A few nights ago, after I went to bed, I was kept awake by screaming, thumping, clattering up and down the stairs, all sorts. The next morning, when I found Catorze’s toy mouse on a string on the landing with the stick part broken, I had to ask Cat Daddy what the heck had gone on.
It turned out that Boys’ Club had taken a bit of a manic turn, with Louis Catorze leaping around all wild-eyed and psycho, so Cat Daddy had tried to expend some of his excess energy by playing with him. But Le Roi had played with such ferocity that he’d managed to break the stick. Then he’d grabbed the remaining part of the toy from Cat Daddy’s hand and raced up and down the stairs with it, clattering it against the bannisters as he went.
And, yes, I do mean exactly like in those old prison movies, when the inmates pick up stuff and rattle it against their cell bars.
Now, whilst the sight of a tiny black cat doing this would have been the funniest thing ever, I didn’t really want it when I was trying to get to sleep. Plus it’s bloody weird behaviour.
Incidentally, I checked the moon phase at the time of this incident, and it was waning. Which means the little sod has no excuse whatsoever.
Unfortunately I didn’t catch any evidence on video, and this will probably be one of my deepest life regrets, but here is the broken toy. I guess it’s Catorze’s word against ours.
When it’s this darned hot in the UK, two types of people emerge:
1. Those who stock up on Ambre Solaire and head straight for the beach, even if it’s a 14-hour drive and they have no air conditioning in their cars
It’s horrendous. Just foul beyond belief. Last night was so grim that I came downstairs at 3am to sleep in the kitchen, and Louis Catorze, confused by the change and/or wondering whether I had gone there to die, kept me awake for hours by clambering all over me, screaming. The only saving grace is that I don’t have to go to work in this heat. Except for, erm, today, because it’s exam results day. And, given that assessment and moderation have been completely thrown into disarray by Covid 19, today is going to be more of a cirque de merde than we ever thought possible.
People who live in places hotter than the UK: “You should try living HERE!” No, I really shouldn’t. That’s why I chose here and not there. But thank you. Your comments have been duly noted.
Cats in heatwaves are another matter entirely, and they seem to manage much better than humans. Catorze has been spending his days playing energetically with his catnip toys and sunbathing outside, popping occasionally into his shady spot in the ferns to take a break. Sometimes he joins Cat Daddy at the end of the garden, lying at his feet like a guard dog and scowling at me – an audible scowl, would you believe – should I have the temerity to approach them.
Whilst Cat Daddy and I slow-cook in bed at night, Catorze is either enjoying nocturnal adventures, going exploring as far as Twiggy the greyhound’s house, or napping in his new favourite place: on our laundry basket. I imagine that it has the double benefit of air circulating underneath AND a textured surface on which to squirm and roll. A cooling, massaging/exfoliating spa treatment, if you will.
So it’s all right for him.
But, as any cat owner will understand, it’s all about them. It’s only ever about them.
Here he is on the laundry basket, looking as cute and kittenish as can be. But we know the truth:
During my pre-Sureflap childhood, when any old random punter could – and did – wander into our home and wreak havoc, we would often find scraps of fur indicating that there had been an altercation between our cats and whoever.
Our lovely tuxedo boy, Rambo, had a neighbourhood nemesis (evil Jasper – a black cat, of course, with the most horror-movie cat snarl I have ever heard), and the two of them would have frequent bust-ups. One day Jasper’s mamma mentioned to my mum that Jasper had come home the other night with a wounded ear, and, by some curious coincidence, my mum had found blood on her back doorstep the same day.
That was the beginning of what has come to be our family mantra: “Oh dear, how awful. Must’ve been some other cat.”
Since we’ve had Louis Catorze, we have never seen any evidence of fights with other cats – apart from, erm, the time we took him to the vet with what turned out to be a fight wound, and the vet told Cat Daddy that its position indicated that Catorze was the one who started it.
However, a few days ago, Cat Daddy found this in the back garden:
Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, this is fox fur (approximately 5cm long).
I really hope someone will be able to reassure me that fox fur can just randomly fall off in this way. Otherwise I shall be forced to consider the truly horrifying thought that … shudder … Catorze has been taking them on.
Our road is being resurfaced at the moment, and Cat Daddy has had a good old moan about the fact that the trucks have been waking us up at 7am. Even though he is retired and doesn’t have to go to work. And even though 7am isn’t THAT early.
If you have never had your road resurfaced, I’m sure you can imagine the process. And most cats would not be too pleased about it. Louis Catorze, on the other hand, is relaxed, curious and interested – most likely because of the workmen – and happily sits and listens to the trucks, swishing his tail.
The combination of machinery, toxic air and hot tar make The Front a highly unsuitable place for cats to be right now. And, naturellement, the fact that it is highly unsuitable will make it more inviting than ever. So the Front-facing windows are remaining firmly shut whilst the work is taking place, and we are taking extra care that Catorze doesn’t bolt when we open the front door. The last thing I want is to discover that he has been steamrollered flat and become one with the road surface, and the second-from-last thing I want is for the workmen to knock on the door and ask if the screaming, fanged beast, who got stuck to the tarmac mid-roll, belongs to us.
(And if I may be permitted to have a third-from-last thing, too: I don’t want Sa Maj flirting, rolling and distracting the workmen from their duties, resulting in what was meant to be a long weekend of roadworks taking a month. Trust me, he would do it without hesitation.)
This picture, taken last spring, demonstrates perfectly why the road needed resurfacing and also why Catorze can’t be trusted unsupervised at The Front:
Louis Catorze remains relentlessly and unnervingly punctual when it comes to his Front Curfew (10pm on weekdays and 10:30pm on weekends). He has never been late, not once, not even by a minute. It’s actually getting creepy now.
On Tuesday night, when we were a little later than usual after watching Brentford play Fulham in the EFL Championship play-offs (don’t even ask how that went), Cat Daddy decided to grant his boy a late pass until 11pm.
Me, as Cat Daddy opened the window: “Would you remind him that he has to be back by 11pm?”
Cat Daddy: “What, you actually want me to say it?”
Me: “Yes, please.”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]
Cat Daddy, to Catorze: “11pm, please.”
Catorze, as he bounded out: “Mwah!”
Cat Daddy, muttering under his breath: “[Unrepeatable expletives]”
Unusually, instead of hanging around on the window sill, this time Catorze took off down the street, and I was convinced that that was the last we would see of him that night.
When Cat Daddy put out the recycling, he could just about make out Catorze’s silly shape rolling undignifiedly all over the pavement outside the gate of number 35 (or thereabouts). But he knew the futility of trying to herd him back in, because the little sod would only dart under a parked car and there would be no retrieving him from there.
We had no choice but to make some tea and sit with the window open, steeling ourselves for the fact that this could be a long night.
Then, before we knew it, the little sod was back. I checked the clock and it was 10:57pm.
We haven’t the faintest idea what to make of this. Yes, we are pleased that he is sticking rigidly to the rules and doing as he’s told. But we’re also bewildered. And terrified.
After Louis Catorze’s biopsy confirmed that his skin problems are due to an external allergen, I decided that beeswax candles should become a permanent fixture here at Le Château. Have a look at this link if you fancy finding out more about their air-purifying qualities: https://candles.lovetoknow.com/Beeswax_Candle_Health_Benefits
We usually get our beeswax candles from Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma, but her beeswax is a very precious, seasonal, small-batch product. So, because her candles aren’t available all year round, we tend to save them for special days. And, after a number of hits and misses with other ready-made beeswax candles, I decided to have a go at making my own for everyday use.
Now, I had some reservations about doing this, for the following reasons: firstly, and most significantly, I don’t have a great record of handmade things turning out well. Secondly, many years ago, I had a horrible work colleague who made candles, and this was a hobby that the 25-year-old me regarded as deeply uncool. Whenever she was mean to me, my friend Jamie would attempt to cheer me up by saying, “Don’t be upset. She’s an idiot. Plus she makes candles for fun. FOR FUN.”
(Incidentally, karma gave her a hefty slap around the chops during one summer heatwave. All her carefully-crafted candles, stored away in her hot attic, melted together into one massive, waxy lump, resulting in inconvenience and mess for her, and the biggest laugh imaginable for me and Jamie. Revenge isn’t always a dish best served cold; sometimes searing heat will do just fine.)
Never before did I imagine I would now be doing that very same deeply uncool hobby. But here we are. And it’s all Catorze’s fault.
Cat Daddy: “You’re making candles? You used to ridicule your friend for doing that.”
Me: “SHE WAS NOT MY FRIEND.”
Cat Daddy: “And you laughed at her when she put her candles in the attic and they all melted.”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets, then giggles from me]
Oh, come on. Anyone who claims not to find that funny is either a liar or dead inside.
Anyway, pictured below is my first attempt at a rolled candle using a Lammasy harvest-coloured natural beeswax sheet. Also pictured are the ten wicks that I ordered, which I imagined would be, erm, approximately as long as an average candle, but each one turned out to be 5 METRES LONG. So everyone I know will be receiving handmade beeswax candles for birthdays and Christmas for the next 734 years. Whether they want them or not.
It’s hard to know whether Catorze approves, as his “I approve” face is the same as his “Just go away and die” face, but I shall assume the former even though it’s most likely the latter.
I know that you don’t need to be told about not leaving pets unsupervised with burning candles, but it’s worth repeating. Especially if you have a pet who is known for doing exactly the opposite of what you want.
The next one will be on 2nd September, and the following month we will have not one but TWO full moons, with the first taking place on 1st October and the second on the 31st.
A full moon on Hallowe’en is a rare thing, only occurring once every 19 years or so. There have been a couple of Hallowe’en full moons in my lifetime but, regretfully, I was unaware of them at the time. So, in many ways, this will be the first one for me, and I intend to make the most of it as if it were the only one.
Long before Covid 19, Cat Daddy and I had talked about going away to celebrate, for instance to Mexico for El Día de los Muertos. But, with travel being unpredictable and likely to remain as such for some time, we will be at home this Hallowe’en. And, in many ways, this is the best thing, because how could we not celebrate a full moon Hallowe’en with a black vampire cat?
(Also: had we gone away, our poor, unsuspecting chat-sitteur(s) would have been stuck with Louis Catorze and his stupid shite, and that wouldn’t have been very fair.)
The downside, of course, is Catorze’s psycho behaviour. He is pretty unhinged at the best of times, but he is noticeably worse during the run-up to Hallowe’en and during full moons. So, with both events combining, we are going to need to stockpile our arsenal of defensive weapons: crucifixes, Valium, aluminium foil to cover the windows, the works.
Here is Catorze in a pose which, although terrifying, is a relief to have caught on camera, as people will finally start to believe me when I say how creepy he is. Even though the little sod was all the way outside, his stare was so intense and unnerving that Cat Daddy actually FELT it and called me to come and look.
And I think this is Catorze’s way of saying, “Bring it on.”
Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, with Heathrow (6 miles away) hitting 37.8 degrees. Louis Catorze dealt with this by, erm, escaping out to the south-facing, waterless Front when Cat Daddy returned from the food bank. When I retrieved him two hours later, he had leaves stuck to his fur and was screaming his guts out. Then, when the sun passed to The Back, he went there to sunbathe when the temperature reached its peak.
In other, better news, it’s the festival of Lammas today, which is traditionally a celebration of the grain harvest, bread and baking. So how wonderful it is that we have recently discovered wheat – yes, ACTUAL WHEAT – randomly growing in our garden at The Back.
Unfortunately we only have five stalks which are barely enough to yield a teaspoonful of flour, not that I have the slightest idea of how to turn it from grains into flour. Plus I don’t even really like baking and am spectacularly bad at it. But free food is free food, non? So I intend to treat our wheat stalks with love in the hope that they will multiply, but we will need to take into account the Catorze risk factor. He has never shown much interest in that particular part of The Back before but, now that I want him to stay away from it, we all know what he’ll do, don’t we?
We know absolutely nothing about cultivating wheat, so are very much open to advice. And, should you know – and be willing to share – the secret of keeping a cat who always does the opposite of what you want, from doing the one thing that you don’t want him to do, we would be very grateful indeed. (We’ve spent 6 years trying to figure that one out, with zero success.)
If you fancy entering into the Lammas spirit but your baking is anything like mine, you might like to check out the link below from Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma. I highly recommend her Hen Corner courses and, should you attend an in-person course (with safe distancing and hygiene measures in place), you will actually get to meet Cocoa and Chanel!
Before we open the living room window in the evening, we always go through the following ritual with Catorze:
Me: “You know you have to be back by 10pm, don’t you?”
Me: “10pm. Is that clear? Meow once for yes, twice for no.”
Cat Daddy, without looking up from the television: “He can’t understand you. He’s French.”
Unbelievably, the little sod has made it indoors almost every night at 9:57pm.
The only exceptions were yesterday, when he rolled in at 10pm on the dot, and last weekend, when Cat Daddy allowed him a half hour weekend extension and he came in at 10:24pm on Saturday and 10:28pm on Sunday.
(And, yes, I know that a weekend extension is nonsensical since Catorze doesn’t have a working week from which he needs to wind down, nor does he even know what a weekend is.)
Other than being creeped out by the fact that notre cher ami can apparently tell the time with some precision, we are trying not to read too much into this. Anyone who was ever grounded by their parents as a teenager knows that a run of good behaviour is highly suspicious. At best, it’s a trick to get the curfewer(s) off their case and to convince them to bring forward the lifting of the curfew. And, at worst, it’s a cover for a stunt even more outrageous than the one that caused the curfew to be imposed in the first place.
Anyway, here is Catorze, choosing to spend a glorious summer’s day holed up in a dark and distinctly unclassy place. And, yes, the wording on the box is somewhat ironic given that cats’ arses are not nice things at all.