Le couvre-feu (Partie 1)

Before we open the living room window in the evening, we always go through the following ritual with Catorze:

Me: “You know you have to be back by 10pm, don’t you?”

Catorze: “Mwah!”

Me: “10pm. Is that clear? Meow once for yes, twice for no.”

Catorze: “Mwah!”

Cat Daddy, without looking up from the television: “He can’t understand you. He’s French.”

Unbelievably, the little sod has made it indoors almost every night at 9:57pm.

The only exceptions were yesterday, when he rolled in at 10pm on the dot, and last weekend, when Cat Daddy allowed him a half hour weekend extension and he came in at 10:24pm on Saturday and 10:28pm on Sunday.

(And, yes, I know that a weekend extension is nonsensical since Catorze doesn’t have a working week from which he needs to wind down, nor does he even know what a weekend is.)

Other than being creeped out by the fact that notre cher ami can apparently tell the time with some precision, we are trying not to read too much into this. Anyone who was ever grounded by their parents as a teenager knows that a run of good behaviour is highly suspicious. At best, it’s a trick to get the curfewer(s) off their case and to convince them to bring forward the lifting of the curfew. And, at worst, it’s a cover for a stunt even more outrageous than the one that caused the curfew to be imposed in the first place.

And it’s a full moon next week. Merde.

Dare we wonder what horrors lurk ahead?

He’s not always there when we call. But he’s always on time.

J’adore le papier toilette

Louis Catorze went AWOL the other day and, after a thorough search of Le Château, he was eventually found in a box of toilet rolls in the attic.

Cat Daddy: “Was it the box with just a couple of rolls left? Or the one with loads of rolls?” YES, THE NUMBER OF ROLLS IS THE ISSUE HERE.

(Incidentally, we haven’t been hoarding toilet rolls. We are not THOSE people. The huge boxes are what we received anyway in our standard online orders placed long before lockdown, as you will see from the photos of Catorze in this post: https://louiscatorze.com/2020/01/29/les-chiens-ont-des-maitres-les-chats-ont-des-serviteurs/)

Anyway, here is Catorze, choosing to spend a glorious summer’s day holed up in a dark and distinctly unclassy place. And, yes, the wording on the box is somewhat ironic given that cats’ arses are not nice things at all.

Apparently three beds with anti-allergy bedding, a winter igloo and a summer chaise longue are not sufficient.

Mange, crie, aime

This week I left the front door open by accident after putting out some recycling. Louis Catorze, without so much as a blink, seized the opportunity to escape out at The Front – YES, AGAIN – and, when Cat Daddy went to shut the door, he found the little sod screaming at a random passer-by in the street.

Now, of the 835 occasions that Catorze has caused mayhem in the street, we have probably only been present for a couple. It’s embarrassing enough when That Neighbour escorts him back to Le Château and we have to imagine all the horrific things he’s done whilst out on the rampage. But nothing – je répète, NOTHING – is as mortifying as actually being there. Because not only do people then know that he is our cat, but we are also obliged to Do Something About It.

(And, yes, Cat Daddy did once try to scurry past Catorze in the street, pretending not to know him. But the little sod chased him down like a wolf hunting a rabbit, screaming himself witless, and there was no escape.)

There was a brief conversation between Cat Daddy and the lady, and I heard him say, “Yes, he’s a noisy one, isn’t he?” Then he and Catorze came in, with Cat Daddy rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

He has not spoken about it since, and I have a feeling he never will.

This video was taken mid-February and isn’t of the actual incident – because I wasn’t there, thank God – but I suspect he sounded exactly like this. He’s a noisy one, indeed:

“Wahhhh! Aucune raison!”

La fuite

Someone had a massive telling-off from his daddy this week, after disappearing out at The Front and being gone all night.

To make matters worse, Cat Daddy had planned a big bike ride for the next morning and, of course, a poor night’s sleep stressing about an idiot cat isn’t exactly the best preparation for such a thing. The little sod did this on purpose.

I woke up that morning to the sound of faraway screaming, and I knew in an instant that Louis Catorze was out at The Front. Sure enough, when I opened the front door, he dashed in, bellowing indignantly, then headed straight for his glass of water.

I called up to Cat Daddy to let him know that he’d dropped the ball again (because he was the one who’d been on Late Shift after I‘d gone to bed), and he replied, “Thank God!” Then came the full story of the previous night’s fiasco:

Usually, if we sit in the front room with the window open, we can keep an eye on Catorze as he sits on the window sill and surveys his royaume. However, that night, very unusually, he’d decided to do a runner and hide.

Cat Daddy went out twice with his torch during the early hours of that morning, peering into neighbours’ gardens and bins – all the while fully aware that such behaviour usually results in the police being called – but there was no sign of Catorze. Now, if you’re at The Front at that time of the night/morning and a member of your family is out there looking for you, you cannot possibly be unaware of it. Unless, of course, you are a horrid little shite who is deliberately trying not to be found.

Eventually, at 1:25am, Cat Daddy came home empty-handed and went to bed. He usually sleeps very well but he had a terrible night, wondering if every sound was Catorze in distress and mentally planning the distribution of the “Missing” posters.

Anyway, by some miracle Sa Maj actually hadn’t bothered any of the neighbours during his overnight jaunt, although Cat Daddy sleepily overheard “an exchange of some sort” when the Abel and Cole parcel came at around 7am, and he now wonders if perhaps Catorze had accosted the delivery man. And we have agreed that our boy now needs a Front Curfew: 10pm on normal nights, possibly earlier on troublesome nights such as Friday 13th, Hallowe’en or a full moon.

This is worse than being the parents of a wayward teenager.

*EDIT: The night that we agreed the curfew time, Catorze actually returned of his own accord through the front window at 9:57pm. Cat Daddy and I found this satisfying yet also creepy beyond belief.

On which foot should we put the electronic tag?

Les poils sont de retour

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of when Louis Catorze came to live with us. Or, as Cat Daddy puts it, “Six years of him and his stupid shite” (and he may have a point but I don’t imagine they’ll be putting that on the front of greeting cards anytime soon).

And, to mark this auspicious occasion, we have good news: his ear fur is growing back.

Obviously we love the little sod whatever his physical appearance but bald ears are vulnerable ears, so we are both relieved and delighted that they are returning to normal. He could even be fully furred by the time he poses for his Hallowe’en 2020 Official Portrait, which is très important this year with it also being a full moon.

We have no idea why the fur is coming back – in fact, we are at a loss as to why it even disappeared in the first place – BUT IT’S COMING BACK. If you compare these two photos (below) from 22nd June and 13th July, there is definite fine-yet-visible regrowth, n’est-ce pas?

Crier pour un soupir

Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges: our cleaning lady is back. And I am more relieved than I ever thought possible because, although I like it when places and things are clean, I hate cleaning.

Nevertheless Cat Daddy and I had been getting used to our routine of putting on some cleaning music* and just blitzing the place, and he maintains that “you feel so much better after you’ve done it”. This is true. However, people only ever say that about unpleasant things. A dental appointment, a trip to the gym, pilling your cat … don’t we all feel better after we’ve done them, mainly because we then have the longest possible wait until the next time? So, given the choice between feeling better for having done it and not having to do it at all, I’m sorry but there’s no contest.

*Last week it was the Manic Street Preachers. Thank you for asking.

That said, we didn’t want our cleaning lady to think we’d let things slide in her absence, so naturellement we had to have one Final Clean a couple of days before she came. Yes, we have become THOSE people. But we are glad we did it, because it also reassured us that Louis Catorze hadn’t hidden any rats anywhere. After all, we didn’t want a repeat of THIS incident: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/06/16/il-y-a-un-rat-dans-ma-chambre-quest-ce-que-je-vais-faire/

During our Final Clean, it dawned on me just how much mess Catorze makes. The cruddy cat hair that came from his feeding station, and from sweeping the kitchen floor, was quite unbelievable, and I don’t think we will ever make sense of the smallest one of us generating the most muck. And, to make matters worse, Catorze doesn’t like it when we clean. He’s not afraid, just annoyed at the inconvenience of it all – yes, even though he doesn’t have to lift a paw, and even though it’s mainly his shite that we’re cleaning. Far from appreciating our efforts, he sits and screams throughout it all, then sniffs at his freshly-cleaned feeding station and walks away as if we have sullied it with our filth.

Oh well. At least his cleaning-surliness will be someone else’s problem now. And he can still go and get high on the bleach afterwards if he wants to cheer himself up.

Here is a video that I took back in April, showing his reaction to Cat Daddy vacuuming in the next room. As you can see, there is no fear. Just eye-rolling contempt.

“Fermez le noise!”

Être abandonné dehors

A few nights ago, Louis Catorze escaped out at The Front. Again.

He isn’t allowed to be there unsupervised, as you know, but, if we are sitting in the front room and can keep an eye on him through the open window, it’s not so bad. He happily sits on the wall outside, watching the world go by, and comes in when he’s ready. (There’s no point in trying to catch him because he won’t be caught.)

And he appears to have stopped his habit of going to That Neighbour’s house, repeatedly activating their security lighting and screaming outside their window, which is a relief to everyone (but especially to their family).

That night, Cat Daddy opened the window and chatted to a family member on Zoom whilst waiting for Catorze to return. When I went in to say goodnight, I asked him whether he was sober enough to remember to close the window before going to bed.

Cat Daddy’s family member, via the Zoom call: “No, he’s not. He’ll forget. If I were you, I’d shut it yourself.”

Me: “Is Louis in or out?”

Cat Daddy: “Who gives a shit?”

I closed the window and went to bed, but I couldn’t get to sleep without knowing that our boy was safe. When I heard Cat Daddy turning off the lights downstairs, I called down to him and asked him to check The Front one more time because I feared that the little sod might be out there.

Cat Daddy: “I don’t think he’s even there. He’s probably at The Back.”

Me: “Please would you check anyway?”

Cat Daddy: “[Indiscernible muttering]”

I heard him unlock the front door and call Catorze’s name. That was the moment I learned that it’s actually possible to say someone’s name in a sarcastic manner. It sounds nonsensical but, trust me, he did it.

I then heard pitter-pattering, and a “Mwahhhh!” before the door closed.

Cat Daddy: “HAPPY NOW?”

Me: “Louis is safe. And I was right and you were wrong. So I’m very happy, thanks for asking.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Anyway, Cat Daddy has since reinvented that story with some savage editing to make me look like the negligent party; according to his version, I shut the window leaving poor Catorze trapped outside and he was the one who rescued him. If I contest it, he says, “Is that not what happened? Go on, deny it.”

Le Roi knows the truth. But he’s not snitching on his papa.

“Aucun commentaire.”

Les visiteurs

I have started asking Cat Daddy to write down all the drunken topics of conversation that arise during the Zoom calls with his pub mates. This is mainly so that I don’t have to bother listening and trying to keep up.

Cat Daddy: “Why do I have to do this? You’re only going to blog about it and ridicule us.” Well, obviously, yes. I have never kept that a secret from him/them.

Anyway, these are the highlights from last Friday’s 2-hour (!) session:

1. Pete’s 15-minute Jamie Oliver brown rice recipe (but he didn’t use pre-cooked brown rice so it ended up taking much longer than 15 minutes, making him late for the call)

2. Pre-dinner drinks that start at 4:30pm and go on until 11:30pm (no idea what sort of dinners they go to, but they sound terrible)

3. The worst time they ever got drunk

4. Simon’s cake mix (to which he forgot to add butter, so the cakes ended up like biscuits)

5. Underfloor ventilation and air bricks

6. Lifestyle coaches

7. The website from which Tim has just bought a fancy piece of art, and whether it’s a real website or whether Tim has been scammed

8. Toilet facilities aboard World War II Bombers

9. “Then things descended into drunken nonsense” (Cat Daddy’s very words)

Whilst normality is slowly creeping back for us Londoners, Cat Daddy’s Friday night Zoom meets look set to stay for the time being. However, I think Louis Catorze misses having visitors to Le Château and would far rather see the boys in person.

During our pre-Covid life, people would visit us all the time. Most of them, as you know, came to see Catorze. And, on football days, when friends would come over for pre-match hot dogs and drinks, Catorze would assume they had also come to see him and would happily pitter-patter from guest to guest (favouring the males, of course).

Now, of course, we haven’t had anyone over since March, and I genuinely think Catorze wonders what’s happened to everyone. Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy captured this beautifully in this lovely card for Cat Daddy’s birthday last week (see below).

Hopefully it won’t be too long until we’re allowed to see people properly. And we will be sure to let you know when Sa Maj dusts off his guest book and starts taking bookings again.

Les amis pour toujours

A few days ago my friend Laura, whom I hadn’t seen since before lockdown and who also has a French cat, came by for a doorstep chat.

Louis Catorze was asleep in his box when she arrived (yes, the one labelled “Cats are not permitted to sit inside this box”) but he came out to greet her. He purred, flirted, nuzzled and rolled as if welcoming a long-lost friend, and I was so proud to have such a well-mannered boy.

My pride didn’t last long.

Shortly afterwards, Blue the Smoke Bengal and his mamma also came out to say hello and, whilst Laura was delighted to have double the cat value for her visit, Catorze let the side down rather badly by cornering Blue in That Neighbour’s garden and meowing in his face. Then the pair of them just sat there, and I had absolutely no idea what to do about it.

I had dreadful visions of trying to retrieve one or other little sod and That Neighbour coming out of his house at precisely that moment, wanting to know why I was scrambling undignifiedly among his plant pots. And I didn’t dare leave them unsupervised in case a fight broke out and That Neighbour ended up having to escort TWO miscreant cats off his premises instead of just one. (Yes, he does know both cats by sight. And, yes, he also knows where they live.)

So I just stood by uselessly and did nothing at all.

Luckily both cats decided to end their deadlock and return home, and That Neighbour is none the wiser. But I am, once again, mystified as to why Catorze would be disagreeable towards a cat who appears to want to be friends with him. This must be exactly what it’s like to have the awful kid whom nobody likes, and who is only invited to parties because the other parents are trying to be polite. If he were our human kid we’d be making him write a letter of apology right now, denying him his supper until he wrote it like he meant it.

Laura took this photo during the stand-off, and you can just about make out Blue’s rear end among the plant pots behind him.

Laura thinks the little sod looks cute. I think he looks creepy as hell and not remotely like someone I’d want as a friend.

I blame the parents.

La boîte de délices

Cat Daddy and I recently started ordering our fruit and vegetables from Oddbox, who rescue surplus produce: https://www.oddbox.co.uk

It’s not necessarily local, organic produce, nor can you choose the contents – apart from the weekly specials which you can chuck in as add-ons – but we don’t really care about any of that. We rather like the element of surprise and planning our meals around whatever we receive, and we feel good about the fact that we are making use of perfectly good fruit and vegetables that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Our favourite things are the bendy cucumbers, rejected for their bendiness. We also love reading all the ridiculous reasons why items end up being surplus e.g. who knew that pineapples could be rejected if the spiky leaf topping isn’t straight?

Cat Daddy’s most recent email from Oddbox featured photos of customers’ cats sitting in the empty delivery boxes, and I thought it might be nice to send them a picture of Louis Catorze doing the same thing.

Cat Daddy, scrolling through the photos: “Oh. All the other cats are really pretty.”

Me: “Meaning what?”

Him: “Well … you know.” [Long pause.] We can’t very well send them a photo of HIM, can we?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Anyway, the box sat in our living room for ages and, naturellement, the little sod wasn’t interested. I eventually had to deploy the old Reverse Psychology Trap (see writing on box) and BINGO: Catorze fell straight into it.

We will let you know if Oddbox decide to use his photo.

Cat Daddy: “[Indiscernible muttering]”

Can he resist forbidden (surplus) fruit?

Au clair de la lune

Cats and full moons, Mesdames et Messieurs: whatever you’ve heard, it’s all true.

A few nights ago, during the full moon, Louis Catorze’s behaviour was utterly out of control, with relentless hours of racing around, whining, screaming and so on. As usual, Cat Daddy slept through it and he didn’t believe me when I told him how dreadful it was.

Cat Daddy: “I might have heard maybe one meow, but that was it. Wasn’t it?”

No. Not by a long way.

Anyway, the next night we experienced similar chaos, no doubt because the moon remains full for a day or two before waning and therefore the psycho behaviour doesn’t just switch off. This time Cat Daddy DID witness it.

The next morning he said, “He was absolutely manic after you went to bed. Wouldn’t stop screaming. We went outside together and the screaming got worse. In fact, I followed him to the end of the garden, and I swear he was trying to lead me to something.”

Oh. Holy. Hell. At this point I actually felt my soul leave my body.

Just when we all thought Catorze couldn’t get any creepier, THIS?

Cat Daddy’s theories as to what it could have been:

1. Foxes

2. Another cat

3. Some sort of dead prey too bulky to drag through the gap in the fence

My thoughts:

1. Werewolves

2. Demons

3. A vortex leading to a parallel dimension, most likely the one from where Catorze originated in the first place

There is nothing visible at the end of the garden, nor on the other side of the fence, which could have been the source of Catorze’s animated mood. But, frankly, this makes it – and him – all the more terrifying, and I am now scared to be alone with the little sod.

Worse yet, it’s only July. What on earth is he going to be like in October, when his sinister Chat Noir power peaks and when we are set to have not one but TWO full moons?

Follow the black cat.

Une créature de la nuit, comme celles dans les BD

Now that summer is properly here, Louis Catorze is permanently out. And by that I don’t simply mean he is spending more time outdoors than he used to. I mean we never see him, EVER. Sometimes Cat Daddy has even had to cancel Boys’ Club meetings due to low attendance, which is unheard of.

Occasionally, when I go to bed, Catorze comes up with me and cuddles me until I fall asleep. But this is not a loving gesture; this is more like a teenager making sure his parents are properly asleep before sneaking out for some illicit partying. Once I’m asleep, Catorze is back downstairs bidding his papa a friendly “Bonsoir” and then he’s out.

As for what he does when he’s out, that rather depends on whether or not we can see him. If he’s in our garden, it’s not hard to monitor his activities which are usually as follows:

1. Rodent Duty (see below for a photo of him surveying the gap in the fence that separates the Zone Occupée from the Zone Libre)

2. Arguing with the local wildlife (see below for a photo of him taken just after I intervened in a scream-off with an absolutely furious parakeet)

Rather more worrying is what the little sod gets up to when we CAN’T see him. Quite often he disappears eastwards across the shed roofs and we hear mid-distance barking, which most likely means he has got as far as Twiggy the greyhound’s place about ten houses away. And I really don’t fancy his chances of outrunning her.

Most cats start to slow down when they reach double figures, but Catorze appears to have taken his lead from The Lost Boys* instead. He has mastered both sleeping all day and partying all night and, due to his diminutive kittenish stature, he ticks the “never grow old” box, too.

It’s fun to be a vampire.

*Younger followers: ask your parents.

Playing Whack-a-Rat.
He says the parakeet started it.

Les rats de ville

Our pubs are officially open from today.

However, Cat Daddy and his boozing buddies have decided that they won’t be heading back to the Cock and Bull* quite yet, and that they will continue their virtual drinking meets for the time being. This is great news for Louis Catorze, who loves the Friday night Zoom sessions with the boys, and even better news for me as I get to listen to their captivating chats and tell you all about them.

*I haven’t made this up. This is the actual name of the pub where they used to meet pre-lockdown. I KNOW.

Anyway, for those who are interested, their most recent meeting of minds consisted of the following topics:

1. Eric Clapton

2. Playing whole albums on Spotify/Deezer/Apple Music/whatever, versus only playing selected tracks

3. Who has the biggest car (Tim, Mike and Simon fought it out between them and couldn’t agree, so the conclusion remains inconclusive)

4. Plastering, and the fact that you can (apparently) now get paint which is the same colour as plasterboard

5. Lawn bowls

6. Sutton Beer Festival 1975, when (apparently) a naked lady climbed to the top of a marquee and a naked man chased after her

7. Pete’s summer house/shed, and whether it should be called a summer house or a shed

8. How much salt everyone adds when they’re cooking

In other news, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, CANNIBAL RATS. Oh yes. 2020 has already given us blazing infernos (Australia), raging floods (UK), a plague of locusts (Somalia) and a killer virus (erm, everywhere) but, if you drew “cannibal rats” in your workplace sweepstake as the next thing to go wrong in the world, you may well be in the money. On the positive side, the reopening of pubs may draw the little critters away from residential areas. But that’s about the only good news that there is.

Be warned, this link is a darkly comedic yet horrifying read:


Thank goodness for Catorze and his relentless hours of Rodent Duty. Ok, so it’s not great that he brings them into the house, but I guess a dead rat in the house is somewhat preferable to a live one running freely and making little ratty babies. (There were many, many things in the above link that made me shudder, but “highly fertile” was by far the worst.)

Here is the little sod, having adopted an elevated position for a better view and continuing to take his civic duty very seriously indeed. So, good citizens of TW8, we can sleep soundly in our beds this summer.

All along the watchtower.

Le velours noir

Louis Catorze’s ears are now almost completely bald, and they look more like pigs’ ears than ever before.

Cat Daddy is convinced that the sunblock somehow “killed the hair follicles” so, even though this is highly unlikely, I stopped applying it just to see what would happen. But I think he has continued to lose fur even without the block, and now he looks like this:

“Où sont les poils?”

Although it looks highly unattractive, Catorze’s skin is not sore or inflamed and, in fact, he doesn’t even seem to know or care that the fur has gone. It’s certainly not bad enough to require a vet visit now but, if he’s still bald in September, I will be sure to mention it when I take him in for his booster jabs. Not that I really need to mention it, as it’s plain for all to see.

Fingers crossed that this is just a temporary blip, and that the little sod will be fully-furred soon.