I recently became embroiled in a ferocious war against my cat. Battles were fought over territory, assets, bragging rights, and even the very idea of a sustainable food culture. Naturally, this protracted conflict had only one possible victor.
Before I tell you how it all went down — and in the interests of heinous propaganda — here is a picture of my foe, Mimosa, in a classic conflict-hardened stance.
Now to the background.
Like many people these days, I’m a big advocate of eating locally. I’m fortunate enough to have two farmers’ markets within a couple of blocks walking distance of the apartment and shop at them twice weekly. Whatever deity or scientific theory you do or don’t put your faith in, I think there’s a lot of common sense in the idea that if you live in a place where beets and carrots and zucchini happen to grow bountifully during August, then that should be a mainstay of what you’re eating during that time.
The next step in this locally sourced line of thinking is when you dabble with growing your own food. In my case, I decided to start small and try out some foolproof inside crops: Pea shoots, microgreens, and cress.
To that end I placed some containers, including an abandoned cast iron Le Creuset dutch oven, on a windowsill, watered them, and was amazed when shoots began to appear. Hurrah.
But my celebrations were short lived when I realized that Mimosa was becoming besotted with the plants.
Having sensed that something was different by the kitchen window, Mimosa first attempted to lift herself up to take a look by stretching her paws and clasping on to the windowsill. At the time, this just seemed cute.
The first clue that she’d returned with a new plan of attack was discovered a few days later when I noticed a series of muddy paw-prints leading down from the plants. Incriminating much?
Mimosa quickly took her obsession out into the open. She’d brazenly hop up onto the windowsill via the kitchen countertop and destroy my sustainable feast.
I say “destroy,” because she never once showed an interest in eating the pea shoots and microgreens and cress; instead, she’d delight in biting off the tops of the pea shoots and spitting them out, or engaging in what I call a smoosh-faced attack where she smooshes her face into the cress and flattens it all, inevitably uprooting some along the way. Sometimes, she’d just like to stand in the plants.
Okay, this all sounds like someone complaining about first world problems, but trust me, it was very annoying. My first line of defense was to fortify the ends of the windowsill with a small tower of promotional CDs I’d been sent and a collection of untamed receipts that I’d clearly long forgotten to file away or whatever it is you’re supposed to do with them. This was designed to block her access to the plants.
Obviously, this was a futile maneuver. Mimosa just hopped over and around the reinforcements. I dare say this even made it more of a game for her.
At this point, I decided to call in some reinforcements. Friends I consulted with came up with suggestions that included using peppermint plants or sprinkling cayenne pepper around the greenery to deter Mimosa.
I’ve heard about the repellent powers of peppermint from bug exterminators before (specifically when it comes to warding off ants) but never seen it actually work. As for cayenne pepper? Even without referencing that humungous list of things your cat should not eat on the ASPCA website, this seemed like a terrible idea at best and an emergency dash to the vets at worst.
More practical fortifications came in the form of suggestions to cover the plants with either mesh or cut-up plastic bottles. I mentioned this to a cat-owning friend and he showed me pictures of the rather more elaborate mesh defense he’d constructed in his backyard. It was originally meant to keep the birds away, but his cats, Brindle and Spats, decided its proper use was as a hammock.
Before I’d even toyed with the idea of cutting up a bunch of empty seltzer bottles in a last-ditch attempt to keep Mimosa away, I came home to this little scene of fantastic damage.
To this day, I have no idea how she managed to cause such a ruckus, other than maybe spooking herself while paw deep in some pea shoots. But even then, Mimosa is a small cat; she weighs barely 10 pounds. That cast-iron dutch oven is a hefty piece. Even in some grand feat of feline freaking-out and overbalancing, I doubt that she could have knocked it off the windowsill.
Anyway, after Mimosa sauntered back over to the scene of her victory — and checked out the mess as if she’d never even seen it before — I realized this was one battle with the cat I was never going to win. Through a combination of curiosity, persistence, and a feat of strength, Mimosa had defeated my attempts to grow even a tiny amount of produce.
Since that day, the apartment remains a plant-free place, and I instead trot off to the market to buy vegetables twice a week. Sometimes, even the littlest cat can become your biggest foe.
Have you ever been engaged in a futile battle against your cat? Spill the beans in the comments below!
Read more by Phillip Mlynar on Catster:
About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.