Long, long ago, my grandmother had a cat named Sunny. She was a real tough cat whose responsibilities included catching mice in the basement. Sunny fulfilled her duties diligently all her life, and passed away in an unfair battle with a giant rat when she was far into her senior years.
One of Sunny’s main characteristics was a keen intellect, an astute awareness of human psychology, and an overwhelming passion for beef bones. Why bones in particular? Because, for an unspoiled cat like her, finding meat on that bone wasn’t the sort of thing to expect. (At this point, it might be appropriate to mention that there was no such thing as cat food in Soviet Russia.)
This story happened in the summer, during a holiday of some sort. A group of relatives came to stay at our house. We made lots of wonderful things to eat. One of those things was a broth with a choice cut of beef. The aroma that emerged form the most important room in the house – the kitchen – let Sunny know that she might be able to expect a nice beef bone soon. Time passed, and nobody offered it to her. What actually happened was, there was no bone in that stew; only meat. But how was Sunny supposed to know? She waited patiently all day, hanging around the kitchen in high hopes.
In the evening, the remainder of the broth was left on the table with the lid on. Once everybody was asleep, Sunny decided that it was time to take action.
She jumped up on the table where the pot of broth was left. Quietly, she moved the lid to the side, exactly to the point that it wouldn’t fall. She dipped her paw into the liquid. With her claws, she anchored the biggest piece of meat and, carefully, she pulled it out. She then pushed it off the table, where she ate as much as she could. Judging by the meagre remainders that my grandmother found in the morning, she managed to fit quite a lot.
You might ask – where did this cat’s knowledge of human psychology come in?
The thing is, Sunny decided to disappear for a while. When my grandmother went around looking for the cat to dole out a punishment, she was nowhere to be found. Instead of sticking around to do the time after doing the crime; Sunny just didn’t show up.
A couple of days had passed. Sunny, who had a habit of going to sleep on my grandmother’s pillow at a certain point in the afternoon, was still missing.
Throughout that time, my grandmother’s plans to reprimand the creature who dared steal from the broth was replaced by concern and then by panic. Everybody kept looking for Sunny without caring to remember her transgression.
And then, at the most strategic moment, she appeared, happy and pleased, as if nothing happened. She rubbed her head against my grandmother’s ankle, got a scratch behind the ear, and went to sleep on her usual spot.
I still like to imagine a little cat paw reaching into the warm broth...
And now, let me present to you a Canadian raccoon. He could smell the remainders of somebody's grilled chicken lunch, and decided that he must get to it.