This little story did the social media rounds last month, and I really hope it’s true:
I like to think that the cats met on their travels, with Cat 2 saying, “I would really like a human sucker whom I can treat like dirt”, and that Cat 1 replied, “I have a plan. I think I can get you in at my place …”
I initially doubted the authenticity of the story because I was pretty sure that most people would know their own cat. Even those of us who have black cats know our own cats. But, hey, it’s an extra cat, and this can never be a bad thing.
Louis Catorze has some very unique distinguishing features – freakishly small size, bizarre segmented reptilian tail, dark chocolate paw pads with a strawberry swirl, caustic voice that could strip paint and, of course, protruding vampire fangs – so I was very confident that I would be able to pick him out of a line-up of black cats. That was until my friend Lizzi sent me this, taken in south London:
Believe it or not, Mesdames et Messieurs, this is NOT Sa Maj. I even managed to trick Cat Daddy into thinking it was an old picture of Catorze (although, when I told him the truth, he replied, “They all look the same to me”).
This makes me very nervous as the world cannot possibly be ready for two Catorzes.
Coronavirus is now over, and we can all go back to doing whatever we like.
Well, nobody has actually said as such but this appears to be what everyone has decided, and Cat Daddy and I are the only ones who are still poking people away with a 2-metre stick. Although, to be honest, I was like this even before lockdown and, if I could continue the rest of my life telling people to stay away from me, I probably would. (Cats, however, are welcome to approach.)
When Louis Catorze was Côned, I didn’t have to worry too much about random strangers putting virussy hands on him because Le Cône prevented him from wandering too far. However, now that he is back to “normal”, I was a little concerned about where he would go and what he would do, especially as he isn’t the brightest star in the cosmos and some of us West Londoners don’t seem to be much better. We all know that cats can’t transmit the virus to humans but, all the same, the fewer hands that touch Catorze, the better.
His latest thing is to run outside when we open the door and roll all over the pavement at the feet of whoever knocked. He did it when Oscar the dog’s daddy came to drop off some masks. He did it again when Majestic delivered Cat Daddy’s wine. And we suspect he bothered Mohamed driving the Raspberry van whilst he was unloading our Ocado delivery, although it was dark so we couldn’t see (and we were too embarrassed to ask or check).
However, it was only when Puppy Mamma passed by the other day on her way home from the shops that I realised Catorze was smarter than I thought and that I needn’t have worried. Puppy Mamma and I caught up on quarantine news with me at the door and her on the pavement and, naturellement, the little sod darted out, shimmied through the gate (which would have been impossible avec Cône) and flung himself at her feet.
Puppy Mamma: “Louis! You look so much better than you were the last time I saw you!”
[Catorze continues rolling]
Puppy Mamma: “I wish I could stroke you, but I can’t.”
[Catorze continues rolling, his body becoming more and more covered in dirt]
Me: “Ugh. Think of all the dogs who have pooed here. Still want to stroke him?”
Puppy Mamma: “…”
By the time Catorze eventually stopped and I was able to shepherd him back in, he was covered in unidentifiable, greige crud from the pavement. So it seems I needn’t have been concerned about people touching him, nor of him encouraging them to do so, as he is his own social-distancing machine; nobody in their right mind would go within 2 metres of him, let alone put their hands on his gross body.
Here he is, mid-roll, just before the filth started to collect on his fur. There was no “after” photo because, by the time he had finished, he looked too grim for words.
One big difference between me and Cat Daddy, in terms of our attitude and preferences regarding pets, is that he likes show-off animals who do lots of zany things, whereas I just want a quiet one who won’t give me any grief.
Blue the Smoke Bengal’s mamma told us last week that, since quarantine began, Blue had caught a blackbird, a squirrel and some other animal that I can’t remember (possibly a mouse), and Cat Daddy remarked that Louis Catorze was useless, having caught nothing this year. I, on the other hand, was very happy not having to clean up the remains of dead wildlife from my house, and I did not want Cat Daddy to tempt fate by wishing otherwise.
Over the weekend I had some restless nights, and Catorze didn’t help when his energy spike peaked at about 5am on Sunday resulting in abundant screaming and thundering loudly around the house. Later that morning I found a piece of silverware, i.e. a dead rat, in his trophy cabinet, i.e. the area at the bottom of the stairs, strangely the same area that his big brother Luther also used to use as HIS trophy cabinet in our old house. Whilst this is by no means a great place, especially as a sleep-deprived human doesn’t always spot brownish prey placed on the brownish floor and therefore risks stepping on it, Catorze’s previous trophy cabinet used to be our bedroom and, quite frankly, anything is better than that.
As ever, I followed the same standard ritual that I always follow in these circumstances. And I am sure most pet owners can relate:
1. Gasp and retch.
2. Admonish Catorze, who doesn’t understand a word I am saying (and, if he did, he still wouldn’t give a shite).
3. Shut Catorze away in sin bin in case he grabs rat and darts under our bed with it.
4. Find coin and slide it next to rat (very slowly and cautiously in case rat springs back to life and runs up my arm), then take photo for my friend Lizzi, who STILL hasn’t forgiven me for not photographing the curly-haired rat from 4 years ago: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/
5. Place Ocado bag inside another Ocado bag and gingerly scoop up rat with hand inside the double-bag barrier.
6. Knot double-bag very firmly, again in case rat springs back to life.
7. Place bag outside on doorstep so that Cat Daddy can dispose of it in park bin when he wakes up. (Since this is partly his fault for wishing it upon us, it’s only fair that he do his bit.)
8. Gently slide coin away from ratty floor area.
9. Clean both coin and ratty floor area.
10. Release horrid, screaming Catorze from sin bin.
11. Seethe with frustration as Cat Daddy undermines me by lavishing Catorze with praise and cuddles.
I really want this to have been a one-off. But the fact that Catorze has now begun Rodent Duty – sitting motionless for hours outside, eyes fixed on the gap between the Zone Occupée and the Zone Libre – doesn’t fill me with hope.
*EDIT: after I placed the bagged rat on our doorstep, we both forgot about it and didn’t remember until about 3pm, by which time it had sat cooking in the sun for 7 hours. Oh well. Cat Daddy’s problem, not mine.
Oh. Mon. Dieu. We have a Code Roux situation at Le Château, and here is the evidence:
These are NOT Louis Catorze’s paw prints, nor are they even feline, as you can tell by their size (pound coin for scale). Mesdames et Messieurs: Monsieur Renard has been on the premises.
We have known for a long time that he frequents our streets and gardens, accompanied by his buddies, but gadding about on our outdoor furniture is a bit too close for comfort, not to mention bloody rude. Other London foxes have much nicer manners than the ones in TW8. Whereas ours left us mucky paw prints, this week the ones in CR0 delivered my mum some prawn crackers. I’m not joking. She quite literally went out in her garden and found a full bag of Chinese takeaway prawn crackers, knotted at the top (although I don’t suppose the foxes tied the knot).
Now, we don’t know whether our fox was the one Louis Catorze screamed at, the one whom he chased down the garden, the one whose dinner he stole for fun, or another fox entirely whom he hasn’t yet met/pissed off but who is next on the list. But this isn’t great. And, worse yet, the little sod is utterly unperturbed and was happy to roll around on the cushions/prints immediately afterwards. Most cats would be able to pick up the scent of another animal and would be upset or concerned by this (wouldn’t they?) but it seems that Catorze either can’t smell it or doesn’t care.
It also doesn’t help that Catorze is on some sort of permanent adrenaline spike at the moment, screaming, thundering around the house at 5am waking me up, wanting to play constantly and so on. None of this suggests that, in the event of an encounter with Monsieur Renard and his colleagues, he would keep his head down and mind his own business. A calm, timid cat is likely to steer clear of foxes. A noisy, psycho cat who asks for trouble, not so much.
I don’t want to keep him in overnight, mainly because the screaming to be let out would send us over the edge. But, if there are too many near miss incidents like this, we might not have much choice …
It has been an especially sunny week here in TW8 so Louis Catorze is continuing to wear sunblock on his ears, much to Cat Daddy’s amusement. Sadly we have also had to deal with the usual Catorze contrariness, i.e. he dashes out into the sun before we have a chance to apply the block and, if we do manage to catch him and apply it, he comes straight back indoors and tries to roll it off onto our bed. But then we all knew something like that would happen.
A couple of things about cat sunblock:
Firstly, a little goes a long way. The first time I put it on Catorze, I applied far too much and he ended up with bright white ears. The second time I used about a tenth of the previous amount, but it was still too much and he ended up with bright white ears AGAIN. So, at this rate, I will only require about 0.001 drops per application, and therefore this tiny 30ml tube looks set to last at least 823 years. This makes it very good value indeed.
Secondly, a black cat with bright white ears is hilarious. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I’ve seen plenty of white cats with dark ears and somehow this isn’t funny, but a black cat with white ears is. Cat Daddy now wants to apply sunblock in tasteful/hilarious patterns onto other parts of Catorze’s body, just for fun, turning him into a live, screaming art installation. And I don’t think he’s joking.
As for what to paint, please let us know your feelings on the following designs:
1. Skunk stripes.
2. Snow leopard spots.
3. Skeleton bones.
4. “White Over Black” (a monochrome interpretation of Rothko’s “White Over Red” which will be very easy to do as it’s just a couple of rectangles).
Good news: Louis Catorze is now completely off the steroids.
Bad news: this has made absolutely zero difference to the level of psycho in his body, which remains unchanged. One of my friends told me that it took a few days for the effects of the steroids to leave the system. Erm, yeah, I don’t think we can wait that long.
Today I caught Sa Maj attempting to jump onto the top of the picture to his right (our left, below). No, there is absolutely nowhere to land apart from the 2cm edge of the picture or perhaps the string of autumn leaf fairy lights. But, yes, he was about to try it anyway.
Cat Daddy: “That’s REALLY worrying. You know how it would have ended, don’t you?”
I do: with a ripped piece of art and/or mangled fairy lights, a furious Cat Daddy and a kicked royal arse.
Cat Daddy: “And you know he’s only going to try it again when we’re out of the house, don’t you?”
I do. So what a good thing we’re not really allowed out at the moment. (Or maybe we are. Nobody knows for sure.)
Here is the little sod – who, incidentally, is not allowed to jump on top of the speakers – planning his next attempt:
Good news: Thursday’s Clap for our Carers went without public incident.
Bad news: Catorze bided his time until after the clap to cause discord of a different kind. He took advantage of the fact that Cat Daddy remained outside chatting – and, yes, when I saw Catorze pitter-patter towards the door I did yell at Cat Daddy to shut it, but he was too slow – and he tried to get into That Neighbour’s house. The poor man apparently had quite a time fighting the little sod away from his front door, and Cat Daddy had to intervene. Oh dear.
In happier news, yesterday was Friday, which meant that our usual weekly doorstep food collection took place. To show his deep regret for causing a scene during last week’s clap, Catorze kindly agreed to donate his Lily’s Kitchen Delicious Chicken to the food bank.
He had originally promised it to his buddy Boots, but I am not sure when I will be able to see Boots and, in the meantime, the food was just sitting in the cupboard. Never fear, though: I will be giving Boots and his brother Antoine some alternative treats when I do finally see them. So he needn’t be concerned about missing out on food (although he does appear to worry about this an awful lot).
If you are in a position to donate food or money to your local food bank, I am sure they would be very grateful. Our donations are sent here: https://www.hounslowfoodbox.org.uk
Here is Catorze, despatching his parcel with lots of love:
The citizens of the United Kingdom have spent the last couple of days taking in the government’s new pandemic advice. Which is as follows: “Go back to work. NOT ON THE TUBE, FOR GOD’S SAKE.”
Meanwhile, Louis Catorze has almost finished his course of steroids. And what a très grand relief this is because, as you know, they have turned him into a fireball of energy and a criminal genius, and we just can’t keep up with him.
Just like Bradley Cooper in that film about the blue pills, it’s as if the steroids allow Catorze to access the parts of his brain that he wasn’t accessing before (and, lets face it, that’s a lot of previously-untouched brain). He has become uncharacteristically cunning and resourceful and, avec Cône, managed to do a number of things that Côned cats should not be able to do, including – but not limited to – the following:
1. Scaling 2-metre fences.
2. Travelling across several gardens, covering more ground than we ever thought possible.
3. Opening doors.
4. Chasing foxes.
5. Losing the detachable part of Le Cône.
6. Losing Le whole Cône.
7. Discovering bizarre new ways of scratching himself, the most notable of which was by using the corners of Cat Daddy’s old vinyl album covers. (Please see below for a picture of Le Roi having just toppled Deep Purple’s Machine Head after being caught in the act.)
Catorze will have been on the pills, in various strengths, for almost twelve weeks in total. Had it been a few weeks longer, we probably could have asked him to join our pub quiz team and he would have nailed that tricky anagrams round. And, after a few months, he may well have become Prime Minister.
Me: “Who would you rather have as Prime Minister? Option 1: Boris Johnson. Option 2 …”
Louis Catorze was highly displeased by someone or something outside the other day.
We were in the middle of a play session when he broke off to leap onto the shutters, his huge, inflated tail swinging and thumping. And he made an exhaling sound so bizarre that, initially, I didn’t even realise it was coming from him. (Yes, that noise on the video, sounding rather like someone sweeping gravel outside is, apparently, Catorze.)
Just as I was about to open the shutters, I heard the sound of someone calling their pet/child in their pet/child voice. (Anyone who has either, and anyone who may not have them but works with them, will know exactly what I mean by That Voice.) So, although I did not see the cause of Catorze’s chagrin, I am certain that it must have been a dog.
Now, Catorze has never behaved in this way towards any dog, EVER. Not Bert the dog, not Oscar the dog, not even the psycho fox with the zombie war-cry (who isn’t actually a dog but is close enough).
This, and the incident with Blue the Smoke Bengal during last week’s Clap for our Carers, disproves my theory that Sa Maj likes all other animals and wants to be friends with everyone. In actual fact he’s just like us, i.e. in the same way that not all people like all other people, he likes most animals but there was something about this particular one which offended him. I am now kicking myself for not being quicker to look behind the shutters too see what kind of dog it was. I’m imagining something like Cujo but it could just as easily have been a wispy little chihuahua wearing a pink feather boa and a tiara.
Here he is (see video below) puffing, whining and bristling. Luckily, having the attention span of a gnat served him well on this occasion, because he promptly forgot about this whole experience in a matter of minutes.
I would love to find out how your pets get along with other animals, so please comment below to let me know. Do they like their own species? Other species? Or are they a bit racist like Rocky, the ginger cat down the street who only likes black and tuxedo cats?
Almost seven weeks into lockdown, and both our dishwasher and our car have packed up, the former no doubt through over-use and the latter through insufficient use. And Cat Daddy appears to be coming down with a severe case of FOSTD: Fear of Starving to Death. Every meal time, he snaps, “Don’t eat all the [insert name of whichever food is in the vicinity]”, and I swear there is chocolate in the house that he’s hiding from me, although I can’t prove it.
Louis Catorze, however, is fine and dandy. In fact, with the human race safely off the streets, all the animals are ranging from fine and dandy to running riot and having a ball. First we had those goats in Llandudno and now there are wild boar in Paris, lions on a golf course in South Africa, and, erm, some part-leopard, part-dinosaur mystery beast that absolutely nobody can identify, in Kozhikode, India: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LHBgvhD7pOE
Here in TW8, as well as the squirrels, the foxes are at it.
A few nights ago I glimpsed a baby fox on the roof of That Neighbour’s shed. Then, at 4 o’clock the next morning, I awoke to the sound of what seemed to be a vehicle being driven with a flat tyre, and I thought someone was trying to steal a car. I opened the shutters and saw two to three (I can’t be quite sure) adult foxes circling one of the neighbours’ cars, all the while punctuated with the flat tyre thumping noise.
I couldn’t figure out how they were making the racket, as they didn’t appear to be hitting the car; they just SOUNDED as if they were. I then realised that the sound was coming from their mouths. How a fox can possibly make a thumping noise with its VOICE is beyond me but, as I learned from the zombie fox that Catorze screamed at a couple of years ago, every time I think I know what they sound like, they surprise me: https://louiscatorze.com/2018/09/30/je-suis-une-legende/
I then realised that Catorze wasn’t with me, and my heart sank at the thought of him on the loose outside with foxes gadding about. I went downstairs and turned on the outside light at The Back but there was no sign of him. He eventually appeared, soaking wet and screaming, after I had gone back to bed, and he rolled his cold, drenched body all over me which spelled the end of any hope for sleep.
At the risk of sounding like one of those panicky people who calls the vet if their cat so much as farts (and we all know at least one of those), should we be concerned about our outdoor cats under these circumstances? Traditionally foxes are said to steer clear of cats because they know about those murderous slasher claws, but I wonder how desperate they would be if they weren’t receiving scraps from restaurants and bars? Not that Catorze would make a very satisfying meal – you’d barely get a couple of canapés from his mini-rump – but that’s not the point.
I also imagine that most cats would give a gang of thumping-voiced foxes a wide berth, but we all know that Catorze does exactly the opposite of whatever is expected (or wanted).
What a heartfelt gesture to pay tribute to our key workers, and what a positive way of uniting the neighbourhood. Or so we thought, until Louis Catorze escaped out at The Front during this week’s clap and caused an incident in front of our neighbours.
When the clap began, Cat Daddy and I dashed outside to join in, leaving the front door open. YES, I KNOW. But, when we saw Catorze sitting on the stairs and staring in wide-eyed disbelief as if to say, “… the hell are you all doing out there?” we thought he’d stay put.
He didn’t. The little sod’s curiosity got the better of him and he pitter-pattered out. And, would you believe, Blue the Smoke Bengal escaped out at the same time.
Catorze decided to sit under a parked car and wait for the clapping to die down, and Blue caught sight of him and wandered over in a perfectly friendly and unthreatening way, to say hello. The two of them edged closer and closer together, and we thought perhaps this would be their chance to bond over their common foe of Oscar the dog … until Catorze hissed and sent poor Blue packing.
Oscar the dog’s mamma was mightily impressed that Sa Maj stood up for himself. But Cat Daddy was mortified. He later gave his boy a stern talking-to, and I overheard the words, “No wonder you don’t have any friends, if that’s the way you behave.” And he has a point. Blue is a lovely cat and, let’s face it, Catorze’s friend zone has been pretty barren since his BFF Dosti aka Ginger Impinger stopped coming by, so you’d think he’d be grateful for some chat company. We are mystified as to why he wouldn’t want to be amis with Blue, not to mention embarrassed as we get along very with with Blue’s mamma and we don’t want to add another person to the list of Neighbours Annoyed By Catorze’s Stupid Behaviour.
Catorze returned home not long after his spectacle but was soon back out again, this time at The Back, presumably to seek out Blue and make more trouble. This is not good.
Here he is, saying sorry for ruining the clap and for being rude to Blue, and trying to convince us all that he’s a good kitty really. We’re not having it.
Last Friday, the day after Louis Catorze’s birthday, it was Beltane, the Celtic start of summer. And, as most of us rethink our sun protection at this time of year, so does Louis Catorze. I’m not joking.
His recent allergy flare-up, and/or possibly friction against Le Cône, has caused him to lose fur from his ears. This is what they look like now, whereas a few months ago they just looked like normal, furry black ears:
My friend Lizzi thinks they look like pigs’ ears, which is revolting but she has a point. And now we can’t stop thinking about this. When we see pigs on television (e.g. when James Martin went to that pig farm in Dorset), we actually look for ones with ears like Catorze. I know. We really need to get out more (although there’s a very good reason why we don’t at the moment).
Apparently sunburned ears are a thing, albeit usually for pale-coloured cats. So, after seeking the vet’s advice, I have, erm, purchased some sunblock for Sa Maj.
Cat Daddy spat his tea all over his laptop when I told him. But, given that this is a cat who loves the sun so much that he used to take refuge in the GREENHOUSE during 35 degree heatwaves, he simply cannot be trusted to know what’s best for him.
Anyway, my quest for a cat sunblock revealed that there aren’t many U.K. options available, I imagine because we’re not exactly known for our sun. I eventually found some which, naturellement, costs twice as much as the product that we use on ourselves, for around 1/5 of the quantity. But it’s a relatively small price to pay to save us the crippling embarrassment of having to look another living soul in the face and tell them that our black cat has burnt his bald piggy ears.
So now the Sun King can sunbathe to his heart’s content.
And, in the blink of an eye, Louis Catorze’s birthday weekend was over. But what a party it was.
Cat Daddy, in a deadpan voice: “Oh yeah. It was probably the best cat birthday party I have ever been to.”
This celebration had everything: there was a birthday barbecue with Oscar the dog’s family – each of us in our own garden, of course – with a cat-themed music playlist, a Cat in the Hat recital and a speech in both English and French, all created by Oscar’s very talented human sister. Even Oscar was lured out of his post-meds sulk and joined in the proceedings, although that was more about the burgers than about extending an olive branch to his némésis.
Cat Daddy and I talked afterwards about this most likely being Catorze’s last big birthday, as it’s doubtful that he will make 20 or even 18. But, given that he doesn’t do very much or go very far, we see no reason why he wouldn’t make 14. And surely we should celebrate Catorze turning, erm, quatorze ans? Is it too early to start planning that?
Merci beaucoup to the Dog Family for their company, their impeccable party planning and their splendid gifts. Here is the little sod (below) checking out his stash and, although he loves everything, his favourite items are the handmade card and the beautifully decorated gift box.
Thank you also to Cocoa the babysit cat, his sister, Chanel, and their family for the Lily’s Kitchen treats, which came wrapped in the most sublime gift wrap ever (last photo).
Thank you so much to everyone who wished Louis Catorze a bon anniversaire and who donated to charitable causes in his honour. He had a great day, bouncing around, screaming and full of energy, although the bad weather meant we had to postpone some of the celebrations for this weekend. That said, he doesn’t know what a weekend is and, come to think of it, he doesn’t even know what a birthday is, so tant pis.
Cat Daddy also had a ball, managing to lose his phone after far too much white wine. He later found it in the garden, where he had left it after trying (and failing) to take the perfect Official 10th Birthday Portrait of Sa Maj. Cat Daddy also said lots of rude sweary words whilst watching the government’s daily briefing, then picked up his boy and murmured, “Sorry, Louis, for being angry on your birthday.”
Catorze had the unexpected birthday treat of being double-pilled by accident, receiving his whole day’s dose in one morning. Now, I know you are thinking I would have to be pretty stupid to double-pill a cat by accident. But I was tricked, as follows:
1. I placed the Trojan Horse Pill Pocket on Catorze’s plate but he refused to eat it.
2. I tried to persuade him about 739 times, but he continued to refuse.
3. I gave up and pilled him using the Greco-Roman method, leaving the first pill in his bowl (GROSSE ERREUR).
4. Little sod changed his mind and ate it immediately after being Greco-Romaned, when I wasn’t looking.
Had I been on holiday I most likely would have thought to remove the Trojan Horse from his bowl after pilling him but, because I am working full days from home, I have other things to do and I forgot. So now all pills not for immediate consumption are locked away in the way one would lock away sharp knives or drain unblocker from small children.
We were supposed to have moved well into the tapering phase of Catorze’s medication by now but, because the silly sod scratched himself when we unCôned him, we had to increase his dose for a while. Tomorrow we will be reducing him from two pills to one pill a day but, now that I have told you that, I’m pretty sure he will do something to mess it up again.
This (below) is the kind of behaviour we have been having to deal with, both with and without the pills. At 10 years old he should be trying to slow down, right? Yeah, well, he isn’t.