Le sport des rois

Cat Daddy and I are home. We are very lucky to be able to go on holiday, but I always look forward to coming home. Louis Catorze, however, disagrees. He greeted us by meowing disdainfully, then wriggled free of my hug and pitter-pattered off into the Zone Libre for several hours.

Cat Daddy: “I don’t know why you expected anything different. That’s what cats are like. If you want an animal that gives a shit, get a dog.”

Now the hard work starts for us, because we are on a serious mission to de-podge after our time away. My sports clothes remained largely untouched in my suitcase throughout our holiday, and we chose to party instead of exercising (it can still be a party with just two people, non?), all of which has very much taken its toll. The fact that our televisions are full of strong, lean Olympians makes us feel even worse about our gluttony and sloth, although it doesn’t stop Cat Daddy from shouting helpful comments at the screen, such as “A gold medal just for sitting on a bloody horse?”

Interestingly, I found out this week that Greco-Roman wrestling is an actual Olympic sport. I thought it was just something I did to pill Catorze, and I gave it this name because of the numerous ancient statues depicting the age-old problem (see link – ah, so THAT’S how you embed a link into whatever words you want! – or Google “Hercules pilling his cat”).

I have also learned that Sa Maj is only 1kg heavier than the Olympic discus. (Yes, of course we have visualised throwing him. I challenge you to absorb that fact and NOT visualise throwing him.) We can’t understand how an individual light enough to pick up and throw is also able beat me in a Greco-Roman wrestle, but nothing about him has ever made any sense.

Anyway, Catorze, it seems, does not approve of our fitness plans.

Firstly, our cardio activities of choice make too much noise; Cat Daddy’s outdoor static bike whirrs loudly, and my aerobics step involves heavy stomping. Secondly, lying on the ground to do sit-ups gives him the creeps, I imagine because we’re not asleep or dead but also not quite acting like normal, living people, either. The little sod informs me of his displeasure by circling me during my sit-ups, screaming bloody murder.

Yes, it’s somewhat ironic that the screamiest, creepiest animal on the planet would resent us for disturbing HIS peace and making HIM feel unnerved, but, once again, that’s Catorze for you.

I managed to capture his welcome-home face here. Doesn’t he look delighted?

“Merde, it’s her. I don’t want her. I want my chat-sitteur.”

Les anges du nord

We are on the last part of our holiday: a few days in the North East, in a lovely townhouse overlooking a little marina. Once again we appear to be on Dog Territory, and I’m not sure that the Sun King would approve of this:

Non.

Part of our trip included seeing a friend whom I have known online for fifteenish years yet never met in person, until now. During term time I told my students about this meet-up, and they were very concerned indeed.

“Are you going to take someone with you, Miss?”

“And you and your friend have only ever chatted online? What if she isn’t actually a woman at all, but some creepy old man?”

“Or what if she turns out to be a 12-year-old boy?”

At least my lessons about online safety have worked. Anyway, my students needn’t have worried because the meeting went well, and my friend was neither an internet pervert nor an adolescent boy. And she has cats. Look at them!

Magic, who has the most hilarious tail.
Tash, so called because of the, erm, white tache.
Lucky, the bruiser who starts all the fights.
Maggie, the very shy one. This is as close as I was allowed.
Merlyn, the daddy of them all.

Before we left Wales, we drunk-booked our next summer holiday. But, when we woke up the next morning and remembered what we’d done, we realised that it was, in fact, one of our better decisions, and so we sober-paid the non-refundable deposit.

Now, the only thing is what to do with Louis Catorze during this time. I would be very happy to ask our current chat-sitteur if she would like to come and live with him again, but would she want another week of him and his stupid shite? It’s quite stressful being asked to commit to something that you don’t want to do, months and months in advance, because you don’t really have a way out of it. I’ve been in this position a few times, and I’ve found myself lamely stuttering, “Erm, I’m not sure what my plans will be at that time …” when we both know full well that it’s way too far ahead for anyone to have any plans. Yes, it would be so much easier to just be honest in these situations, but that’s not really how life works.

Since our chat-sitteur happens to read Le Blog I know she will see this post, so all I have to do is await a response from her. And, yes, I am aware that no response is still a response.

La carte des chats

Earlier this month, Puppy Mamma gave me this:

London has a CAT HISTORY: who knew?

I know. Isn’t it brilliant? I am very lucky to have her as a friend. And, yes, someone has actually taken the time to make a map of cats! Who would do that? (In actual fact I think most of us probably would, and the only reason we haven’t is because we didn’t think of it.)

Naturellement, I began thinking how much I would love Louis Catorze to feature on a cat map. Cat Daddy would, no doubt, argue that nobody cared about seeing where the little sod lived, but his guest book packed with photos and messages suggests otherwise. I even checked our location on the tea towel to see if there would be room to add him and, as you can see, there is. The other cats seem to be concentrated in the centre of London, and the borough of Hounslow is suffering something of a cat dearth:

Où sont les chats?

I then recalled that Catorze DOES feature on a U.K. cat map. I have a friend in America who not only created such a map, but has planned a month-long tour of the U.K. later this year to meet all the cats in person/feline, having read about them online. And her final hurrah before returning home will be Hallowe’en weekend here at Le Château with Sa Maj.

Here is my friend’s cat map. Only three months until she will be with us, assuming that Covid doesn’t scupper her plans again.

Cat Tour of the U.K.

Du repos total

Cat Daddy and I are spending a few days in an isolated cottage in North Wales. When we made ourselves a cup of tea on arrival we were met with this, but it did get better from then onwards:

Excusez-moi?

We now know the wonder of waking up to silence every morning. No screaming felines, no parakeets screeching at screaming felines, no planes, no shouty kid* in the park over the road … just silence. It has been some years since we last experienced the joy of waking up to pure, blissful peace.

*The same one turns up every morning with one of his oblivious/unconcerned parents, week days and weekends, from 6:45am onwards, bellowing himself senseless and waking us up. If you mention “the shouty kid” to anyone who lives in our street, most people will know exactly who you mean.

That said, I do miss Louis Catorze. Cat Daddy, however, says he doesn’t.

Our current view, every morning.
Our usual view.

Catorze is, apparently, doing fine, and has not killed and eaten his chat-sitteur as yet. There was, however, a minor incident during which she heard his screaming and, believing him to be trapped somewhere, was opening doors and cupboards in an effort to locate him, but to no avail. Eventually she saw two creepy eyes staring down at her from the roof. Yes, the little sod had decided to climb up there and scream at her through the open skylight. No, we don’t know why.

We have been told that he has not ruined any work Zoom calls so far, which is somewhat surprising. But there’s still time.

Silly sod.

Le canapé en plein air

Before we went on holiday, we took delivery of some new waterproof cushions for our outdoor sofa. (The previous ones were neither waterproof nor machine-washable, making them as unfit for purpose as can possibly be, although we did insist on washing them after the incident with the curly-haired rat: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/)

The collection consists of sitting-on cushions and back support cushions, plus two Roi-sized ones for the footstools/cat plinths. The plinths are Louis Catorze’s favourite place to sit, especially during thunderstorms, because he can remain dry whilst listening to the soothing sound of the rain around him.

Anyway, the cushions had been on the sofa for about 0.4 seconds when Catorze decided to investigate. And it took him a further 0.2 seconds to start scratching. So it seems we have not bought new cushions for our outdoor sofa; we have, in fact, spent a four-figure sum on an enormous, custom-made scratching post for our bastard cat.

I don’t recall ever seeing him scratching the old cushions, not once.

Here is the disaster as it unfolded. Or, rather, here is the first disaster of what will, no doubt, prove to be many:

The Incident.
Eyeballing Cat Daddy (and continuing to scratch) as we both yell at him.
Happy atop one of his plinths.
Smug in the knowledge that we’re going to have to leave the cushions unattended sooner or later.

Les Journées de Liberté

Cat Daddy and I have decided to escape for few days (to a self-catering cottage on our own, I might add, not to some virussy plague pit with lots of other people). We have arranged for a friend to to come and live with Louis Catorze during our absence and, rather than give her the stress of having to pill him, we took him for a month-long steroid injection before we left.

Naturellement, on the morning of the appointment, I forgot to lock the Sureflap and the little sod escaped out, burying himself so deep in the almost-as-tall-as-me garden plant matter that not even a land mine would have extracted him. Cat Daddy tried poking him out with a stick, to no avail, and eventually he had to resort to the water cannon like the riot police.

Cat Daddy, after the event: “That was really nasty of you.” (Ok, it was my idea, but he still did it. And it’s not as if he had any better ideas.)

Anyway, the pain of that, and the indignity of having to sit with my screaming holdall in the Dog Area because there was already someone in the Cat Area, were worth it, because the injection will make life much easier for our chat-sitteur. Plus we were too embarrassed to tell her that Catorze only takes his pills in freshly-opened jambon de Bayonne, room-temperature organic aged Comté or Brittany tuna rillettes. Far better for her to just deal with the more predictable and straightforward Roi issues: food, water, beauty oil, rats, Donnie, Foxy Loxy, unlawful entry into neighbours’ houses and communing with evil spirits. Oh, and also the fact that the injection has turned him absolutely stark raving mad.

This picture was taken just as we were instructing the little sod to be on his best behaviour. I think the body language says it all.

“Laaaa laaaa, not listening.”

Minuit dans le jardin du bien et du mal*

*Yes, of course the “mal” is our mutual friend. Who else would it be?

Louis Catorze appears to have adopted Teenage Me’s body clock: sleeping all day and partying all night.

The little sod goes out at dusk and eventually rolls in between around 4am and 5am every morning. At night, The Back is transformed into a magical place. Because the garden faces north-west, and because we are not overlooked by anyone, we are blessed with everlasting summer sunsets that deliver an enchanting light display.

Le Roi is on high alert at this time, having slept throughout most of the day to power up for after-dark tomfoolery, and his creepy kitty sixth sense picks up all sorts of animal sounds inaudible to us. Cat Daddy swears he can hear the snails chomping away at the leaves, and he constantly berates Catorze for not doing enough to destroy them.

(Incidentally, Cat Daddy hates the snails as much as he hates the pigeons and the squirrels. “I found one on my chervil plant the other day. That’s my f***ing dinner he was eating! What a ****.”)

Catorze’s favourite thing to do is to sit and stare at the virginia creeper, as if absorbing the sounds inside, sometimes bird-chattering at the invisible prey, then launch himself into the leaves to pounce on thin air.

Seeing our old, haggard boy frolicking around with the life and vigour of a young kitten is a heartwarming sight. During their most recent Boys’ Club en plein air, Cat Daddy thought it might be cute to take some pictures.

It wasn’t.

Just look at the horror show that resulted from that photo session. NOW do you believe me when I say Catorze is the devil himself?

Good grief.
Oh. Doux. Jésus.
What the hell even IS this?

Londres est en flamme

Louis Catorze does not like sitting on bare skin. He favours fluffy blankets or denim, merci for asking.

He is also not a fan of, erm, the fan. It’s not the noise, but the breeze; he seems to find it quite annoying and moves away, flicking his ears and muttering obscenities under his breath, when I direct the airflow towards him.

So here I am, in a 30+ degree heatwave, sitting beneath a fluffy blanket and with the fan OFF, with the equivalent of a fur hot water bottle on my lap, to allow said fur hot water bottle to relax in what he believes to be comfort. I don’t know which is/are flowing faster: my sweat or my tears.

And, before you say anything, I bet you would all do the same (not for Catorze, obviously, but for your much nicer cats). In fact, I’m pretty sure you have done worse.

“Switch this on and I’ll slice you up, chère Maman.”

Tenter le sort

Cat Daddy really should know better.

10:00pm: He complains that Louis Catorze hasn’t caught any rodents or birds all year, and claims that cats who hunt are more manly than those who don’t (?).

4.39am the next day: The little sod screams repeatedly in my face (note: not in Cat Daddy’s face but in MINE) and I know instantly that something is up.

Catorze used to bring his prey to our bedroom, which was disgusting but at least there were no surprises. Now, however, his MO is to announce the special delivery and then send us on a treasure hunt for whatever and wherever it may be. I searched in all the usual and unusual places to find nothing and, naturellement, after all that palaver, I was wide awake and there was no point trying to go back to sleep.

Later that morning, I went outside to work out on my aerobic step. It was then that I found the dead mouse, right in the spot where I would lay my head to do my sit-ups, with flies starting to gather around the aromatic smell of sun-cooked mouse as it was one of the hottest days of the month. Ugh.

Anyway, Cat Daddy removed the mouse and took it to the mouse graveyard aka the bin in the park over the road, luckily not bumping into That Neighbour who would regard this sort of thing as fly-tipping. And, when I finally did my sit-ups (avoiding the bit of mouse-patio, obviously), Catorze circled me, screaming his lungs out. I imagine he was either searching for his mouse or rejoicing in the fact that I was dying of heatstroke and then he would have Cat Daddy to himself.

The fun never stops here at Le Château. Sadly what passes for “fun” is questionable.

On the lookout for the next mouse.

L’alpha et l’oméga (Plan B Partie 1)

We have starting using Louis Catorze’s beauty oil 2,0 – called Coatex – and it seems to smell very slightly less pungent than the Nutramega, so hopefully this means it will make him smell less pungent, too.

This time the oil inside the capsules is a runny liquid, so I have to be very careful blobbing it onto his body. And Catorze is even less aware of when I’ve blobbed it onto him, so he pads around in confused circles wondering where the smell is coming from. And woe betide me if I apply it just as he’s about to eat, because the dozy muppet thinks it’s his Orijen that somehow smells different and then he doesn’t eat.

Anyway, this is typically how the daily applications go:

1. Pierce capsule with cocktail stick.

2. Sit and wait for Catorze to come and sit on my lap.

3. Catorze decides to go out and fight Donnie / goad foxes / hunt rats instead of spending time with me.

4. Sit for 973 hours next to holey, fishy capsule, waiting for little sod to come back.

5. Catorze returns from his gallivanting and settles on my lap. Take opportunity to grab the capsule, squeeze it and blob oil onto his leg, but forget which end has hole and end up smearing most of it on myself. (The Nutramega very conveniently caved in at the holey end so it was easy to tell, but this one doesn’t.)

6. Clumsily attempt to smear oil from self onto Catorze’s leg. He is not a fan of this.

7. Catorze fails to acknowledge that he has fishy oil on his leg. Am therefore stuck with a fishy, oily cat on my lap.

8. Catorze starts to sniff the air but doesn’t appear to know that the smell is coming from his leg.

9. Catorze grooms every part of his body apart from the fishy, oily leg.

10. Catorze looks at me as if I am the one who smells, most likely because I now do.

Quel cauchemar. And I only have to do this, erm, every single day for the rest of his life.

Wondering what the hell the smell is.