La lune bleue

Ugh. Another night of my cat, who typically just shuts up and cuddles quietly in bed, padding up and down my body, purring, clambering over packing cases and popping bubble wrap (!) in the room next door, all the while singing the anthem of his forefathers. A couple of threads on a Facebook cat forum revealed that many of the members’ cats have also been behaving in a similar loopy fashion lately, and someone had suggested that it could be linked to tomorrow’s Blue Moon.

Also, Louis Catorze somehow managed to fashion E.T.’s face out of his food last night (see below – no Photoshop or fakery used here), which is conclusive proof of something spooky in the air. Is there a mysterious alien mothership somewhere, silently commanding all our furry overlords to simultaneously annoy the crap out of us? Could the moon BE that very mothership?  For those who aren’t familiar with the moon and its workings, a full moon is (obviously) when the moon appears as a whole disc in the sky, and a Blue Moon is when this happens for the second time within a calendar month. And, because a Blue Moon doesn’t happen very often (hence the expression “Once in a blue moon”), it’s regarded as an especially enchanted time. Accidents, criminal behaviour and hospital admissions (for humans) are said to be more numerous during a full moon; could something similar be true for cats, too?

I consulted our good friend Google for advice, and discovered a wealth of information confirming that the full moon was, indeed, responsible for nutso behaviour among both humans and animals. For instance, the word “lunatic” originates from the belief that the moon’s changes cause insanity. And, on an unrelated note, be very afraid, men of the world: apparently women are programmed to menstruate during the full moon, all at the same time, but the only reason we don’t is because artificial stimulation from electric lights, computers etc. has overridden nature. I told this to Cat Daddy and he sort of pretended not to hear me, muttering something about chocolate and asking God to help him.

Anyway, the one piece of information that really stood out was this: “It’s not the full moon, it’s the night. Night people are a whole subset of the population, and the lore includes night beings such as vampires and werewolves.” Seriously? I’m to expect potential sleep deprivation at the paws of Louis Catorze EVERY SINGLE NIGHT? I was so shocked that it put me off Google for a whole hour.

So it seems I shall never sleep again, but Cat Daddy can’t help but feel slightly intrigued about our boy being some sort of otherworldly monstre. I guess we kind of suspected it anyway as he’s black with vampire teeth and a bit of a weirdo, so Cat Daddy reckons we need to encourage the flourishing of this intrinsic penchant for the night, rather than pushing him off us and swearing at him. Will his nocturnal annoyances escalate at Halloween? What about the winter solstice, when 18 hours out of 24 are in darkness? Cat Daddy is quite excited about finding out. I myself think I can live without it.

La cire d’abeilles


Oh dear. Louis Catorze’s right eye is starting to look bald and puffy around the edges. I don’t know why this is happening just as we make some headway in cleaning up the dust, but I suspect it’s because he has managed to slip past me and into the Forbidden Greenhouse on a few occasions. (Unfortunately we’ve discovered that the greenhouse door won’t shut: the hinges have rusted and wedged it firmly open, and not even Cat Daddy has managed to shift it. Plus there are numerous missing or broken panes of glass so, even if we did manage to close the door, Louis Catorze would still be able to get in.)

We’ve still not located his Piriton, so today I had to schlep to the pharmacy to get more. Fortunately I have had more luck finding the beeswax candles, which – provided they are 100% beeswax, as mine are – clean the air as they burn and are said to reduce asthma and allergies; I myself have found them very helpful during the hay fever season, and, on a couple of occasions, they have even encouraged Louis Catorze out of La Cage after one of his Post-Itch Sulks. Regular tealight candles – the kind that you buy in bulk from the supermarket – are made of paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum refining and which begins life as gross sludge at the bottom of a crude oil barrel. Then, in our misguided belief that we are setting a romantic and sensual mood, we set fire to it and send its toxins pumping into our homes and our lungs – lovely.

So I’ve tracked down the beeswax candles, but where on earth am I supposed to put them so that Louis Catorze can reap the maximum benefit? Yesterday he spent the ENTIRE day in the suitcase in our spare room, but it doesn’t seem remotely sensible to leave candles unattended in a room containing lots of brittle cardboard boxes and a stupid cat. Alternatively there’s the Forbidden Greenhouse, but I’m highly put off by the idea of being seen by the neighbours and having to explain why I’m leaving candles there. “Oh, they’re for my allergic cat.” Right.

In the end I lit one in the living room and opened all the doors, hoping that its pollutant-killing magical beam would somehow spread through Le Château. If nothing else, there’s something very calming and hypnotic about watching a candle flame flickering and dancing. So, at best, this will have a positive effect on my boy and, at worst, it will make no difference but I will be so relaxed that I won’t care.

J’adore mon nouveau lit


Good news: Louis Catorze has found a new day bed which isn’t the greenhouse. Bad news: it’s in my suitcase of not-yet-unpacked-because-there’s-nowhere-to-put-them clothes, including an unworn t-shirt with the label still attached, which I was intending to return to the shop.

Luckily my gratitude that he hasn’t picked a dusty sleeping spot outweighs my crossness about the t-shirt, so I’ve resisted the temptation to drag him out. It is, however, mildly annoying that he would prefer to be here than on any of the vast array of expensive anti-allergy human and pet bedding that we have all over Le Château.

I decided there was nothing much I could do but make the best of it, so I flung his bioenergetics pendant into the suitcase with him. I often wake up in the night worried that the pendant has fallen off the bed, or anxious that Louis Catorze is sleeping further away from it than the minimum requirement of 3 inches. Also, in my half-asleep scrabble around to try and locate it, my hand wanders uncomfortably close to Louis Catorze’s arse and then I have to get up and wash it. (My hand, I mean.)

So it’s a multiple and universal win: my boy gets to keep his sleeping place of choice, he gets close proximity to, and therefore maximum absorption of, the pendant’s magical healing rays, and I get a more restful night’s sleep without fear of touching his lower portions. Let’s just hope a piece of scrunched Sellotape will do the job on my t-shirt, and that the shop won’t realise that it’s had cat hair and cat arse on it.

La poussière, Partie 2

Somebody is banned from the gross, dusty greenhouse, and that somebody’s name starts with “L” and ends with “ouis Catorze”. Can you guess who it is?  Little sod’s eyes have been looking leathery and weepy again, so the greenhouse is now officially out of bounds. (I told him this the other day but he ignored me, sneakily bypassing my human blockade and escaping out of the bathroom window via the toilet cistern.) I don’t know where he’s going to go for his daytime mega-nap, but that’s his problem to fix.

Curiously, he wasn’t TOO bad with the dust from all the building work going on, which got me wondering whether inorganic dust from freshly-sanded walls could somehow be more sterile, and therefore more tolerable, than organic dust teeming with stale cobwebs and the remains of dead flies? In fact … don’t cobwebs pretty much come from a spider’s arse? Ugh.

Anyway, it was the perfect time to FINALLY find Louis Catorze’s bioenergetics remedy, which consists of a liquid to drop into his drinking water and a bioenergetics pendant to place in his bedding. He tends to sleep with us at night so I will be putting the pendant in our bed, much to Cat Daddy’s amusement – although, if he and I also emerge from this exercise glossy-haired and smooth-skinned thanks to the pendant’s magical force field, he will be forced to mange his mots.

Whether you believe in alternative medicine or not, something about the pendant is drawing Louis Catorze. I left them both on the bed this morning about 5cm apart, and my boy had his back to the pendant. This is how I found them when I returned:   

Ça fait 1 an! 


Louis Catorze has been with us for exactly a year! (The picture above was taken the day after he arrived – I love it because it shows his gorgeous squashed boxer’s nose.) We’d only lost Luther a month beforehand and it seemed very soon to be getting another cat, but being catless was making us sad. I don’t think there is a right or wrong time to get another cat after losing one, but my advice would be, “If in doubt, do it anyway.” At worst, you will be giving a cat a home and freeing up a rescue centre place for another one who needs it. And, at best, you will have a cat!

(Cat Daddy has just read the above over my shoulder and said, “What about the cat hair everywhere? And the muddy paw prints? And being woken up at 3am just for a chat? And being completely bled dry financially because he needs special this and special that?” Oh yeah. There’s that, too.)

I’ll be honest: we were initially drawn to Louis Catorze because he looked so much like Luther in his photos. And when I called his foster mamma to arrange to meet him and she warned me about his protruding vampire teeth, being a bit of a black cat / horror movie / Halloween fiend, that just made me want him even more. At that point we knew we would adopt him even though we hadn’t met him, and there really wasn’t a lot he could have done at that first meeting to change my mind (although gnawing off my fingers might have been a bit offputting) so, on the first Sunday of my summer holidays, we brought him home.

Luther had settled in fully within 3 days, so we had an expectation that Louis Catorze would do the same thing. He didn’t. Although he was affectionate, for the first few months he spent 23.5 hours a day asleep and Cat Daddy even wondered whether we should return him to the rescue centre as he clearly wasn’t happy with us. But he got there in the end, just more slowly than most. In fact, that pretty much sums up his approach to everything in life.

We plan to mark this special day by giving him love and cuddles and letting him do what he wants. (So, erm, totally different from a normal day, then.) We are so happy to have this sweet, itchy little soul in our lives, and we really hope that, despite not being the brightest, he realises that.

Le jour de gloire est arrivé!


It’s official: The King has left the building.

Not only that, but he then rolled on the garden path, covering himself in dust and making Tom the decorator laugh, and re-entered the building. All in the space of a few minutes. To say we are in disbelief is an understatement; can this really be the same dumbo cat who took half a year to do the same thing at Le Palais?

So this morning was spent taking photos and sending them to anyone who cared (and plenty of people who probably didn’t), much to the amusement of Tom the decorator. We don’t speak the same language so I’m not able to explain what a big deal this is; if anyone knows the Polish for “My cat took 6 months to use the cat flap in our previous house yet he’s just done it here in a day, so I have to mark this auspicious occasion by taking lots of photos and posting them online for the amusement of strangers,” please let me know. Otherwise I guess I’ll just have to leave him thinking I’m a complete nutjob.

Whilst I’m inordinately proud of my boy, this now leaves me with something of a content dearth for my blog. I had planned for at least 6 months of cat flap progress – or lack of progress – updates, which have now been rendered redundant thanks to Louis Catorze’s shock succès. I have no idea what I will write about now, yet I trust him to inspire me as he always does.

Vive Le Roi!

Le Tunnel

  
Tomorrow, Mesdames et Messieurs, is the day when we will be training Louis Catorze to use Le Tunnel. Until now we’ve kept it hidden from view by leaning a big floor tile against it, because we didn’t want him to attempt to use it whilst locked and then be discouraged from ever trying again. So we decided that we would unveil it to him when he’s allowed to use it, on a weekend day when we will be around to fix any mishaps or release the silly sod if he gets trapped.

My main concerns are as follows: 

  • There is a 25cm tunnel through the wall (whereas he’s used to a cat flap in a door)
  • The opening is quite high in the wall so Louis Catorze will have to make some effort to climb up into it
  • He is really stupid 

The problem last time was that Louis Catorze didn’t understand that he had to push the door with his head (maybe because, as a mighty monarch who commands a nation, he is used to having lowly peasants open doors for him). For those who aren’t familiar with the workings of a Sureflap chatière, kitty needs to push with his head to allow the reader to read his microchip; contrary to non-Sureflap-owners’ belief, the chatière doesn’t open from a distance, not even a short one. So Louis Catorze’s failure to push meant he didn’t get out. 

The Sureflap manufacturer recommends getting your cat used to it by first removing the batteries and using it as a standard cat flap, but even this proved problematic as the requirement to push was still there. Eventually we discovered that Louis Catorze would push if the door were taped open a fraction but, of course, word soon spread about the free All You Can Eat (Until You Get Caught) self-service diner, and we then had every cat in the neighbourhood stopping by for a cheeky bit of bouffe. (That sounds filthy, but “bouffe” means “food”, I promise.)

Then one day, after around 5 months of us trying everything we could think of including spraying the door with catnip (made no difference), and sticking opaque paper over it just in case it was the transparency that freaked him out (also made no difference), he just went out. Once only, mind, but still! A few weeks later he’d cracked it. 

So it really could go either way tomorrow: un grand succès or un désastre total. I can’t help but have high hopes for my dear boy despite the fact that, in order for the Sureflap to initially register him as a user, Cat Daddy had to stuff him undignifiedly through it as one would stuff a duvet cover into the washing machine.

Le jardin est magnifique

  
Now, I know what people say about keeping cats indoors when you move house, and the advice I’ve read online suggests a confinement period of anything from 1 week to 1 month. However, yesterday we opened the patio doors and gave Louis Catorze a bit of supervised time outside despite originally saying we wouldn’t do it until at least 14 days in. My main reason was to give the poor little sod a bit of time out of the dust; the night before last he woke us up a couple of times doing his horrible itch-yelp combination, and, trust me, if you heard your cat make that sound, you’d want to let them out, too. Plus I know every crease and fold of my boy’s face and I know that, when the inside corners of his eyes start to redden and look leathery and thick, it’s because they’re swelling up. 

I realise that others will disagree with me whatever my reasons, but I thought potentially reducing his suffering for a few minutes was a pretty good one. Here are the others anyway: 

  • It’s bloody hot and humid indoors and we just couldn’t keep the doors shut any longer
  • It’s even hotter and more humid, I imagine, when you’re a black animal covered in fur
  • We live in a mid-terrace house backing onto a school, with no way out to The Front and The Main Road unless you cross 20 gardens (and, believe me, Louis Catorze has no inclination to do this because he’s just too lazy) so we figured he’d be safe, plus I was supervising at all times
  • We need to start training him for Le Tunnel next weekend and, given how long it took him to learn the cat flap last time, the chances of him negotiating the tunnel into alien outdoor territory are zéro; however, if he were to stick his head into Le Tunnel and recognise the smell of the garden, maybe he would feel a bit more confident 

Sometimes you have to throw away the Rule Book and just do what you feel is right for your cat. And I really thought some fresh air was what he needed. 

So his foray into the new jardin consisted of him racing out and flopping onto the garden path about 2 metres from the door. Then he got up and sniffed a few plants. Then he went into the greenhouse and fell asleep in the grossest, dustiest corner, with cobwebs hanging from above and trailing across his body. The End. 

The next instalment of this thrilling saga will follow shortly …

La poussière 

What a week it’s been at Le Château. We’ve been up every morning for work, and at 7:30 on Saturday mornings before the decorators arrive at 7:45 (although Louis Catorze tends to alert us to their arrival with his indignant “Invaders dans mon château!” meow).

The dust is really starting to get to us, with clouds of it rising from our clothes when we get dressed, and we’re suffering with itchy eyes and sore throats living in it all. Trying to wipe it away only seems to whip up swirling twisters of it and, even if we manage to clean it away one day, it’s back the next.

Louis Catorze, on the other hand, has taken it all in his stride and has got into a steady routine: he sleeps with us every night, then happily (or at least I hope it’s happily, as opposed to with the resignation of a condemned man going to the guillotine) pitter-patters upstairs with me, where I feed him, sort out his litter and water and then shut him in for the day. Then, when the decorators have gone, we release him and he joins us on the sofa. Given what we’ve done to him in the space of 9 days, it’s surprising he hasn’t gone crazy and eaten us whilst we sleep, feet first:

  • Change of environment: check
  • Change of cat litter brand without warning (not that it would have made a difference had we said, “Nous allons changer ta litière”): check
  • Erratic feeding times, due to being unable to locate food: check
  • Change of position of food bowl, pint glass and litter tray (many times each): check
  • Erratic medication times: check
  • Rooms creepily morphing and changing the way they do in horror movies, looking empty one minute then being full and smelling completely different the next: check
  • Strangers invading early in the morning, being noisy and moving stuff around all day long: check (although Louis Catorze appears to quite like the company of strange men – not that we’re judging)

The least awful of all the rooms is the attic bedroom, so that’s where we shut him whilst we’re at work, with the windows open a tiny bit and his litter tray in the en suite bathroom (well, he is a king). We keep a dust mite controller whirring away in that room, and I’d also have beeswax candles burning if I didn’t know that the stupid twit would knock them over and burn the place down. The bed in the attic room contains brand new anti-allergy pillows, duvet and mattress cover, so not a pesky feather in sight (see picture above). So far, so good: he’s deteriorated very slightly but he’s not looking TOO bad. I did briefly consider not letting him out of that room at all until the renovations are done, but he loves time with us and enjoys gadding about Le Château looking at things.

I can only put his positive temperament down to the fact that we’re with him, whereas in the past a new home has also meant new people. Let’s hope he’s still as chirpy when training for Le Tunnel starts next week.

J’adore l’extérieur

 Is it possible for someone to be placed under house arrest even if they were never allowed out to begin with? If so, Louis Catorze is that someone. Last night we were about to go out for Cat Daddy’s birthday but couldn’t lock our front door because the builders had decided it would be a good idea to fill the lock with plaster; in the end Cat Daddy had to get a chisel to hack away at it, at which point Louis Catorze took the opportunity to scoot outside and dive into the hedge.

Had this taken place at The Back we wouldn’t have been too upset, as it’s so enclosed that there’s nowhere to go. But The Front, with The Park and The Road, is a firm NON. Calling him was no use whatsoever as he just ignored us and meowed, and grabbing him was impossible as he was buried deep in the shrubbery so, in the end, whilst I called the restaurant to say we’d be 30 minutes late, Cat Daddy and our French guest had to resort to scaring Louis Catorze from the other side of the hedge to make him bolt back indoors.  So he’s stuck indoors whether he likes it or not, and security has been ramped up the way it would be in a maximum security penitentiary following a hostage crisis. Luckily his interest in getting outside is only mild-to-moderate, as opposed to utter desperation, so another week isn’t going to be too horrendous. What’s a little more concerning, however, is that his eye area fur looks as if it’s thinning again, and he has a tiny scab on his chin. I don’t suppose it helps that we have an inordinate amount of dust in the house, which the workmen create faster than we can clean. Louis Catorze’s ex-rescue centre told me that he had a tendency to flare up with a change of environment, so let’s hope it’s just that and not a dust-triggered long-term descent to where he was 18 months ago.