Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside-down.
And I'd like to take a minute just to let you know.
I'll tell you how I became the Sun King of Le Château.
In north-west London was where I was found.
In fact, NW10 was my stomping ground.
Chilling out, scratching and making some noise,
Screaming at people, chasing after boys,
When a very kind lady, who saw I was sick,
Took me to a local rescue really quick.
I had a long, long wait but was picked one day.
They said, "You're moving to Le Château to be Le Roi Soleil."
I screamed and I hollered at them day after day.
I was so excited when they sent me on my way.
They bade me farewell, told me I was a lucky cat,
And, as soon as I'd gone, they said, "Well, thank God for that!"
Ooh la la, this is first class,
Drinking water out of a Bordeaux glass!
Is this what the cats in TW8 live like?
Hmmm, this might be all right!
I meowed for a chauffeur and, when he came near,
The licence plate was French and it had cats on the mirror.
If anything, I could say that this cab was slow.
But I thought, "Nah, forget it. Allons au Château!"
I pulled up to Le Château about two or three
And I said to the chauffeur, "Au revoir et merci!"
I looked at my home, and what a wonderful thing
To sit on my throne as the rightful Sun King.
Today is National Hairball Awareness Day. (I’m deadly serious. Google it if you don’t believe me.) And, ironically, I am writing this after another joyless session of brushing Louis Catorze. Ugh. Bizarrely, he now only fights half-heartedly rather than with the strength of ten angry grizzly bears, yet he still screams like a banshee during our torturous sessions. And, just like the otherworldly Irish harbinger of death, I fear that there may well be some truth in his prophecy because the sound of his screams makes me want to kill either him or myself.
If he hates being brushed, why has he eased up on the struggling? Or, if has grown to tolerate it, why scream? Seeing a cat lying on his back, his body language showing that he is grudgingly accepting the brush but his voice screaming itself stupid, is quite the most absurd sight imaginable. That said, nothing about this strange cat has ever truly made sense, so I don’t suppose it’s about to start now.
Sadly there is no video available because I need three hands to be able to restrain, brush and film at the same time, and Cat Daddy refuses point-blank to help in any way. (“I’m not being part of this nonsense” is a more polite version of what he said.) So, instead, here is a picture of Sa Maj looking uncharacteristically … well … majestic. It’s hard to believe that a beast who can appear so serene in pictures can also suddenly morph in an instant into a screaming psychopath.
With the grotesque sugar glutton-fest upon us (Easter, I mean, not The Great British Bake-Off), I thought it apt to mention that the sweetener xylitol is making an appearance in more and more foods. And, whilst it can be good for humans, it’s fatal to animals.
Now, dogs aren’t the most discerning diners, as I have found out from living next door to Oscar the dog. So, as a dog owner, one automatically adopts the practice of not leaving food lying around. With cats, it’s a little trickier. They’re not naturally drawn to foods containing xylitol but, because Louis Catorze, in particular, is a fastidious groomer, and because I use the raw powdered xylitol on a daily basis, I watch every stray granule.
A few weeks ago I spilled some xylitol on my head. (Long story, and so stupid that you wouldn’t believe me even if I told you.) Without thinking, I ruffled my hair to brush out all the bits and sent a fine mist of xylitol all over our mutual friend, who was on my lap. Oh. Mon. Dieu.
Cat Daddy wasn’t home at the time (hence why Catorze was on my lap) so I plunged into a complete blind panic. Should I put Le Roi under the shower? What if the heat and the water somehow melted the grains into a sweet paste which glued itself to his fur? Should I brush it all out? What if I didn’t get all the bits out? How would I know the difference between the grains of xylitol and the absolutely identical grains of unknown crud in which Catorze is often covered after rolling around outside? Should I taste them to find out? (Eurgh. What was I thinking? The panic was making me lose my mind. And, in any case, once the suspect granule was off his body, it no longer mattered what it was. NO TASTING.)
As you know, Sa Maj does not like being brushed, so it was no surprise to discover that he also doesn’t like being pinned down by my knee and having bits picked off him. But it was worth the lateness to work, the bleeding eardrums and the psychological trauma to know that my boy didn’t have a single grain of anything potentially toxic about his person by the time I had finished.
So all is now well with the world: Catorze survived me sprinkling his body with fatally toxic grains and I managed to make his body a xylitol-free zone without resorting to picking bits off his fur and eating them. I also wrote to the plastic-free company from whom I bought the product to tell them to put a clearer warning on their packaging in case others spilled it when decanting (although I didn’t tell them that I spilled it on my head) and didn’t know the dangers. And they replied within minutes and said that they would.
Below is a picture of Sa Maj’s fur after the unfortunate incident. Xylitol, outdoor crud or gross skin flakes? Luckily I picked off every last bit so that we wouldn’t have to find out.
*Obviously if your pet has consumed xylitol, or even if you think they may have done so but you aren’t sure, get them to a vet très rapidement.
Non, non, non, Louis Catorze! This is just one of the many reasons* he is not allowed out at The Front unsupervised; rolling around on the dirty pavement that dogs have used as their toilettes is not what we want and, quite frankly, it makes me feel a little sick.
*The other reasons are:
Picking fights with dogs
Picking fights with foxes
Screaming outside neighbours’ houses, forcing them to return him to us when they can’t stand the racket any longer
Accosting neighbours as they are attempting to leave their houses and either not letting them leave, or following them, screaming
Rolling around in exactly this same way but IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD
On this occasion he slipped out as soon as Cat Daddy opened the front door to go to work. Naturellement, just as I sat down to have my tea, he was screaming at the door to be let in again, much to the amusement of a family passing by.
And, whilst the little sod usually avoids me, after returning from his exploits at The Front he was suddenly desperate to show me affection and to rub his gross, dirty fur all over me. He was chasing me around the house in exactly the way I do with him when it’s time to take him to the vet.
It seems that he is starting to unleash his Summer Psycho. He’s a bit early. But I don’t suppose he cares about that.
Louis Catorze is in full-on moult mode which, of course, means we have to brush him at least once a day, more if possible. And you know how vile he is when being brushed.
The screaming is pretty awful but I am now used to it. What’s more daunting is the sheer never-endingness of the task, with handfuls of fur coming out with each session. If I were to carry on forever, at some stage I would have no cat left, just a pair of fangs and a handful of bald, quivering flesh. And yet the fur keeps coming. It defies every law of science that a cat can keep losing fur indefinitely and not run out.
I have started brushing him the wrong way first (i.e. tail to head) to loosen any crud, before then doing it the right way. This is quite effective but he really doesn’t like it at all, and it makes him look as if he has been tumble-dried. On one recent occasion he kicked free of the Stranglehold of Death and escaped outside, before I had managed the rectifying right-way brush, and he didn’t look anything like a cat nor, indeed, like any creature identifiable by zoology.
Cat Daddy: “What. Have. You. DONE?”
Sa Maj will be turning 9 at the end of the month. Something tells me that the Birthday Fairy may be delivering him some much-needed fancy new grooming-related apparatus, as I think that trying to tackle the problem with his existing brush is like trying to stem a tsunami with a sheet of blotting paper*.
Louis Catorze disappeared without a trace at the weekend. After hunting all over the house, including in locked cupboards, we eventually found him in the guest bedroom, buried deep underneath the duvet and utterly out of sight except for the tip of his silly little tail sticking out. So, now that the weather has turned colder, and given that he has only used his warm-weather bed a couple of times, I have reinstated his winter igloo.
The little sod initially sniffed suspiciously, as if it say, “Really? Pour moi?” But, when he realised it wasn’t some cruel trick, he was in.
Cat Daddy was disgusted when I told him, as if I had given our hypothetical human child absinthe and cigarettes. “I can’t believe you’ve GIVEN IN,” he sighed. But he felt a little better when I explained that this meant Sa Maj wouldn’t be tunnelling into the guest bedding, leaving a trail of hair and whatever other unknown crud he always seems to be covered in.
I am sure that, when the sun returns, the Sun King will be back out and on the rampage. But, for now, if anyone wants him [Cat Daddy: “I wouldn’t hold your breath, if I were you”], he can be found here:
The dark winter seems a lifetime away now, and, somehow, the longer days give us the feeling that we have so much more time to do things. That’s what it all means to us, at least. To Louis Catorze, it means burrowing deeply into his igloo and never coming out.
Cat Daddy: “This isn’t normal. Staying in there all day is like one of those sensory deprivation torture things. This is what they do to prisoners of war.”
Me: “But we’re not subjecting him to it by force. He’s chosen to go in there.”
Cat Daddy: “Exactly: he’s so thick that he doesn’t even KNOW he’s torturing himself! He’s going to come out an institutionalised vegetable with no eyes, because he’ll have evolved not to use them. And he’ll be completely brain-dead because he won’t have used that, either. On second thoughts, maybe that particular ship has already sailed.”
I did remind Cat Daddy that evolution happens progressively over many generations of creatures, and not with just one animal over a couple of weeks, but he wasn’t really listening. He had a point about the brain-dead bit, though.
If Sa Maj were our human child, we would be picking up his bed and physically tipping him out (and possibly also making him get a job, as a 9-year-old cat is probably about 50 in human years). But, because he is a cat, he just gets to lie around in his pit and not deal with any other living souls if he doesn’t want to. And the worst we will do is complain about him to strangers on the internet and transform his convertible igloo into the warmer-weather bowl shape.
Is it possible to be disgusted at his laziness and, at the same time, envious of his life?