with apologies to Jonathan Swift
The other day I was talking to a neighbor who said he found a way to help the poor and improve our environment simultaneously. It’s no secret, he said, that we have a dire food shortage among the chronically poor. It’s also no secret, he pointed out, many of our cities are overrun with feral cats.
Organizations already exist, he said, that trap and neuter feral cats and then let them loose again. These cats, he said, turn up on our porches, tails up, looking for food.
My neighbor is a wild game hunter who has hunted on many continents. The heads of many of his prey are mounted on his walls. He says he should not be the only one hunting feral cats in an urban environment, something he does when he is not overseas hunting bigger animals. He sees feral cats as a viable food source not only for the poor but for anyone who likes wild game.
He’s partial to a dish called “Feral Cat and Dumplings,” a recipe he shared with me after I talked with him in our alley early one morning while taking out the garbage. He had a lumpy canvas bag over his shoulder and said he had had a good night hunting. (He didn’t say anything when I told him I thought I saw one lump wiggling.)
Here is his most popular recipe for feral cat, the seasoning for which, he said, can be adapted to taste:
Feral Cat and Dumplings
Skin and cut up your cat as you would a young rabbit. Season the cat with salt, pepper, garlic, and diced onion and then pressure-cook the pieces until the meat falls off the bone. Remove the meat from the bone and save the broth.
1 egg (preferably from a free-range hen until she plumps up enough for a future meal)
1/2 cup cooled cat broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Mix ingredients with enough flour to make a firm dough. Turn dough out onto a board and knead in the flour until dough is stiff. Roll the dough out thin and let it stand for an hour. (If cooking outside in warm weather after shooting the cat, stand near the dough to wave away flies and other insects.) Slice the dough into diamond and/or noodle shapes and drop into boiling cat broth.
Water may be added to the broth if so desired. This is recommended if entertaining guests who have never dined on feline before. Then drop the boned meat into the broth and simmer over low heat for at least 10 to 20 minutes before serving. It’s fine to withhold the dough and use the meat alone to make Curried Cat or Cat Tacos should cultural tastes make one of those more appealing.
There is a movement under way, my friend told me, to print out this recipe and post it in food pantries and local shelters throughout the world so interested parties can copy it, trap or shoot their own feral cat and then make a nice inexpensive meal at home.
My friend isn’t certain if the recipe is online yet since he’s not into computers but he said getting the recipe out to the public, here and abroad, is what’s important. He sees it as a step in the right direction for feeding the poor and ridding our environment of feral cats.
Eating feral cats, he said, is a lot cheaper than trapping and neutering them or aborting captured females, something proposed by a new organization that he says is called Planned Cathood. He says he’ll give me a brochure later on.
I asked him if he thought one might grind up feral cat meat and make quarter-pounders with cheese, tomato and Bermuda onion on a toasted sesame seed bun. Children, I mentioned, love burgers.
He said he thought one of the cats in his bag was just the right size and probably marbled enough to whip up some thick burgers for his family that night.
My neighbor is proof that there is no end to the inventiveness of man when it comes to helping the poor and at the same time cleaning up our environment.