Le dernier mois

It’s December and, whilst we haven’t had any snow in London, it’s cold.

Louis Catorze is firmly back in his autumn-winter igloo. He has been known to spend all day in there, even foregoing food and drink (I am not overjoyed about this) and eventually crawling out at 9pm, all dishevelled and blinking at the light like a little cave gremlin, to sit on his daddy’s lap. For a while we were quite worried about him and almost whisked him off to the vet, but now normal service has resumed and he’s back to screaming and being a shite.

Cat Daddy: “Maybe he wasn’t ill. Maybe he’s so thick that he just forgot to wake up” (?).

The igloo, which was gifted by one of his beloved pilgrims, has been in the living room for a couple of months but he didn’t set paw in it throughout that time, no doubt because the weather was so mild. However, the Arctic blast brought by Storm Arwen was obviously too much to bear, and he has now retreated so deep inside that there’s no budging him. (Catorze is notoriously difficult to shift from his igloo once bedded in; if we need to get him out, for a vet visit or a pill, for instance, Cat Daddy has been known to pick up the entire igloo and shake it, like shaking vinegar over chips*. Catorze clings on for dear life and eventually exits the igloo with all the urgency of a very viscous, gloopy, screaming sauce.)

*Non-Brits: ask your British friends.

Cat Daddy and I are both quite happy that Catorze has rediscovered his igloo. As well as giving us some peace at night, it also keeps him out of mischief somewhat (Catorze, I mean, not Cat Daddy).

Here is the little sod, enjoying his cosy bed:

He’s in there somewhere.

Les yeux sur nous

A few updates from us at Le Château:

I am still alive. This is good news, although I still think death would have been kinder because I now have to live out my days knowing I have indirectly had cat arse in my mouth. And our holiday apartment hosts have emailed Cat Daddy to thank him for leaving the place clean and tidy, and have said he is welcome to return anytime. This is also good, if surprising, news.

However, Deliveroo, having pocketed the £100 cost of the order that never came, have still not refunded Cat Daddy and have closed the case because he “failed to respond to their emails”. (He DID respond, multiple times.) This is not quite such good news.

And, in even less optimal news, Louis Catorze has taken his food-driven creepy staring to another level. As well as staring from a distance, staring from close up, and the more passive-aggressive sitting by his bowl looking dejected, he has now begun to creepy-stare whilst we watch television in the dark.

Now, having him stare in the dark may not sound that bad, since a black cat in a dark room is technically invisible. However, this is what we’re faced with:

For heaven’s sake.

I know. It’s just not on.

I fear that the little sod may be channelling his big brother Luther, who practically INVENTED food-driven bullying and intimidation. If his pleas for food were ignored and his creepy staring didn’t work, he would take to sliding objects off the table, with his eyes fixed unblinkingly upon mine. If that didn’t work, he would jump up on top of the television and dangle one limb down over the screen, then another limb, then his tail. And if THAT didn’t work, he would pad about on top of the television and find the power button to switch it off.

This chap would be proud of his little brother for following in his foodsteps.

Because Catorze is considerably less bright than Luther, it has taken him seven years to get to this point. But the fact that he’s got this far is alarming (our expectations were pretty low).

I know that the only solution is not to look at him. But, just like those people who can’t tear their eyes away from a horrible car accident whilst passing, we can’t help it.

Un fromage gras nourrit bien des vers

I am very upset, because I have consumed food from a plate that was licked by Louis Catorze. And, yes, I am fully aware that cats lick their arses. That’s why I am upset.

Ordinarily I would die a thousand deaths before anything licked by a cat touched my mouth. But, on this occasion, I just … FORGOT. I know. It’s embarrassing and pathetic.

I had settled down in the living room with a plate of Woodlands Melbury ewe’s milk cheese, and Catorze was on my lap. After I had finished the cheese, very unusually the little sod went to my plate and licked it from one side to the other, cleaning it of every microscopic crumb. Yes, I know that I only posted a few days ago to say that he didn’t really like cheese other than organic aged Comté. Now, it seems that either he has changed his mind, or the weird space-time fabric warp that took place last Friday is still in effect.

Anyway, after finishing my cheese, I wanted something sweet but couldn’t fetch it myself because I was trapped under Catorze, so I texted Cat Daddy and asked him to bring me some coconut. He brought me a big chunk on a chopping board, with a knife, and obviously I should have cut it up on the chopping board and eaten the bits from there. But I didn’t. I put the bits on the plate, and I only remembered the painful truth about the plate when I had eaten all the pieces but one.

Naturellement I have Googled “Will eating cat saliva kill me?” and it seems that it’s only life-threatening if it enters the blood stream, but the idea of it is so gut-wrenchingly vile that I would actually rather choose death. But I want a quick death. I don’t want the slow one that would come from worms eating me from my mouth downwards. (I am convinced that I can feel cat arse tapeworms slithering around in my mouth, in the same way that, if you talk at length about ants or fleas, eventually you’re sure that your skin is alive with them.)

So here I am, waiting to die. And Catorze is by my side, urging me to hurry up so that he can have Cat Daddy all to himself.

“Merde, she’s still alive.”

La piqûre royale

We have had a right old rigmarole this year with Louis Catorze’s booster vaccination.

He was due to have it in September but, because he needed an antibiotic shot after his dental surgery, he couldn’t have the booster in the same appointment, as planned. Then supplies of the vaccine ran out, with replenishments not due until early December.

To complicate things further, because Catorze also needs a steroid shot which can’t be administered alongside the booster, the out-of-stock problem royally messed with the timings. In short, to guarantee him a timely booster in December, we’ve been having to choose between giving him steroid shots when he didn’t need them, or NOT giving him steroid shots when he DID need them. Naturellement we opted for the former.

We were due to take him for a not-urgently-needed steroid shot on Monday, when he decided to go completely psycho an hour before the appointment.

He was racing around, attacking invisible prey and leaping in and out of Blue the Smoke Bengal’s mamma’s Thank You For Cat-Sitting gift bag. Somehow he managed to loosen the lid on one of the jars in the bag, leaking fruit jelly everywhere, so I had to wipe down the containers and give them away bagless. (Catorze kept the bag as a play yurt, jelly residue and all.)

More worryingly, he was also chasing his tail. Although he was doing it playfully, and not in the steady, trance-like way that he did when he had Feline Hyperesthesia*, I didn’t want him reminding himself of how much fun it is to chew his tail. So I had to unleash the toy that I’d bought him for Yule, to take his mind off his tail and to wear him out a little.

*If you have the time and the inclination, have a look through the blog entries from December 2016 to February-ish 2017, for the full horror of this. Feline Hyperesthesia is a horrible condition like no other I’ve ever seen, and for most cats it means medication for life. Catorze, being the oddity that he is, is the only cat I’ve known to recover from it and to no longer require medication. (Obviously he still needs it for the other 7,052 things that are wrong with him, but not for Feline Hyperesthesia.)

During the short journey to the vet, and upon arrival there, an utterly unworn-out Catorze screamed his guts out, so much so that a massive Dulux dog in the waiting room barked at him to shut up. (He didn’t.) I wasn’t looking forward to giving an already-manic cat an injection that would make him worse, but then our vet delivered the joyous news that the vaccine had come in early.

Merci. À. Dieu.

So we swapped treatments, and Catorze had his booster instead of his steroid shot.

We are most relieved that little sod is no longer running around like a gun-toting, placard-bearing anti-vaxxer. (You’ve seen the trouble he causes WITHOUT a gun and a placard, so can you imagine him WITH them?) And, with his steroid shot not due for another week or two, perhaps we can look forward to a brief peaceful interlude before his madness starts again.

What would it say on his placard? All suggestions welcome.

La vie serait tragique si elle n’était pas drôle

There are two main schools of thought regarding a black cat crossing one’s path: either good luck is on its way, or everything is about to turn to merde.

I was of the former but, since various misfortunes befell us during our weekend away, I am less sure. And the fact that it was also a full moon, no doubt, made everything worse.

Not actually that well hidden. Whatever.

After an excruciating journey full of traffic jams and detours, we arrived at our destination just in time to catch the pub before 9pm, when it stopped serving food. As we walked there we met a plushy little black cat, not much bigger than Louis Catorze, who squeaked at me and let me stroke her.

Cat Daddy: “A black cat crossing our path. Not good.”

Me: “Don’t be silly. They’re good luck.”

The pub had decided to stop serving food half an hour earlier than usual, so we missed out. We returned to our rental apartment and ordered a takeaway but Driver Christian didn’t deliver it, despite the app’s claim that he did, and Deliveroo have now conveniently suspended Cat Daddy’s account due to “suspicious activity” (?).

During the wait for our third attempt at food, Cat Daddy consumed what my niece would call “a non-reasonable amount” of Pinot Grigio, and that was when things seriously nosedived.

I asked Cat Daddy to make me a cup of tea, and he thought the kettle was one of those stove-top whistling ones. It wasn’t; it was just a normal one that you switch on. He put it on the hob, left it unattended for a couple of minutes and it caught fire, splattering molten plastic everywhere.

Me: “We’re going to have to tell [the owners of the flat] what happened.”

Cat Daddy: “WHAT? You’d be a useless criminal. You’d be the first one running to the police to confess.”

Me: “But if they notice anything, which they will, we’ll need to say SOMETHING.”

Cat Daddy: “It’ll be fine. I’ll just tell them that nothing happened and that we didn’t burn the kettle.”

Me: “…”

Cat Daddy: “It’s that ****ing black cat, I’m telling you.”

Me: “…”

Cat Daddy: “And it’s your fault, too, because you’re the one who wanted tea.”

Me: “…”

Thanks to the impressive clean-up job by two of our family members, involving scraping dripping plastic off the surfaces with a spoon, we managed to make the place look passably presentable. The next day, instead of having a relaxed brunch, Cat Daddy and I drove around a town that we didn’t know, looking for a kettle identical to the one he’d torched and also a washing-up bowl to replace the one that didn’t survive the molten plastic attack.

This time luck was on our side and, unbelievably, we found them.

The apartment now has a new kettle and washing-up bowl, the old ones have been wiped of fingerprints and are sleeping with the fishes, and, after some nifty work with an emery board (in lieu of sandpaper) on the wooden surface splodges, nobody would know that there had been a mishap.

Meanwhile, back in TW8, Louis Catorze was perfectly angelic for Blue the Smoke Bengal’s mamma, draping himself all over her during her visits, eating all his food and refraining from escaping out at The Front. Was our chain of disasters the fault of the squeaky holiday cat … or did Catorze cause some sort of butterfly-effect space-time fabric warp by behaving impeccably elsewhere?

Two lessons have been learned from this calamitous saga:

1. Cat Daddy knows that he can trust us to bury bodies for him. Not that he’s planning to murder anyone. But, y’know, just in case.

2. If you try to escape from one bastard black cat, its or another’s bullshittery will still find you.

“Don’t blame moi. Not ma faute.”

Le chat de la fromagerie

Cat Daddy took this picture when he was at the Westcombe Cheddar dairy not long ago.

I would also look this smug if I lived in a dairy.

Now, for most normal cats, living in a place where they make cheese must be the most wonderful thing on earth. I know that dairy isn’t great for cats but, if your cat is generally healthy, I don’t think the occasional sliver does them any harm. And, let’s face it, they will bug us for it whether it’s good for them or not.

However, Louis Catorze has ridiculously stringent standards when it comes to human food, and most cheese doesn’t interest him in the slightest. In many ways this makes our lives easier as we can leave anything lying around and trust him not to eat it. However, it can make bribery very difficult as he won’t accept just any old thing as a pill conduit … and you can be sure that, if he takes to something for a short while, he will inexplicably stop.

Here is a summary of his OUI list:

⁃ Organic aged Comté

⁃ Jambon de Bayonne

⁃ Jamón Ibérico

⁃ Pâté de Bruxelles (although not for long; he soon tires of this)

⁃ Tuna rillettes (ditto)

⁃ Medium-rare fillet steak

And his NON list:

⁃ Cheddar

⁃ Jambon de campagne

⁃ Jamón Serrano

⁃ Any type of pâté or pâté-like product not mentioned abve

⁃ Well-done fillet steak (although I can’t blame him on this one)

I think Catorze would be a very useful dairy employee; he would never attempt to steal the product, plus he has a built-in anti-contaminant alarm due to his skill of bird-chattering at impinging bugs. That said, it will be a cold day in hell before he WORKS for a living.

“Je ne veux pas travailler.”

Il est top-model et il est beau

Puppy Mamma has a craft business selling all manner of delightful things, and she has just gone live on Not On The High Street. If you live in the U.K. (we do) and know any pets who have been good this year (we don’t), I highly recommend her personalised, handmade pet decorations.

For reasons that I cannot comprehend, Puppy Mamma wanted Louis Catorze to model for her page. I know. We didn’t get it, either. I did warn her that he was the worst photographic model on the planet, but she didn’t listen. She came over one afternoon to photograph Sa Maj with his decoration … and, naturellement, the little sod posed beautifully for her. I was both very proud and sick to my stomach.

Here is Puppy Mamma’s page on Not On The High Street, featuring Gizzy the [insert name of species], Sooty (Puppy Mamma’s next-door babysit cat) and Sa Maj. Cat Daddy now can’t stop humming a certain Kraftwerk* song, and is deciding what his boy’s fee should be.

*Younger followers: ask your grandparents.

This is how he poses for me.

Le parc à chiens

I have just had the last of my set of cycling lessons with Cat Daddy’s friend Gerard. (It was supposed to happen ages ago, but then I had appendicitis and somehow I haven’t got around to rearranging it until now.)

We usually choose Monday morning as our cycling day, because there are fewer people in the parks than on a weekend. However: DOGS. Mon Dieu. Cycling in a park with dogs is like cycling in and out of moving land mines.

The horrors we were forced to endure during our last session included the following:

1. A russet-coloured sausage dog who sat stone-still in the middle of the path whilst his human was on the phone*, then sprang out in front of me just as we attempted to overtake him. The human did apologise but it was a dismissive kind of “Sorry” … and she remained on the phone.

2. A large, honey-coloured Labrador-type beast who chased us, barking, whilst his human was on the phone*. Gerard decided to bark back at him, which scared him witless and sent him packing.

3. A brown and white spaniel-type thing who offered us his stick, whilst his human was on the phone*. Gerard picked it up and threw it just a fraction of a second before his brain informed him that doing so was a legally-binding contract and that, from that moment onwards, he was obliged to keep throwing the stick forever more. We then had to cycle extra fast to get away from him.

*Do you see a pattern emerging here?

Cats, surely, are less trouble than this? Well, ok, Louis Catorze isn’t. But most normal cats are, right?

Catorze can be seen here, pondering that question and also wondering exactly who these “normal cats” might be:

Sa Maj says “normal” is overrated.

Qu’il mange de la brioche

Cat Daddy and I are going away later this month, and Blue the Smoke Bengal’s mamma will be on Louis Catorze duty during our absence.

We are feeling both relief at the prospect of getting away from his nonsense for a couple of days, and moderate anxiety in case he plays up on her watch. Blue is a very easy cat to look after, with just dry food and water (plus the odd pigeon but, since he puts them under his mamma’s bed and cat-sitting duties don’t stretch to looking there, it’s her problem and not mine). Catorze is, erm, rather more complicated.

Yesterday Blue’s mamma came over for dinner and for her Roi orientation, and I wasn’t especially looking forward to telling her that she would need to come in 48 times a day, each time dispensing 0.125 scoops of food sprinkled with 6.3ml of water heated to exactly 100 degrees. Luckily, after a few glasses of Crémant, she seemed to take it quite well. At worst, if he refuses to eat for the entire time that we’re away, he can just live off his body fat like a hibernating grizzly bear (but a much smaller one, obviously).

Here he is, having decided to do an Insulate Britain-style sit-down protest this time. I wouldn’t put it past him to have glued himself to the floor:

“Feed moi.”

Le repos de l’âme

After a month of partying in the run-up to Hallowe’en, my liver is dying. So I am firmly on the wagon until at least the end of the month, longer if I can manage it, and I have resumed the exercise regime that had fallen by the wayside.

Louis Catorze – who, incidentally, is still brimming with energy, despite having partied twice as hard as the rest of us – is profoundly displeased about this. The exercise, I mean. Obviously he doesn’t know what the wagon is, nor does he know whether or not I am on it, nor would he give a hoot if he did.

That said, he doesn’t even give a hoot about the exercise as such. He is only displeased about it because it’s a change to his morning routine, and therefore it’s an inconvenience to him. Normally I would be sipping tea at 6:30am with him on my lap, but these days he has to find his own entertainment a couple of times a week whilst I do my step and weights workout. And, on the last few occasions, what passed for “entertainment” in his world was circling my step as I did my sit-ups, screaming his lungs out.

Yes, he has been accidentally hit on the rump with a dumbbell and/or kettlebell numerous times. No, it doesn’t deter him in the slightest.

Obviously I don’t have my camera in my hands when he’s doing the circling and screaming. But this picture, taken by Cat Daddy, shows exactly the sort of face he gives me:

Look at that gap where the lower fang used to be.