En haut comme en bas

The Smart Meter man came over on Monday. (Cat Daddy organised this; I don’t even know what a Smart Meter is.)

Cat Daddy cleared out all our coats from the under-stairs cupboard, to give him space to work, and left them on one of the living room sofas. And, naturellement, Louis Catorze took the opportunity to do this, whatever “this” is:

Yes, it was he who knocked those two jackets onto the floor.
For goodness’ sake.

He spent much of the morning, prior to our appointment, burrowing away like a little groundhog, disproving Jackson Galaxy’s* theory that cats are either tree dwellers or ground dwellers. Catorze, it seems, is both. Or perhaps, after deciding that he was the former, he simply forgot and then decided he was the latter. By the time this goes live, I imagine he will have forgotten that, too.

*In case you don’t know him, he’s a celebrity cat freak who makes naughty cats behave. Yes, we have asked him to come and fix Catorze. However, after reading Le Blog, he stopped returning our emails.

Anyway, here is the Sa Maj, having eventually made himself comfortable. At this point all we wanted was for him to stay here and let the Smart Meter man work in peace … (continued below) …

Smart Meter man: say your prayers.

He didn’t.

He slept in his coat fortress for a good hour, then sprang back to life the second he heard the voice of the Smart Meter man. At the time of drafting this post the little sod was following him around, whining like a heartbroken dog.

As ever, I’m shocked but not surprised.

La carte routière

After part of the fence was painted, the solar-powered lights went back up again. And within just 24 (twenty-four) hours of lighting Louis Catorze’s night time path, like those runway lights showing planes where to land, the squirrels chewed through the wires once more. This time they chewed right at the start of the string so that only one light worked. Cat Daddy managed to fix them, but yesterday they were chewed through AGAIN in a different place. He is furious beyond belief and says that the next set of lights will be set to electrocution mode. And I fear he might make it happen.

In other news, we are now in the next phase of the “road map” announced by our esteemed leader in late February for easing Covid restrictions in England. Non-Brits: in case you’re wondering, “road map” in this context just means “list of stuff that’s going to happen”. It’s not a map, and there aren’t any roads in it. We don’t get it, either. And, yes, we also think he should have just said “Here’s a list of stuff that’s going to happen”.

As from today, we are allowed to meet with five friends outside. Now, if you have ever lived in, or been to, England, you will know how unpredictable the weather can be. Therefore planning an outdoor meet ahead of time is quite difficult if you’re actually NOT ALLOWED to dash indoors if the weather turns against you. Therefore you’d better either be incredibly lucky on the day, or have outdoor cover, or just not bother making plans. Cat Daddy and I have gone for the third option, and we are quite happy with this; we’ve enjoyed the solitude to some extent and so a few more weeks of it, until we are able to do things properly, doesn’t make much difference.

Louis Catorze, on the other hand, appears to be missing the excitement of company. He used to LOVE having visitors, especially on football days when it was mostly boys, whereas we haven’t had anyone round since Hallowe’en, when we hosted the Dog Family outside. I was pretty sure Catorze hadn’t even noticed that life had changed and, instead, thought things were just carrying on as normal … until the moment when he came running to the sound of my nephews’ voices on a video.

He was also thrilled to see That Neighbour, who knocked on our door the other day to give us a parcel that he’d taken for us whilst we were out. Unfortunately he left his front door open when he came, so things went a little, erm, awry when Catorze escaped out. But I am certain that, when the little sod ran into his house and refused to leave (twice), he meant it in a positive “I’ve missed you!” kind of way.

As you can see from the road map, we have another few weeks to go until we are allowed to see people indoors. And I think Catorze is the one who needs it the most.

Yes, there are two Step Ones. No, we have no idea why.
Dreaming of boys.

La guirlande lumineuse

The pesky squirrels have chewed, multiple times, through the wires of the pretty solar-powered garden lights that the Dog Family gave to Cat Daddy for his birthday. Of a string of around twenty lights, only four now work. And Cat Daddy is not happy about it.

After Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind and threats to obtain a firearm, Cat Daddy decided to … buy a new set of lights. Now, I don’t wish to victim-blame but this is asking for trouble, in the same way at that, if one’s Lexus were vandalised, it would not be advisable to buy an identical new Lexus and park it in the same spot the very next day.

Cat Daddy has also bought some new fruit trees for the garden, despite Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma telling us that the squirrels stole the figs and peaches from her trees last year. So, as well as parking a new Lexus in the same place where vandals targeted his old one, he’s also effectively bought several brand new Lexuses (Lexi?) and dotted them tantalisingly around a neighbourhood known for Lexus theft. Oh dear.

This is only going to fuel Cat Daddy’s already-raging hatred for the squirrels. But he’s done it now, so it’s too late.

The new string of lights looked lovely trailing around the honeysuckle trellis and across the fence and the shed roof … until Cat Daddy remembered that he had to paint the fence, so there was a second round of unrepeatable expletives when they all came down again.

This area also happens to be Louis Catorze’s route to Twiggy the greyhound’s place, so we may have to rethink when they go back up. Cats are supposed to be able to deftly pitter-patter through even the trickiest of obstacles – there’s a YouTube cat who can run across a floor covered in dominos without toppling a single one – but this is Catorze we’re talking about. I can well imagine going outside to find him flailing and screaming among the wires, like a fly caught on that sticky paper (not that flies scream, but you know what I mean).

The fence painting is going on right now as I write. But, when Cat Daddy has finished, I might ask him to nail the lights slightly lower, to facilitate the Catorzian exit route. And his painting supervisor (pictured below) agrees.

“You’ve missed a bit, papa.”

Point de paix pour les méchants

I have now been back at work for just over two weeks, and it has been quite refreshing to be able to teach Year 11 in peace without any interruptions from Louis Catorze.

Meanwhile, the little sod has turned his attention to Cat Daddy and has been driving him absolutely spare by following him around, clambering all over him, screaming and so on. I receive numerous messages of complaint from him (Cat Daddy, I mean, not Catorze) during my school day, accompanied by photos of the undesirable behaviours in question and, whilst I laugh and tell my colleagues sympathise, there’s not much I can do.

On one occasion Cat Daddy kicked Catorze out at The Front, just so that he could eat his breakfast in peace. But when he let him back in again, the pestering resumed.

Cat Daddy does have occasional respite as he works a couple of mornings a week as a volunteer delivery driver for the local food bank. (Yes, Catorze’s behaviour is such that Cat Daddy regards several hours of sitting in Hounslow traffic as “respite”.) And, at the end of his shift, he just wants to be able to come home and have some peace. However, Sa Majesté says “Non”.

More recently, Catorze decided to add bathroom interruptions to his repertoire. Whilst this is common in cats, it never used to happen with Catorze unless the bathroom had just been cleaned, in which case he did it in order to get high on the bleach. Yet, for whatever reason, he has decided to start doing it now.

Here he is, pictured at the start of the most recent senseless ambush. I don’t imagine we will ever find out the reason why.

Oh, for crying out loud: WHAT NOW?

La nouvelle nouvelle assiette

I promise I wasn’t posting about the broken bowl to elicit gifts – mainly because Louis Catorze is an idiot and doesn’t deserve gifts – but thank you to everyone who has spent time looking for a new bowl for him since the sad demise of his fancy French one.

I have received many suggestions for replacement bowls ranging from modern artisan numbers to antique pieces more suited to a museum display cabinet, and perhaps Catorze felt that a saucer from Wilko (non-Brits: ask your more downmarket British friends) was beneath him. Much of our crockery and cookware is from Wilko and it serves us perfectly well, but maybe that’s the point: if it’s good enough for us serving bitches, it’s not fitting for the Sun King.

However, we know, don’t we, that had I bought Catorze one of the expensive platters that you recommended, he would have sniffed it, looked at me as if to say “… The hell do you call THIS?” and walked away.

HELL, nope.

A MASSIVE THANK YOU to the gorgeous Sammypuss and his Cat Daddy, Alex, who very kindly sent Catorze a new bowl (below) and some TRÈS fancy treats (which were licked once, then respectfully declined). Since the little sod appears to have a preference for food pellets in one neat pile, rather than scattered around the plate, I have a feeling he will like this bowl better than the flat saucer.

However, because the plan I have for Le Grand Changement de Nourriture requires a temporary period of TWO BOWLS, I had to consider the following options:

1. Continuing to feed Catorze on the unsatisfactory flat saucer, reserving the new one for Le Grand Changement in April. (Désavantage: a few more weeks of haphazard eating and creepy staring.)

2. Giving Catorze his food in the new bowl immediately. (Désavantage: risk of chaos and disorder when I introduce ANOTHER bowl for Le Grand Changement.)

3. Bringing forward Le Grand Changement to try to get both the bowl chaos/disorder and food chaos/disorder out of the way at once. (Désavantage: possible risk of rejecting the last supplies our painstakingly-sourced Dark Web Lily’s Kitchen, and also not necessarily a guarantee of chaos/disorder avoidance.)

4. Dispensing with bowls altogether and feeding Catorze by throwing handfuls of food in his vague direction. (Désavantage: chaos and disorder of a different kind.)

I was tempted by Option 4. However, I have chosen Option 2 and I fear I may live to regret it.

Merci, Sammypuss et Alex!

Des jonquilles aux derniers lilas

The spring equinox is here.

Last spring, we had the most beautiful daffodils in the world and everyone admired them. Although I’ve always loved a cheering display of these heralds of spring, I have never thought individual daffodils to be truly beautiful until I saw these ones that Cat Daddy had planted the previous autumn. Whilst they were recognisable as daffodils, the ragged edges gave them an untamed oomph, like the kind of daffodils one would more likely stumble across in Faeryland than on earth.

I loved our first spring with them. Sadly it was our ONLY spring with them because, as soon as they had withered, Cat Daddy pulled them all up again (although a few somehow escaped the cull, and we are still debating what to do with those). This was partly because daffodils are toxic to cats – and maybe we should have known this before, but the list of cat-incompatible plants is so long that it would be impossible to memorise everything – but also because that late winter/early spring was when Louis Catorze’s health took an especially bad turn. I don’t think we will ever know what caused him to deteriorate, but introducing a new thing known for its toxicity probably wasn’t smart.

So now the daffodils have gone to a new home with my mum, whose cat has no health issues and steers well clear of flowers. I hope my mum enjoys them as much as we did for that one brief season.

Here is one of our daffodils, photographed last year:

Fun while it lasted.

And here is the reason why we can’t have nice plants:

It’s all his fault.

Presque le début du printemps

When I was looking back over past blog entries the other day (as I sometimes do, in an “Oh my God, did he really do that or was it just some awful dream?” type of way), I remembered that, this time last year, Louis Catorze was Côned.

Naturellement, I am desperately hoping that we won’t have to adopt the same horrible measures again, and I can’t seem to stop myself from neurotically studying photos of Louis Catorze this time last year, searching for a sign that he is better now than he was then. And I think he is. It’s very hard to tell, because he can look pretty normal in some light and utterly awful in others. Plus, last year, he’d also had his skin biopsy which added a further layer of itchy complication into the mix. But, this time, we acted a lot more quickly to introduce/up the steroids, so hopefully that will be enough.

That said, knowing him, he will probably find some new and unexpected way of sabotaging our efforts. He usually does.

Anyway, Catorze certainly isn’t acting like a sick cat. In fact, even Cat Daddy commented that the little sod had been having a fine old time outside, gadding about in the Zone Libre and enjoying the early spring. It would have been nice had he done this on that Wednesday afternoon instead of screaming through my podcast for a whole hour, but tant pis.

One of Catorze’s favourite things to do is sitting on Oscar the dog’s summer house roof. We are certain that he misses his old sparring partner, and that he goes there to look for him.

“Où est mon ami?”

La nouvelle ancienne assiette

Louis Catorze is nibbling from his black plate with considerable caution, the way a hungry person would if they were handed their favourite food in the world and told “It might be poisoned, or it might not”.

When he’s not eating, he sits by the plate and stares as if it were some strange alien being. But at least he’s eating SOMETHING. And – merci à Dieu – not only is he taking his pills, but he seems to be doing fine on his new dose of one a day.

Cat Daddy: “He’s not happy. Maybe he doesn’t like the look of his plate because the pellets are all over the place. It’s a mess.”

Me, sarcastically: “Are you suggesting that we arrange the pieces into a more aesthetically pleasing fashion?”

Cat Daddy, without a hint of irony: “Well, it wouldn’t hurt to try.”

Reluctantly, I pushed all the pellets together into a pile in the middle of the plate, to see if it would make a difference. Catorze sniffed the pile, then walked away.

We really don’t need this right now, what with Le Grand Changement de Nourriture only a few weeks away. But at least someone in the household seems to be having fun with it:

I’m fairly sure Catorze didn’t do this.

J’en ai ras-le-bol

I have broken the one-of-a-kind French feeding bowl which was gifted to Louis Catorze by one of his favourite pilgrims, and I am very sad about it.

Because I hadn’t slept very well the night before, I was clumsy when serving up Catorze’s food and pill; I knocked the bowl with the bag of Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature, sending it sliding off the edge of the worktop and onto the floor. Needless to say, it did not survive the fall.

The good news is that we have a back-up plate: a flat, matt black saucer that Cat Daddy bought for Le Roi’s big brother Luther. (He chose black over a multitude of colours “because it matched Luther’s fur”. I know.)

The bad news is that Catorze won’t eat from it.

Yes, he used to use this same plate perfectly happily before acquiring the fancy French one. And, yes, exactly the same food is going onto it. But he still won’t eat from it. It doesn’t bode well for changing his food next month if the silly sod can’t even cope with the SAME FOOD ON A DIFFERENT PLATE.

Not long after I broke the bowl, he sat at my feet and did the creepy staring again. And, ever since, he has spent his time alternating between screaming and sitting forlornly by his (full) plate.

This is a level of foolishness that we truly cannot comprehend.

Someone needs to tell him it’s the same food. Oh, wait … WE DID.

Le vieil homme et la bouffe

We have worked out that we have enough Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature to last us until late April. This means that we have around sevenish weeks to figure out how in the world we are going to change the food of a cat who doesn’t like food.

The good news about a late April change is that Louis Catorze’s allergy-prone period will be coming to an end, so we won’t have to endure a food change AND maximum pill dosage AND possible deployment of Le Cône all at the same time. (In fact, as from tomorrow we will be lowering his dose to just one pill a day, as his skin and eyes are looking much less sore now.)

However, at the end of April the little sod will turn 11. And according to, erm, some random charts that I found on the internet – see below for one from catwisdom101.com – this will move him up a whole age category, from Mature to Senior:

Only a few more years until he reaches Geriatric.

In short, he will be turning into a cantankerous old man. And we all know that cantankerous old men are deeply set in their ways and not receptive to change.

He has already taken the first steps towards this undesirable transformation with a newly-adopted raspy old-man scowl, usually emitted when one of us grabs him for Grecoing and which is unlike any utterance we have ever heard before. In fact, far from sounding like a living creature, it is more like a digital sound created by a tech nerd in a Star Wars t-shirt. Being an idiot about his food is also the kind of old-mannish, low-effort-yet-high-impact thing he would do to spite us, and I am sure he will think of more things between now and his birthday.

Here he is, warning us that things are about about to get serious:

Looking youthful. And wanting more food.

Je vous fais savoir …

Louis Catorze is becoming very good at letting us know when he wants us to do something. And it’s only taken him seven years.

If he wants water, he is clever enough to go and sit by his glass. If we are elsewhere, he could very well be sitting there for hours before we realise that he’s there, which appears to be where his plan fails.

However, if we haven’t seen him in a while, one of us always goes to look for him and, when we find him sitting by his water, we fetch him a fresh glass. And he has grown to learn that that’s what we’re doing so he waits in his drinking spot, whereas previously he would follow us, screaming, presumably furious that we were stealing his water.

So, although it takes some time, in actual fact he succeeds in getting what he wants. Hopefully he’s not so stupid that he sits there when we’ve left the house, although I wouldn’t put it past him.

When he asks for more food – a new thing since the steroids because, prior to that, he didn’t care much for food – things are very different. Hungry Catorze will find me wherever I am (never Cat Daddy, always me) and sit and stare. Most cats scream for food, but I guess the issue there is that he screams so often, for so many reasons or for absolutely no reason whatsoever, that we would never succeed in narrowing down what he wanted.

The first time he sat and stared, we didn’t know what the problem was and we were terrified. Luckily, now that we have figured it out, I comply as soon as I can because I just want it to stop. Staring may seem comparatively inoffensive because it’s silent but, trust me, something about it bores deep into the soul and it’s creepy as hell.

Here are some examples of just how chilling it can be. Naturellement, when I put food into his bowl, he just sniffs it and walks away.

“Feed moi.”
“Feed moi.”
“Feed moi.”

Les fissures de la fourrure

I am going back to school this week. (Please note: “back to school”, not “back to work”. I have been at work this whole time.) Although I am looking forward to a little normality, I will to have to relearn the following:

– Driving

– Wearing shoes

– Using a pen and paper (teachers and students: remember pens and paper?)

– Talking to people without yelling at them to mute

– Styling my whole hair, as opposed to just styling the front bits that people see during video calls

Speaking of hair (kind of), Louis Catorze’s fur cracks are becoming more and more pronounced. I love cats’ fur cracks. Explaining what they are is absolutely impossible, so I have attached a photo of the ones that Catorze has always had on his weird tail:

It’s not normal. We know.

Nobody quite knows what makes some cats’ fur crack and others’ not but it seems to be a plushy cat phenomenon, rather than one affecting sleek cats. I had always believed that fur cracks, like energy in Physics, could not be created or destroyed – a cat either had them or didn’t – but not so anymore: Louis Catorze used to only have fur cracks on his tail, but now he has them on his body, too, and his fur appears to become much thicker when he is on the steroids. It’s all very strange, but then we have come to expect “strange” as far as he’s concerned.

Here are Catorze’s drug-induced bodily fur cracks, looking more peculiar than ever as they pulse up and down with his breathing and making him look like some Vernian monster from the deep. As with the above photo, please excuse the dust; either he had rolled in crud, or he was shedding crud, or possibly both:

I want to stop looking but I can’t.

Русские идут!

After falling in love with a photo of a Russian Black cat – and there I was thinking a Russian Black was a cocktail – I joined a social media group all about Russian cats.

The rules of the group are very specific about the types of photos that may be posted, which is fair enough since Russian cats are what it’s about. I initially thought I would find it hard to resist posting photos of Louis Catorze but, as I get to know the cats in the group, I feel increasingly relieved that nobody expects to see him, as it would be akin to showing my battered, ancient skateboard to a group of people who all drive shiny Lamborghinis.

Russian cats are SERIOUSLY fancy. We’re talking supermodel-fancy. Their fur is incredible, and something about their faces makes them look as if they’re permanently smiling, whereas Catorze’s fur is grim beyond belief and he looks as if he’s been sent by Satan to end humanity. Russian cats are also able to pose beautifully with their surroundings, so you’d be forgiven for thinking their humans were all professional photographers.

Not only are the cats fancy, but their homes are also très fancy indeed. Very often the decor complements/matches the colour of the cat in an effortlessly tasteful way, making every single photo in the group – without exception – worthy of the front cover of a “Fancy Cat Vogue” publication. Photographing Louis Catorze in his relatively modest Château, on the other hand, is quite the endeavour: it usually involves shifting unsightly objects from the background (if I can be bothered), brushing away surface crud from the furniture/floor/cat, adjusting the light to hide the grubby carpet/walls/cat, planning my disclaimer apologising for said grubby carpet/walls/cat, consulting my good friend the black markup pen to edit any unattractive pink rear end, and so on. And, even after all this effort, the photo is usually still terrible.

Would I ever want a Russian cat? Absolutely. They’re so beautiful that I can’t imagine anyone NOT wanting one, and if I came across one in a rescue situation I certainly would be tempted. Incidentally, this is not to sidestep paying a breeder; after all, Le Roi was the most expensive cat in the history of his rescue, so any plans to minimise spending went out of the window from the start. This is because my heart lies with the freaks and misfits that nobody wants, perhaps because I identify with them more closely than one would imagine.

And it does happen: if fancy cats are your thing, they do, very occasionally, pop up in rescues. Catorze’s big brother Luther was a Bombay, although we didn’t know at the time and we just thought he was a skinny black cat with a weird tail. Had they told us, I can’t say it would have made much difference. However, when they presented Luther as the longest-serving inmate of the least popular colour and with a chequered medical history, I thought, “That’s the cat for me.”

Here is Alik, the divine, dark angel who prompted me to become a member of the fancy cats group despite my own cat being as unfancy as can possibly be. Thank you to his Cat Daddy, Joseph, for letting me use this picture:

Just exquisite.

If you are thinking of adopting a cat, please ensure that you do so from an ethical, registered breeder or from a rescue. And, if you’d like to find out more about Russian cats, you can do so here: http://www.russiancatsaustralia.com

Le chat sur un toit brûlant

Every so often, a little ray of sunshine comes my way when I realise that my cat is not THE most embarrassing cat in the world, but perhaps only just scraping into the top ten.

This absolute muppet (see link https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-56271478 ) not only managed to hold up a whole train but his escapades were as public as can be, first taking place in a crowded station with CCTV and now immortalised on the internet for our entertainment. The only slight surprise is the colour of the cat as I would have expected this behaviour, first and foremost, from black cats (psychopaths who want to ruin our lives) or gingers (arrogant and into themselves, and therefore would have loved the attention).

Somewhere in London, a tabby cat owner is wincing as they read the BBC’s online news, thanking their lucky stars that the photos are sufficiently grainy to instil some reasonable doubt, therefore allowing them to just deny everything. I myself am thanking my lucky stars that it’s not Catorze, although this is only because he doesn’t know where the station is.

Here he is, telepathically communicating praise to his stripy copain:

“Bien joué, mon gars.”