Cat Daddy and I have just come back from a weekend on the south coast, leaving Louis Catorze in the hands of Oscar the dog’s family. Whenever they take over Roi duties, we always return to find him glossier and more healthy-looking than he was when we left him, so clearly life under their care suits him. (And, yes, we have checked that it’s definitely him.)
In other news, Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges (or perhaps, as we are leading up to Hallowe’en, it would be more appropriate to say “Merci au Diable et à tous ses démons”): Catorze’s ear fur is growing back.
Nobody knows why it’s coming back. In fact, nobody knows why it went away in the first place. BUT IT’S COMING BACK.
Obviously we would love Catorze whatever his physical appearance (Cat Daddy: “[Indiscernible muttering]”) but we couldn’t be happier that he looks set to be back to his beautiful velvety self (Cat Daddy: “[More indiscernible muttering]”) in time for his big day on 31st October.
Here is a photographic record of his, erm, earvolution (you’re welcome) since the summer:
Borrow My Doggy, if you aren’t familiar with it, is exactly as it sounds: people who don’t have dogs walk the dogs of people who have them but aren’t able to do it. A couple of our family members, who like dogs but don’t have their own at the moment, use the service to walk a cute little sausage dog named, erm, Rod Stewart. (And he only responds to his full name; none of this “abbreviating to save face” business.)
As is often the case when dog innovations come along, Cat Daddy and I got talking about whether or not this idea would work for cats.
Cat Daddy: “Is it even possible to borrow someone’s cat?”
Me: “Not really. Cats don’t do fun days out with strangers.”
Him: “So if a catless person wanted to spend time with a cat, what would they do?”
Me: “I don’t know. If they knew where it lived, I guess they’d just go to its house?”
Him: “So the owner would have to host random people who wanted to visit their cat? That’s just stupid. Who would do that?”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]
Anyway, Borrow My Doggy appears to be a win-win for all. But what would happen if relations with your partner-dog were less than harmonious?
I imagine if there were an actual incident, you could just say to the owner, “I’m afraid your dog bit a small child / pulled so hard on the lead that he dislocated my shoulder / barked at an old lady and sent her into cardiac arrest” (or whatever it was) and the owner would take him back and say, “Oh dear, I’m sorry about that. No hard feelings. I hope the next dog works out better.” But what if you just DIDN’T LIKE THE DOG? Breaking up with an animal seems pretty low, and ignoring it and not returning its calls is even lower. And as for continuing to spend time with it because you’re too cowardly to do the honest thing and find a better animal … well …
Cat Daddy: “You get used to it. Trust me on this.”
Here is Rod Stewart (below) having a little rest after the excitement of a long walk with his chien-sitteurs. And Louis Catorze is available here for anyone who wishes to start a Borrow My Kitty group. I’ll take a seat in case I’m in for a long wait.
Cat Daddy just called the patio “the catio” by accident. He claims that he yawned in the middle of saying the word, which caused it to come out the way it did. Whatever.
The thing is, I don’t think he knows what a catio is or is even aware that it’s an actual thing. (For others like him: a catio is a kind of wire mesh outdoor conservatory attached to one’s house, so that cats think they’re outside but remain secured and out of mischief.) My belief is that, rather than having this particular structure in mind, Cat Daddy’s subconscious intention was to rename our outside space as something that belongs, and has always belonged, to Louis Catorze.
I think his version is better.
Here is Catorze, relaxing in/on his catio, and he certainly looks as if he owns the place:
*WARNING: CONTAINS POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING SPIDER REFERENCES AND A (PRETTY RUBBISH) DRAWING OF ONE*
The autumn equinox is here, and this time of year always fills me with deep, deep joy. The one thing I don’t like about it, however, is the fact that it’s spider season.
I know, I know, they help us out by catching flies. But still … *shudder* …
Despite living opposite a park, we don’t seem to have encountered too many of the little critters as yet. I can’t help hoping that the summer heatwave dried them all to a crisp but, in reality, it’s probably because it’s uncharacteristically warm. So they must still think it’s summer and just haven’t thought to creep into our houses as yet.
Although I spent much of my childhood and early adulthood with crippling arachnophobia, these days I don’t mind sharing my space with a spider. Given the choice, I would obviously rather not. But I can cope, as long as it’s small and it stays the hell away from me. Plus we have a cat who kills and eats creepy crawlies. So, all is good, oui?
Of course this is Louis Catorze we’re talking about, so there’s a little twist to the tale.
Catorze is the Happy Gilmore of spider hunters. In case you haven’t seen the film, it’s about a baseball-player-turned-golfer who can manage a hole in one from miles away, but not a short, easy putt of a few centimetres. This is the perfect analogy for Catorze and spiders. He is great at spotting faraway spiders who are just minding their own business at the other end of the room, and he will happily leap off laps to eat said beasties straight off the wall or the floor, even in the dark. But a spider that is right in front of him: nope. If I place him next to a spider he just looks straight through it, then looks gormlessly at me and pitter-patters off.
I hope that the spider population will keep a respectable distance this autumn. And, if not, I hope that I will have some success with my arachno-tutelage of Catorze. The picture below shows my ingenious scientific spider-eating training in action, and naturellement it takes into account the cat’s innate predisposition towards doing the opposite of whatever is expected or wanted:
*EDIT: I’ve just been told that Happy Gilmore played baseball, not golf. Serves me right for getting drunk during the film!
Lily’s Kitchen have renamed Fabulous Fish as Fisherman’s Feast. I know. I’ll just pause for a minute or two to let that bombshell sink in.
This is such a big deal that even Cat Daddy has an opinion on it.
Cat Daddy: “I like Fabulous Fish much better than Fisherman’s Feast.”
Me: “So do I.”
Him: “I mean, it’s not actually a fisherman’s feast at all, is it?”
Me: “It isn’t.”
Him: “No fisherman would want to eat that.”
Me: “They wouldn’t.”
According to Lily’s Kitchen the formulation remains unchanged, so Louis Catorze should be able to continue to enjoy it as normal. But we are mildly irked by the name change, especially as the dogs’ version of the same food is called Salmon Supper, which is far more accurate and dignified than Fisherman’s Feast.
Luckily Catorze remains unaffected by this life-changing news, plus we decant the food into a dispenser before it reaches him, anyway, so nobody need know. Here is the little sod’s assiette royale, on his spring-summer serving mat, waiting for him to tuck in:
Football is a big part of my life. So are cats. Sometimes it’s hard to know where one ends and another begins, and it seems that my brain can’t deal with loving both as much as I do.
Me: “There’s a League 2 footballer called Louis, and the commentators on EFL have just called him Louis-boy.” (This is one of Cat Daddy’s more polite nicknames for Louis Catorze, hence why I thought this story would be of interest to him.)
Cat Daddy: “I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t talk about a player like that.”
Me: “THEY DID.”
Him: “Why would they do that? Why wouldn’t they just call him Louis? Or by his surname, like they do with all other footballers?”
Me: “I don’t know. Maybe because he’s only fifteen and so he actually is a boy? I think it’s cute. Louis-boy. Awww.”
Me: “Google it if you don’t believe me. Type in “footballer Louis Grimsby”.”
[Cat Daddy taps away at his phone whilst muttering indiscernibly ]
Him, looking at his phone: “Louis BOYD. He’s called LOUIS BOYD. They were calling him by his ACTUAL NAME.”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]
Him: “It’s a good thing we found this out before you repeated your idiotic story in front of any Important Footballing People.”
[Stonier silence, more tumbleweed, noisier crickets]
Ok, so I may have made myself look stupid, but I still think Louis-boy sounds adorable. And suddenly I’m keen to know all the goings-on at Grimsby Town FC in League 2.
Our Louis-boy concurs, although he will always be a Black Cat at heart.
I came downstairs on Monday morning to the far-more-familiar-than-I’d-like sound of indignant screaming at The Front. Sure enough, Cat Daddy had dropped the ball again whilst on late-night Louis Catorze duty and the little sod had been shut out all night.
I let him in, hoping that the screaming would stop once he was safely indoors. Nope: he wasn’t done. He circled my feet and continued to scream and scream, all wild-eyed and outraged.
Catorze raced to his water, then to his food. And, because he bolted each one far too fast, within minutes he had projectile-vomited across the living room.
Now, I am not good with puke. I am fine with other bodily secretions – well, not “fine” at all, but you know what I mean – yet something about puke offends me deeply. Most likely it’s the fact that it’s puke.
Our first cat, Nimbus, used to vomit in very convenient, scentless sausage shapes which one could simply lift away. (We did clean underneath, obviously, but we didn’t have to scrub as the solid sausages left no trace, not even on carpet.) Luther only ever puked once – when he ate a snail – so we didn’t have to deal with it habitually, although I did step in the lukewarm, vommed-up snail remains with bare feet which wasn’t very nice. But, whilst Catorze isn’t a frequent vomiter, we barely have any carpet in the entire Château yet he always manages to land on it. I know that he is doing this on purpose. I can’t prove it but I know it.
The plumber arrived when I was mid-clean. He had only ever met and dealt with Cat Daddy until then, and I’m not sure he even knew anyone else lived here, so the poor man must have had an almighty shock when the door was answered by me, hair tied up in a big pineapple shape on top of my head using a pair of knickers as a hair tie, sleeves rolled up and with a bottle of Method cleaning spray in one hand and a puke-encrusted kitchen towel in the other.
And, when he went upstairs to fit the new part to the boiler, Catorze followed to annoy him whilst he worked.
Cat Daddy slept through the whole sorry saga. And he found it very funny that I was the one left to deal with the screaming and the puke when it was his fault for shutting Sa Maj outside in the first place.
It really is a laugh a minute here at Le Château. Unfortunately it’s people laughing at me, not with me.
When I retired, I fully realised that I’d be at home on my own for a lot of my time as Cat Mummy (AKA Cat Freak Wife or simply CFW) plans to carry on working for some years to come. To be honest, that didn’t worry me at all. In fact I was quite looking forward to “time on my own” with the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, without interruption. Bliss.
I’d clearly forgotten one thing: HIM. Le Roi, as we all know him.
For some inexplicable reason and despite my consistent approach of complete indifference towards HIM, I appear to have become the human in the house that HE is most attached to. Lovely as that might sound to some, it’s certainly not what I had contemplated when considering my future time at home.
There are too many annoyances to mention in one blog, so let me try to take you through a very “average” day spent in retirement. With HIM.
CFW leaves for work. I sleep in. I’m awoken by HIS screaming at the bedroom door to come in. Some cats have a meow that soothes. HE doesn’t. HIS meow is caustic, sounding like an elderly Verruca Salt not getting her way. “Meoaaawww.” And so begins the day. I usually give in and let HIM into the bedroom. We cuddle until I get bored. Not long.
Breakfast used to be an ordeal as HE would meoaaw around me and try to barge into my hand for more cuddles whilst I’m trying to drink my tea. So I have developed a new routine: I make a point of putting out our recycling at The Front. HE follows me. I shut the front door once he’s out and settle down for a relaxed breakfast alone and get on with stuff retired people do.
Surprisingly, this trick works every day. I think HE forgets. When HIS screaming at The Front eventually becomes a threat to our good neighbourly relations, I let HIM in. We cuddle.
I’ve learned that I must get out in the mornings to do stuff that retired people do. HE sees me preparing to go out, looks me in the eyes and lets out a very pitiful meoaaw.
Undeterred, I escape. Freedom.
By the time I return HE is usually doing what cats do best: sleeping somewhere in the house. I tiptoe around so as not to wake HIM, doing retired people’s stuff and, weather permitting, escape to our backyard.
Shortly before retiring I asked one of our neighbours, who is a carpenter, to build some seating at the back of our yard. He named it my “retirement bench” and it has become just so: a lovely tranquil place to sit and read. Until HE appears out of nowhere with an excited meoaaw. We cuddle.
Alternatively, if the weather is rubbish, I’ll listen to music indoors which obviously alerts HIM to my presence so HE joins me for a boys’ music club. Thankfully, the music tends to drown out his meoaaw. We cuddle.
My solo time with HIM ends when CFW returns from work, usually much to HIS disgust. HE sulks a bit, maybe disappears off somewhere but eventually returns.
At the end of last month, Cat Daddy, Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy and I went on a farewell tour of Griffin Park. Brentford FC’s last season at its iconic stadium should, of course, have ended in celebration, with Brentford winning the play-offs and a huge party, and, sadly, it wasn’t to be. But a tour was the next best thing.
As we walked through, Sally stopped mid-sentence, pointed to a face on one section of the banner and said, “Oh my God, look. There’s a cat.”
Me: “Oh. Erm, yeah. That’s … mine.”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets from the rest of the tour group, and laughter from Sally]
Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Louis Catorze’s picture made it past the censors:
The only thing is that the stretched, angled nature of the final printed version – presumably to give the best appearance on television from the overhead cameras – has given poor old earless Catorze a somewhat, erm, phallic shape. This is rather more apparent in some photos than in others:
I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to spot him during any of the televised matches, but how lovely that Brentford FC were such good sports.
The league matches of the new football season start today. Let’s hope that the new stadium brings us good luck, and that it won’t be too long before we’re watching football in person.
The vet confirmed on Monday that Louis Catorze’s chip remains correctly positioned and has not migrated into some strange part of his body. So the problem is definitely either in the Sureflap, in his brain or both.
The Sureflap has been in manual mode for a couple of weeks now. And, merci à Dieu, we have had no unwanted visitors, despite Cat Daddy spotting these chaps in the Zone Libre after first hearing Catorze growling and hissing at them:
Cat Daddy has wanted to put the Sureflap back into electronic mode for some time, but I wanted to be sure first of all that Catorze remembered how to come in. Any slight mishap is likely to wipe the remaining fragments of his memory and then we would have to start all over again.
Catorze is often outside when we go to bed and inside when we wake up, so clearly he is managing to find his way in. But we find it rather peculiar that he is coming and going undetected. Neither Cat Daddy nor I have seen him come in, not once, despite having seen him go out many times. Obviously being in the right place at the right time to ensure a completely equal balance would be unlikely, but you’d imagine SOME parity, as opposed to witnessing 842 of his exits and absolutely none of his entrances.
My friend Lizzi: “But he teleports. You know this. I don’t know why you’re even surprised.”
Anyway, sooner or later we will have to switch the Sureflap back to selective mode, which will, no doubt, be the trigger point for making everything go wrong again.
Please pray for all those affected by this crisis.
I have been back at school for just over a week. My hands are drier than desert sand due to all the washing. None of my school shoes fit, having being abandoned since March, and I’m forced to wear them in again as if they were new shoes. The school roof leaked during lockdown, which dissolved the labels off the science chemical bottles and now nobody knows what’s what. And the top floor – regretfully, where my classroom is situated, next to the science labs – bears the stench of damp, decay and death. But, apart from that, everything has been fine.
Meanwhile at Le Château, a certain someone went for their annual booster jabs yesterday. Any pet owner will know what a joyous occasion this is.
This is how the sequence of events unfolded:
1. Woke up to find Louis Catorze lying on top of me, which is most unusual, and realised then that I had not locked Sureflap to keep him in. (Had we purchased snazzy new model with hub, this could have been done from our phones.) Lay trapped under Catorze knowing that if I so much as THOUGHT TOO HARD about locking Sureflap, little sod would read my mind and dart out before I could even blink.
2. Successfully managed to beat him downstairs and lock Sureflap.
3. Catorze couldn’t get out. Whining started. Ignored him and drank tea.
4. Bagged him up in transportation pod.
5. Set off for appointment, telling Catorze things like, “It’s going to be fine. We’ve got this.” Because whining fell silent at that point and transportation pod doesn’t look at all like an animal carrier, people in park heard/saw me and most likely thought I was talking to myself, like those motivational guru ladies who stand in front of the mirror and tell themselves “I am a warrior woman” every day.
6. Whining restarted. Although quieter than screaming, psychologically it’s much, much worse. Screaming animal = unhinged or has rabies = not your fault. Whining animal = in torment = you are an animal abuser.
7. Arrived at vet practice and handed over Catorze like a bag of heroin. (We aren’t allowed in with the animals, so we have to mask up and hand them over to another masked person as if doing a drugs drop.)
8. Whilst waiting outside, briefly imagined what vets are like when we’re not present. Wondered whether they morph into Cruella de Vil. Visualised vet brandishing massive squirty syringe and yelling at Catorze, “And this is for all those times you clawed my staff and kicked them in the face, you little shit!”
9. Vet returned bagged Roi and informed me that he had been “very well-behaved”. Unsure whether she meant “compared to most cats” or “by his own abysmally low standards”. Thought it best not to ask.
10. Walked home in silence, wondering whether vet might have swapped Catorze for a psychotic changeling. Decided that psychotic changeling would be less trouble, and kept walking.
11. Walked past about seven or eight dogs in park, who took one look at transportation pod and started barking all at once. Realised that I probably had the right cat.
12. Arrived home and Catorze had forgotten how to use Sureflap again.
This is what I brought home from the appointment. Catorze or psychotic changeling?
Cat Daddy has decided that he wants to replace our kitchen sofa with a new leather one. The existing fabric one is perfectly fine, but he is adamant.
The only real flaw I can find is that dust mites are more common in fabric than in leather, making the current sofa less Louis Catorze-compliant. So, much to Cat Daddy’s chagrin, I have been telling anyone who cares – and a fair few who don’t – that he is spending £1,700 on new furniture for the cat.
Cat Daddy isn’t thrilled about this. But he can’t stop me, so tant pis pour lui.
After looking at various sofas online we went to try them out in person at Sofology, where we were served by the lovely Ish. Cat Daddy had his heart set on the untreated, almost-suede look but, because it looked as if it would absorb every drop and spill, I told him that the glossier, finished leather would be better. And Ish agreed with me.
I also pointed out that the untreated finish was quite fabric-like in appearance and feel; Catorze scratches fabric, but never leather.
Ish: “My cat is similar. He scratches all the cheap fabric in my house but not my expensive velvet sofa.”
Me: “YOU HAVE A CAT! What does he look like?”
Ish: “He’s ginger and white. His name is Harchi.”
Me: “Please may I see a picture?”
And that was it for the next few minutes, with talk of our cats and their habits. Fun fact: Ish gives his cat rough play sessions in exactly the same way that Cat Daddy does with Catorze.
Cat Daddy: “ANYWAY. Back to sofas …”
After making our purchase, Ish asked if we were happy with the service that we’d received and told us that he would very much appreciate an online review.
Me: “Well, you showed me a picture of your cat so, straight away, that’s worth a 10.”
Ish: “People who don’t like cats … well … that’s just weird. Don’t you think it’s WEIRD?”
Me: “Yes. Very.”
Our new sofa and matching footstool will be arriving within the next eight weeks, and we will be sure to post some pictures of Boys’ Club taking place on them. I am sorely tempted to also send the pictures to Ish. What do you think?
There seemed to be a lot of missing cat posters around TW8 and its surrounding areas during lockdown. I don’t know whether more cats than usual went missing, or whether my inordinate amount of lockdown walks simply made the posters more noticeable, but I stopped to read every single one.
A long time ago someone told me that it was important to describe a cat’s personality, in addition to appearance, on a missing poster, as appearance is easily seen in a photo and doesn’t need much reiteration by text. I wondered at the time how valid this could be; after all, a fleeting encounter with a cat in the street didn’t seem sufficient to indicate personality and to know whether or not it was the right cat.
That was until my sister successfully reunited Peanut with her owner a few years ago, after reading on the poster of her tendency to sit and stare like the cat from Shrek. Because of her weight loss whilst on the run, Peanut didn’t look an awful lot like the picture shown on the poster. But the description of this one character trait nailed it.
And Cat Daddy was convinced of this, too, when he and I had the following exchange after he sent me a photo of a cat he’d seen in the street.
Me: “That cat looks like Catus Interruptus.”
Him: “Who’s Catus Interruptus?”
Me: “He lives a few doors down from Cocoa the babysit cat.”
Him: “Why do you call him Catus Interruptus?”
Me: “Because he barges up to random strangers and makes them stop whatever they’re doing to give him attention.”
Him, very firmly: “Yes. That is EXACTLY what happened. It was definitely him.”
Obviously I hope none of us will ever have to think about this, but a description of character traits on a missing pet poster might just be worth a shot. I did briefly think about what I’d say about Catorze, but we would be able to hear his screaming from wherever he was in the country. So he wouldn’t be missing for long.
Here is Catus Interruptus, homing in on Cat Daddy like a heat-seeking missile: