The incident in the night with the onions

Curious. I got up at a ridiculous hour again this morning, and cautiously walked into the kitchen. Why cautiously? Because our cat likes to leave us little presents, like a puddle of puke or a dead mouse. I flicked on the light and saw…onions. Onions on the floor, onions on the countertop, onions on the stove, onions in pots. The source was obvious — we had a mesh bag of onions hanging from a hook — and the material cause was clear — the mesh was slit wide open, from the knot at the top to the bottom of the bag. It was no longer a bag, but more of a useless mesh sheet. But how? Who, or what, committed the act of bagicide that liberated all these onions?

My first suspect is the evil cat, except that she has heretofore exhibited an irrational fear of the stove and the kitchen counters. The criminal mind is a superstitious mind, and she is definitely the kind of super-villain you’d find in a Batman comic book. But the bag was neatly slit, not raggedly torn, as a beast would do.

Also near the bag was a butcher block of knives that I’d sharpened to a razor edge yesterday. They must have played a role, somehow.

My keen deductive mind is forced to conclude that the cat, while practicing to overcome her fear of kitchen appliances, has learned to wield a knife and slash viciously at objects in her environment. That may seem unlikely, but when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth*. I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on her now. First the onions, then the master, you know.

*By the way, I detest that dictum — it’s typical Holmesian illogical BS. You can never eliminate all the impossibilities, you can never even know all the alternatives. What if it’s something I didn’t even think of?


  1. John Wilkins says

    I’m very sorry to tell you this, but cats are individually adapting, opening doors and wielding knives, so it’s only a matter of time that the Baldwin effect leads to our overthrow as the technological species.

  2. Andrew G. says

    When you have eliminated the impossible, what remains may be more improbable than that you made an error in one of your impossibility proofs. (attributed to Steven Kaas)

  3. strangerinastrangeland says

    So it has started…
    Watch the episode “Three Robots” from the first season of “Love, Death & Robots” to see how it ends with the cats.

  4. seversky says

    I would say both. They’re not mutually exclusive. The Mystery of Mesh Bags is one worthy of Holmes. It sounds like at least a three pipe problem. More mundanely, could it be just a defect in the manufacture of the bags?

  5. birgerjohansson says

    A guy in New Caledonia or New Zealand had a similar problem. He used a camera to record what happened in his kitchen at night, and found a kea walked in, opened a box where food was kept and helped itself.

  6. KG says

    Yes, there must be intense selection on onions to evolve means of escaping from mesh bags! It reminds me of a Stanislaus Lem story in which potatoes, on a planet under constant meteorite bombardment, evolved motility and turned carnivore.

  7. stroppy says

    You must be a sound sleeper. Good thing your watch cat is on the job and dispatching the critter incursion. Ever wonder why you don’t have bears ransacking your home? Thank your cat.

  8. says

    My younger cat gets all the places he wants to be: counters, tables, fridge, on top of cabinets. If something’s in the way of where he wants to lay down, he’ll shove it off that surface onto the floor. He knows where the food is kept, too. We’ve had to put child locks on the cabinets and keep anything that he could get his claws into (like bags of buns) away from the opening. And anything can be a toy. Candy wrappers (with or without candy inside), shoe laces, paper bags, etc. I’m not really surprised to hear that your cat decided that a bag of oranges or onions was a toy.

  9. charley says

    You have recently experienced stress, drugs and irregular sleep patterns. The sharpened knives are fresh on your mind. Maybe you are sleepwalking. My friend once woke during a stressful period in his life to find himself peeing into the crisper drawer in the fridge.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    KG @ 10
    I remember that story!
    KG @ 11; keas have wings, but on the other hand raccoons are winter- adapted. We may be seeing the evolutionary radiation of raccoons and keas escaping from labs after receiving GM treatment.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Yog-Sototh is the opener of ways, so opening a bag or parcel should be easy for him. Obviously this is just residual effects of the previous owner of the house dabbling in forbidden rituals (and probably meeting a messy end).

  12. Mobius says

    The cat in her many onions are clearly wreaking havoc. It is obvious a vile conspiracy is afoot.

    BTW, I completely agree about the Holmes statement. I thought it was stupid the first time I heard it.

  13. blf says

    Oranges. In Minnesota… and at this time of the year?
    “Dr Poopyhead”, ejaculated Holmes, “does that not make you wonder? Oranges are a subtropical fruit, not known for being grown anywhere in those environs, and whilst there was a railroad, quite expensive to import, especially on professor’s salary. The local railway station is also, as I recall, closed.

    “Furthermore, these oranges were not being stored within any special preservative environment, such as a cool room or that recent application of thermodynamic principles, the refrigerator. So then, how did they arrive and how are they being kept fresh?

    “A recent gift from a traveler? The professor has been mostly isolated and taken to clomping about, screaming, in an impractically oversized boot. So a kindly nurse, perhaps, but I think not with their abysmally low pay; or a gift from the famous Trophy Wife, but surely then, they’d be better cared-for and kept safely edible.

    “Hence we must conclude the oranges are at fault, probably an alien entity in league with the peas, opening the bags with something like Mr Wells’ death rays. There is no other possible conclusion.

    “The purpose of this diabolical stunt is currently a mystery, though the obvious involvement of peas is suggestive. Another pipe, and perhaps a fine port and other assistances, is required. Good night!”

  14. davidc1 says

    Well any sensible cat would leave onions the feck alone ,they are poisonous to them .
    I think it is your good wife sleep pickling .

  15. davidc1 says

    As for the Oranges ,Marmalade perhaps ?
    I shouldn’t worry about it ,not unless you come down in the morning to a freshly
    dressed Moose.

  16. gijoel says

    God is punishing you for your disbelief. He’s breaking into house when you’re asleep and cutting your bags.And yes God is that petty.

  17. mandrake says

    I’m going to go with outgassing here. When I drove a truck for a living I hauled mostly refrigerated goods and produce. Onions have to be hauled either in a reefer unit or an open-top trailer (with a tarp covering) to prevent the build up of decomposition gasses that can explode an air-tight container. Is it possible the mesh material bag containing the onions deteriorates from onion farts while hanging by a single point at room temperature for a prolonged period? Or maybe it is just the inscrutable ways of the domestic feline.

  18. stroppy says

    Cats seem to have an uncanny knack for initiating Rube Goldberg-like cascading events of chaos and mayhem.

  19. birgerjohansson says

    You need to set up a concealed camera to find out what is happening in the kitchen at night.

  20. davidc1 says

    @27 There is a clip on facache ,where a guy with a guitar rather roughly pushes a cat off
    a chair .there is a staircase behind him leading off to the left ,the cat runs up the stairs ,knocking a
    potted plant on to the guys head .

    As for cats and their endearing little ways ,I recently took some drawers out from the bottom of some big heavy bookcases.
    I found a dried out little mouse .Sometimes I fail to catch the ones they bring in live ,and if they don’t get caught by the humane
    traps I have ,they end up dying
    All part of the joys of being in service to felines .

  21. sdeinbinder says

    Maybe …. gravity? The bag may have had a slit that was too small to notice, and over time, it broke. Then again, as someone with 3 cats, it really could be that the cat has learned to use knives …!!