Your Cat Does Not Belong on the Dining Room Table

Roz Warren

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I’m eating at my friend Amy’s house when one of her cats leaps up onto the dining room table and begins sauntering across its surface, heading toward my salmon.

“Bad kitty!” says Amy half-heartedly. “You know you don’t belong on the table.”

Which is total bullpucky.

As far as Amy is concerned that cat belongs everywhere.

And he knows it.

But Amy is a good hostess. She knows that — inexplicably — I don’t want her darling’s adorable paws poking at my plate, so she picks him up and returns him to the floor.

But I’m not fooled. When I’m not there? He’s welcome on the table.

My friend Alana puts up even less of a pretense.

Doofus the cat jumps onto the table in the middle of dinner.

“Doofus! You know you don’t belong on the table,” Alana scolds, throwing Doofus a delicious bit of chicken, which he catches deftly and settles down (still on the table) to enjoy.

“I don’t know why he keeps doing that.” she says to me.

“You’re kidding me, right?” I respond. “He keeps doing that because you keep feeding him chicken when he does.”

She beams. “Isn’t he a darling?”

“Yes, he is,” I agree. When he stays on the floor where he belongs.

So what is it with kitties on the dinner table? Do cat lovers cherish their felines so much that eating with a furry little rump adjacent to their food isn’t a problem? Cat fur in the mashed potatoes? Curious kitty noses sussing out the brussels sprouts?

Apparently not.

When you are a person who enjoys cats, but not cats near her food, good manners can be a challenge. Here’s a short quiz:

When a cat jumps onto the table while you’re eating, should you:

(1) Recoil in horror.

(2) Gasp and proclaim, “I’m giving this place a scathing Yelp review.”

(3) Leap to your feet, shouting GET THE *$%# OFF THE TABLE YOU LITTLE BEAST!

(4) Put down your napkin and quietly say, “Dinner is over for me, thanks.”

The answer, of course, is none of the above.

You are a guest in the home of a cat lover. You knew the risks going in.

If your friend adores her kitties so much that all of them are welcome on the table, even if the table is teeming with so many cats that you can’t even see your meal anymore?

The polite thing for you to do as a guest is to gracefully accept it. And the next time your pal suggests dinner? Suggest a good restaurant.

But what if your cat-loving pal is also an amazing chef whose dinners are spectacularly delicious?

You can do what I did the last time Doofus jumped up on the table and Alana tossed him a yummy piece of fish from her plate.

I watched him devour it, then tossed Doofus a yummy piece of fish from my plate.

The result? Doofus is now my best friend. And Alana loves me too.

There may be a little cat fur in the cuisine, but I’ve got a standing dinner invitation.

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at roSwarren@gmail.com.

Bala Cynwyd, PA
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