Le réveil-matin (Partie 2)

Every now and again, Louis Catorze wakes me up some time before my alarm goes off. This annoys the hell out of me, but shutting him out of the bedroom would result in him screaming and scratching at the door like an angry poltergeist, which would be considerably worse.

We have known for some time of his creepy kitty sixth sense, which can pick out our car from others parking outside and return him home from jaunts at The Front before his curfew kicks in. But now it appears that the little sod is able to know when the alarm is about to go off, just before it happens.

I often wake up with him lying by my feet or across my stomach. When he feels me stirring, he walks up my body for cuddles, then, suddenly, he sets off decisively and with real purpose across to the bedside table where my phone sits. No more than a second or two later, the alarm goes off.

Every time we decide that he is sufficiently creepy, he does something to out-creep his own creepiness. This is both terrifying and not the slightest bit surprising.

“Alarm is going off in trois … deux … un …”

Le dernier repas

It’s all kicking off here in the U.K. and we Brits are the laughing stock of the world. Again.

During lockdown, when we weren’t supposed to be seeing more than one person outdoors, parties took place at the Prime Minister’s residence. The person hosting the parties initially denied that there were parties, and has now admitted it but claims that he thought they were work events. The person originally investigating whether or not there were parties, attended one of the parties. The person who wrote the Covid rules and who decides whether or not they were broken, also attended one of the parties. The newly-appointed person investigating whether or not there were parties, works under the person who hosted the parties.

I know. It couldn’t be more absurd if it tried, although it certainly explains why Louis Catorze behaved so badly during my online lessons and meetings: clearly he thought he was at a party. And, to be fair, there were a couple of occasions when things were completely chaotic and/or I was drinking neat Absolut Vanilla from a tea mug at 3pm, so I can’t really blame him.

Meanwhile, Catorze’s war against mealtimes is waging on. Cat Daddy has weighed Catorze’s food on our new set of precision scales, and it turns out that we are only supposed to be giving him three scoops per day. In actual fact we have been giving him around 978 scoops per day.

Now, I wouldn’t normally advocate overfeeding a cat but, since the vet told us that the little sod needed to chub up, we aren’t in a rush to change the overall quantity of food. We have, however, been reconsidering his feeding times and, instead of feeding Catorze whenever he asks, we decided that would give him set mealtimes, just like normal cats.

Catorze came downstairs from his nap one afternoon at around 4pm, then began to creepy-stare for food.

Cat Daddy: “Look at him, trying to bully us.”

Catorze continued to creepy-stare.

Cat Daddy: “Ignore him.”

Catorze continued to creepy-stare.

Cat Daddy: “In fact, let’s take his bowl away.”

I put Catorze’s empty bowl into his food cupboard.

Then the screaming started.

Mon Dieu: I know I have said this numerous times before, but you really could strip paint with his voice.

Our new tough love regime lasted a whole minute and a half before we reverted back to our previous system, because I just couldn’t stand the screaming. So here we are – again – at the mercy of this shouty, toothy little dictator.

He really is the worst. And we are pathetic beyond belief for allowing it.

“Feed moi.”

Comme un esclave dans un état totalitaire

Whilst the rest of us have had to deal with all manner of shortages on the supermarket shelves, the squirrels are just fine and dandy, merci for asking. It’s the middle of winter and food is supposed to be scarce, yet they are, inexplicably, looking plump and meaty.

This is not just a generic squirrel thing across the whole population; the ones in TW8 are noticeably fatter than their rest-of-London counterparts, and we know this because other Londoners comment when they visit us. And, despite the fact that they clearly don’t need the extra food, they have renewed their efforts to steal the food that Cat Daddy has been leaving out for the birds.

All this makes Cat Daddy more angry with the squirrels than I ever thought possible. He is also angry with Louis Catorze for “not doing his job” in preventing this thievery.

Now, for a while I thought perhaps Catorze was reluctant to take on the squirrels because they were almost the same size as him. However, we know that he is perfectly happy to confront three foxes at a time, so this can’t possibly be the reason. I have also wondered whether, somehow, due to his advancing years and because the squirrels are the same colour as the fence and the winter shrubbery, he just isn’t able to see them. But then, if he is able to spot a bug who is minding its own business across a dark room, he is quite capable of seeing a chubby chonkster of a squirrel doing this:

Cheeky fat sod.

Conclusion: Catorze is fully aware of what’s going on and would do something if he wanted to, but he just doesn’t want to. And why would he, since he has Cat Daddy to run outside on his behalf, shouting and waving a stick at the offenders?

I was about to semi-quote Sylvia Plath and say that Catorze was steering Le Château like his own private car, but that would be far too much like hard work. He’s happily relaxing on the passenger side and letting his chauffeurs – us – get on with the steering.

Yes, that is a copy of The Bell Jar just in shot.

Le génie du jean, il crie et il hurle

Louis Catorze really is determined to try my patience at the moment.

Here he is, happily settled on my new jeans, so new that I had only unwrapped them from their packaging a few seconds beforehand. The piece of paper behind him is the invoice that came in the parcel with the jeans. I hadn’t even had the chance to cut off the tags. Yes, they are THAT new.

Bastard cat.

Here he is again, with the situation having remedied itself:

Still a bastard cat, whether atop my jeans or not.

In actual fact Catorze chose to get up, at which point Cat Daddy was able to safely retrieve the jeans before claws – or, worse, cat arse – could do their damage. However, I prefer to think that Cat Daddy whipped away the jeans in one deft movement, the way old school magicians used to whip away tablecloths leaving crockery and glasses intact. (Younger followers: ask your parents.)

Had these been my old jeans destined for the clothes recycling bin at Waitrose, I’m fairly sure the little sod would have given them a wide berth. But that’s Catorze for you. Why we continue to be surprised by his behaviour is, perhaps, the biggest surprise of them all.

Se faire posséder par une sirène

It’s turning out to be quite an eventful week at Le Château, with one member of the household suddenly and inexplicably growing a fish tail. I expect you can guess which individual that was.

Responses from others have been as follows:

A friend: “Haha! Coincidentally I am watching Splash right now!”

My niece, aged six: “He looks like a MerKitty!”

Cat Daddy, visibly flinching: “Oh my God. What the bloody hell?”

Interestingly/worryingly, Louis Catorze shares many characteristics with mermaids: magical powers, a love of singing (whether or not we wish to hear it), the absence of a soul and erm, luring hapless men to their doom. However, there are so many freakish things about him that, although far from normal by most cats’ standards, sprouting fins would still be one of the less weird ones.

For the non-believers among you, here is photographic proof. I know. We have no idea what to make of it, either. Although, if it means not having to deal with the feline rear end and all its associated problems, I’ll gladly take the fish tail.

“Under the sea …”

Dérouler le tapis rouge

Cat Daddy: “The red carpet in the living room looks awful. I can’t believe it’s worn down so quickly.”

Me: “Erm, it didn’t wear down.”

Him: “What do you mean?”

Me: “…”

Him: “What happened to it, then, if it didn’t wear down?”

Me: “…”

Him: “Oh my God. Please don’t tell me it was HIM?”

Me: “…”

Him: “[Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind]”

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: he leaves the Yuletide tree and the leather furnishings well alone, but Louis Catorze will attack carpet with every ounce of his evil little being. Carpeted surfaces are his bête noire – or, rather, he is theirs – so it’s just as well we don’t have many in Le Château. But what an almighty mess he’s made of the few that we do have.

So I’m snipping out the unsightly white stringy bits – they ruin every photo taken in this room – and hoping for the best. No doubt as soon as they are gone, Catorze will scratch up new ones, and when they’re cut out he will scratch up other news ones, and so on, until we cave pathetically and buy a new carpet.

Meanwhile, the little sod has no opinion one way or the other. Indifference is what he does, and he does it so well.

“Get a new carpet. Don’t get a new carpet. Whatever. Couldn’t give a merde.”

L’instructeur de forage

Cat Daddy and I have returned our rented Yule tree, having ticked the box stating that we’d like to rent the same one again next year. (I don’t know how on earth they would organise this as it sounds like a massive headache but, apparently, this is a thing.) I have grown rather fond of it, despite the fact that it’s wonky, misshapen and a bit on the small side.

Cat Daddy: “Does that remind you of anyone?” (He meant Louis Catorze, by the way.)

Our January fitness plans are now under way. How did I manage to fatten up over the festive season when I didn’t even drink? I blame my sister and her husband for their irresistible food, and I am firmly back to my strict routine of step and weights workouts in an effort to remedy this sad situation.

Meanwhile, Catorze has taken his creepy staring to another level. (I know. We didn’t think there were any further levels to attain, either, yet he has managed to carve out another one from somewhere.) The little sod has started to sabotage my workouts, initially by sitting by my head when I am doing my sit-ups and creepy-staring into my face. And, if this doesn’t work, he sits on my step and refuses to budge.

When I change from one set of weights to another, he circles my feet, screaming at the top of his tiny little lungs. It’s like being at one of those awful boot camp exercise places, with a small drill sergeant alternating between barking orders and gawping at you in a combination of resignation and contempt.

Here is Catorze, between screams but well and truly in the zone in terms of creepy staring:

Resignation: “Feed moi.”
Contempt: “Feed moi.”

Le repos du Roi

Louis Catorze and I have been enjoying some lap time during the holidays. However, as always, when Cat Daddy sits down with us, the little sod climbs off my lap and onto his. There was a time when he used to wait a minute or two before departing, just to be polite, but now he can’t be bothered and is off instantly. And the only things that stop him from doing it are as follows:

1. Getting my phone out to record it.

2. Saying to a visiting friend, “Watch what he does when Cat Daddy sits down!”

Cat Daddy isn’t especially keen on the constant lap-swoop, as he is harangued on a daily basis by Catorze and could do with a break from him. I don’t like it, either; I will be back at school tomorrow and it’s not very nice to think that, during my precious holiday time, my horrid cat would still choose his daddy over me.

So, whilst I have been trying to make my lap as inviting as possible with a fluffy blanket, Cat Daddy has been trying to put Catorze off and make his as UNINVITING as possible by sitting with his knees pointing at jagged, inhospitable angles, in the hope that it will make Catorze choose me.

Here are the results of our experiment:

Bastard cat.
Bastard cat.
Bastard cat.
Bastard cat.

On each of these occasions, my flat, fluffy-blanketed lap was available. It was declined.

I think we can safely conclude that, even if Cat Daddy wrapped his lap in poison-tipped razor wire, Catorze would still choose him over me. We can also conclude that Catorze is an insensitive, ill-mannered little sod, although we didn’t really need to conduct an experiment to determine that.

Bouillir, servir, manger, recommencer

Bonne Année! Hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve.

The dawn of 2021 saw us messing about with Louis Catorze’s food, hand-sifting the golden pellets from the brown ones like sweat shop workers. We are starting 2022 in a similar way but, this time, instead of sifting, we are pouring boiling water over minuscule portions of the little sod’s Orijen. No doubt we will start next year doing something equally stupid with his food, and the year after that, and so on, forever more.

Catorze is a grazer rather than someone with set mealtimes, so he likes to be able to revisit his bowl multiple times throughout the day. Obviously this works perfectly well if dry food is your thing. But if you insist on boiling water poured over your food and will only eat it if it’s freshly-served and piping hot, the whole grazing thing doesn’t really work. Unless you have a set of serving wenches at hand to dish up a new portion every time you stare creepily at them.

Sa Maj has never liked wet food. In fact, his dislike of it was such that it was even mentioned on his notes from the rescue. I was quite keen for him to have it, as I thought it would be a good way of getting enough water into him, but I failed in my efforts to make him eat it. That, however, was seven and a half years ago. Could it be that the little sod’s tastes have changed and that, after a lifetime of refusing wet food, he now wants it?

We hadn’t planned on changing his food anytime soon; we have plenty of Orijen, despite it still being out of stock at Petscorner, plus after all the Yuletide festivities we aren’t quite in the frame of mind to manage a(nother) Grand Changement right now. But it’s hovering ominously in the background like a Dickensian ghost, and I have an awful feeling that we might have to try it out sometime. Not yet, though. He has to have his dental surgery first, plus we need to mentally prepare ourselves and order in plenty of alcohol and Valium.

Wishing you a marvellous 2022, with lots of love from all of us at Le Château.

Bonne Année. Now feed moi.

Il était une fois dans l’ouest de Londres

Something is going wrong with WordPress: not only are notifications not coming through, but I have been liking comments made by followers and the likes haven’t saved. Please be assured that we hugely appreciate it every time someone comments, even if it’s only to say “Your cat’s not normal.” (We already know this, obviously, but it makes us feel supported to have some affirmation.)

As Cat Daddy and I plan for New Year’s Eve and chat about what we want from 2022, we have come to the realisation that we just want Louis Catorze to be a bit less of a miserable shite towards other cats (especially Blue the Smoke Bengal). After spending all these years feeling relieved that there isn’t a nasty neighbourhood bully cat who picks on Catorze, we are dismayed that, in fact, the little sod is it.

He is the perfect host when it comes to humans, welcoming strangers happily and sitting right in the middle of them all so that he can absorb attention from all angles. Our last set of visitors were dog people and even they commented on how he was “unlike any other cat they’d ever met before” (and they actually meant it in a good way).

Catorze’s patience for other cats, however, is waning, although he hasn’t always been this way. The lady who found him as a stray told me that he got on well with her cats. And, over the years, when we have seen him interact with other cats, he has almost always been friendly. But after Cat Daddy witnessed him attack a passing cat not that long ago, emerging from the dust cloud spitting out lumps of its fur like a Wild West outlaw, we can see that things are changing. Or, as Cat Daddy puts it, “He’s turning into a cantankerous old ****.”

We don’t like the fact that our boy is becoming a trouble-making bruiser, not only because it’s an unpleasant way to be but because, one of these days, someone is going to fight back. Catorze has been fortunate that his opponents – all bigger than him without exception, including three foxes – have chosen to run away, but his luck is going to run out sooner or later.

Come on, Sa Maj. This isn’t how we raised you. Please resolve to be nice in 2022.

What if this IS him being nice?