My Clever Cat Earns Her Keep

Merricat knows how to open cabinets.

She’s quite good at it. She paws at the bottom corner, careful not to scratch the finish (she’s very considerate that way). As soon as the door opens just a bit, she sticks her paw in and pulls.

It’s marvelous really, how clever she is.

But her real talent – the one I’ve yet to capture on video – is how she opens kitchen drawers.

Now I confess, for the first few weeks we lived in this house I had no idea it was the cat opening the drawers. I thought it was Husband, who for some reason – looking for a screwdriver in the utensil drawer, perhaps? – would open two or three drawers in his quest and then leave. Not closing said drawers. Every day, multiple times a day.

I meant to ask him why. “What are you looking for?” I’d say. “Shall I show you how they close?”

Then one day I walked into the room and saw Merricat in action, exonerating Husband.

You see, what she does is stand or, depending on the height, leap up and land her front paws on the upper part of the drawer. At the same time she pushes her back paws against the cabinet below, creating a momentum that – along with the smooth working mechanism of the hardware – slides the drawer open. With Merricat swinging along.

Merricat on drawer

I marvel at my cat’s ingenuity. Truly, she is a marvel.

She is also a superior bug and vermin hunter. So when she began showing an inordinate amount of interest in one particular drawer, when she continually crawled behind it and made rustling, scratching sounds, I confess, my courage failed me. While I was curious as to what was happening in the deepest bowels of my kitchen cabinets, I decided I wasn’t curious enough.

Then our belongings finally caught up with us. I was laying Contact paper on the shelves and drawers; Merricat came to help, as she so often does. When I pulled out that drawer, she leaped in, crawled behind it, and turned to me with her big green eyes.

As if to say, “Trust me. You’ll want to see this.”

Gathering up my strength – and finding my flashlight – I pulled the drawer all the way out and looked where Merricat was sitting. On top of a pile of papers.
Old newspaper clippings, note cards, appliance manuals, an opened economy sized pack of batteries, and a cassette tape of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest hits.

Recipes in cabinet

The expiration date on the batteries was 2005. Most of the newspaper clippings were earlier than that.

The part that thrilled me most? All of the newspaper clippings and note cards were recipes.

The previous owner collected recipes!

We’ve learned a few things about the owner while living here. Her son told us she’d been widowed for over 40 years, raised her three children by herself, and in her last few years, in declining health, spent nearly every day in her sun room.

From the number of built-in bookshelves, we can assume she enjoyed reading. Safe to say she was a fan of show tunes, possibly theater in general. She was organized enough to keep appliance manuals, but wasn’t always able to find them.

She had a habit of losing batteries. (I can see her now: “I know I bought batteries — where on earth could they be?”)

Also, she was a school secretary. (Those of you who have been following along know that was my previous job.)

It’s kismet!

And if all that wasn’t enough, we now learn she collected recipes and put them in this drawer. The drawer Merricat found so interesting.

Thank you, Merricat. The pooping incident has been forgiven.

Merricat and Freckles

I’m sure you’re wondering what sort of recipes they are, right? After careful study and reflection, I would say they all lean heavily toward “what-should-I-bring-to-this-week’s-potluck” fare.

Which shouldn’t surprise any of us, right?

Oddly enough — or perhaps not, given your understanding of Minnesota culture — there’s a potluck at my church this Sunday.

what to bring… what to bring…

Say, how about you help me decide? There are two here that look promising.

Two recipes

One is a Canned Corn Casserole, which normally I wouldn’t find interesting but it has an option of using fresh corn instead of canned. I’m not sure if the local farmer’s market will have corn yet, but it’s possible.

The other possibility is Rocky Road Cake. To its credit, it’s a chocolate cake with marshmallows, nuts and chocolate fudge sauce. The downside is that it uses a cake mix and normally I never buy those because I’m a food snob. And yet! The recipe has this intriguing notion of using coffee rather than water when blending it. Doesn’t that sound fascinating?

(I need to get out more.)

In any case, we have these two contenders for my first Minnesota potluck. Shall I make a side dish or a dessert?

Choose your selection carefully. My future as a Minnesotan may depend upon it.

Okay, not really. But please help me out anyway. I’m terribly indecisive about these things, and for some reason Merricat is showing little interest in the whole affair.

Merricat drawer

32 thoughts on “My Clever Cat Earns Her Keep

  1. Cake always, it will be the talk of the town and make you a star, not that you aren’t one already!.

    And the moral of the story… when things get weird and start going missing, always blame the cat, they are slick and sly creatures who’s aim is to throw you off guard. You can hear them laugh behind your back. The dog will know who did it but will gladly snitch for a treat.

  2. Minnesota Merricat Jones and the Lost Recipes ! Secrets of the Corn Casserole Crusade revealed along the rocky road, where you can eat your cake.

  3. Cake. Always cake. It’s fun and a little bit naughty. If both were on offer but you could only eat one…….? I rest my case 😉
    (P.S. I often choose savoury over sweet, so the casserole does sound tempting. But up against chocolate cake with chocolate fudge sauce…… was a no-brainer 😉 ).

  4. I want to name your house ‘Kismet Cottage’ you really were truly meant for this place and I imagine the delight of the lady who lived so many years there that her home is now the home of a kindred. And Merricat the Mischievous who clearly has special powers not only as an acrobat but as a spirit guide for recipes. Which is really the best kind of guide, no? Corn Cat Casserole or Chocolate Coffee Cat Cake … either will have been divine, I have no doubt at all.

    1. Kismet Cottage — how glorious that sounds! I now must create a sign and hang it outside my front door. Merricat is also fond of her moniker, but the winner of the day must be Corn Cat Casserole. How could anyone not try something like that? It’s golden!

  5. What a great cat. I would have felt like I was blessed by those recipes. I hope you try them and they turn out fabulous. I buy used books at library and yard sales, and one of my favorite happenings is when something is underlined, or a thought written in a margin. Better yet, is a stray piece of paper, a list, etc. Once I found some pressed leaves and that was a joy to me since I press flowers. Loved your post!

    1. I LOVE finding scraps of paper in library books! Grocery lists are great, especially when they’re such random items: “Milk, cheese, batteries, hairspray, good cheese, not the stuff you got last time…”
      Finding a pressed flower or leaves has such a romantic air to it. You should consider doing that to the next book you return. 🙂

  6. Cake. As for drawers, my husband often leaves the bottom drawer in our bathroom open. I don’t know why, and I can’t blame a cat. I’ve pointed out to him that the open drawer is an open invitation to mice – which is why cats are sometimes of more use than husbands.

  7. Life is more of an adventure with a cat in the house. You made me miss my Lucy Retardo. I say with your time exceptionally challenged during the whole unpacking thing, go for the cake, box and all.

  8. Well, I realize that the deed has already been done, but since I typically root for the underdog, I’m going to throw a sympathy vote to the Canned Corn Casserole. I even did a Google search on such, and one recipe caught my eye, as it involved Philly Cream Cheese, and thus earned a bookmark. I will probably never click on that link again, but for now there is at least minimal validation for Corny…

    1. Oh, I’m so glad someone took up the Corn Cause. This recipe called for sour cream, but I think I’ll look for a cream cheese variety. That sounds darn good.
      Don’t worry, there’s a potluck every month. At some point, one or both cornies will make an appearance. 😉

  9. Sorry I was late on this, but I would make corn at some point for a potluck. Midwesterners are big fans of corn. In Indiana we even had a tagline for a place called Indiana Beach that is “There’s more than corn in Indiana at Indiana Beach” The mascot is also a crow by the way.

    1. Sorry I’m several days late replying on this! It got buried in my email.
      I was surprised more people didn’t vote for the corn, but maybe they don’t know the magic of the veggie. 😉

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