Seul son ongle sait où se gratter

Last week the vet confirmed that we may start giving Louis Catorze his steroid pills. This was a huge relief to us because the little sod was hell-bent on scratching, and outwitted us every time we tried to stop him.

I had reached the stage where I couldn’t make my morning pot of tea unless he was within sight, because he had found a new scratching apparatus somewhere in the house (and we still don’t know where). And, on one occasion, he vanished into thin air during his exercise yard session, finally reappearing on the roof of That Neighbour’s shed, up-tailed, screaming and proudly sporting yet another a new scratch wound. (This wasn’t the time he was screamed at by the parakeet, but ANOTHER occasion.)

We have also caught him trying to scratch himself on his Yule tree from last year, which now lives in our garden. Yes, THAT tree. The one with the Blood-Letting Needles of Death:

Every evening we give Catorze limited, controlled Cône-free time (with the door shut) so that he can wash more comfortably. Even that is fraught with danger because he bides his time, often pretending to be asleep on his daddy’s lap, then scratches when we are engrossed in something suitably suspenseful on TV. A couple of nights ago he chose his moment when the scary Mexican drug lord opened fire with his semi-automatic weapon and, of course, the gunfire completely masked his scratching sound. So, by the time the police shot the drug lord and we realised we had been double-crossed by Catorze, he was already well and truly stuck in and it was too late.

But I am thrilled to report that he has been happily eating the steroid pills (delivered Trojan Horse-style inside a Pill Pocket). If you have ever had to give medication to a less-than-obliging animal, you will understand what an incredibly big deal this is.

However, be warned: age makes Pill Pockets crumbly and powdery, rather like trying to make a sandcastle using dry sand. And, the more you handle and squish them, the more likely it is that you’ll propagate the pilliness and your dastardly Trojan Horse plan will be foiled. When I started using the Pill Pockets for Catorze’s Piriton a few weeks ago, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to mould around the pills. Then, when I checked the expiry date, I saw that it said, erm, “November 2017”. Oops.

But we now have a brand new, in-date supply which is much easier to shape around the steroid pills. And the little sod is eating them. Merci à Dieu, HE IS EATING THEM.

Well, it was about time something went right, wasn’t it?

Cleverer than he looks. This is not much of an achievement.

L’enfer, c’est les chats noirs

The good thing about having a black cat is that, when they raise hell, you can pretend it was some other cat and not yours. And the chances of anyone proving otherwise, beyond all reasonable doubt, are slim. If they raise hell at night it’s even better, because the darkness hides them and therefore there is zero proof.

However, Little Sods’ Law decrees that a black cat is most likely to raise hell as follows:

1. In broad daylight.

2. When the entire neighbourhood is at home to witness the carnage.

3. When the cat is sporting a unique piece of headgear making it impossible to mistake them for anyone else.

I turned my back for SECONDS to put the kettle on, then heard the most God-awful shrieking. When I went to investigate, I was met with this:

At least they’re 2 metres apart.

The screeching was coming from the green parakeet pictured on the wires, who was hollering at Louis Catorze with all its might. Yes, Catorze is on Oscar the dog’s territory. No, I have no idea how he got there. And, yes, he now has a new self-harm wound which means he will be Côned for EVEN LONGER until it heals.

He is now sleeping off the excitement in the living room, right where I can see him. I, in the meantime, am Googling animal cages (size: XS) and wondering if they can deliver within the hour.

Une journée au musée

This would have been the first Sunday of the Easter holidays, with people out and about doing fun things in beautiful weather. Instead we’re still in lockdown, too scared to step outside for fear of the sunshine flushing out the non-space-respecting stupids, and days of the week aren’t even a thing anymore. But it doesn’t do any harm to dream about normal life resuming again. And, one day, it shall be so.

If you have never been to the London Museum of Water and Steam in TW8, I would highly recommend a visit once we are safely through all this horror. Not just for the water and the steam, but for this:

Not a chance in hell
Rather you than me

For reasons that I will probably never know, the museum has chosen a black cat as the recurring symbol marking their kids’ treasure hunt trail. I think a water-dwelling animal or a mermaid or undine or some such thing would have made more sense but, that said, black cats practically INVENTED the art of randomly showing up in places where they have no business being. So why not a black cat?

I took my niece to the museum during her February half term visit, and she thought the Louis Catorze trail was the most exciting thing in the world. As for me, it took superhuman effort on my part to stop myself from flitting round with a bottle of Tipp-Ex and painting fangs onto every single one of their cat pictures. And, as my last entry gained me a free pass for a whole year, it wouldn’t even cost me anything except for, erm, however much a bottle of Tipp-Ex is.

So what ARE the horrors that lurk in the black cat’s terrifying crawl-hole? I was too scared to look, and my niece – whom I sent in on my behalf like a pit canary – says you’ll have to come and look for yourselves. And you would be more than welcome to stop by at Le Château for a cup of tea afterwards: just turn right when exiting the museum and follow the sound of the screaming.

*Disclaimer: tea invitation applies to post-quarantine period only. If you arrive prior to that time, you will be refused entry into Le Château.

Je suis heureux, j’espère que vous l’êtes aussi

I have completed a whole fortnight of teaching from home and survived to tell the tale.

It was someone else’s cat – a lovely plushy ginge called Simba, belonging to one of my students – who brought my video lessons to a standstill by gatecrashing, meowing to the class and then settling on the desk to watch his small human work.

Louis Catorze, however, saved his star turn for my online staff meeting, climbing across the keyboard, screaming. Then, when I kicked him off, he ran riot with a noisy bell toy that he had hidden behind the sofa, most likely for this very purpose.

Apart from that, Catorze more or less left me alone and either slept through my work or annoyed the merde out of Cat Daddy instead of me. I later discovered that the sleepiness was because Cat Daddy has been wearing him out at extended Boys’ Club which starts at around 9pm and goes on long into the night/morning.

Being at home all day means I have been able to take a cheeky peek into the once-mysterious ways of Le Club, and I can report that Cat Daddy and Catorze have been enjoying lengthy late-night music sessions together. This is mostly old-school prog rock, but they’ve been going through a new wave phase recently. Sa Maj bounces up and down on his daddy’s knees to Elvis Costello’s “Welcome to the working week” in an ironic nod to the fact that neither of them know what one is, whilst I still slave away like a chump. That said, I am very much aware of how lucky I am to still have a job.

Cat Daddy recently announced – after a few too many sloe gins, I might add – that he wanted to create a cat-themed playlist for their music club. This is excellent news as it saves me doing the same job for Catorze’s birthday.

The songs that we already know are as follows:

1. Lovecats (The Cure)

2. Cool for Cats (Squeeze)

3. What’s New Pussycat (Tom Jones)

4. Stray Cat Strut (Stray Cats), although the bit about the lady cats, of course, doesn’t apply

5. Louie Louie (The Kingsmen)

6. Sun King (The Cult)

Six songs aren’t much of a playlist, but never fear: Cat Daddy and Catorze are on the case, and I am confident that the list will be complete by 30th April. And Cat Daddy has trained his boy so well that he sits happily in a room with loud, blasting music and doesn’t even blink (see photo below for proof), so they will probably work on the list together.

Me: “Does Louis prefer vinyl or streaming?” (It’s important to get this right for the party, after all, even though the party will end up being just the four* of us.)

[*Cat Daddy, me, Catorze and the mouse whom I know is still at large, even though I can’t prove it.]

Cat Daddy, firmly and without hesitation: “Streaming.”

Me: “You seem very sure about that.”

Cat Daddy: “Yes. Because vinyl means I have to get up and change the record, and that disturbs him.”

Of course.

Here is Catorze in his happy place. Would you believe, the little sod actually got up and moved closer to the speaker when David Bowie came on:

“Je n’ai jamais fait rien de bien …”

La vie en quarantaine

This turbulent period of time seems to be bringing out the furthermost extremes of human behaviour.

The good: Everyone in our street is sharing provisions (responsibly) and looking out for each other. And, last weekend, we had a quarantine barbecue with Oscar the dog’s family – them in their garden, us in ours, separate food and drink – of which the highlight (for us, probably not for them) was Oscar stealing three stuffed vine leaves from their table when nobody was looking, and letting his innocent human sister get the blame.

The bad: Most of the population of TW8 don’t give a hoot about social distancing. They stride along in the middle of the pavement, expecting the rest of us to move out of their way and not noticing or caring whether we do or don’t. We have seen many walkers and sweaty, virus-propagating runners with zero regard for the two-metre rule, happily letting us step into oncoming traffic to avoid them whilst they remain steadfastly on course for their new personal best. We have also seen not one but TWO cyclists, on separate occasions, cycling along the pavement whilst looking their phones. I used to think the reason why people in TW9 and W4 look down on us is because our neighbourhood is less posh. Erm, it’s not that.

The ugly: Cat Daddy and his boozy pub mates have been regularly meeting for drinks via Skype/Zoom/whatever. I don’t join in – video calls are my idea of torture, even with people whom I like – but I eavesdrop for the comedy value. Because they are all, erm, blokes of a certain age, the first 15 minutes of their virtual meets usually sound like this: “Tim, turn your microphone on.” “Pete, do you know that you’re sideways?” “Why are some of us in circles and some of us in squares?”

Louis Catorze’s life, on the other hand, continues as normal. He has Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish aplenty – which, Cat Daddy remarks, will also serve us well if we run out of food and end up having to eat Catorze* – and we just about managed to squeeze in a jambon de Bayonne order before the curtain fell on Ocado. The only slight change for Catorze is that Le Jardin is now Le Fitness Suite with Cat Daddy’s stationary bike and my exercise step. Other than that, c’est la même chose. And, despite having been Côned for much longer than anyone ever thought possible, the little sod is happy and enjoying life.

We hope that you and your furry overlords are all managing to stay safe. If you are local and we can help you in any way, please let us know.

*Don’t worry, we would never actually eat Catorze. Mainly because there is barely any meat on him.

“Cat Daddy has prepared a dish of chat farci au poisson fabuleux.”