What Lies Beyond the Kitchen Door, According to My Cat


Ever since we moved my cat has been fixated on the kitchen door — to be precise, she’s obsessed with getting on the other side of it, where she is not allowed. Her behavior reflects this. She comes running whenever we have to use that door, and we have to slide out like ninjas, battling her advances with our feet, to keep her from escaping. I really have no idea what she thinks is going on out there, so I made some things up.

Here’s what my cat thinks is beyond the kitchen door:

1. A fully staffed fish market offering tours and free samples

My cat might believe that the first thing to happen when she crosses the threshold is that a man in a white apron will proffer a hunk of tuna, still damp from the sea, and lead her on a culinary tour of the world’s oceans. She couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no fish market. (There one day might be a fish market, but that is now and forever in the hands of the California Lottery.) Alas, there’s nothing there but a strip of driveway and a couple of garbage cans next to whatever won’t fit into the couple of garbage cans. If she were a colony of ants, I could understand the excitement. But she’s a cat. Settle down.

2. All the birds who are too fat to fly

The main yard is stocked by birds that are young and fit and flying. Doubtless, she believes all the birds that are too fat to fly are camped out behind the back door, lounging on the driveway, eating bugs, and every so often trying and failing to fly. As for the question of whether there are in fact birds that are too fat to fly exist, of course they do. Don’t be an idiot. Open the door and let me at ’em.

3. Her mother

That would be heartbreaking, wouldn’t it? Unless she just wanted to hiss and scream at her mother for letting someone (like me?) run off with her when she was just a kitten. That would be interesting to watch. That would be like watching a Lifetime movie starring Lindsay Wagner. Even so, it would be sad, and I really hope my cat does not think her mother is on the other side of the kitchen door.

4. All the children she thinks she’s supposed to have

Wow, we just cartwheeled into creepytown, didn’t we? I apologize. This is morbid. Let’s get back to safer ground, shall we?

5. That damn moth that keeps getting away

It’s not the same moth, of course. It’s every moth, because they all get away, even though they are slow and fat and don’t seem too concerned with being eaten by a cat, if the cat gets lucky one of these days (she won’t). My cat probably thinks the moth is waiting out there, regaining its strength, before making another feeble attempt at flying around the living room. I would kill these things but c’mon, cat! It’s like a tiny dirigible with a drunk pilot hovering three feet off the floor and banging into the door. Kill it!

6. Chickens

She can’t see the chickens in the backyard or the front yard, yet chicken appears in her food bowl every night. So all the chickens must be huddled just beyond the kitchen door, waiting for me to pluck up one, open it with the can opener, and deposit it in her bowl. Of course, my cat has never seen a real chicken, so she believes they’re shaped like cans. My cat is horrible at zoology.

7. Freedom

Ah, yes. She thinks the kitchen door — and not the front door, oddly — is the portal to freedom, a new life with new friends and all the fish she eat. This is probably what she actually believes, and it makes me sad. I feel like a jailer.

Last week I broke down and took her out on a 30-second tour beyond the kitchen door, with her secure in my arms. I thought it would curb the urge to get beyond the door, but it has not. She kept looking beyond the driveway to the hedge, and beyond the hedge to the street, and beyond the street to the … what? There’s probably a chicken out there.

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