The fifth Beatle ... or my dog?
As an introvert, I don't always love cooking with other people, but I always love cooking with my pets in the kitchen. Some people find the idea of an animal in the kitchen unsanitary — all that fur! Those dirty paws! — but for me, having to give the counters an extra wipe-down is worth it for the presence of the quietest, least judgmental, silliest, and most useless sous chefs a gal could ask for.
I have a cat and a dog, and both have a comfortable spot to hang out in the kitchen while I cook. Milhouse, the cat, favors a basket of aprons sitting on the bottom shelf of my kitchen island, while Goblin goes for the soft rug by the sink. (Although if I really want her to stick around, I'll put her favorite blanket on the floor.)
It isn't just about tolerating them in the kitchen; I love having them join me when I cook. I have a few reasons why.
Sometimes I want to be alone, but not lonely in the kitchen.
I find cooking by myself very satisfying. Although I love it when my husband or toddler pops into the kitchen to say hi, I feel most engaged and energized by cooking when I am doing it solo. Having pets in the kitchen keeps all that alone time from feeling like lonely time. I can talk to my cat, dance for my dog, or get in the zone and not say a word for an hour — no judgment from them.
Our kitchen routines together are comforting.
The dog gets really excited when I pull the almond butter out of the fridge because she knows she will get to lick the remnants from the butter knife. And the cat will come running anytime he hears the can opener being pulled from the drawer, hoping I'm about to open a can of tuna. There are dozens of these little routines my pets and I have built together in the kitchen, and it is familiar and comforting to enact them every day. It's like sharing an inside joke with your best friend or having a Friday night routine with your partner. You are in a little loop together that is safe and comfortable, and that makes you both happy.
Milhouse hanging out on aprons
They make me laugh.
My cat is weird. And my dog is sweet and clumsy and will do anything for a treat, which is endearing and occasionally hilarious, because she never stops hoping that I am roasting chicken just for her. Her sweet nature and obsession with hot dogs is also why she once let my husband and me dress her up in a series of wigs and take pictures of her in front of our yellow kitchen wall. Three years later, the photos still crack me up.
So both pets make me laugh, which is sometimes exactly what I need when I'm cooking.
Spending time together is good for them — and good for me, too.
It's no secret that owning a pet can be good for your mental and physical well-being. Time spent with a pet — walking them, petting them, or feeding them — gets you out of your head and focused on a being other than yourself. Caring for someone else feels good, even if that someone else is an animal.
Giving my pets a comfortable, approved place to spend time with me in the kitchen also means I don't have to get mad at them for being where they shouldn't be. They are happy to be sharing the sunny kitchen with me, surrounded by good food smells, and I'm happy to have them there with me.
Goblin sitting by the fridge
Do your pets have a special place to hang out in your kitchen?
(Image credits: Anjali Prasertong)