Recipe Column: A new companion
I have a new addition at my house. I adopted a cat.
This decision came after some unforeseen circumstances landed me as a very empty, empty nester. Coming home to a house deprived of a furry creature was a little more than I could stand, so I went out and adopted a kitten-or more correctly, it adopted me.
I once read that “Dogs have owners, cats have staff” and, at the time, I scoffed at this notion. But, over the last couple of months, I have come to find out this sentiment is very true. I don’t feel at all like I own this animal, but more like its servant, and I must admit it is training me well.
Having a cat rule the roost is a new experience for me. Up until a couple of months ago, pet ownership consisted of a lifetime of canine companions, so I figured maybe shaking it up a bit would be a good thing. But boy, I didn’t know just how much shaking up was going to take place.
It all started out innocent. On the first day I saw this animal, I thought it was one of the cutest creatures ever, but when I reached down to pick her up, she backed away. Then she studied me for a few seconds and slowly sauntered over and sat at my feet, staring up at me with wide-eyed innocence. I scooped up the little creature, and she snuggled into my shoulder and started to purr softly. I was smitten.
So “Crawdad” came home with me, and life has not been quite the same since. No more is the house eerily quiet when I walk through the door after work. No, at times it reminds me of a circus act; in particular the one where a motorcyclist zooms pointlessly around inside a giant ball. My walking in the door is this creature’s cue to rev it up, and I often stand in the middle of a speeding fur ball that can defy gravity as it hurls itself around the perimeter of the living room.
Once this is out of her system, she starts the fetching routine. I’m sure this cat must have been a Labrador retriever in its former life, because she sure can bring back a ball-over and over and over again. When the game lags, she pulls at my hands with her tiny claws; and when that doesn’t get results, she gives me a quick nip, as if to say “Hey, pay attention!”
In an effort to redirect this creature’s misguided notion that I am just a large human cat toy, I recently purchased her a present in the form of a bird feeder that sticks on the outside of the window. Now she spends a great deal of time bird watching. These spells are interrupted by loud thumps as she hurls herself against the glass, trying to catch a flitting chick-a-dee or raucous blue jay.
In retrospect, this cat must have really thought it hit the jack pot when she came to live at my house. Not only does she believe that I am her “staff” but that she also owns the house. Her attitude is a mixture of assurance and snootiness and she has the arrogance of a Princess Puma. When she’s really feeling important, she languidly stalks around, her tail-tip flipping back and forth lazily. After her surveillance, she climbs on top of the chair back, curls her paws under her chest in importance, and assumes the air of royalty while continuing to survey her domain.
Included in this territory is the aquarium, which she assumes is being maintained just for her enjoyment. However, she was met with a little surprise the other day while I was cleaning it. I took the lid off, and not realizing this, she jumped from floor to its watery depths, coming eye ball to eye ball with Captain Sig, the goldfish. She shot forth out of that tank like the spray from a hose, and then glared at me for close to two hours like a drowned rat.
And yet, despite all these high jinx, I have come to admire this animal. I love watching her stalk across the floor, the way her muscles ripple as she saunters by. I admire her markings, the distinct stripes around her eyes and the ones that encircle her legs and tail. In her quiet moments, she is as endearing as a baby’s stuff toy. She will snuggle into my neck or lay across my knees as I watch TV, and I melt.
In fact, one day last week, I decided to make this little creature some homemade cat treats. However, I will not be including that recipe in the column for this week. That kitty candy stunk up the house so bad I wouldn’t wish that odor on anybody. Instead, I found a cat cake recipe I used to make many years ago. And since this weekend is Halloween, I’m going to cook one up in honor of my little kitty friend, because I appreciate her presence in my life.
No, now I do not walk into an eerily silent and empty house. Once again, toys are scattered across the living room floor, and best of all, I have a little furry buddy who, on occasion, will caress my cheek with the gentlest of paws, or purr into my neck. And in my opinion, life really doesn’t get any better than that.
Halloween Cat Cake
1 box super moist devil’s food cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
11/2 containers chocolate frosting
Tray or cardboard (20×14 inches), covered with wrapping paper
1 large yellow gumdrop
1 small black gumdrop
Black shoestring licorice
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray bottoms and sides of two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pans. Bake as directed on box for 8- or 9-inch rounds. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate or freeze cake 30 to 60 minutes or until firm. Using serrated knife, cut rounded top off cake to level surface; place cut side down. One cake will be the body. With the other cut a sickle shape for the tail. Then cut the remaining round piece of cake straight across for the head. Cut the remaining piece in two for the ears. Place the body on the covered cardboard and arrange the other pieces to form the cat. Spread a thin layer of frosting over top and sides to seal in crumbs. Refrigerate or freeze cake 30 to 60 minutes then frost entire cake with remaining frosting. Use yellow gumdrop slices for eyes, black gumdrop for nose and shoestring licorice for whiskers, lines on eyes and front paws.