02/15/2011 01:50 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A "Quiet" Pizza Dinner in a Multi-Cat Household

I do not eat pizza often, maybe 10-12 times a year. Sunday night I decided to heat up a frozen pizza I'd bought a month ago. Pretty mundane event, right? Wrong. You see, I live in a multi-cat household.

I live with four cats -- a girl and three guys, all rescue/shelter cats, all under two years old. Snowball, my pure white domestic shorthair, with one blue eye, one yellow, doesn't care what I eat. She may sniff at it briefly, but all she wants is to qwwww2 (please excuse, that was Blizzy's keyboard addition to the story, and he doesn't like Snowball -- Blizzy is also a white DSH, but with a grey toupee; he is only tangential to this story, but he apparently wanted a cameo appearance). As I was saying, all Snowby wants is to lie down in my lap while I eat. Blizzy will kill for treats, but people food is only of modest interest, so he watches from a distance. However, my Brown Brothers -- Hersh and Little Hersh, both rare Havana Brown mixes -- are fiercely determined, not easily deterred, single-minded food stalkers -- you get the picture. Havana Browns are wonderful companions, but they are also notorious for their food obsession. I have two examples who prove the rule.

I have made pizza before, several times. Just not recently. To make this dinner -- just as any meal, actually, I require tactical planning, though the routine is generally the same. Make sure they have all eaten and that the food has had time to start reaching their stomach. Check. For meals they care more about, also give them treats. Check. But why do I bother with such details? They have little deterrent effect whatsoever. When I opened the freezer and took out the pizza Sunday evening, it was as if I had called cat reveille (ok, reveille is for morning, but it sure looked that way, the way they lined up). All on the counter, watching. Hershey decided I needed help opening the package. Down, Hershey! Down! I opened the seal, lifted the pizza out and prepared to place it in the oven. Oh, for joy, three cats dancing around the oven! Down, guys!

Twenty minutes later, the pizza was ready. All I had to do was remove it, cut it into pieces, and set it on the table together with my drink, which I had poured ahead of time and put in the fridge. Out came the pizza, and out came two dancing, prowling cats again, Hersh and Little Hersh. Placed the pizza on a plate on top of the stove. Cut the pizza, in between cries of "Down, Hersh! Down, Little Hersh!". OK, now I had three slices of pizza, what to do with the other half. The oven was still too hot -- ok, put it in the fridge, briefly. But I had to hide the slices I'd just cut, in order to have two hands to open the fridge and insert the remaining pizza. Hid the slices in the microwave. I then opened the fridge, and Hersh jumped onto the adjoining counter.

Hurry, I thought, and tried to jam the dish and pizza into the fridge, thereby tipping over a half-full can of diet soda in the back that I'd forgotten about. The soda proceeded to spill all over the back of the fridge. Great! Quick, grab a sponge! But wait, first I have to put the pizza someplace else. But I don't have anyplace else, other than the counters! OK, no choice, I had to put the pizza back into the hot oven.

I then had to pull out several bottles and bags of things that had gotten wet from the spilled soda and put them on the floor. "For joy, for joy!" went the Brown Brothers. "Food galore for us to attack!" "Back, Hersh! Back, Little Hersh!", I said, several times, all the while reaching for the back of the fridge. Did you know spilled soda finds every last nook and cranny to flow into? Of course you did. Oh, no! Drops of soda were spilling through the glass shelf, into the vegetable bin below. And I can't pull the bin all the way out and remove it, because the French door won't open far enough, unless I move the entire refrigerator away from the wall. I am NOT moving my refrigerator in order to be able to sit down and eat my pizza! So I slid my arm into the vegetable bin, as far as it would go, reaching towards the back where the drops of soda were sticking to the top of the bin, underneath the glass shelf. It was at that point that I asked myself, "How on earth did I end up in this position, in order to eat a pizza?"

But at last, I cleaned up the soda. I decided to leave the remaining pizza in the oven--if it burns, it burns, I ain't opening the fridge again! I then removed the pizza slices from the microwave and--whoops, I have to open the fridge to get my drink. As I did so, Little Hersh made a dash and leap onto the counter. "NO, DOWN Little Hersh," I said, catching him just before he hammerlocked a slice of pizza. And down he went, onto the floor, but not before pricking the tip of the index finger on my left hand, like a needle that diabetics or a technician in a Dr's office uses to get a drop of blood.

So I grabbed a paper towel, to serve as a napkin and also to stop the bleeding, my pizza, and the drink and sat down to "enjoy" my dinner. Of course, the Brown Brothers were still deeply interested in my food. Every minute or so, Hersh or Little Hersh (who has learned from his elder "brother") would stand on the chair back and peer over my right shoulder, as if to say "are you still working on that?" But I ate in relative peace, the operative word being "relative".

Before I adopted my Fab Four, a mere year ago, I would not have given a pizza dinner, or any dinner, a second thought. Now, fixing such a dinner means running a gauntlet, potentially facing a cascading comedy of errors, and feeling surprisingly exhausted for someone who had done nothing more than open a frozen pizza and cooked it. What's such a big deal about that? Stress, tension, drama, excitement, even blood, all in the comfort of my kitchen. I'm sure other cat caretakers out there know what I'm talking about.

What, indeed.