À cheval donné on ne regarde pas les dents

Blue the Smoke Bengal gave Louis Catorze a Christmas gift, which was very generous of him given that Catorze hasn’t done the slightest thing to deserve it and, in fact, has been quite rude and unpleasant to him. This must be what it feels like when your kid is the awful one whom all the other kids hate, but their parents still go out of their way to be nice because they feel sorry for you.

If some other cat were mean to Catorze I’m not sure I’d be bothered to give him/her a gift, and I’d probably judge the human for their poor parenting skills, but good for Blue’s mamma for being the bigger person here.

The Trojan horse.

Anyway, the gift was a set of ELEVEN jingle bell cat toys, and they are the noisiest things I have ever heard. Catorze loves them, with his preferred playtimes appearing to be the times that are the least convenient for us: during tense football matches or television dramas, that kind of thing. In the middle of the night would, I imagine, also be an excellent time, were it not for that fact that we do an inventory of the balls before we go to bed at night, just like in prison kitchens where they count in the knives at the end of every shift.

Bien joué, Blue’s mamma. Bien joué.

Here are a few of the offending items. Even the soft ones have bells in them.

Qui n’a pas de mémoire doit avoir des jambes

Louis Catorze is now on the lowest dose of one steroid pill every other day. And it’s just as well it’s only every other day, because the little sod has now decided he won’t eat his Pill Pockets anymore. So every pill has to be a Greco job.

There have been one or two Drunk-Grecos. The less said about these, the better.

Anyway, health-wise he is doing very well indeed. His skin and fur are much improved.

Cat Daddy: “Yeah, until you get close up. It’s like when you see a girl from afar in a dimly lit club, but then when you approach …” [Rest of comment is too offensive to repeat.]

Catorze’s knee, however, isn’t so great. I had started keeping a diary of occasions when his knee caved in, hoping that it would prove useful in the future should the vet need to know, but then I came to realise that there is no pattern whatsoever. And, the last time I updated the diary, Cat Daddy looked over my shoulder and said, “Oh, is that what you’re doing? His knee has gone loads more times than that, but I didn’t tell you because I didn’t know you were recording it.”

And that was the end of my record-keeping.

These days, when Catorze’s knee goes, it’s nowhere near as distressing for him as that first weekend when he collapsed on top of me at 5am, hissing and whining. He is getting used to it, and sometimes he surprises us by how darned fast he is on three legs. On one occasion I took hold of his leg and gently stretched it backwards and after a soft click, it was fine again. But, annoyingly, whatever I did then seems to have been a lucky one-off, for I haven’t succeeded since.

I have been trying to teach him to lie down when his knee goes. And, despite being so dense that light bends around him, he is learning and starting to do it of his own accord. He insists on choosing the least helpful places to lie down, but we’ll get to that next. The main thing is he’s beginning to understand that lying down beats hobbling around, whining and suffering.

Here he is, demonstrating one of his highly unhelpful places:

Yes, he WAS the one who pulled out those stringy bits from the carpet. Who else would it be?

L’imparfait

So … cats ruining video calls. Always hilarious when it happens to someone else and you’re just observing. Distinctly less funny when it’s your cat, and you’re the one responsible for maintaining any vague semblance of order.

It’s not normal to have 863 examples of such behaviour, unless you have 863 cats. One cat is not meant to cause this much bother. However, this is Louis Catorze we’re talking about, so I don’t imagine anyone is surprised.

Anyway … Year 11 can be a troublesome bunch, and the graveyard shift with them (last lesson of the day, 15:00 to 16:00) is always a tough gig. It’s been particularly bad since they were told that their exams have been cancelled, yet minimal guidance has been given about exactly what will happen instead. They have taken this to mean it’s party time. Unfortunately I don’t share this view.

During one especially trying lesson last week (the imperfect tense: everyone’s favourite thing), Catorze decided to come and sit on my stomach and chest. Now, we all know that he wants me dead, and that he only has another 8 days to do the deed and have it register as a Covid death, so there is no reason for him to sit on me other than to spite me, or perhaps in the hope that I will suffocate and die. However, due to the unfortunate camera angle and the shadow falling across my body, he wasn’t fully visible to the students on my video lesson. So all they could see was his sticking-up tail sailing past the camera.

This was how the tragic sequence of events unfolded that day:

1. Poker-straight vertical tail sails past, left to right. Students say nothing.

2. Tail sails past, right to left. Students’ eyes are suddenly fixed to the screen, concentrating yet also confused.

3. Tail sails past again, left to right. Now everyone is paying attention.

4. Kid 1: “Miss …?”

5. Kid 2: “Yeah, Miss. What the …?”

6. Catorze settles on my lap/chest and now everyone can see his head. He has only ever sat in this position twice in his whole life, once last year and once in 2014. (The fact that I can remember when is indicative of its rarity.)

7. Me: “Erm, ok, so it seems we’ve got company. Alors, continuons…”

8. Kids start giggling.

9. Cat Daddy looks in (with the kids safely out of sight, bien sûr), sees Catorze on me and guesses from my French conversation that I am mid-lesson. He mouths the words “PUSH HIM OFF!” making appropriate gestures at the same time to be extra helpful.

10. It then dawns on me that he thinks I placed Catorze there on purpose. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

11. Kids giggle some more as I attempt to bluster on. No work whatsoever is done.

12. The end.

The bad news is that we have another five weeks of this until half term, and the kids have learned absolutely sod all French so far. The good news is … well … I’ll get back to you as soon as we have any.

Je me reposais, tu te reposais, il/elle se reposait …

Le menu du jour

Louis Catorze’s Thrive arrived last week week, three working days after I ordered it on Zooplus (pretty good), and a mere six days after originally ordering it on a “same-day” delivery on Ocado Zoom which never came (pretty poor).

I was about to write “Better late than never” but what a nonsensical phrase this is. If anyone ever says this to you when you’re late, they are just trying to be polite and, in actual fact, your inefficiency has probably made them quite angry. It’s only better late than never if, whilst waiting for you to get you act together, the other person made the time fly by doing something pleasant or useful and didn’t urgently need the thing you were supposed to be delivering. If they are in any way sensible and resourceful and start to make alternative plans to receive the thing you were meant to do, upon realising how shit unreliable you are, and THEN you deliver late, trust me, this is not “better” at all. “Better” would be to be honest and tell them from the outset that it won’t be happening.

(Obviously this is not what I would say to my students, as I don’t want them all saying, “Miss, you know that homework you set? Yeah, sorry but I won’t be doing it.” (In fact, I doubt if most of my lot would even say “Sorry”.)

Anyway, Cat Daddy and I now have a decision to make. We are going to have to introduce the Thrive to our mutual friend at some stage. And, given his love of doing the exact opposite of what we want him to do, we don’t want him to love the Thrive so much that he rejects the Lily’s, leaving us with up to £100 worth of product which was a real ordeal to source. Equally, if we try it when the Lily’s is almost out, he will reject the Thrive and leave us scrabbling and panicking as we were last month.

The ideal scenario would be to for him to happily tick along on a mix of both foods for a short while until the Lily’s runs out, but we know that the little sod won’t make it that easy for us.

Anyway, trying to work that out will be the next task in this fun-packed project. As if I don’t have enough to do, what with recovering from Covid, going back to work, teaching a new timetable to a new set of classes, and so on.

He likes to keep us wondering. Mainly wondering “What the hell …?”

La livraison vitale

The perks of online teaching: last week I met my Year 11 students’ cats and dogs. I loved them all but my favourite was Tobo (“like hobo but with a T, Miss”), a tabby point Birman so enormous and so fluffy that, when he was picked up, his human sibling disappeared in all the fur, and all you could see were his fingertips and the top of his hair.

In other news, I often start my posts with “Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges” but, today, I mean it more sincerely than ever: LOUIS CATORZE’S LILY’S KITCHEN MARVELLOUSLY MATURE ARRIVED BEFORE WE RAN OUT.

No more will I be bullied and intimidated by a screaming, psycho hell-beast. Nor will I have to spend countless hours sifting … although I must admit I had enjoyed singing “Come on, let’s sift again like we did last summer, yeahhh let’s sift again like we did last year …”

Buying obsolete cat food from an off-grid, Dark Web vendor is just like buying drugs: you can never guarantee that what you’ll get is what you wanted, and there’s not much comeback if it all goes wrong. However, because I know my gear, I was able to spot the little details that didn’t look right and eliminate the dealers suppliers that were clearly shonky. And it turns out that all the checking and cross-referencing was worth it, so a word of warning: there are SEVERAL third party sellers out there who display the wrong photos and/or the wrong product description and/or the wrong ingredients list (or no list at all).

Now, I am not proud of giving my custom to Lily’s Kitchen. I don’t like it that they told me they wouldn’t be changing their recipes, only to do exactly that. But the little sod eats their food, and that has to come first at the moment. And our Dark Web purchase, whilst only a temporary fix, has bought us a little time to figure out how the heck we are going to change the food of a cat who doesn’t like food and whose old food no longer exists.

Cat Daddy: “He’s a f***ing ungrateful ****. Our next cat is going to have Cool Cat Club food from day one. No more of this f***ing b*******.” To be fair, he has a point.

Anyway, Catorze’s uneaten food found a new home with Cocoa the babysit cat and his sister Chanel, ans they love it. Please see below for pictures of them tucking in.

If you have a cat, please check out the Cool Cat Club. We love everything about them: their ingredients, their brilliantly responsive customer service, their ethics, EVERYTHING. The fact that the stupidest cat in the world declined their food should, if anything, be a diamond-standard endorsement equivalent to a Michelin star:

https://thecoolcatclub.com/?r=mvMcQ6JPh50D

It’s a OUI from the other Chat Noir group members.
Nom nom!

L’éveil des sens

On Monday night, our esteemed leader announced another national lockdown. Yes, he’s already shut schools once, then reopened them. Now he’s shutting them again. Are we all keeping up so far?

Although I no longer have to drive to work, getting up on a January morning is quite the most depressing thing ever. And, on a few occasions, the darned Lumie Bodyclock has failed to wake me up properly. Sometimes the light works but the sound doesn’t. And sometimes neither work. It is the most user-unfriendly gadget there is.

When/if the alarm goes off, there is no button to switch off the sound without also deactivating it completely. All you can do is turn the volume down – and, if you go too far and turn it right down to zero, again it deactivates the alarm and so you have to reset it. If you DON’T turn the volume down, the stupid tropical birds sing all day.

The last time this happened and I angrily pressed random buttons for no reason, the FM radio button – which had not worked at all previously – chose that very moment to decide to work, giving me Matt Hancock’s voice talking about vaccines. Quite frankly I’d rather have had the goats, and I think the rest of the country is with me on that one.

Cat Daddy thinks I’m just too thick to have figured it out, but the people leaving the reviews did warn me that it was, erm, problematic. However, like an idiot, I thought I would just learn to live with it. Which, I admit, was a bit thick of me.

Luckily our mutual friend has been on hand to alert me to the fact that it’s time to get up. A minute after my alarm is supposed to go off, he starts purring and bouncing around. It would be better if he did this once at wake-up time, and not also at random intervals throughout the night for no reason. But, as he is making the difference between getting up on time and not, I’ll take it.

Catorze’s Cat Grandpa used to say that electronics were only as good as the human being programming them. He may have been right, but I need something better than the person who made it, and better than me, otherwise there’s not much point.

Worryingly, does this mean that Catorze is better than me, the Lumie Bodyclock AND the person who made it? Oh. Mon. Dieu.

“Réveille-toi!”

Le sac à tricot

Merde, merde and thrice merde: Zooplus have sent me the standard post-Brexit “Due to high volume of orders …” let-down email. So Louis Catorze may receive his Thrive in the next few days, or he may not. This is not good.

Meanwhile, Catorze is a rampant screaming machine, and he’s eating faster than I can sift. Thank goodness the second dose of appetite-enhancing medication is optional; if this is his behaviour on just one pill, there’s not a chance in hell he’s getting the other.

After a mammoth mega-sift at the weekend, I have managed to figure out that we have enough of Catorze’s food to last until Wednesday. So, if the Thrive doesn’t come before then, we will be trapped with a starving psycho hell-beast who would think nothing of tripping us down the stairs, then eating us alive, feet first.

So we had to devise an alternative plan … and, much as it hurts me to admit this, we were forced to hunt down the last remaining packs of the obsolete Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature and buy them from an off-grid, Dark Web vendor. We know it was wrong, we were drunk when we did it, and we felt dirty afterwards. But the thought of him not liking the Thrive and us not having a back-up – or, worse, THE THRIVE NOT COMING AT ALL AND US RUNNING OUT OF FOOD ENTIRELY AND HAVING TO GRECO HIM WITH BRANSTON PICKLE – was just too much.

In other news, to cheer myself up from all the cat food chaos, I decided to treat myself to a knitting bag, because my knitting stuff was strewn all over the dining room table and Cat Daddy was starting to complain about it.

Cat Daddy: “What kind of bag did you end up choosing? What does it look like?”

Me: “It’s blue, with skulls on it.”

Him: “Skulls?” [Snorts with laughter]

Me: “What’s wrong with that?”

Him: “Well, it’s just that … knitting is the least goth activity ever.”

Me: “Well, would you rather I’d got one with flower pots on it? Or cartoon bumble bees? Or kittens playing with balls of wool?” [I wasn’t making these up; I had seen all of the above during my quest for something cooler.]

Him: “Evil kittens maybe. Black ones. With fangs.”

Well, this is the closest I was able to get to a knitting bag with a black, fanged devil-kitty on it. And, naturellement, our mutual friend is doing what he does best i.e. exactly the opposite of what we want:

So much is wrong with this photo.

Les jeux de faim

Since the vet gave Louis Catorze an appetite-stimulating pill, he has been perma-hungry and perma-screamy. But, because of Ocado Zoom’s dismal failure to deliver, he has no food. This is not an optimal combination.

So I have spent both the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 hand-sifting through dried cat food pellets and painstakingly separating the small golden ones from the large brown ones, like a downtrodden PA to the stars arranging the M&Ms into colour order for my OCD rock star boss. And it has been every bit as awful as it sounds, especially as I am going to run out very shortly and I don’t know what to do if my next plan doesn’t work.

Worse yet, Catorze has been pacing up and down as I sift, screaming at me to hurry the hell up. Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu: I thought his normal screaming was bad, but this new medication has turned him utterly demented. The only thing that stops him, of course, is me getting my phone out to video him. Then, when I put down my phone, he starts again, and obviously I can’t film and sift at the same time so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Luckily I have had my beloved husband, Cat Daddy, at my side throughout this grim process, supporting me with helpful comments such as “Well, he never asked for his food to be changed in the first place” and “He’s being like this because he’s picking up on the tension from YOU”.

After seriously considering making Catorze eat the New Year’s Eve Branston pickle (see previous post), we continued our search for LITERALLY ANY high-protein fish-only food which would arrive quickly, and this was not as straightforward as it may seem: even Amazon don’t have anything suitable that they can deliver before next week. Eventually we managed to order some Thrive (the same product that Ocado Zoom didn’t deliver) from Zooplus and it will arrive in 1-3 working days but, in the meantime, I shall be sifting.

I have discovered that singing whilst sifting serves the dual purpose of making the task about 0.1% less boring and helping to drown out Catorze’s infernal screaming. And, interestingly, there are many songs that work well if the lyrics are adapted. My personal favourite is “Sifting the night away” (Sam Cooke), apart from the line that goes “Everybody’s feeling great”, because obviously that’s not what’s happening here: Catorze is ravenous and also infuriated at what a slow and inefficient sifter I am, and Cat Daddy and I just want him to shut up.

I hope your 2021 is going better than ours.

Panning for gold.

Une nouvelle année, des nouvelles conneries

2021 is here. And, whilst most Londoners were sitting at home wondering what tier we might be in today, Cat Daddy and I were taking Louis Catorze to the vet. Yes, again.

Although Catorze’s skin is looking much better, so much so that we have reduced his steroid pills to one a day, his appetite has been down lately. I didn’t call this in sooner because nothing else suggested that he might be unwell: he has been alert, playful and full of energy. The day before the vet appointment, he even broke into the attic crawl space, thrashed around like a psychopath and, somehow, managed to switch on the light. Until then I’d had no idea that this space even had a light.

We have seen Catorze approach his feeding station only to stare at his bowl as if it were some alien life form, then stare at us. Because he’s so odd anyway, it’s hard to know whether something is wrong or whether he’s just being his usual stupid self but, as he’s lost weight, we thought it best to have him checked.

As bad luck would have it, instead of our usual vet, our appointment was with the vet who saw Catorze when I thought he had a tick and it turned out to be just a lump of crud stuck to his fur. He’s perfectly nice, but I was so embarrassed by that incident that I had hoped never to have to see him again. So how typical that the last dregs of accursed 2020 would find us face to face again, after more than two years of avoiding him (and doing a fine job, I might add).

In the waiting room, I chatted to the daddy of a black Labrador called Dexter. Apparently Dexter had been “trying to bark at all the cats coming in but, being just a puppy, he doesn’t have a voice yet” (his daddy’s exact words). One look at Catorze, however, and he found it. It was throaty, deep and deafening. And clearly Dexter’s daddy had seen enough horror movies to know that, if the dog is unhappy with someone or something, that’s a signal to get the hell out.

Anyway, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with Catorze, and his weight loss (from 3.71kg on 23rd November to 3.29kg now) is because he’s gone off his new food. Yes, he ate it happily at first, but this is Sa Maj we’re talking about; nobody knows why he does the stupid things he does. Cat Daddy and I are very disappointed as we love everything about the Cool Cat Club, and we so wanted this to work. Hopefully they will understand that this isn’t a reflection on their product, and that cats are just imbeciles.

By the time we got home, Catorze’s vet-administered appetite-stimulating pill had kicked in. But, once again, he went to his plate and just sniffed and stared. Then, when I sifted through his 30-70 mix of old and new food, giving him the pellets of old food only, he ate them.

So then we had a problem, because his old food has been discontinued.

After frantically panic-Googling high-protein cat food I discovered that Thrive have a dry food product, although none of the sellers were able to deliver anytime soon. The fastest and cheapest delivery was, unbelievably, on Ocado Zoom, a grocery delivery service for disorganised brats who want stuff within the hour. I remember once laughing at a friend for using this service, and no doubt she will giggle when she learns that I, too, joined the throng of disorganised brats.

Unfortunately the pack of Thrive was 50p below the minimum order quantity, so I asked Cat Daddy if we could add anything else to the order. Apparently we needed, erm, Branston pickle. (Non-Brits: ask your British friends.) I was concerned that the driver would wonder what special kind of disorganised brats we must be to need Branston pickle and to need it RIGHT NOW, and I was right to be worried because, when the delivery arrived, it contained Branston pickle and nothing else.

The evening was topped off by Catorze putting his best efforts into screaming his guts out whilst I was on the phone to Ocado Zoom asking what had gone wrong. The poor lady on the phone was saying, “Oh my God, your hungry cat! I can hear him! I feel so bad!”

Whilst the rest of the world reflects, dreams big and sets goals, all we want in 2021 is for our cat to eat the bloody food. Any food. NO, NOT THE OBSOLETE FOOD, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE.

Bonne Année from the little sod.