On doit être un œuvre d’art

The big day is finally upon us. And I am ignoring Cat Daddy’s suggestion of giving Louis Catorze an extra pill tonight “just for a treat”.

Covid has done its utmost to destroy Hallowe’en but, here at Le Château we have A Plan. London moved into Covid Tier 2 a fortnight ago, which means no mixing indoors with other households, but outdoor meeting is still permitted (up to 6 people). So Oscar the dog’s family will be joining us outside for venison sausages cooked on the barbecue, and they plan to dress for warmth rather than for scares but will apparently be wearing, and I quote: “head outfits”. The mind boggles.

Catorze has also done his best to ruin Hallowe’en by becoming ill with his allergy (not that he notices or cares). As a result Cat Daddy and I have had the following conversations at least 463 times in the last few days:

Him: “Don’t we usually have a seasonal bouquet of flowers at Hallowe’en?”

Me: “Yes, but we can’t this year.”

Him: “Because of HIM? [Unrepeatable expletives]”

Him again: “Don’t we usually have black scented candles at Hallowe’en?”

Me: “Yes, but we can’t this year.”

Him: “Because of HIM? [Unrepeatable expletives]”

And so on …

Every year I attempt to persuade Catorze to sit for an official Hallowe’en portrait, and every year I fail because the little sod won’t comply. So, this year, because it was too important for him to stuff up, I decided to take matters into my own hands and implement foolproof emergency measures.

Behold his Official 2020 Hallowe’en Portrait (below), painted by my friend Victoria Watts, whose details are at the bottom of this post. C’est magnifique, non? The best thing is the fact that you can instantly tell that it’s Catorze; there’s no mistaking the deranged eyes, the messed-up whiskers and, of course, the fangs (which are slightly exaggerated here, just as I asked). This proves beyond any doubt that the “All black cats look the same” brigade – of whom Cat Daddy is a vociferous member – don’t know what they’re talking about.


I adore the portrait. And it’s just as well I had it done, because this was the best result of Catorze’s numerous failed photographic sittings with me:

Unofficial – and I needed the black pen markup tool to colour in his conspicuous pink arse.

On that note, happy Full Moon Hallowe’en to you all.

Please check out Victoria’s Instagram page pet_portraits_vick to see her fabulous work. Prices start at £75 for an A5-sized piece.

Le bal masqué

Cat Daddy: “What were you ordering from Amazon at 7:30 this morning?”

MERDE. I keep forgetting that the order notifications go through to his phone and not mine.

Me: “Erm …”

Him: “???”

Me: “Erm … ahem … Hallowe’en costumes for [Puppy Mamma]’s dogs.”

Him: “[Unrepeatable expletives]”

Me: “…”

Him: “Does she know that you’re buying them?”

Me: “Yes. She was going to buy some anyway.”

Him: “So why couldn’t you just let her be stupid on her own? Why did you have to be stupid as well?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Anyway, when he saw the photos he laughed. And, as we all know, once laughter takes place it automatically invalidates the right to criticise.

Here are the Nala the dog and Gizzy the [insert name of species] trying out their costumes. Louis Catorze, of course, is smug in the knowledge that he doesn’t need a costume because he’s scary enough as he is.

Photo created by Puppy Mamma – and she couldn’t resist including an evil-looking, fanged Catorze.

Black Cats Matter

Today is National Black Cat Day (U.K.). Of all the cat colours, black ones are the least likely to be adopted, apparently for the following reasons:

1. Black is regarded as a boring colour compared to tabbies, gingers and suchlike.

2. Black cats are apparently less photogenic than other cats.

3. People associate them with witchcraft, satanic worship and/or bad luck.

4. Black cats are psychopaths.

However, there is a small, subversive group of us that knows the truth: black cats are the coolest and the best.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t like other-coloured cats. Of course I do. However, although they are beautiful in person/cat, I’m not so keen on seeing their images on loads of STUFF. Cute kittens on wall hangings, lampshades and/or cushions are rather too much catness, even for me, and remind me of my grandma’s house. Whereas understated touches of black cat stuff around a house, especially if the cat looks demonic and evil, make me think, “Yes, these are my people.”

Whilst some fight for society to change its views on black cats, in some ways I want them to remain our little secret. I like to think of their so-called unpopularity as the universe’s way of ensuring that they end up in the right homes. So, if you know anyone who would never consider a black cat for the reasons given above, please don’t waste time and energy trying to convert them. They are doing black cats a favour by leaving them available for those of us who truly appreciate their creepy charm. Let those people have their other colours, if that’s what they want. All the more black cats for us!

And how delightful that, during my favourite season of the year, black catness is not just acceptable but positively encouraged. Unfortunately it’s also the time of year when cats go completely apeshit, with black ones being the worst of the lot, but I guess we can’t have it all.

What do you mean, “Black cats look evil”?
No, I still don’t see it.

Huis Clos (Partie 2)

Louis Catorze’s course of eye ointment came to an end on Thursday. (It should have been Wednesday but I did an extra dose to make up for the night when we got drunk and forgot one.)

Although administering it was horrible, towards the end of the course he’d even started coming for post-meds cuddles, although I imagine this is because he’s so thick he forgot he’d just been medicated. It’s hard to know whether he’s healing as he looks ok from some angles and awful from others, but he seems to be in good spirits. He’s been well enough to be out at all hours in yesterday’s storm, and also well enough to dig up our bulbs, resulting in unrepeatable expletives OF THE WORST KIND from Cat Daddy. (And, before you say anything, it wasn’t the foxes this time. It was definitely Catorze.)

In other news, the little sod imprisoned us in the house the other day.

Every night we double-lock the front door but leave keys nearby, close enough for us to grab in the event of fire, alien invasion or zombie apocalypse, but not so close that a psycho with a fishing rod and a magnet could reach through the letterbox and grab them.

A few days ago, in the early hours of the morning, I heard the sound of keys downstairs. Sure enough, Catorze had been playing with the emergency set and had kicked/pushed them to some unknown location, possibly under the sofa or between the floorboards. Only he knows where they are, and he ain’t telling.

In short, he had locked us in the house.

Cat Daddy, later that day: “But we have other keys. It’s not as if we had no way of getting out.”

Me: “But that’s not the point. He didn’t know that. His intent was the same.”

Cat Daddy: “…”

Me: “Like when people are convicted for attempted murder instead of actual murder and end up getting a lesser sentence. They still meant to kill, and it was just by chance that the victim got lucky and survived.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Cat Daddy: “I don’t think you’re really comparing like for like.”

Anyway, Catorze naturellement gives zéro shites about causing trouble, and meanwhile we were the ones scrabbling around to find a new place to put our keys (although we still haven’t found the first set).

It’s a scary day when protecting your house from external psychos/demons is easy, yet it’s the psycho/demon WITHIN that poses the greatest challenge.

“Keys? Non. Haven’t seen them.”

Le repas du chien

When I started planning my blog posts for October, I decided that I’d like to write about my horror movie nights with Louis Catorze. This was supposed to be that very post. Sitting in the living room and watching horror movies together is something that we both find great fun. However, instead, it’s a post about this:


You’re welcome.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: someone has broken into a store of dog food, brought some back here and dumped it on the outdoor sofa in our garden.

Now, my prime suspect was originally Foxy Loxy. I was so sure that I didn’t even consider any other culprits. However, as Cat Daddy has since pointed out, and having now thought about it, we have neither seen nor heard him/them for some time, plus I can’t imagine it being his/their style to leave food behind. Quite the opposite, in fact: foxes eat anything, and I could tell you toe-curling stories of vile, medical-waste-grade stuff that they’ve eaten from our bins over the years.

Catorze is an unlikely suspect but he should not be eliminated from our enquiries, as he is more than capable of pulling a stunt like this. That time that Cat Daddy found a desiccated, curly-haired rat in EXACTLY THIS SAME SPOT was startlingly similar: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/

Our initial thoughts were that someone in our neighbourhood must have an outdoor store of dog food, but then Sa Maj is more than adept at breaking into people’s houses using teleportation and/or his Cloak of Invisibility: That Neighbour has found him screaming on his landing at least once (that I know of), and our previous neighbour from W13 once thought she had mice but, when she investigated the scrabbling sound under her bed, she discovered that it was Catorze.

When I told the good folk of TW8 (via social media) to pay greater attention to their stores of dog food, the general consensus of those that know him was that Catorze could well have done this. I try to tell them that it can’t possibly be him because he doesn’t like food that much and he’s not well, but I wonder if I sound like some deluded fool who is just trying to convince myself.

Here is the little sod, not at his best health-wise but apparently well enough to break into other people’s property and steal a dog’s food just for fun:

“It wasn’t moi.”

La chasse sauvage

The Wild Hunt, according to legend, is a cavalcade of spectral hunters, horses and hounds that glides through the sky. Any unwary folk who are out and about and who happen to catch sight of this spectacle are likely to be swept up by the spirits and carried away.

Here at Le Château we have our own Wild Hunt going on, due to a Code Ambre situation: a fly in the living room. (American followers: I don’t think it was THAT fly, although I’m sure people make that mistake all the time and this one is sick of having to field questions about what Mike Pence’s hair felt like.)

Cat Daddy didn’t even know the fly was there until Louis Catorze started doing the psycho-eyed prowling and the bird-chatter, and he captured the whole saga in this short photo story:

Who hunteth so late through the night dark and drear?
The Sun King it is, brave and strong, without fear …
He hunteth the fly tightly lock’d in his sight …
He eateth it whole, then he biddeth good night.

Le couvre-feu (Partie 4)

Mixed news from Le Château today: we were supposed/hoping to have reduced Louis Catorze’s steroids by now but we have had to increase them instead, because the inner corners of his eyes don’t seem to be healing. And applying his ointment is every bit as frightful as you would imagine.

The good news is that he appears not to give the slightest hoot that he is unwell. He’s still eating, drinking, going out and being stupid. The latest addition to our list of Things He Should Be Frightened Of But Isn’t is the shredder. On Saturday he was all ready to stick his face right into it … and, yes, it was switched on.

He is having an absolute ball doing his After-Dark Business outdoors although, worryingly, he has found a new dog to annoy, and we fear it might be Twiggy the greyhound from down the road. Reaching her house is quite a feat – over fences and across shed roofs – but Catorze is coldly determined, and Cat Daddy has watched him leap up and over with real purpose. We never used to hear Twiggy (or whoever it is) barking but now we do, and this cannot be a coincidence.

Cat Daddy gets along well with Twiggy’s daddy but luckily I don’t think he’s even told him we have a cat. And I think he’ll be keeping that to himself for the foreseeable future.

Apart from that one incident when he played us for complete fools – the full tragic tale is here: https://louiscatorze.com/2020/08/25/le-couvre-feu-partie-3/ – Catorze is continuing to make it home from The Front in time for his curfew.

We have tried testing him by giving him irregular times, e.g. “Please be back by 9:47pm.” Pas de problème.

We have also given him unclear times that we don’t even know ourselves, e.g. “Please be back by the time this TV programme finishes” (with no idea of how many minutes are left). Pas de problème.

On one occasion he came back about 25 minutes early and we thought “He’s misjudged this one by some way”. But he just sat happily on the window sill outside, with his back to us, watching the world go by. Then, a couple of minutes before his time was up, he reared up on his hind legs with his front paws on the window and started screaming to be let in.

Could all this just be by chance? Once, maybe. But we have tested the little sod at least twenty times and he is on time, every time. At worst he’s made his 10pm curfew dead on the hour with just a few seconds to spare, but he is never late.

As we roll steadily towards Hallowe’en, I suspect that his creepily precise timekeeping is a sign that The Mothership has been sharpening up her Chat Noir programming in preparation for their big day. Only twelve days to go …

A bit rough around the edges, but still living his best life.

L’œil du tigre

It’s my birthday weekend.

Under normal circumstances Cat Daddy would be taking me out to our favourite pub, but we won’t be going anywhere as he’s had a text from the NHS telling him to isolate for two weeks. (He received the text on Wednesday, asking him to stay at home for 14 days starting THE PREVIOUS THURSDAY. Figure that one out if you can.)

I myself don’t have to isolate because Cat Daddy hasn’t tested positive, nor does he have symptoms, but I don’t really feel like going out and partying on my own. So, as well as doing all the errands that Cat Daddy can’t do because he isn’t allowed out, and not welcoming guests because nobody is allowed in either, I will be mostly spending the weekend pilling and ointmenting Louis Catorze.

In short, the males in this household have ruined everything.

After my initial horror and despair at the prospect of having to smear something into Catorze’s eyes whilst he screamed, flailed and slashed at me with his killer claws, I began to faintly recall him having had the same eye ointment before.

Now, most people usually know straight away whether or not their cat has had a particular type of medication before but, over time, Catorze has consumed more drugs than a Colombian mule, so it’s quite hard to remember everything. However, as well as providing the civic service of making everyone feel grateful that they don’t have to live with him, Le Blog also serves the useful purpose of being an accurate medical record for Catorze. A quick search revealed that he’d had the same ointment two years ago, that time when he cut his eye (and stupid Cat Daddy wouldn’t believe me when I said I’d seen blood and kept insisting that it was blackberry juice):


Unfortunately 2018 Me has not been able to offer any sage advice to 2020 Me as regards how to administer it – Catorze was a bastard then and, if anything, has got worse rather than better – so I am no further forward in terms of how to get the stuff into his eyes without being ripped to shreds. Plus, the last time, it was just one eye. This time it’s both.

Anyway, today is Day 1 and thankfully the course is only five days long. Although I’m sorely tempted to make Cat Daddy do the deed since he’s the one at home.

🎵 … And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night, and he’s watching us all with the EYE … 🎶”

Le plus petit félin est un chef d’œuvre

Although mythical monsters aren’t really a Hallowe’en phenomenon, watching shows about them always helps me to get into the Hallowe’en mood (not that I usually require any help in this area). The episode that Louis Catorze and I watched the other day was about a kind of part-buffalo, part-dinosaur creature called a hodag, said to haunt the town of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and one man claimed to have had evidence of this beast recorded on his phone (quoted word for word):

“However, my cats decided to use my phone as a kick-ball and they shattered it beyond belief, but I did see it [the beast]. It is real. And I’d only had one cocktail.”

Now, under most circumstances I would be cynical of anyone who had “lost” important evidence that could have potentially changed the world. However, I want to give this almost-sober gentleman the benefit of the doubt because I know better than anyone what utter bastards cats can be, and ruining science forever is exactly the sort of thing they would do. I am sure that there are plenty of cancer cures, immortality elixirs and time travel tinctures that naughty cats have knocked off laboratory worktops and lost.

No doubt there is a good reason why Sa Maj ended up being our cat. Granted, things are bad now, but I dread to think what state the world would be in had he been, say, Leonardo da Vinci’s cat, or Marie Curie’s cat.

Here is the little sod doing his best impression of innocent and kittenish, but you can’t escape the evil in his eyes. Ask not whether he be ready for Hallowe’en; ask whether Hallowe’en be ready for him.

“La potion magique for world peace? Oui: I ate it and puked it up.”

L’écureuil a été reconnu non coupable

I returned home from Halloweekend-by-the-sea on Sunday afternoon and, apart from Cat Daddy accidentally double-pilling Louis Catorze on Friday (and then wondering why he was so bouncy and show-offy during the Zoom call with his pub mates), the weekend passed sans incident in TW8.

Yesterday I took Catorze to the vet. Unusually, there was total silence from the patient on the walk over to the surgery. Then, when we arrived at the door, he shifted to demonic possession mode: thrashing around inside his transportation pod, Exorcist-style growling, the works.

This time I was allowed into the waiting room (avec masque, of course). But, regretfully, this meant enduring the embarrassment of looking them in the face and telling them that my cat might have been punched in the face by a squirrel AND that I’d given him drugs without prior authorisation. And I can now confirm that the common belief that a face mask conceals smiles/laughter is very much a myth.

Anyway, it seems that his allergy is the more likely culprit than squirrel rage, and that we were right to pill him. We have to continue for the next five days, and, after that, reduce to every other day for ten days and add an eye ointment. Not DROPS, which fall conveniently where you want them to and spread effortlessly across the whole eye, but OINTMENT, which comes in a squeezy tube and has to be smeared on/in. It defies all science (thick creams simply cannot go into eyes) and all common sense (nobody in their right mind would stick their finger into the eye of a screaming, writhing, clawed animal with the strength of ten angry bears), but we are in what they call an Option-Free Zone. Cat Daddy and I might have to do Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who ends up with that torturous task.

The secondary post-vet news is that Catorze now tips the scales at 3.8kg, his heaviest to date, yet it’s still within his healthy range so nothing to worry about.

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable, fat-shaming expletives]”

This photo, taken last Wednesday, was what prompted our vet appointment, but Sa Maj is starting to look a little better now:

Sore little sod. But still loving life.

La malédiction de Mercure

Oh. Saint. Jésus. As well as Hallowe’en being on a full moon this year, Mercury will also be in retrograde.

This is a period said to occur around three times a year and, in short, everything goes wrong. Travel is disrupted, misunderstandings occur, that email that you think was sent isn’t received, and so on. I tend not to look ahead to find out when the next Mercury Retrograde is, because I would rather not know. But, if things happen to be going particularly awry, I find myself checking and, more often than not, it’s here.

This time around, warnings appeared on my social media feed without me looking it up. So, even though I didn’t want to know, I do. And, now, so do you. You’re welcome.

The worst thing is that there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it. It would be more useful to read something like “If you must travel, protect yourself by carrying in your pocket thirteen hairs from a black vampire cat” but this kind of advice is never available. (That said, I’m pretty sure I could reach into any pockets of any clothes, dirty or clean, and find thirteen of Louis Catorze’s hairs.)

Mercury Retrograde is said to affect pets in various bizarre and/or undesirable ways: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/metro.co.uk/2020/02/22/half-uk-pet-owners-think-dog-cat-acts-differently-mercury-retrograde-12284377/amp/

Now, if we were to visualise cats on a baseline scale from 0 to 10 in terms of freakishness, and to award one point for each of the thirty strange behaviours listed on the link above, even the worst cat in the world would only have a maximum total score of 40. However, if it’s a black cat, that’s automatically worth another 20 points. Plus we are approaching a full moon (+50) on Hallowe’en night (+666), and of course this is Catorze (+443,566). So, unfortunately, things aren’t looking promising for us.

The little sod has already started to ramp up the annoying behaviour by screaming, thundering around the house at all hours like an army of soldiers, and so on. Even The Count himself can’t cope with it and has decided to end it all (see photo below).

Mercury Retrograde is from 14th October to 3rd November. If you fancy monitoring your pets and letting me know how they get along, I would love to hear from you.

This wasn’t the ending that Bram Stoker had in mind.

La vengeance de l’écureuil

Merde, merde and thrice merde: it really is kicking off at Le Château right now.

Earlier this week, Cat Daddy found this object (below, with a 5p coin for scale) whilst sweeping up the leaves at The Front. He thought it was a piece of faux fur from someone’s coat, but a few enquiries among my cat freak friends seem to suggest that it’s … a squirrel’s tail.

It’s all going a bit Godfather here in TW8.

Now, although squirrels can apparently lose their tails during combat, I highly doubt that Louis Catorze could ever be fast enough to catch one. But what a coincidence that we found the tail 24 hours after we glimpsed him howling, growling and swishing his puffy tail at an unknown adversary at The Front.

And, on the day of our grim discovery, we noticed that his left eye was looking sore and scratched. Our theories are as follows:

1. He is allergic to the merino wool scarf that I made recently (unlikely as I finished it and gave it to the recipient three weeks ago, plus Catorze was barely even in the HOUSE when I was knitting it, let alone in the room)

2. He has come into contact with some noxious matter outside which has irritated him (highly likely for the reason given above, i .e. he is constantly outdoors)

3. Cat Daddy’s theory: a squirrel took offence at having its tail lopped off by Catorze and punched him in the face (also highly likely, not to mention shameful on many levels)

I gave Sa Maj a steroid pill (left over from his course in the spring) the day we discovered the problem, just in case it was option 1 or option 2, and it seems to be preventing things from deteriorating. I would never normally advocate giving medication without consulting the vet first, of course, but the soonest available appointment is on Monday morning and I know from bitter experience how Catorze’s condition can turn from concerning to utterly catastrophic in an instant. Trust me, had you seen the worst photos from February and March (unpublished on here and unseen by all but a strong-stomached few), you would want to pill him too.

Worse yet, this afternoon I am heading over to the south coast for my annual Halloweekend celebration with my sister, so I won’t be around if things turn bad. I am aghast at Catorze’s timing yet, at the same time, he has previous in this department so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had planned it all just to spite me and to get extra love from Cat Daddy during their lads’ weekend together.

Please keep your fingers crossed that we won’t have to deploy Le dreaded Cône. Not now. Not in the run-up to Full Moon Hallowe’en.

L’armée rousse

Saint Jésus et tous ses apôtres: Cat Daddy has seen three foxes run away from Louis Catorze at The Back.

Je répète: three foxes, each weighing (I imagine) around 7-10kg, have RUN AWAY from our 3kg cat.

The strange thing is that he didn’t even scream or hiss to send them packing; all he did was stick his head through the gap in the fence that separates the Zone Occupée from the Zone Libre. That said, his diminutive stature and vampire fangs mean that he isn’t immediately identifiable as a cat, so perhaps they saw him as some cryptozoological freak of nature and thought it best to steer clear. And, to be fair, it’s not the first time anyone has looked at him and had those thoughts.

Cat Daddy found a big hole dug in our garden not long ago, so clearly the foxes had been gadding about back here again (unless, of course, a bunch of them cornered Catorze and forced him to dig his own grave), which is not what we want. I would be very happy if these three reported back to their foxy friends that a peculiar beast is at large in the Zone Occupé, and that they must avoid the area at all costs.

However, I wouldn’t want Sa Maj to become over-confident and to go sashaying over there thinking there were only three of them, when in fact there are at least eight.

This is a situation which will require ongoing monitoring. But Cat Daddy and I are ready.

“You and whose armée?”

Le décor de la saison

Now that October is well under way, I can officially start filling Le Château with Hallowe’en paraphernalia without looking like a complete freak.

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable expletives.]”

I have just discovered a website of fabulous seasonal decorations, and I am having to sit on my hands to stop myself from ordering because I can see it escalating dangerously. The merchandise itself is quite pricey, and the fact that it’s an American site means that the postage will also be ruinously expensive, so, rather like smoking or doing drugs, it’s probably better not to start at all than to start and then try – and fail – to moderate.

If you like Hallowe’en decorations and you have more self-restraint than I do, have a look here: https://www.grandinroad.com/halloween-haven/#1

My friend Lizzi has been shopping a little closer to home – TK Maxx, to be precise – and here is one of her purchases from earlier this year, in preparation for the spooky season:

Reminds me of someone …

I know. I didn’t know what to say, either.

Whoever designed this object has clearly either met Louis Catorze or been astral-visited by him during a nightmare, because this is exactly what he looks like when he screams. I guess at least Lizzi won’t require any kind of protective amulet to ward off demons on full moon Hallowe’en night. Because not even Satan himself would set hoof on a property containing this monstrosity.

Lizzi’s cat Boots also doesn’t know quite what to make of his mamma’s purchase. Just look at his “… the hell is THIS?” expression:

“Put down the debit card and step away from the shop.”

What do your cats think of your seasonal decorations? I know that the answer is likely to be either “Couldn’t give a hoot” or “Ripped them to shreds” but I’d love to hear anyway.