Cats in the Pantry

At my urban farm, I have four cats who live in the house. Two of them—Cheddar and Stanley—are real terrors, and truly make life a challenge.

by Audrey Pavia
Cat in pantry

Photo by Audrey Pavia

My mischievous tabby, Cheddar, got his head caught in the cat-food container lid.

Farmers who live in rural areas typically keep barn cats, who spend their lives outdoors catching mice and sleeping on bales on hay. But when you have an urban farm, it’s very likely you keep your cats indoors to protect them from speeding cars, marauding dogs and territorial tomcats.

At my urban farm, I have four cats who live in the house. Two of them — Cheddar and Stanley — are real terrors, and truly make life a challenge. More than once, I have thought about tossing them outside and letting them deal with the dangers of urban farm living. In my neck of the woods, this includes not only speeding cars and marauding dogs, but also hungry coyotes. My conscience gets the better of me just as I’m debating turning them out into the cold. Instead, I keep them indoors and I suffer. 

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One of the greatest challenges of having Cheddar and Stanley — who are litter brothers — in the house is keeping them out of the pantry. This is where I store the cat and dog food, along with the much of the people food. Soon after we got these two cats about four years ago, Cheddar learned to open the pantry door. He discovered that if he jumped up and pushed down the lever handle, the door would pop open.

To thwart this, Randy added a lock to the door. We thought we were so clever, making it so our smart-ass cat couldn’t flip the lever down. We didn’t know that unless you slammed the door hard before you locked it, the latch wasn’t secure. It didn’t take Cheddar long to find out that if he reached his paw under the locked door, he could pull it open.

So yesterday morning, when I got up to feed the hungry mob of animals who live here, I wasn’t surprised to find the pantry door ajar and dry cat food scattered all over the floor. My normally hungry cats weren’t crowding around me meowing, so it was obvious all had dined on the spoils — including Bodhi, who is on a special low-ash diet and isn’t supposed to be eating regular cat kibble.

I began picking up the spilled cat food off the floor and putting it back in the easy-pour container I keep it in. I hadn’t yet noticed that the lid of the cat food container was missing. At least not until I got a look at Cheddar.

My incredibly smart but dopey-looking cross-eyed tabby was gingerly walking through the living room with the food container lid hanging around his neck. Apparently, he had stuck his head into the container and gotten it caught in the hole in the lid reserved for the measuring cup that normally rests there.

I calculated that the he must have been wearing the lid for quite a while, because the other cats were completely ignoring him. I can imagine the hysteria that must gave ensued in the middle of the night when Cheddar came racing out of the pantry in a panic, his head trapped in the giant lid. Cats must have been flying in every direction, with that terrified “What the hell…?” look on their faces that cats get under such circumstances.

After having a good laugh, I decided to let Cheddar wear the lid a little bit longer. He seemed none the worse for it, though I did notice that he was spending a lot of time walking along the walls. I’m guessing this was some attempt to feel balanced with this large plastic noose around his neck? 

I finally decided he had worn the lid long enough and removed it from his neck. Honestly, I wanted to leave it on him all day, but soon realized he couldn’t fit into the covered litter box with that thing on his head. And the last thing I wanted to do that morning was pick up cat poop off the floor. 

Do I think Cheddar learned his lesson? Absolutely not. He’ll be back inside that pantry at the next opportunity, wreaking havoc with his naughty brother Stanley close behind.

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