Sage Advice: Cat Has First Dibs on the Buffet


Hungry_Cat Image

Dear Amy: My husband and I are friends with a couple, “Rose and Jack,” who enjoy entertaining in their home.

Here is the problem: Jack and Rose have a beloved cat that has the run of the house, including tables and countertops, as well as the kitchen sink. This has always made my husband and me uncomfortable, but it does seem to be typical cat behavior, so we try not to think about it.

During a recent buffet gathering, the cat jumped up on the dining room table several times, licking and nibbling the food until someone noticed. Then Jack scooped up the cat while Rose draped foil over the food in an attempt to deter the cat. Neither the “nibbled” food nor the cat were removed.

We are dreading the next invitation. My husband has declared that he can no longer eat there. I (reluctantly) feel the same. We do invite Rose and Jack to our home, but they rarely go out.

Clearly they adore the cat and are not bothered by it.

Do I dare say something to them? They are very sweet and generous people and we value their friendship.

– Not Hungry

Dear Not Hungry: Pet owners often lose perspective about how intrusive their animal companions can be; when I was a child my mother jokingly said she would someday write a cookbook called: “After the Cat Has Licked It.”

Having an animal walking around on the table where food for people is being served is gross and unhealthy.

Your discomfort is perfectly understandable, but your hosts aren’t telepathic, so you are going to have to say something. Before the next gathering, tell them: “We would love to come, but is there a way to keep Tuffy away from the food? We aren’t as used to her as you are, and it makes us uncomfortable when she’s up on the table.”

If they really are great hosts, Jack and Rose will see to their human guests’ needs first, and find a compassionate and low-impact way to deal with their animal companion while there are other humans in the house.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

More from Boomer