Le jubilé de 10 ans

JOYEUX ANNIVERSIRE!

Louis Catorze is 10 years old today. And, given that we never imagined all those years ago that such a sickly scrap of a thing would live this long, this is a très big deal indeed.

As a child, pets’ birthdays were very important. Then, as an adult with no pets, I started to think people who celebrated them were a bit lame. I remember once visiting some British friends who lived in France and, on the last night of our stay, they invited a huge bunch of fellow Brits and local Frenchies for dinner. I found myself at the French end of the table and I remember thinking, “My French must be really terrible, because what I’ve managed to understand from this conversation is that our hosts had a big party for their dog’s 10th birthday last year and invited everyone in the village. That’s CLEARLY not what happened.” It later transpired, of course, that this was correct. We laughed about it at the time, but now look at us with our cat blog and our cat guest book. (Cat Daddy: “What do you mean, “our”?”)

We happened to know the actual birthdays of Nimbus and Luther, the first two cats we had as adults, which, somehow, set the precedent for pet birthday celebrations, and now it seems unfair to discriminate against pets whose birthdays are unknown. I don’t imagine Sa Maj was really born on 30th April but, as that’s the day given on his paperwork, that will do for us. And, according to folk legend, anyone born on May Eve – the night before 1st May – is meant to be a bit creepy and weird with otherworldly powers, so that works, too.

Because we are still in lockdown, Catorze’s party won’t be quite the extravaganza for which we had hoped. But, even though it’s just us, we still intend to have a marvellous time and to celebrate everything that we love about the little sod.

Cat Daddy: “I don’t suppose that’ll take long.”

Cat Daddy was bored during lockdown so, one day, a few weeks ago, he and his boy decided to try and recreate the HMV logo together, and this was the result (below). Since Catorze has failed to produce a photo good enough to be his Official 10th Birthday Portrait (no surprise there), this will do for now.

Thank you for supporting the little sod and us.

His Master’s Daemon.

Où est le jambon?

Louis Catorze’s birthday is tomorrow, and we have a bit of a Code Gris situation at Le Château: no jambon de Bayonne. And I don’t suppose the government would regard a trip to the Natoora deli in W4 to buy artisan French cured ham for my cat’s birthday as “essential journeying” (even though I do).

We did manage to order some from Ocado mid-month, but that was two weeks ago and notre cher ami will not eat jambon that has been frozen and thawed. So, although he was able to enjoy that particular jambon at that particular time, it would not have been suitable as The Birthday Jambon.

Tant pis: we have plenty of Crémant for us, and we have a playlist of around thirty songs begun by Cat Daddy and completed by Oscar the dog’s human sister. Highlights include “Dreaming of Mice”, taken from an album of relaxation songs for cats. (I’m not joking. Someone somewhere has actually decided that cats are under too much stress, and that they need to take time out of their daily grind for some meditation and mindfulness.)

Here is the little sod, visualising rays of glorious sunshine with sweet birdsong, a plentiful supply of Fabulous Fish and humans who attend to his every need. Oh no, wait … I’ve just described his ACTUAL LIFE.

If he stares for long enough, maybe the JamBonhomme will appear?

Le dîner du con

Before lockdown commenced, Cat Daddy and I had a conversation about the May bank holiday, which has always been the first Monday in May but, this year, it has been moved. That conversation went something like this:

Me: “They’ve moved the May bank holiday from Monday 4th to Friday 8th.”

Cat Daddy: “Why have they done that?”

Me, after Googling: “To commemorate 75 years since VE Day.”

Him: “Oh, right.”

Me: “You know what this means, don’t you?”

Him: “No?”

Me: “Louis Catorze’s extended birthday weekend isn’t going to be an extended birthday weekend anymore. It’s just going to be a normal-length birthday weekend.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Him: “So you’re objecting to honouring war veterans and remembering the dead, because it interferes with our cat’s long birthday weekend?”

Me: “I’m not objecting. I’m just saying.”

Cat Daddy: “And besides, you don’t work on Mondays. I don’t work on Mondays, or any days come to think of it. And Louis CERTAINLY doesn’t work on Mondays, or any days.”

Me: “…”

Him: “So whether or not the Monday is a bank holiday makes absolutely no difference.”

To be fair, he had a point.

Now, of course, things are rather different. Not only is a bank holiday of even less consequence, but even the normal week days and the weekends run into one another and we have lost all grasp of time. And our plans for the party of the decade are now shot to hell, which is probably just as well for our friends because I was going to invite them over under some random pretext, then announce that they were here for Louis Catorze’s 10th birthday, by which time they would be trapped and unable to leave.

Anyway, my challenge now is to plan a quarantine birthday party menu whose ingredients can be sourced from places other than the supermarket (too virussy / too many stupid people who won’t respect the 2-metre rule) or Ocado (delivery slots are rather like total solar eclipses, only happening once every 375 years or so).

And Catorze says we can choose any cuisine, as long as it’s French:

“Bring me some of your finest jambon de Bayonne, Monsieur.”

Journal d’une chatière (Partie 2)

Just after I posted to announce that Louis Catorze was free from Le Cône, the little sod decided to scratch his face again. We had waited a couple of days before making the announcement in case he scratched and made us look stupid for unCôning him, and of course during those days he behaved fine.

Luckily we have not had to reCône him, but the vet has advised us to increase his medication from one to two pills per day until he is healed. So the reduction in psycho behaviour, for which I had been hoping, looks unlikely to happen.

In other news, it turns out that Catorze has not forgotten how to use the cat flap. He just doesn’t want to use it. He has, after all, had us bitches open and close doors for him upon request for the last couple of months, so why wouldn’t we continue to do so, Cône or no Cône?

I don’t suppose this will be a surprise to anyone who knows him.

If he wants to come in/go out and we are not around (i.e. he has no choice), he will use the cat flap. However, if we are around, he will sit by he door and scream to be let in/out. And, if we ignore his screams, he will simply wait for us to comply.

We refuse point blank to do so because this is akin to negotiating with terrorists, so he is left waiting for a very long time indeed. But he doesn’t care. He would rather waste several hours waiting than exert himself for the few seconds required to open the cat flap himself.

Here he is, trying his luck on three separate occasions (and, yes, the last one is mid-scream). It’s a NON from us.

No.
I said no.
IT’S STILL A NO.

31 jours plus tard

The U.K. has now been locked down for a whole calendar month (we think). And being in quarantine with Louis Catorze seems to be generating more blog material than ever, which was inevitable as I am now spending 23+ hours a day with the little sod instead of just evenings and weekends.

Whilst Le Blog has been a positive focus for me during this turbulent period, I feel guilty writing about my cat and generally getting along fine when, across the world, others are not doing fine.

That said, Cat Daddy and I are very grateful for our situation and try to demonstrate this by doing small things for people around us. And we are lucky enough to live in a street where others have the same attitude. We are all helping each other, checking on people, supporting the few local business/services that are able/allowed to stay open, and so on. And, every Friday at 11am, the residents of our street put food parcels on our doorsteps, and a lovely neighbour – helped by Cat Daddy last week – collects them and takes them to the local food bank. If it’s really true that these circumstances have made nice people nicer and nasty people nastier, it’s very important indeed to propagate that positivity.

People who didn’t experience this pandemic – or who are too little to remember later on – will, someday, ask what it was like. What did we do? How did we keep our spirits up? Were we negative and pessimistic or did we try to seek positives, however small, despite the difficulties?

Not only will I proudly declare that I did my best to follow the rules and was one of the good guys, but I shall refer people to Le Blog and tell them that my cat brought some relief into people’s lives. Although, admittedly, he did this by making them think, “It could be a worse; I could be locked down with him”.

Also: planning, writing and editing every entry, and taking accompanying photographs, made me STAY THE HELL AT HOME.

Here is Catorze, watching people outside and judging the ones who don’t appear to be members of the same family:

“Ça ne fait pas 2 mètres!”

Le Jour de la Terre

We all knew, didn’t we, that, as soon as I posted about Louis Catorze being Cône-free, he would scratch himself and stuff everything up. To be honest I thought he would maybe give it a day or two. Eight hours after my post is quite some doing, even by his standards.

Anyway, enough about that little miscreant for now. Today is Earth Day, and I will not allow him to ruin it. I thought it a good time to talk about our plastics recycling box looking mightily impressive (i.e. empty), with a huge reduction in bottles and packaging. At least this was the case pre-quarantine; now, it seems, we can’t afford to be too fussy, and sometimes we have had to choose between food wrapped in plastic or no food at all. But we hope to resume our previous ways once life becomes normal again.

We are now the proud users of plastic-free sanitary ware from Natracare and Naty (me, obviously, not Cat Daddy), plastic-free toothpaste from Georganics and GENUINELY recycled/recyclable shampoo in the black tubs from Lush (which, when returned to Lush stores, are recycled forever and ever, as opposed to normal “recyclable” plastic of which only a tiny percentage is actually recycled).

One of the few plasticky things still lingering is Catorze’s Broadline and, even though it’s only once a month, it bugs me that I am using this single-use plastic – or ZERO-use plastic, if you count all the times the little sod has fought like a demon during application and the product has ended up on the floor or on me instead of on him.

But my extensive searches online for an alternative – yes, it’s astounding how many hours I can while away on stuff that is dull as shite, and I was quite skilled at this even before lockdown – have revealed nothing suitable. Everything I have found is either individually wrapped in plastic (nope) or, in one case, is a pill that requires Greco-Roman administering (HELL, nope).

Cat Daddy wondered if we could get away with just not flea-treating Catorze. If he were an indoor cat I might have been tempted; however, not only does he go outdoors, but he also rummages in the most disgusting places that don’t bear thinking about. Last week I had to try and haul his arse out of That Neighbour’s bin, Cône and all. And on THIS occasion (see link) we suspect that he crept into a fox hole and stole their dinner, for fun: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/

I have never had to deal with a flea infestation, but I have heard dreadful horror stories from fellow cat freaks who have. Fleas are stubborn little buggers and, if you’re very unlucky, you can end up having to treat the cat, carpets, curtains, clothes, furniture and bedding, multiple times. No, thank you.

So the best I can do at present to deal with the remnants of Broadline is to deconstruct the vial after use, so that the damage is minimal. Left to right, with their final resting places listed in brackets, are as follows:

1. Box and information leaflet (cardboard and paper recycling)

2. Vial container tray (plastics recycling)

3. Vial with plunge bit (plastics recycling)

4. Floppy film covering the tray (our friend whose company makes speakers – yes, as in sound system speakers – from recycled plastic film: https://www.gomi.design)

5. Very tiny thing on the far right: rubber stopper (landfill)

Louis Catorze may not quite be a 100% zero-waste kitty but, if the extent of his waste is just a rubber stopper every month, I guess that’s not bad for now. Manufacturers, you’re not off the hook, though. You still have work to do.

Journal d’une chatière

LOUIS CATORZE EST SANS CÔNE. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: after 7.5 weeks of being Côned, he was freed a day or two ago (but we didn’t blog it immediately in case it all turned to merde and we had to reCône him again).

Had we not been in lockdown we probably would have unCôned him a little earlier, but we didn’t want to risk him scratching his delicate bald skin and developing an infection at a time when the vets are inundated and only taking emergency appointments. To be absolutely safe, we agreed to let a little more fur grow back around his eyes to form a protective layer against scratching or over-zealous washing and, although it took AGES, we are really, really glad we waited.

The good news is that he is now able to fit through the tiny gap that takes him from the Zone Occupé (Le Château) into the Zone Libre (the playground at The Back).

The bad news is that he has completely forgotten where/what the cat flap is, and how to use it. This is rather troubling as his initial cat flap training, when he first came to live with us, was quite arduous, with him taking around five and a half months to learn how to go out and another couple of weeks to learn how to come in again.

Curiously, he is more than able to scale huge fences and cross from garden to garden (see below). THAT part of his brain has somehow survived the Côning. But he no longer knows how to push his silly, empty head against a little door that he has used about 837 times a day for the last 5 years.

Cat Daddy: “Don’t tell me we’re going to have to retrain him?”

Me: “Erm …”

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable expletives]”

Oh well. The one thing we have right now is time.

2-metre fence? Aucun problème. Cat flap? NON.

L-A-V-I-E-C-O-N-T-I-N-U-E

The government announced a couple of days ago that the U.K. is due to remain locked down for “at least a further three weeks”. Not that anyone knows what this means. Three weeks from the date of the announcement? Three weeks from when the first three weeks came to an end? In fact, when DID the first three weeks come to an end? When did it all even start? What day is it today? When’s Christmas? Nobody knows anything anymore.

To be honest extending the lockdown has been a relief to me, not just because I think it’s far too soon to turn us loose again, but also because – dare I admit it – I am enjoying the solitude and not having to deal with people and their stupid shite. I am the world’s biggest introvert so, when I first heard that I had to stay at home and that everyone had to leave me the hell alone, I thought it sounded great. A few more weeks of it? No problem. Where do I sign?

It has just dawned on us that, lucky though we are, Catorze is luckier than the pair of us in terms of the infringements on his personal liberty (i.e. none) and the other lifestyle sacrifices he has had to make (also none).

Here are some examples:

1. Hair: unattractive root regrowth for me, and an unintentional fauxhawk for Cat Daddy – not that I am complaining about this as I love this new look and think he should keep it forever – yet Catorze is still brushed daily.

2. Beauty salon treatments: none for us, yet Catorze has his Aveda Tulasāra facial brush.

3. Stress-relieving massage: none for us, yet Catorze has neck, face and shoulder rubs upon request. If the requests are ignored, he screams and headbutts with his Cône until we comply.

4. Food: compromises and enforced inventiveness for us – not long ago I made leftover pasta pie, which is pretty much as it sounds and of which Michel Roux would definitely not approve – yet Catorze’s supplies of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish and jambon de Bayonne remain unchanged.

5. Going out: Cat Daddy and I can only leave the house once a day yet Catorze goes out about 837 times – Cône and all – just because he can. And he can also sunbathe outside of the home if he wishes to do so, without having people tut and criticise because sunbathing isn’t exercise.

Yes, the little sod has been Côned ever since lockdown began. No, it has not stopped him from doing any of the things he wants to do.

Cat Daddy told me recently that we should keep a regular diary of our time in quarantine. Erm, I think this is it.

Check on your friends. Especially Côned ones.

Tu peux me trouver au club

Video calls: no. Just no.

Whilst Cat Daddy insists that they are “no different from meeting in person” (?), for me they have a performance element that makes me cringe. I am not a YouTuber, for heaven’s sake. And if I didn’t want to video call when I looked normal and had interesting things to report, I certainly don’t want to do it with quarantine root regrowth and when nothing even faintly noteworthy has happened in my life.

In short, I will grudgingly accept a video call under the following circumstances:

1. If you are a work colleague and I have no choice. And an agenda beforehand would be appreciated.

2. If you are 5 years old, because you will do most of the talking and I can just listen, plus your attention span is short so the call will be over quickly.

Any other reason: no.

And if you have crazy thoughts of trying to Make It A Regular Thing: HELL, no.

Puppy Mamma is an especially naughty one for trying to trick me into video calls by giving them inventive names, but I’m not falling for it. “Virtual barbecue”? Nope: it’s a video call. “Online cocktail hour”? It’s still a video call. “Distance drinks party”? NICE TRY, BUT STILL A VIDEO CALL. So, because she hates WhatsApp/text messages and I hate video calls, we have compromised by telephoning – as in, voice calls in which we can hear but not see each other. (Younger followers: ask your parents.)

Cat Daddy, on the other hand, loves his new-found Zoom adventures. He has had a couple of video chats with his family, taking care to mention my name many times in case they wonder about my absence and think we’ve split up. And his video meets with his boozy beer buddies have been continuing every Friday at 6pm.

This week’s virtual pub conversation included the following:

1. What everyone was having for dinner that night (Cat Daddy had pasta with spinach, walnut and Stilton sauce, thanks for asking).

2. The money they are all saving because of not having to pay for cabs home from the pub.

3. How to get Simon back into the call after the host accidentally deleted him.

4. Why everyone could see Mike but not hear him.

5. Deforestation.

6. Tim’s quarantine haircut.

7. Robbie Williams.

8. The confusion of having two people called Nick in the group, and a Foolproof New System for differentiating between the two.

As you can imagine, I didn’t hang around for the duration of the conversation and just caught odd snippets. However, when I heard Cat Daddy say, “I’m going for a loo break, so I’ll leave you with my cat”, I never imagined that he would mean it literally. I should have known better (see below).

With lockdown, all our worlds have become that little bit smaller. But Boys’ Club is clearly going from strength to strength, with brotherly bonds that extend beyond Le Château and stand the test of time and distance.

Louis Catorze agrees that Tim should have left it longer at the front.

L’envahisseur inconnu

I am so, so sorry for the deluge of posts. It’s this darned cat. He just won’t stop. And I am keen to document every bit of it to make a point to all those who say, “But he’s so cute!” “He’s like a little kitten!” “I can’t imagine him being naughty!” and other such nonsense.

Last night the planets were magically aligned and we were lucky enough to get an Ocado delivery for the first time since the world ground to a halt. Louis Catorze promptly escaped out to bother poor Pankaj driving the Raspberry van, then he went on the rampage. At the same time, when I dropped some of the Ocado supplies at Blue the Smoke Bengal’s place, Blue also took it upon himself to escape out and to join Catorze on the rampage in the street.

So there we were, supposedly under lockdown, with Blue’s poor self-isolating mamma chasing him down in her dressing gown and slippers, and me trying to drag Catorze, Cône and all, out of That Neighbour’s bin.

Blue’s mamma eventually managed to retrieve her guy when he grew bored and went home of his own accord. And I retrieved Catorze when he got stuck to our lavender plant with the Velcro of his Cône, and I had to peel him off.

I know. This could only happen here.

It gets worse. A couple of nights ago we sat outside to watch the sunset and, when we came indoors, Catorze decided to remain outside. Now, we have learned our lesson from previous incidents and we didn’t want to make the same mistakes again, so we kept checking on him every half hour or so. And, every time we checked, he was on exactly the same spot on the outdoor sofa, appearing to be enjoying the solitude.

Then Cat Daddy decided to fetch him in for some unCôned lap time, but returned empty-handed and flustered.

He told me that, when he opened the door to go out, he heard a scrambling sound and saw a very large shape at the end of the garden, which took off over the top of our shed and over the fence. Cat Daddy couldn’t tell what it was because it was too dark, but he believed it to be “maybe a cat, more likely a fox, but pretty big”.

And, whatever it was, Catorze had immediately taken off after it.

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

We both stood outside and called the little sod, but were met with deathly silence. After a very stressful 20-minute wait he reappeared – mercifully avec Cône, utterly unbothered and without the slightest scratch on him – and this time Cat Daddy was the rescue helicopter plucking him from the top of the fence and carrying him indoors.

Cat Daddy: “It’s the drugs. He’s bloody stoned. They turn him into a lunatic.” This is true. Thank goodness we are now moving into the lower-dose phase, which means that he should be calming down soon.

Here is Catorze, proving that Le Cône does not hold him back:

Important Cat Business.