Who DOES that?!
November 23, 2018 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I yelled at my Thanksgiving dinner guest for letting the cat eat turkey right off of the serving platter. She shouldn't have done that but was I too mean in my reaction?

Yesterday I hosted a casual Thanksgiving dinner in my modestly-sized NYC apartment. We sat in folding chairs around our coffee table instead of at a dining table.

I had been bringing out dishes to put on the serving table, but by the time I brought the turkey out, there was no more room on the serving table. So I put the platter of carved turkey on the coffee table (which is right in front of the sofa) and went back for more food to bring in.

When I returned to the living room, I saw our friend Edna sitting on the sofa next to the cat, and she was encouraging the cat to eat some turkey right off of the serving platter. I was frazzled from all of the prep in the kitchen that I yelled pretty loudly at the cat, "Rosie, don't eat the turkey, get down!" And then immediately yelled even louder right after, "Edna, don't let the cat eat off the plate, what are you thinking?!"

She mumbled something about just wanting to let the cat participate in Thanksgiving too and I immediately apologized profusely for raising my voice and snapping at her. But for the rest of the evening Enda kept a distance and seemed much quieter than usual and now I'm feeling guilty.

The odd thing is that no one else seemed all that troubled by the cat eating off the platter. So maybe I overreacted? I'm usually not at all germophobic and am honestly kind of a slob but it just seemed so beyond the pale to me. But since the other guests were so unfazed I'm second guessing myself. And Miss Manners has always cautioned to not respond to rudeness with more rudeness, and I feel like I might have crossed the line by raising my voice. Was there a more diplomatic way I should have handled it?

(A little background: Edna is married to my partner's friend of 40 years; I've only been in the picture for 8 years. But we've always liked each other since we met and the four of us go out together pretty regularly; we've never had any issues or drama in the past.)

Cat tax.
posted by Neely O'Hara to Human Relations (88 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
As a guest, I'd feel weird about keeping somebody else's pet from doing something in their house. Like, what if the person lets their cat do that? How do I do it? Do I just say something? Do I try to pull the cat off? Do I move the turkey? What if I'm rougher with the cat than my friend would be? What if my friend walks in on me reprimanding their cat/dog/child/whatever, and it's not what they would have done, and my friend takes it as an implicit criticism of her?

In your situation, it might have been more diplomatic to yell at Rosie, and then tell Edna that if Rosie did it again, feel free to tell her to get off/move the turkey/whatever because she isn't supposed to do that. That way, she knows it isn't OK with you, and what the acceptable counter-measures are.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:24 PM on November 23, 2018 [46 favorites]


I like pets but would be super grossed out by a cat eating off a plate meant for humans. I would not eat that food afterwards. I think your reaction was normal. You can apologize to Edna for yelling at her, and just leave it at that.
posted by emd3737 at 1:26 PM on November 23, 2018 [54 favorites]


Honestly, I would have responded just as you have. Encouraging the cat to "participate in Thanksgiving" by letting her eat of the serving platter before the host is even seated is, in my eyes, certainly beyond the pale. You never even got the satisfaction of sitting down with everyone else and enjoying the view of the completed work of your hands.

If it was desired to give the cat a bit of turkey as well, surely she could have gotten a little dish of her own. No one needs to stick their face into a platter of food that's meant to be shared in order to participate in Thanksgiving.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:26 PM on November 23, 2018 [24 favorites]


hahahahahahaha

1. you did nothing wrong. I suppose in a calmer moment you might have said "oh Edna, don't let her do that" in a measured tone. That would have been kind. I myself would have been far too horrified to not react in a horrified way.

2. She mumbled something about just wanting to let the cat participate in Thanksgiving too ... oh, Edna. [Facepalm]

Look, Edna's going to feel bad because she did a gross and irresponsible thing (not move the turkey when the cat approached it); and she got yelled at, which was justified, which makes it feel worse; and then she said something beyond idiotic. We can feel empathy for Edna's embarrassment; you can even apologize for yelling, which you did; but there's nothing to be done to un-embarrass her, since that embarrassment is a product of her behavior, not yours.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:27 PM on November 23, 2018 [58 favorites]


Curious: is yelling as a response to unexpected behaviour a pattern with you?

If it's not, then perhaps you can just attribute your response to fatigue, stress and a temporary lack of your ability to monitor, regulate or otherwise manage your emotions.

Plus, it's a turkey -- the highlight of the dinner. Maybe you shouldn't have left it where the cat could get at it, but it's something you invested a lot of time in.

That said, speaking from experience, no matter how much one apologizes for losing one's temper, if can be very difficult to re-establish trust and connection with the other person. You've apologized so it's up to her to take the next steps. Of course, you'll probably be inviting her to more events, so if she accepts future invitations you can probably reset.

However, if raising your voice when confronted with a problem is a patter, well, that's a problem you need to address.
posted by JamesBay at 1:28 PM on November 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


I would have reacted similarly--there's a difference between failing to stop a pet from stealing food and actively encouraging it to stick its furry head in the main dish. After, I would say something like, Sorry for yelling, Thanksgiving is kind of stressful, even though I would still be thinking, Edna, what the fuck, no one wants to eat cat hair turkey.
posted by betweenthebars at 1:30 PM on November 23, 2018 [43 favorites]


Nah, you were fine. Somebody always gets yelled at during Thanksgiving, it's a stressful time. You genuinely apologised, the rest is on her.

And yeah, the cat eating off the platter was gross, your other guests were just being polite.

Edna probably feels weird or bad about encouraging the cat. That's maybe part of why she kept her distance.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:31 PM on November 23, 2018 [14 favorites]


I have cats and that’s disgusting and Edna did something stupid and you were fine. You apologized. It was completely understandable.

Your cat wasn’t sneaking turkey, Edna was encouraging what is universally considered bad pet behavior. Edna got carried away, sure! But nah. You’re fine.

Letting your pets eat off the table is universally unacceptable. Yes. No one wants to eat cat hair turkey. Full stop.

Think no more of it.
posted by jbenben at 1:32 PM on November 23, 2018 [20 favorites]


And sure, there are more diplomatic ways to handle this, but there's not always time to think when you've just spent hours in the kitchen and you see someone feed the fruits of your labour to the cat.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:32 PM on November 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


She didn't just allow it, she encouraged it. Sure, you shouldn't have shouted but... I'm with you. What was she thinking?? And it turns out, she was thinking something stupid. Hopefully some of her quiet was due to feeling that it was stupid.

fingersandtoes said it much more gracefully.
posted by tomboko at 1:36 PM on November 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


I'd be fine if the cat were licking an empty plate that was about to be washed. Eating food about to be served to humans? Hell no!
posted by brujita at 1:37 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Here’s how it shakes out for me:

-Placing tempting food in cat strike zone: minor transgression
-Encouraging cat to eat food (I’m assuming it had already started and she was simply reacting to it): moderate transgression
-Yelling at cat to stop eating: not a transgression
-Yelling at guest w the particular phrasing you used: biggest transgression

All in all, not a tragedy and the awkwardness will fade.

Since you asked if there were a more diplomatic way to handle: if your hands were full: “Edna, could you try to get the cat off the turkey?” If your hands weren’t full: doing it yourself. Most people aren’t going to discipline other people’s pets unless they are particularly close to the animal or person.
posted by kapers at 1:49 PM on November 23, 2018 [18 favorites]


I probably wouldn't have yelled, personally. Maybe at the cat to scare it off the turkey, a quick, "Hey! Cat! Getoffathatturkey!" to send it scampering, but I think I'd have been more exasperated than angry with Edna. I mean, why be angry? Edna was being a ridiculous person, but I don't see how yelling at her was supposed to help. You apologized though, so that's that. I don't see that there's anything more to be done here. Maybe be a little extra nice to Edna next time you see her to help her see that there are no hard feelings.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:55 PM on November 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


As someone who once yelled at a guest for NOT letting my dog eat a piece of cheese that someone had left on the coffee table which was well within dog's reach (well, ok, the guest sharply reprimanded my dog and made a hand motion like they were going to smack the dog's nose, and our pets know better than to eat food off people plates but consider any stray food to be fair game)... I dunno man, it's your house, your pets, your rules, but don't expect all your guests to know those rules.

Like, if I saw a pet going for people food I'd probably yell "Hey Hostess, is it cool if your pet eats this or should I shoo them away?" but I would never physically interfere with another person's pet unless I was really, really close with that person and their pet knew me well.
posted by erst at 1:56 PM on November 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


It's reasonable to expect adult party guests to have more sense of decorum than a child, and most children over the age of 5 would know that kitty is not supposed to be noshing down on a fresh plate of human food on the table. Letting it happen is one thing (not great, IMO) but actively encouraging it is even worse. I think you were well within bounds to yell at her, and that SHE owes you an apology for allowing the food to be ruined.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 2:00 PM on November 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


it's your house, your pets, your rules, but don't expect all your guests to know those rules.

OP, everyone else in the entire country understands that you don't ENCOURAGE a an animal to eat from a serving platter pre-serving. I probably would have yelled at Edna too. If for some reason this happened again you could say "Edna, we don't let the cat eat from the serving platter" but honestly I feel like she was most egregious here.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:18 PM on November 23, 2018 [41 favorites]


First, Edna was completely out of line, and you’re lucky that you didn’t have a mass boycott of your turkey.

But since you mentioned Miss Manners, this reminded me of an old letter to her, which I just looked up. The writer had screamed from pain when someone sat down next to her, trapping her arm with the steel arm of a chair. When the offender said, Did I hurt you, the writer said yes, and she said that people gave her dirty looks. Miss Manners’ answer was that the scream itself could not be helped, but afterwards she should have insisted she was fine, even if she was rubbing her arm. I think what you said to Edna initially could count as a scream (because WTF Edna?). Then you immediately apologized, so I think you’re fine as far as Miss Manners goes.

And maybe Edna was quiet because she realized she acted like a complete ass. Let’s hope.
posted by FencingGal at 2:29 PM on November 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


you’re lucky that you didn’t have a mass boycott of your turkey

Honestly, if I was a guest and witnessed a dog or cat LICKING THE TURKEY (which is always the prelude to taking a bite) I would be too grossed out to eat any turkey whatsoever from that platter, and would absolutely be in the "boycott" camp. People have mentioned cat hair -- I would be much more terrified of the saliva left on the turkey! I mean, cats and dogs lick themselves, including the most unsanitary areas... just, no.

That being said, yelling at Edna was not the best way to handle it. For the sake of the other guests, perhaps it would have been wiser to apologize to them, and remove all the pieces where you think the cat might have licked, and making it clear they would not be served. Look, you're human, and chastising Edna wasn't the worst transgression in the world. An apology to her for your loud tone would be a nice gesture, but by now it's water under the bridge.
posted by RRgal at 2:49 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Blech. This is real life, not an INXS video. You were in the right here.
posted by 4ster at 2:51 PM on November 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Personally I wouldn’t be weirded out by this cat or person behavior, but only because of the casual setting. I would be grossed out by a cat on the dinner table, but not the coffee table. Logically this makes no sense but so it is. I’m guessing Edna feels the same and just didn’t take a minute to think about it before acting.

Also, I can’t remember the last time someone yelled at me, so I’d probably be quiet the rest of the evening too, and more cautious around you. I’d also feel dumb because obviously I did the wrong thing, and just be more reserved. If she’s still quiet around you in the future, I think you can clear the air by bringing it back up one more time (only once!) to apologize.
posted by samthemander at 3:10 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Raising your voice to Rosie - No. (I also have a cat named Rosie. Her nickname is "The Menace"). As a guest, I would be relived to see that you adhere to modest standards of hygiene. And I say that as a pet owner whose primary circle of friends are also pet owners and understand that pets are WEIRD and do DISGUSTING THINGS sometimes.

Raising your voice to Edna - apologize again. You feel guilty because your conscience is saying you acted out of bounds. My reasoning is that as the host with pets, I am responsible for not putting temptation in the cats' way, and that is not something I expect my guests (even one with pets!) to enforce.

And forgive yourself. Cooking a big meal makes people do strange things.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:35 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Listen, I am a bona fide crazy cat person, and I would understand completely if someone scolded/nudged/gently...guided my cat away from a freshly prepared plate of food we were about to eat, whether they'd placed it in a "vulnerable" area or not. (Also, in my experience kitties can manage to climb/squeeze some pretty unexpected places to get at tasty things; you were managing a dozen other things and can hardly have been expected to anticipate this.) The yelling is unfortunate, but understandable. Hopefully Edna realizes on some level that she AND kitty behaved annoyingly, and everyone will move on in short order. Go ahead and cut yourself some slack!
posted by peakes at 3:38 PM on November 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I thought from the front page that you were talking about a cat eating scraps off a finished serving platter, and was going to say that's gross but you should try not to yell at a guest over it.

But a cat eating food that was to be served to people? Jesus Christ, I would have yelled at Edna if I was a fellow guest. That is disgusting and hell yea she should have felt too ashamed to talk for the rest of the event.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:38 PM on November 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


I yelled at my Thanksgiving dinner guest

I know I'm in the minority by previous answers, but I'm stopping right here. You don't yell at your guests -especially not with a demeaning phrase like "what were you thinking." If I were the person who'd made the transgression, I'd have felt humiliated and pretty much done with you after that point.

Of course she was in the wrong to encourage pets eating from human platters without asking. No question. But this was, first of all, what sounds like a relatively informal setting and it isn't always understandable what the boundaries in someone else's house are. So in the role of host, you set the boundaries - when you see it, you say "I know she's a pest, but we really try to discourage her from eating off our dinner table. If she tries it again, just let me know and I'll put her in the bedroom/bathroom/wherever."

Using words that indicate you think your guest is deficient in manners, disgusting or unable to think properly really is a crossed boundary - it's just not what "host" means - and I don't blame her for withdrawing for the rest of the night.
posted by Miko at 3:51 PM on November 23, 2018 [50 favorites]


I'm pretty averse to yellling, so yes, I think there was a more diplomatic way of handling it though I can definitely understand why you yelled at Edna in the moment. I think that's all well-covered upthread.

As to why nobody else seemed grossed out: if I'd been a guest I wouldn't have wanted to add to an already awkward situation and in particular wouldn't want you to think I found your cat gross. I'm surprised nobody shooed Rosie away as soon as she stuck her face in the turkey, but once you took care of that I don't know that I would have wanted to extend the matter by refusing to eat the turkey if you were still serving it. And if everyone was feeling the same way you might have gotten a bit of a bystander effect going on - everyone secretly discomfited to a greater or lesser extent, but looking around and seeing that nobody else was saying anything so they weren't going to rock the boat either.

I do wonder how many people took their turkey from the other side of the dish, though.
posted by DingoMutt at 3:51 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Edna was wrong on multiple levels. I think a reactionary yelling-at/exclamation is appropriate. She should be the one apologizing. She probably avoided you because she felt ashamed of her bad idea, not your yelling.
posted by starman at 4:05 PM on November 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised how many people think it was ok for you to yell at your guest. We have a house guest at the moment who is doing similar annoying things but I'm not going to yell at her about it. Yeah, Edna probably shouldn't have done what she did, but you shouldn't have yelled at her...I think the yelling is worse than what Edna did (which could well have been a joke/misunderstanding in the first place). At the same time, I'm sure that Edna will forgive you because it doesn't sound like it was too extreme.
posted by thereader at 4:06 PM on November 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


You could have handled it more diplomatically by not yelling. "We don't let her eat off of our plates," would have sufficed.
posted by christinetheslp at 4:30 PM on November 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Edna was not wrong on any level. Cats are cute and seeing a cat try to eat off a plate is hilarious. There’s nothing gross about it, cat spit is practically nonexistent. You know what’s way grosser than a cat and WAY more likely to make you sick by touching your food? Toddlers.

If you were so worried about the cat, you could’ve asked Edna beforehand to watch the platter to make sure the cat didn’t eat off it. If I were Edna I would never come to any future event hosted by you.
posted by a strong female character at 4:41 PM on November 23, 2018 [14 favorites]


You blew it. The proper response would have been, "EDNA, the cat should be fed off your own dish."

Seriously, I have cats and a dog that I occasionally treat the leftovers from the table, and I often eat my own lunch without washing my hands when I'm out riding in the desert with my horse.

I would certainly NOT expect my guests to eat anything off a platter my pets had been in contact with.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:12 PM on November 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


Just to be clear, I don’t think it’s ok to yell at guests, and I doubt many people do. I just think it’s understandable to lose it and yell when something that extreme happens and you’re stressed out anyway. I mean, it would have been very possible for other guests to decide not to eat the turkey, and inedible turkey on Thanksgiving is a huge deal. And Edna did this deliberately. It was not an accident or oversight. It’s so over the top, that I can’t blame the OP for reacting badly in the moment. And she did immediately apologize.

I mean, I don’t think it’s ok to yell at children either, but almost every single parent does. You screw up. You apologize. You move on.
posted by FencingGal at 5:22 PM on November 23, 2018 [20 favorites]


Edna was incredibly rude. The yelling might have been a snap response because of the "oh no"-ness of the situation, and you apologized for the yelling, but honestly, what was Edna thinking? Who the hell tries to get the cat to eat the turkey while the host is still bringing out the rest of the food so that it can be served? That's like cutting a slice out of someone's wedding cake before the reception. Just NO.

If Edna feels shamed and embarrassed, well, she damn well should. She almost ruined hours of your labor, not to mention the cost of the turkey. Consider not inviting her next year.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:24 PM on November 23, 2018 [14 favorites]


ETA: almost every parent yells at children, not thinks it’s ok to yell at children.
posted by FencingGal at 5:28 PM on November 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised how many people think it was ok for you to yell at your guest.

I don't think people think it's OKAY in the sense of "oh, yell away, it's fine!!!" I think people believe that, under the circumstances, it's UNDERSTANDABLE that this guest got yelled at -- which is what I also believe. WTF, Edna?!

she was encouraging the cat to eat some turkey right off of the serving platter.

It's not like the car jumped up there and Edna just was frozen and didn't know what to do. She was encouraging the cat to eat turkey off the platter before the human guests had been served. I'm sorry, that is fucking insane behavior as a guest. If you want to do that, host your own Thanksgiving and let the cat do it! If you want the cat to "participate in Thanksgiving," let the cat eat off your own plate, or get the cat its own plate. (Both of which, btw, are also sort of weird things to do for another person's pet, but at least that doesn't get cat germs on the main course before anyone else has served themselves.) I am not germ-phobic and I like cats but I think Edna really lost the plot here.

Look, of course under ideal circumstances, of course you wouldn't have yelled, but you're human and shit happens -- FWIW, I would have yelled too. I'm sure you were shocked! You apologized, immediately and profusely, which was the right thing to do. Forgive yourself.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 6:11 PM on November 23, 2018 [20 favorites]


Was the “letting the cat participate in Thanksgiving” comment maybe meant to lighten the mood of the room after the yelling? Or possibly she just didn’t know what to say when her host yelled a thing at her that you would more commonly hear furious parents yelling at their children? I feel like people are taking it as an earnest explanation, but I don’t know that one was possible/warranted in that situation.

Yelling those words in that way would be majorly out of bounds in my circles unless someone like lit something on fire, but I’m learning maybe that’s not true generally.
posted by kapers at 6:57 PM on November 23, 2018 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I agree that you were out of line, and I'm surprised by the number of people agreeing with you on this.

Yes, it's nasty that the cat licked the turkey. But yelling is just never really necessary. There are so many other ways to communicate with someone that don't involve yelling. You can reprimand someone without yelling at them. It's rude, full stop. You conscience is telling you something.

Plus, putting myself in her shoes--I've never had a cat. Growing up, the cats I was around were aggressive and quick to bite. I got bit multiple times, and am therefore very hesitant to push or pick up any cat. Infact, I just won't unless I know the cat. I would have been uncomfortable in her situation and not known what to do. I probably would have responded in the same way she did because I was nervous and trying to diffuse the situation. I wouldn't have known what else to do. For all she knows you would have gotten just as mad at her if she pushed the cat. Heck, for all she knows the cat could have some injury and she may hurt him by pushing him off a table, even a short one. I'd rather risk getting cat spit on a turkey than get bit or hurt the cat.

I'm surprised by the people who think she was actively encouraging it--we have no way of knowing that. She was likely to uncomfortable nad trying to diffuse the situation. I think you took her comment way too literally.

In the future, try not to yell, please. There are so many better ways of communicating with someone.
posted by Amy93 at 7:19 PM on November 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


If I were your guest and you put a platter full of turkey on a coffee table and left the room without specifically delegating someone to keep the cat out of it I would assume that you were okay with the cat eating it. In our house if the cat gets into the food when it is not in the normal food prep area it is assumed to be the fault of the person who put the food in that position. This is especially so if the cat is already sitting there when you plunk the platter down.

You say Edna was encouraging the cat to eat the turkey? What was she doing? Holding the cat up so she could reach it? Putting a finger on the edge of the dish to attract the cat's attention? The word encourage is a little non-specific for me to see exactly what Edna was doing. If she was directing the cat towards a platter that it was previously unaware of then she was definitely encouraging the cat. But if she had a finger in the dish she may have been trying to limit the cat who was already nibbling, trying to put her hand between the cat and the main part of the dish. If she were picking scraps off the dish and offering them to the cat that was encouraging too but not necessarily being insouciant about contamination. Handing the scraps over may have been an effort to discourage the cat from helping herself.

Screaming at the cat is distressing and alarming, but forgivable because it was not swatting or raging or maltreating the cat, and fearing that dinner was about to be ruined by the cat is a lot of justification. It would make it hard to enjoy the dinner, but so would discovering my host was okay with letting the cat attack the bird and still expecting us to eat it. So the shriek would be acceptable because it asserted that you were doing your best to serve hygienic food.

Screaming at Edna? Not a kind or socially appropriate thing to do in my book. It was absolutely not her job to keep your cat out of the food you were serving unless you asked her to. So she takes no blame for what the cat was doing unless she lured the cat from somewhere else to try the food.

If I had screamed at Edna, I would think afterwards that I had done it because it was emotionally easier to blame her for the cat getting at the bird, than blaming myself. I would scream at her if the internal mental track I had going was, "Why isn't anybody helping. I can't do all this." I would probably emotionally feel that Edna had agreed to help and then reneged.

Other people will never look after you cats or kids the way you want to unless you make sure specifically they have common ideas about how, who, what and how much. Your sister in law will feed your kids candy, your Mum will refuse to let them get out of bed after she tucks them in and your clueless friend who doesn't have kids and finds kids rather annoying will let your five-year-old play beside the bonfire without watching. It's entirely up to you to find out what they are going to do in advance and decide if you are okay delegating the care to the other person, in advance.

If I were Edna I would politely decline going to any events that you hosted ever again. She was probably doing something stupid and probably doing something icky, and you still don't ever yell at people you want to be friends with. I would not cut you dead because that would be harmful for the friendship between your two partners. But I would certainly never look forward to going out with you again.

If I had yelled at Edna and I wanted to be friends with her, I would talk to her another time and tell her I was really sorry I had yelled at her. There is a grey area if what you did was more of a snap then a yell. But then I would apologize for speaking that way.

If Edna is the kind of person who actively encourages a cat to come and eat off the serving platter before food is served there is something very odd about her default assumptions. But I would make damn sure what I thought saw was exactly what I saw before I yelled at her for it. If Edna had picked up the cat and brought it into the kitchen and held it up to the serving platter on the table there, I think it would be okay to say, "Edna! Don't make the cat do that!" But I wouldn't say, "Edna, Don't let the cat do that!" unless she had already informed me that she was going to prevent the cat from doing that specific thing and wasn't following through on the commitment.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:21 PM on November 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


You really need to be specifically told to keep the cat out of food that’s being brought out to serve at a dinner party? Because that’s not a normal baseline for adult behavior.

I’m really surprised at all the comments who encourage accepting a friendship with a person who isn’t capable of meeting a basic adult expectation, as though it’s meaner to yell at the person who’s ruining your dinner spread than it is to be the person ruining it. WTF? These people are not children, they don’t need to be coddled like children, and they should certainly not be catered to for their unacceptable behavior.

If a person gets to adulthood and still acts like a crazypants in a social setting, and can’t cope with the consequences (like your friend yelling at you for your egregious behavior in their home), then that person should stay home. And/or do the work to figure out how to behave in public.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:39 PM on November 23, 2018 [28 favorites]


The odd thing is that no one else seemed all that troubled by the cat eating off the platter.

One possibility is that everyone there was extremely embarrassed at the fact that you screamed at one of your guests, so they simply avoided showing any reaction. Screaming at a dinner guest is so beyond socially acceptable behavior that it's hard to even know how to react. It certainly far outweighs the transgression of not adequately controlling someone else's pet.

And as for Edna's mumbled response, I wouldn't take it at face value - again the situation of being screamed at by a dinner-party host is so outside social norms that it's hard to know how to react. When a person is so out of control (as you were), it's hard to know where they'll draw the line with their behavior. Will they kick you out? Will they hit you?

If I were a guest at that dinner party and witnessed all that, I would probably never accept another invitation from you. And I certainly wouldn't expect Edna to do so.
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:05 PM on November 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


I agree with others who say that Edna was responsible for neither your cat, nor where you decided to put down the turkey. I really don't think she deserved to be yelled at, especially as a guest.
posted by wats at 8:06 PM on November 23, 2018 [13 favorites]


I don't see any problems with your behavior, unless you are really not letting on about the level of yelling you did at Edna. You loudly snapped at her, you took a breath and apologized. She feels awkward because other people got to hear about her letting a cat lick their food. Your other guests are pretty cool btw, making you feel at ease.

Be nice to Edna, let the matter die, everyone will feel better soon.

Startling the cat away from the food: totally fine, no matter the word salad you chose to do it with.
posted by taterpie at 8:06 PM on November 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


As a petite white woman whose threat level is apparently minus fifteen, I am keenly aware of how people allow themselves to talk to me compared to others. Sure, you may witness me do something bad or god forbid perform a task in a suboptimal manner but at the same time I know full well that had I been a different demographic, you would never ever take that tone with me. Food hygiene is unarguably important but so are ethics in gaming journalism and making sure to only use a secured company mail server for work emails, and we all know what all that was really about. If I were Edna, the moment you yelled "what are you thinking?!" at me, I would viscerally grasp your basic contempt for me and how little you value our friendship, and I just don't think I would ever recover from that knowledge, apologies notwithstanding.
posted by rada at 8:12 PM on November 23, 2018 [16 favorites]


Edna could/should have shooed the cat away, but if I were another guest in the room I’d have been far more rattled by your yelling. That’s just me; I’m well aware that I have an outsize response to people yelling, for personal history reasons. But if some of your other guests have the same issues with being around yelling, that may explain their reactions. Cats going after food and sometimes being given tidbits off plates is within the realm of normal for my life; yelling is not.

No one covered themselves in glory here. It’s probably not worth overthinking, though. Holidays are stressful, people are sometimes not their best selves, I would chalk it up to an awkward interaction and move on.
posted by Stacey at 8:15 PM on November 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Had I been a guest at this party I would have found Edna's behavior surprising and mildly off-putting. I would have found your behavior kind of horrifying; I would be deeply uncomfortable for the rest of the event, and would seriously reconsider whether I wanted to continue socializing with someone who thinks that's an ok way to treat guests in the future. I don't even have any particular issues with yelling - it's hospitality and basic respect that are at issue.
I'd happily keep hanging out with Edna - I'd just keep an eye on my food around her from now on.
posted by waffleriot at 8:17 PM on November 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Lots of people are accusing Edna of not behaving like an adult but, being a dog owner, I can attest that many people aren't comfortable dealing with the bad behaviour of other people's pets! Lots of perfectly functional and mature adults come to our house and let our dogs do all sorts of outrageous things because they just don't know how to communicate with dogs...it is always up to my husband and I to tell the dogs off, or to tell the guest that they can push the dogs away and we won't mind. Many people don't want to offend us by pushing away or telling off our pet. I have seen this time and time again.
The 'cat joining thanksgiving' thing is obviously an attempt to joke about an awkward situation.

The host is responsible for where the host put the turkey and the host is responsible for their cat. I don't know about other people but I wouldn't particularly care about the cat thing - I would quite happily eat turkey from the other part of the plate. The yelling would make me super, super awkward though. The cat thing is a minor transgression that just doesn't warrant that kind of response, in my opinion.
posted by thereader at 8:26 PM on November 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm surprised by the people who think she was actively encouraging it--we have no way of knowing that.

Could everyone tempted to answer this question make sure they have read it, and if it isn't possible to take the OP's description of events at face value, just move on? Because the only thing answerers know about Edna's behavior is that
she was encouraging the cat to eat some turkey right off of the serving platter.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:38 PM on November 23, 2018 [24 favorites]


364 days until next Thanksgiving and the Great Cat Debate has already begun. Can't we at least wait until the pie is served?
And I am on Team WTF Edna. Long-term friend, almost family. Edna gets a pass for being obtuse, you get a pass for being stressed out, Rosie is being a dick and that's just normal catology. The guests can be properly cat-germs-skeeved/yelling-adverse as they pleased. You apologized immediately for the yelling, it's not your normal behavior, so don't keep bringing it up.
And Rosie really needs to be in the bedroom or bathroom during fancy meals with no immediate supervision. She's a cat, what is she going to do? Keep temptation at bay and she doesn't get yelled at.
posted by TrishaU at 8:39 PM on November 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


you just don't leave a room with both a live and a cooked animal in it without telling someone in there what the cat is and isn't allowed to be on top of and deputizing them to enforce it. you say, "I have to go in the kitchen for a second, murder the cat if it looks at the coffee table." and then if you see the cat breaking the law, you scream at the cat. that's all.

The odd thing is that no one else seemed all that troubled by the cat eating off the platter.


that's not odd. but it should strike you as odd that that there was a roomful of people watching your cat prance around on a roast beast, not one of them did a thing to get it off of there, but you only yelled at one of them.

anybody who saw it could have stepped in if they cared very much. you can see by the comments here that some people think letting a cat steal a turkey leg is the sin against the holy ghost, and if anybody like that had been in your apartment they'd have done something about it, with or without great drama and upheaval. cats are lightweight and easy to drag off of a sofa, anybody can do it. so be mad at all of them equally, or at none.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:17 PM on November 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


You don't yell at your guests -especially not with a demeaning phrase like "what were you thinking

Correction: YOU don't. I sure would. I mean, where's the line? As my guest, is she allowed to take a dump on the platter? Sneeze into the cavity? Why don't I get to object to a person befouling food just because the befouling happened to occur in the place where I live?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:41 PM on November 23, 2018 [18 favorites]


While I'm not in favor of yelling at guests, I am curious to know exactly how Edna was encouraging the cat to eat off the platter. It does sound ridiculous if she really didn't see a problem with not at least calling to you like "hey, your cat is trying to eat turkey off the platter, is this ok," and instead apparently thought it was comical or even acceptable or desirable. I think it's good that you apologized to her right then, and I hope she understands why you responded the way you did.

I had a somewhat similar experience in my house one year where I had snacks out on a table for guests while I prepared Thanksgiving dinner, and while my back was turned my cat jumped up on the table and started licking some of the snack food while one of the guests watched. Gross. I had really wished the guest had alerted me to this instead of just watching it happen while I was working in the kitchen. I didn't yell at her; I think she really just didn't know any better and she finds my cat adorable (as do we all), but man. At the time I was pretty upset.
posted by wondermouse at 9:50 PM on November 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I am also on team WTF Edna. If I were a guest at this party I would be RELIEVED that you reacted this way because WHAT THE ACTUAL F#CK. A room full of grown-ass adults and suddenly the cat gets first dibs on the turkey? This is disgusting and shocking on so many levels. And disrespectful! You momentarily lost your temper; she did a disgusting and rude thing ON PUPOSE. I would be... low-fiving you under the table while taking turkey from the other side of the platter, MAYBE, depending on what level of chowing down the cat got to. Yuck times a million.
posted by ancient star at 10:27 PM on November 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


Miss Manners would say that it is never appropriate to yell at a dinner guest. But Miss Manners probably hasn't met Edna. What Edna did was disgusting. Personally I would have been quiet and weirded out as a guest not because of the yelling but because an animal that licks its own butt just ate off the buffet. I say this as a cat lover. Edna was wrong, you were right. Cats still rule.
posted by Toddles at 10:55 PM on November 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


Cats lick their butts AND put their paws in dirty germy kitty litter.

Toddles is right. Miss Manners never covered this. Also, lots of these answers are super funny and I appreciate you sharing this for us to debate. My Thanksgiving was not as much fun. I salute you!
posted by jbenben at 11:11 PM on November 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


How do you encourage a cat to eat turkey in such a way that it actually increases the cat's likelihood of eating turkey? I mean, with a dog, sure. With a cat? Saying things to the cat like "help yourself, Kitty," won't actually spur the cat to eat it.

The cat is your responsibility. It seems really unlikely that Edna was the cause of the cat eating the turkey, which has sufficient cause in the words "cat" and "turkey." So this is really about you failing to handle your cat properly. If Edna were responsible (again, dog), I would say that there was an offense, your reaction might've been a bit much, but this lapse was relatively minor, you apologized, on with your life. As it is, I'm not really sure Edna did anything wrong--she just didn't discipline or manage a pet who is not hers. That makes the lapse greater, but still...not the end of the world.
posted by praemunire at 11:40 PM on November 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


Edna seems like the type of person who would ruin a beautifully decorated cake...

I would have reacted the same way. Being a good host doesn't prevent you from calling out friends for doing stupid things. You yelled in a stressful moment and immediately apologized. That doesn't make you a rage monster and seriously, wtf was she thinking?
posted by Ruki at 11:49 PM on November 23, 2018 [16 favorites]


How do you encourage a cat to eat turkey in such a way that it actually increases the cat's likelihood of eating turkey?

Tap on the platter to attract the cat's attention to it? Stroke and praise it as it starts to eat? I would also count chuckling indulgently rather than saying "hey, quit it" and pushing the cat away as encouragement.

I'm not really sure Edna did anything wrong--she just didn't discipline or manage a pet who is not hers.


Honestly now, would you really have just sat there stone-faced and watched a cat chow down on an untouched turkey without moving a muscle to prevent it because "not my cat, not my problem"?
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:02 AM on November 24, 2018 [15 favorites]


I think that Edna's behavior was weird, but reasonable--I'm with many others in feeling that you don't discipline other people's pets or children, and if I were, for some reason, called out for not disciplining them, I, too, would make a weak joke about trying to let them participate.

That said, if someone I was friends with yelled at me, let alone in with the sort of belittling phrasing indicated in your post, we would probably no longer be friends. I'm honestly surprised that Edna was the only guest acting a bit cold the rest of the evening.
posted by mishafletch at 12:11 AM on November 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


i have no respect for someone who comes up with an answer like “I just wanted to let the cat partake in Thanksgiving.” But I’m old school, and was specifically raised to treat the household animals with love and respect and LIKE ANIMALS. This means they eat after the humans, and not off the goddamn table.

That’s disgusting and disrespectful to everyone human at the dinner to let some beast eat from the fucking serving platter like Ragnar LoÞbrók’s dogs or something.

Yelling at a guest is never the perfect option, but it’s Thanksgiving, so a modicum if yelling is within traditional bounds. And Edna did fuck up kinda badly.

Shake it off and move on. No blood, no foul.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:16 AM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


A little yelling, especially at the cat? Okay. Yelling something shaming, at a guest? Definitely not okay. Sure, you get a partial pass due to Thanksgiving stress, but I don't think I've ever used the phrase "what are you thinking??" with anyone ever. So it would surprise me to learn that one of my friends would.

Also, the people saying that Edna was quiet because Edna screwed up and felt bad are missing a big point of etiquette, which is that people screw up all the time, and your job as host is to help them and others feel comfortable, period, i.e., even when they do screw up. Take that example above of the Miss Manners letter about the arm getting smashed. You're supposed to pretend your arm isn't hurt so that they stop feeling guilty as soon as possible. That's the opposite of rubbing their nose in it with a "how could you?"-type statement. I think the initial yell at the cat is like the yelp in that letter (if you'd yelled "oh my god, Edna, get Rosie down" to prevent imminent harm to the turkey, I'd give you a pass on that, too), and that anything beyond that is incorrect.

I'm not saying Edna acted perfectly, but "did she make a mistake?" and "did you make a mistake?" are two separate questions. Two wrongs don't make a right. You managed not to punch her, for instance, so some standards of behavior still applied. By that same method, maybe in the future you can avoid scolding anyone. And it can't hurt to apologize again.
posted by salvia at 12:40 AM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


If a 'friend' yelled at me, for any reason other than warning me about a sudden danger, they would be dead to me. I don't care if I annoyed the hell out of them, did something gross, etc. It would tell me enough about that person that I would never trust them again, would never consider them someone safe, and certainly wouldn't consider them worth spending more time or emotional energy on. It's not something I consider acceptable EVER, and the reason behind it in this case is both underwhelming and irrelevant. She was being gross, in a decidely non-endangering way: big whoop. Yelling at this person? Done and done, respect permanently gone. Taking that social signal seriously has kept me safe from quietly dangerous personalities, secret emotional vampires and narcissists, people who act 'nice' but snap when people do something they consider wrong...maybe some decent people have been lost along the way, but that's definitely a fair trade in my experience.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 4:03 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


I do feel like a cat snacking on the Thanksgiving turkey is one of those things that are far enough beyond the pale that anyone should feel empowered to put a stop to it, even if they're a guest. You're on safe ground with that one. Being a guest in someone's home doesn't mean that you need to totally suspend your faculties, I mean if the stove burst into flames while your host was in the bathroom would you think, "Oh, maybe she likes it that way, I'd better wait until she gets out?"

It's weird to me that none of your guests were doing anything about it—that they were all just standing around, watching Edna and your cat team up to violate their Thanksgiving feast, apparently unwilling to step in. Was this a Thanksgiving party where everyone was already pretty drunk by the time the turkey came out? Because that would explain a lot, if you ask me.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:56 AM on November 24, 2018 [10 favorites]


Plus, putting myself in her shoes--I've never had a cat. Growing up, the cats I was around were aggressive and quick to bite. I got bit multiple times, and am therefore very hesitant to push or pick up any cat.

This isn't Edna's situation. If you feel this way about cats, you wouldn't be actively encouraging a cat to eat off of a serving platter. You wouldn't say the cat needs to participate in Thanksgiving.
I'm dog phobic. I can be in the same room as a well-behaved dog, but I don't interact with dogs at all, not even to pet them. If I saw a dog doing something like that, I would either pick up the platter (if I weren't afraid of being bitten) or immediately alert a non-phobic person. I would not just sit and watch a dog ruin Thanksgiving dinner, and I certainly wouldn't encourage it.
In the future, I do think it's a good idea to deputize one guest as "keep the cat away from the food" person. But this is because people get distracted and don't notice - not because any reasonable adult would do what Edna did.
I tried to see if there was a youtube clip of the scene in The Reluctant Astronaut where a woman takes her dog up to the table to eat the celebration cake before it's even cut, and then all the guests say they don't want cake (because having an animal stick its face in food very obviously ruins it for people). Because what Edna did is so ridiculous that it was a joke in an old movie.
posted by FencingGal at 6:06 AM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


She shouldn't have done that but was I too mean in my reaction?

"Mean" suggests behavior that's really low in some way, to me, or maybe suggests you secretly don't like the person who's the target and this is a kind of toxic leak. I don't think it was any of that, I think it was you being shocked and reacting in the moment. I came out of the kitchen one time to see my guests standing there laughing while my little dog ate a pile of freshly grated parmesan that I'd stupidly set on the coffee table. I probably did yell out "What the fuck?" to the room in general.

On the other hand, I've been Edna-- sitting there watching something happen, where I should probably have gotten involved but presence of mind was not there. Or I thought it was not proper to interfere, something like that. I don't think anyone's ever yelled at me for it. If they did, and if they made it about me specifically, I would be upset. If Edna is sensitive, your apology at the time may have made her even more embarrassed. I don't know, maybe talk to her and apologize again? You could tell it upset her and it may have made her question what you in fact think of her and she may still be thinking it could happen again.
posted by BibiRose at 6:07 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


FencingGal--thats the kind of joke i would crack to lighten the mood, and yes, i would sit there not touching the cat to avoid being bit. You cant assume to know the underlying motivations behind a persons behavior. We dont know if she was actively encouraging it or just didnt know what to do. I'm just wondering if the behavior OP interprets as encouragement was realy discomfort. Either way, telling her not to do that again is all that has to happen here.
posted by Amy93 at 7:42 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Lots of people are accusing Edna of not behaving like an adult but, being a dog owner, I can attest that many people aren't comfortable dealing with the bad behaviour of other people's pets!

This, plus, people are not aware of rules around animals and when precisely to stop them. For example, we let our cats frolick merrily around our kitchen counters (where we prep food) and dinner table, except when dinner is actually served. There are probably people who would never do this. However, we have two cats and a dog, we watch all food like hawks and designate who is the animal watcher when food is exposed every single time to avoid the bystander effect. Cat goes on the coffee table? Maybe Edna has seen the cat on the coffee table before not being yelled at, and doesn't instinctively know your rule is 'cat can be on the coffee table except when there is food for display on it'.

You also say 'encouraging your cat to eat the turkey', but I strongly suspect that she wasn't, like, leading the cat from another place where it wasn't eating the turkey to the turkey, and you would have no idea if she was, because you immediately came in and saw the scene in media res. What you actually saw is Edna sitting on the couch next to the cat who was eating turkey off the serving dish while Edna did 'encouraging' as it was happening. My guess is that Edna was making 'oh aren't you so cute, do you want turkey and to be part of the family?' noises of some kind, not like, putting the cat's mouth in the dish.

And then you yelled at a guest, which is never appropriate unless they are actively endangering someone else's safety. You were in the wrong here, and I suspect you felt mortified because your cat was ruining Thanksgiving, and wanted to place the blame on someone else other than your cat and you leaving turkey where cat could get it. It was not well done of you to make that blame fall on Edna, and less well done for you to openly yell at her and imply that she is abnormal and has lower standards than basically all humans.
posted by corb at 8:23 AM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


In all seriousness, I feel like people in this thread are using vastly different definitions of the word "yelling" here. I read it as basically "snapping at Edna in surprised irritation" and others seem to be reading "bellowing at Edna in white-hot rage."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:30 AM on November 24, 2018 [23 favorites]


I probably would have reacted the same way. Like others have said, it would be one thing if the cat had just jumped up there to try to steal some food -- I wouldn't expect a guest to discipline my cat. But actively encouraging the cat to eat people food, especially off the serving platter? NO. No no no no. For one thing, gross. For another, there are lot of ingredients in people food that make cats sick. For a third thing, please do not train my cat to do that, thanks.
posted by sarcasticah at 9:51 AM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but how does one "encourage" a cat to do something? Did she call the cat over or was she feeding it thr turkey by hand?

More likely, the cat jumped up and she didn't stop it, either because she didn't react quickly enough or didn't know how/want to discipline or touch your cat, and you viewed that as "encouragement".

I think it's your responsibilty to deal with your cat. If you jave food all over your apartment you probably know the cat may eat it so you could put the cat in a different room. Or maybe tell the gueats ahead of timr to keep an eye on it.

And depending on what you mean by "yell", yes, i think it's probably rude and was hurtful tp the guest. Her line about having the cat "participate" was likely an awkward joke. The guests probably didn't react because they felt bad for her.

You don't seem like a bad person, but yes, this behavior would make some guests feel really bad.
posted by bearette at 10:09 AM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yes, Edna was out of line in allowing a cat to eat the turkey.

Yes, you were right to yell at the cat.

No, you were wrong to yell at Edna. You do not yell at your guests nor imply that they are stupid. To your credit, you realized this and apologized. Hopefully this is behind you now.
posted by tel3path at 10:52 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would also count chuckling indulgently rather than saying "hey, quit it" and pushing the cat away as encouragement.

"Chuckling indulgently?" Have you ever met a cat?

Cats eating turkey off the plate is unquestionably gross as hell. OP did not handle her business in such a way as to make sure to prevent that from happening, even though the situation was entirely predictable. (Last night we had a meat and cheese plate for a snack in a room with two dogs and guess where it went? Stacked high on top of a printer on a table to keep it away from curious noses. Because we are not foolish and wished to consume our snack uncontaminated by dog saliva.) Unless Edna literally brought the cat to the plate or vice versa (and I don't see how OP could have seen that, given the narrative), Edna didn't cause this situation. OP should not be blaming Edna for her own failure to manage her own pet. All the commenters acting like they'd know in the heat of the moment how to deal with a pet with teeth and claws and with whom they didn't have a well-established relationship doing something inappropriate are being a little optimistic, too.

Either way, OP shouldn't have yelled. OP apologized, and I don't think it should be a relationship-ender. I admire those saints who have never ever snapped at a friend, but I think they are few in number. But what OP seems to want here is endorsement of her opinions that cats eating turkey off the plate is gross (entirely noncontroversial!!!) and that Edna was rude. Edna was not rude. At that moment, OP was being a bad cat owner and a bad host. Edna was not rude for not taking it upon herself to fix that.
posted by praemunire at 11:09 AM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


In all seriousness, I feel like people in this thread are using vastly different definitions of the word "yelling" here. I read it as basically "snapping at Edna in surprised irritation" and others seem to be reading "bellowing at Edna in white-hot rage."

What difference does it make? Either way, that person is scary. Someone who loses control of themselves enough to raise their voice at a guest in a small way will eventually lose control of themselves enough to raise their voice at a guest in a larger way.

If I had been in Edna's shoes, I would have apologized politely, for appearance's sake; kept quiet for the rest of the evening in order to avoid drawing any further attention; then departed from the host's life as thoroughly as possible, forever.
posted by crotchety old git at 12:20 PM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


“And then you yelled at a guest, which is never appropriate unless they are actively endangering someone else's safety.“

Cat feces germs and parasites are the definition of food born illness, so yes, Edna was endangering everyone’s safety. It’s definitely possible to contract Giardia, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Toxoplasmosis, and other diseases from contact with cat feces. If the platter was on the coffee table, that cat’s paws were involved near the Turkey. Germs spread most easily via moisture, like the juices on the platter. *shudders*

Perspective really matters in this thread!

People who know about pathogens and food safety see this as a no brainer, people who value feelings and sensibilities over their health think the OP is a monster.

If Edna is still upset, for the OP’s sake I hope someone has a conversation with her about food safety.
posted by jbenben at 1:12 PM on November 24, 2018 [10 favorites]


People who know about pathogens and food safety see this as a no brainer

Nope, I strenuously keep our cats off the table for exactly the reasons you list and yet think OP's behavior was inappropriate. See above for my comment about two wrongs not making a right, etc. OP didn't yell at Edna to prevent harm. The danger was averted and then she scolded her. That's not proper hosting behavior, and the propriety of OP's behavior is independent of the propriety of Edna's behavior -- both people can be wrong at the same time. I think we'd all agree that Edna's bad behavior wouldn't justify the OP stomping on her foot. I think the main difference in the thread might just be that some people don't think it's that big of a deal to yell at someone when you're upset. But I do.
posted by salvia at 1:59 PM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


Nobody is arguing that there arent food safety concerns with a cat licking a turkey. It's not a thread about food safety. It's a thread about whether its okay to yell at a guest.
posted by Amy93 at 2:10 PM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Nobody is arguing that there arent food safety concerns with a cat licking a turkey.

Several people are arguing exactly that if you care to read the arguments being made. And some of them are using that position to argue that yelling was inappropriate because there are no safety concerns involved, which means that the conversation now includes "is sharing a plate with a cat a bad idea?", no matter how obvious the answer seems to you.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:52 PM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


The danger was averted and then she scolded her.

What? The danger was not averted, the cat had already licked the turkey! I mean, would you want to eat sliced turkey that you had witnessed a human licking a few moments prior??

I maintain that the only reasonable response, for the health of and respect for the guests, would be to quite explicitly state: "I am so sorry, I will remove all the pieces of turkey that the cat might have licked, please forgive me" and remove said slices in view of the guests! Yelling at Edna did not address any health concerns, but ignoring the health concerns wouldn't do so either. The fact is that Edna was not the only guest that was wronged here, ALL the guests were!
posted by RRgal at 3:53 PM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


As long as people want to say that Edna wasn’t really encouraging the cat to eat the turkey, perhaps we could also say that the OP didn’t actually yell at Edna. If it’s OK to dispute the OP’s statements despite the fact that none of us were there, we can do that with any part of the narrative.

Encouraging can mean a lot of things, but what it doesn’t mean is sitting there doing nothing. Presumably, the other guests were doing that, which is why the OP yelled at Edna and not anyone else.
posted by FencingGal at 4:01 PM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Assuming that Edna was somehow actively encouraging the cat to eat the turkey. I think OPs reaction in the moment was not ideal, but understandable.

Yes yelling is a manners faux pas, and I think you need to work on your wording a bit. At the same time it sounds like this was a knee jerk reaction to Edna committing a manners faux pas against all the other guests in the room. If we imagine that Edna is an otherwise responsible adult who manages to act kindly to others and in her time on this planet has seen animals, pushing the cat to eat the turkey for her own enjoyment showed blatent disrespect to you as the person who spent a large amount of time preparing the food as well as to all the other guests who hadn't had a chance to eat the main course.

I mean, she's known you for eight years. That's long enough either to know not to give your cat food that hasn't been served or to call you into the room and say "Hey OP! Come see how cute your cat is being with the turkey!"

It sounds like you spoke in the heat of the moment, but man, maybe put your cat in the bedroom next time you have a large dinner planned.
posted by donut_princess at 4:20 PM on November 24, 2018


In all seriousness, I feel like people in this thread are using vastly different definitions of the word "yelling" here. I read it as basically "snapping at Edna in surprised irritation" and others seem to be reading "bellowing at Edna in white-hot rage."

We don't need to invent definitions here. OP clearly states:

I yelled pretty loudly at the cat, "Rosie, don't eat the turkey, get down!" And then immediately yelled even louder right after, "Edna, don't let the cat eat off the plate, what are you thinking?!"
posted by rada at 5:01 PM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Hosting is stressful business, and Edna's oblivious behavior would try the patience of Job. (Former cat owner here.) I'd get it if you cussed her out publicly, frankly, But you didn't.

I hope she learned something, and sadly some people don't learn unless there's some pain involved. Not that it's our place to inflict pain intentionally but sometimes our shortcoming are double-edged swords.

Please take yourself off the hook. You might want to say "sorry for snapping at you" but that's really all the comment owed. I'm not sure you even have to go there.

Has she apologized to you? If not, she should, and she's kind of playing the victim card if she hasn't.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:04 AM on November 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of discussion about Edna and the cat, but the question isn't about Edna and the cat. The question is, literally, wording from the post: "...was I too mean in my reaction? ...Was there a more diplomatic way I should have handled it?"

I think it would help the answering if we focused on OP's choices of reactions to a breach of norms and laid off the cat part of the discussion. Obviously people's standards for risk and their attitudes towards domestic animals varies greatly as we see here, but those things really aren't the OP's question.
posted by Miko at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wow, I have to say that I did not expect that this would get so controversial! I think I phrased some things unclearly.

When I said that I yelled loudly, I meant that I raised my voice and snapped at her - it was really chaotic and loud in the room and that was why I was loud. I definitely wasn't raging or vicious; my dad was a yeller like that and I know how awful that is and would have absolutely ruined the meal. I should have been more careful to distinguish that it was more of a frustrated, frazzled snap and not literal screaming.

To clarify, Edna was definitely encouraging the cat to eat off the platter, but since I walked in in the middle of it, I don't know if she had initiated it herself or if she was just going along with the cat's attempt. The cat was NOT on the sofa next to the table when I put down the turkey platter, but good call on it being on me to keep the cat away from the turkey - I really should have thought of that beforehand.

It was also was really helpful to hear the perspective from people who wouldn't have felt comfortable stopping someone else's cat from doing something. I hadn't thought of it from that angle at all, and I appreciate it - that really helped me reframe what might have been going on and makes lots of sense.

And I guess I didn't get across very well either that I didn't think Edna was awful! After the initial shock, I thought it was just her being her eccentric self - and I adore her! I feel bad that I had a stronger reaction than I would have liked and will apologize again when I see her next. We've always felt warmly toward each other so I am thinking this will be just a small bump and not an unforgivable transgression (which is what my partner thinks too).

Thanks to everyone who responded; I appreciate all of your perspectives on this.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


Clearly, shouting is a breach of norms for some people (who wouldn't last long at my house) and a perfectly normal response for others.

I'm on team yelling at cat is fine, yelling at guest in the heat of the moment is fine if there's a reason, and cat being encouraged to eat the turkey is a good enough reason.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:15 PM on November 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


Edna was definitely encouraging the cat to eat off the platter, but since I walked in in the middle of it, I don't know if she had initiated it herself or if she was just going along with the cat's attempt.


I kinda love Edna.

Now I imagine her being all "no one's watching kitty, go nuts!"
posted by Tarumba at 2:13 PM on November 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


I presume Edna was quiet afterwards because she'd realized she was much, much higher than she planned on getting.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


It was also was really helpful to hear the perspective from people who wouldn't have felt comfortable stopping someone else's cat from doing something.

If I were one of those people, and I saw a cat about to stick its nose in people food, I would have grabbed the serving platter instead of the cat, and held it out of reach until the host returned. Better safe than sorry, even if you do not want anything to do with the cat because you're not sure how to handle it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:52 AM on November 30, 2018 [4 favorites]



Clearly, shouting is a breach of norms for some people (who wouldn't last long at my house) and a perfectly normal response for others.

I'm on team yelling at cat is fine, yelling at guest in the heat of the moment is fine if there's a reason, and cat being encouraged to eat the turkey is a good enough reason.


I basically want to echo all of this.
posted by daybeforetheday at 2:04 AM on December 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I presume Edna was quiet afterwards because she'd realized she was much, much higher than she planned on getting.

That thought crossed my mind as well. Everyone's treating this as though everyone involved were in possession of their full faculties, but personally if I were hosting a casual Thanksgiving party that was mostly friends rather than family everyone would be drunk and/or stoned. Like, hopefully we'd all be able to moderate our intake such that the feast could still actually happen, but someone getting a bit too high and developing a sudden conviction that the cat should be included in Thanksgiving would not be particularly remarkable. And then someone might react a bit more strongly than necessary (because they'd had a few beers and smoked a bit themselves) and then the too-high person might get all quiet and self-conscious for the rest of the party. It sounds like fairly typical party drama in my personal social milieu. I mean… not to be all Internet Detective about it but once you add drugs to the equation this whole episode sounds a lot more normal.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:10 PM on December 1, 2018


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