mouth. I said, “You are so lucky, mister.” And he was. He’d just scored a shrimp. One for the cat, one less for me.
I turned back to the sink and re-rinsed the shrimp in the colander. I decided to re-rinse and then cook the shrimp to destroy any cat cooties. And besides, as the old saying goes, “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.” I just googled to find how much a peck is. It’s a dry measure that equals a quarter of a bushel, or eight quarts, or nine liters. So, a couple of cat cooties were now included in my peck.
When my friend came home the next day, I told her about the shrimp incident. She said, “Oh, yes. Oscar loves shrimp. I put a plate on top of the colander until I’m ready to cook the shrimp.”
And there it was, all I needed to know when cooking in the presence of a cat. It was a simple solution to stop the stealing of the shrimp. That's not to say it put an end to the feline's attempts at food filching. I'll write about that in next week's story.
P.S. After I posted this, I learned from my friend that today is Oscar's birthday. Happy birthday, Buddy!!!
© Debra J. Bilton. All rights reserved.