Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Meathead.

“MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!”

“Meatmeatmeatmeatmeat, (breathe), meatmeatmeatmeatmeat!!!!!!!!!”

Let me bring you up to speed. A few months ago, during the pet-food tainting drama, when it looked as if Chinese manufacturers had it in for our pets, my local Whole Foods -- sensing that Paranoid-Americans were being underserved -- started selling ground raw meat for pet food. There were several stickers on each wrapped package indicating this meat wasn’t fit for human consumption which says “Snouts and sphincters” to me, but that’s better than worrying about whether the secret ingredient in your cat’s can of Tastee Treats is melamine.

I also did the math and realized it would be no more expensive to serve Lady Hairball raw meat than her favorite can of stinky wet food. But was I saving her a death from kidney failure only to put her in danger of mad-cow disease, or Ruinous Whisker Failure, or some other feline-specific disorder? Not from my research. In fact, as you might suspect, the domestic cat is built from teeth to tummy, and well beyond there, to eat meat. Their wild ancestors weren’t tracking bowls of corn meal and wheat flour, two common ingredients in cat food. No, they were hunting living things, and they were built to thrive on, and love, meat.

Of course, I had forgotten that cats aren't dogs. In culinary terms, dogs are the ideal guests. Whatever they find in their bowl (or on the table, or in the cats’ litter box) is the one exact thing they had always hoped to eat. After a minute’s snarfling and an enthusiastic burp, the dog trots away from the bowl, mission accomplished. The average cat is not the ideal dinner guest. The average cat is your obnoxious cousin who just got back from a six-week trip to cooking school in the south of France who glances at the sandwich you made her and sighs “You know, in France, they take such care with their food.” Even with the limited range of facial expressions cats have, any change in Lulabelle’s diet left her looking at me with nothing but dismay and sorrow. The first night, I hacked off a bit of pink flesh. She stared at me, sniffed the food and stared at me again.

LULABELLE: I can move out, you know. Just say the word.

QUINN: This is about your food, right?

LULABELLE: If you have to ask…

QUINN: What, may I ask, is wrong with it?

LULABELLE: Where’s my stinky wet food?

QUINN: It had fire-retardant in it. Look, it’s meat!

LULABELLE: I hate new things. It’s new.

QUINN: Not really. You eat meat all the time. It’s just usually thrashing.

She sniffed it again.

LULABELLE: I have an idea. Go get me stinky wet food.

QUINN: Just taste it.

LULABELLE: Or, you could open the back door. I’ll just make myself an opossum.

It took a couple of days, but she started to come around. I still got the disappointed sniff for a few more days, but I noticed the food was gone within twenty minutes or so. Then, the sniff was replaced by a certain excitement when I would bring out the bag o’ meat. I’d be sawing away at her dinner, and Lulabelle would be circling my legs, getting to second base with my ankles.

What I hadn’t stopped to consider, because I rarely think about things from a cat’s point of view, was how the excitement she had once felt about the can opener would be transferred to someone walking to the refrigerator. This makes sense because, to her way of thinking, an open fridge door and a can opener mean the same thing; food is coming. But when not opening cans of stinky wet food, we rarely used the can opener; she was correct in assuming any can-opening was a party for her. I don’t want to imply we’re a constantly snacking sort of people, but I hadn’t noticed how often I open the fridge until someone small and furry was there to remind me:

Quinn opens fridge. Quinn feels presence. Looking down, Quinn sees Lulabelle on her hind legs, also looking in the fridge.

QUINN: Hi.

LULABELLE: Hi. Meat?

QUINN: You already had dinner.

LULABELLE: So did you. And you’re here. Meat?

QUINN: I’m shutting the fridge now.

LULABELLE: MEAT! MEAT! MEAT!

Repeat until the next meal.

She’s developed preferences. Beef is lovely; chicken is to be ignored until you are faint from hunger, but if you really want to send her into ecstasies? Sister, get that cat some organ meat. I learned this the day I went to Whole Foods and they hadn’t ground their lesser meats for the pets yet. On a whim, I grabbed the reddest and cheapest cut of meat. It turned out to be beef liver, which required cutting into smaller pieces. I was standing in the kitchen, sawing away at it, when Daughter walked in. She screamed, which wasn’t surprising, as I was covered in blood from the elbows down and there was blood dripping on to the floor from the cutting board. Whatever scene she had expected to find in her family’s kitchen, it wasn’t from Sweeney Todd.

“Don’t worry, honey”, I said in what I hoped was a comforting tone as I struggled to remove a slippery blood clot from under my nail, “None of this is my blood. And once I feed Lulabelle and scrub everything in this kitchen with a weak bleach cleaning-solution, this will all fade from your memory.”

Having finished my butchering, I placed about a quarter-cup of what looked liked Satan’s erasers in Lulabelle’s bowl. I then opened the back door where the cat, having divined that I was preparing her dinner, flew in and made it to her bowl, about six feet away and around a corner, in one leap. She grabbed the largest hunk, threw it on the ground, pounced on it and then sang to it softly as she tore off bits. Daughter and I watched her.

Daughter whispered, “Is she supposed to do that?”

I whispered back, “I’m in very new territory here. Let’s be glad that she seems happy.”

Let’s be glad she hasn’t figured out that every other member of her household is potentially nothing more than a big bag of organ meats, just waiting to be harvested.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Exasperatrix said...

Satan's erasers... so poetic, and so right.

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Satan's Erasers... That's the rub :-)

Kathi

5:39 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

chappy gave monty a spoonful of vanilla ice cream once like 6 months ago... now ever time the freezer opens it's all 'ice cream? ice cream for monty? i'm interested in what's in the freezer. i could have some ice cream!!!! no, no frozen peas. ice cream for monty!' so, i am with you on this pet experience.

and why did this post not include some sort of 'where's the beef?' reference???

6:46 AM  
Blogger badrhinogillett said...

My "free" cat had health problems, turning him into the $3000 kitty. Not exactly the million dollar man, but close. For a time, he ate nothing but cooked chicken livers in the disgusting water it was boiled in.

I've read several Lilian Jackson Braun books.. and the cats in the books only eat salmon, so I guess with chicken and beef livers, we both have modest cats!

7:40 AM  
Blogger Paige said...

"Satan's erasers" may be the greatest phrase ever coined.

xx

8:33 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

So help me, every blog entry is better than the last, and you were already starting from a very high point. I don't know how you get your inspiration -- coffee, chocolate, drugs, shopping -- but please keep it up.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

Lord, I am just having the worst day, this post brightened it considerable. So, excuse me, fucking funny.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Lulabelle "getting to second base with your ankles"
Really thank you for that.

3:19 PM  
Blogger jazz bird said...

I'm still laughing out loud. In my apartment. Alone. And feeling slightly embarrassed about that fact. Thanks for such a funny post.

By the way, chicken livers come much, much smaller and cats typically REALLY dig them. Although I do like the fact you made me envision "Satan's erasers".

4:24 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

thanks be to God we never got our started on wet food. although, mine now is soooo addicted to black tar heroin (aka catnip)that it's funny to watch.

because addiction IS funny.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

What we won't do for our cats!

I'm heading back to the 'old' house to dig up a weird sort of grass from the yard.

It's the only thing that will settle kitty's tummy when he has gotten a bad bit o' meat and needs to purge...

Often I ponder.., when was the last time a domestic cat has taken down a cow away? Why aren't we chopping heads off mice and throwing them their way?

I don't get it.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked the Sweeney Todd reference. Hopefully, the memory will indeed fade...or else Daughter might, as the song goes, grow up to be a butcher, or a baker, or a kitty-pie maker. :>

-- Tim

12:41 PM  
Blogger EGE said...

Unfortunately, my idiot -- although if it's still thrashing he's a champion -- otherise seems to think that he's a dog. Or a goat. Plastic bags, gift ribbons, cigarette packs...

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a word to owners whose cats hang around the fridge or freezer; seriously, check and make sure they don't go inside before you shut the door. In my case, that story has a luckily happy ending but it could easily have gone another way.

1:19 AM  
Blogger John, famous in Siberia said...

You make a good argument for eating meat. If you look back in time, cats weren't eating a lot of veggies, neither were cavemen, why should we?

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Mary Poole said...

Happy Birthday Quinn! I was reading my local paper, The Cincinnati Enquirer, the morning and "actress Quinn Cummings is 40" jumped out at me. Have a fun day!

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Kathryn said...

Please keep this up, your writing. I just found your blog yesterday, read this article and laughed out loud. I am going to forward your link to several girlfriends. It was just refreshing and funny. I found you through an astrology blog site - believe it or not - she recommended reading you. Best to you - Kathryn (Washington, DC)

4:58 AM  
Blogger K said...

Ok, this particular blog had me rolling...laughing out loud (so loud, in fact, that it warrants typing out LOL in its entirety). How's the book? Is it done? Can you come back now? Can I stop rereading old favorites? Huh huh? Can ya? Oh, and let me know when and where I can get this book!!

11:16 PM  

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