Deep down in sunny Brentford to the north of Kew Not far from the M4 and the B452 There stands a fine Château made of brick and wood Where lives a small black cat who’s up to no good He always does the opposite of what we say We tell him “No” but then he does it anyway No, no! No, Louis, no, no! No, Louis, no, no! No, Louis, no, no! No, Louis, no, no! Louis, be good! This kitty’s super-creepy; he’s got vampire teeth The canines are much bigger than the ones beneath He goes to other gardens and he raises hell Annoying all the foxes and the squirrels as well He is a total psycho and a massive pain That’s why you’ll hear us yelling this again and again No, no! No, Louis, no, no! No, Louis, no, no! No, Louis, no, no! No, Louis, no, no! Louis, be good! Cat Daddy tells him “Someday I will kick your arse Unless you start behaving with a bit more class” Yet many people visit him from miles around They get here just by following the screaming sound Maybe someday, instead of being a shite He’ll say "I will be good tonight" No, no! No, Louis, no! No, no, no, Louis, no! No, no, no, Louis, no! No, no, no, Louis, no, no! Louis, be good!
Louis Catorze will be 11 years old on Friday. An 11th birthday doesn’t have quite the same satisfying roundness as a 10th birthday, but nevertheless it’s a big deal.
If 30th April were truly the day that he was born, Catorze would be a Taurus. I don’t believe in star signs, but I still enjoy reading about them and giggling at the disparity between what I am and what I’m supposed to be. I am a Libra, and we are said to be obsessed with physical appearance (nope), adept in social situations (hell, nope) and lovers of high art and intellectualism (I don’t think anyone has ever accused Le Blog of being either of those).
That said, Cat Daddy is a Cancer, which makes him moody and high-maintenance. Ahem.
Anyway, I have a book called “The Enchanted Cat” (https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-enchanted-cat/ellen-dugan/9780738707693) which a friend sent to me years ago. Now, please hear me out. This is what it says about the Taurus cat:
⁃ Laid-back and peaceful: nope and nope
⁃ Shy with strangers: HELL, nope
⁃ Upset by change: depends what it is, e.g. us going on holiday and leaving him with a chat-sitteur for two weeks = not a big deal and actually great fun, whereas a new food bowl = Armageddon
⁃ Loyal and generous: nope and nope
⁃ A hearty appetite: nope
⁃ Has one favoured sleeping spot: nope
However, the Gemini cat is, apparently, as follows:
⁃ Very social: check
⁃ Demands attention and loves being spoken to: check and check
⁃ Kittenish behaviour throughout their life: check
⁃ Very vocal, with quite the repertoire of sounds: HELL, check
⁃ Loves to keep its humans on their toes: no further questions, Your Honour
Assuming this to be correct, and I realise that it’s a bit of a reach, it seems far more likely that Catorze is a Gemini (21st May to 21st June).
That said, 30th April – Beltane Eve – marks the halfway point to Hallowe’en and this date is still historically associated with magic, witches and otherworldly creepiness (see link: https://halloweendailynews.com/2017/04/walpurgis-night-halfway-to-halloween/ ). A 31st October birthday would, perhaps, be more fitting for a black cat with vampire teeth, but the second creepiest date on the calendar happens to be the date given on his paperwork, so it will do nicely.
Le Grand Changement’s twists and turns are more dramatic than an episode of Line of Duty, and I cannot believe I am having to write this.
After a thoroughly successful Grand Changement (or so I stupidly thought), Louis Catorze has decided that he no longer wants to eat Canagan. And, naturellement, he made this decision AFTER we subscribed to six-weekly deliveries of Canagan at £35 a pop, the first of which is already here.
We initially put this down to temporary Summer Unhungries, but then he did the same thing again the following day. And, at the end of that second day, when I finally gave into the screaming and served a portion of his old food, he ate it.
This is worse than having the opposition score a 94th-minute winner in football. This is more like having them score long after the full-time whistle and the referee deciding to allow it.
Whilst it probably sounds comical that he’s so contrary, the reality of a cat who chooses starvation over new food is hugely stressful. We are utterly dismayed and mystified by this/him. We did not deviate from the instructions in the slightest – apart from using just one bowl when we saw how much the little sod was perturbed by two bowls, and apart from that one time early into the programme when Cat Daddy drunk-fed him Canagan on its own, WHICH HE ATE. So we can’t understand why this hasn’t worked.
Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “Maybe he knows you’ve got more expensive food [the Plan C Orijen] for him, and he’s holding out for that?”
Me: “Sorry … what?”
Cat Daddy: “Maybe he’s just sensing it from you. Maybe you’re giving off vibes.”
Me: “Giving off … BETTER FOOD VIBES?”
Cat Daddy: “Yes. I mean, wouldn’t you do the same thing? Wouldn’t you stop eating boring old cod roe if you knew someone was hoarding caviar?”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]
We have no option but to unleash the money-vaporising, poverty-trapping weapon of mass destruction that is Orijen. And we are giving serious consideration to serving it alone, without the Lily’s Kitchen; it seems to be that, if Catorze can still see and smell his old food in the bowl, he will eat whatever is with it … but when the old food is taken away, however snail-slow the transition, he’s no longer interested. So we may bin the gradual changeover and find a food that he likes enough to eat on its own.
This defies all advice out there, due to the risk of puking and stomach upsets. But, let’s face it: dutifully following advice to the letter has achieved nothing so far.
Louis Catorze has a friend!
The very confident, never-seen-before gentleman pictured below (at least we THINK it’s a gentleman; I’ve never seen a female cat with such long limbs) wandered through Le Jardin the other day. Cat Daddy took 873 photos and videos when he was supposed to be watching the football, proving that he is as big a cat freak as me.
Cat Daddy was disappointed that Catorze didn’t fight off the interloper; he seems to want his boy to be the hard-as-steel neighbourhood kingpin rather than the cordial host. But, since this cat – whom I have decided to name Donnie* – appeared to come in peace, he was welcome. Sa Maj didn’t mind him hanging around, and clearly the feeling was mutual as Donnie was back the next night (bizarrely, with Blue the Smoke Bengal in tow) and the night after that.
*Because he’s the new kid on the block. Younger followers: ask your mums.
On the third night, when he came calling at the Sureflap, Catorze chirped back, then went out, and the pair of them wandered off into the Zone Libre together.
Whilst cat friends in the garden are rather nice, having them coming into the house is another matter entirely. And, regretfully, when the Sureflap started malfunctioning and/or Catorze started to forget how to come in (we don’t know which one it was), we took out the batteries and we still haven’t fixed it. I KNOW, I KNOW. We forgot about it for a long time, then on the odd occasion we would remember again but, since we hadn’t had any trespassers, we weren’t in any hurry to do anything about it. So we probably need to get onto this pretty sharpish.
For the reason given above, we’re not sure if it’s a good idea to encourage Donnie. We don’t wish to hurt the feelings of Catorze’s only friend and it’s not in our nature to be indifferent towards cats, but we we know what selfish users they are; if we are so much as moderately civil towards them, they take advantage. Our street already has quite enough feline impinging taking place – Catorze goes into That Neighbour’s House, Blue the Smoke Bengal goes into the Dog Family’s house, Catus Interruptus goes into Cocoa the babysit cat’s house – and we don’t want any more.
Anyway, this weekend seems as good a time as any to secure the perimeters of Le Château, monitor the comings and goings and rescue the Sun King should he get stuck. After the stress of Le Grand Changement I was looking forward to a bit of a break from cat nonsense, but I guess it’s an almighty “Non” to that.
Oh dear. It was all going so well.
After successful completion of Phases 1 and 2, we had just started the third and final part – mainly new food alongside a tiny amount of old – when Louis Catorze decided to throw some last-minute bâtons in the roues by switching from BST (British Summer Time) to CST (Catorzian Summer Time).
If you have a cat, you will be aware that they have a Summer Time Mode: eating less, sleeping less, constantly being outside, and so on. This tends to start in late spring – although never at the same time every year, just to be extra unhelpful – and, usually, it’s not a problem.
However, I really could have done without it happening during Le Grand Changement; when I see food still in his plate, I have no idea whether this is because he no longer likes it, or it’s gone a little stale, or he has a touch of the Summer Unhungries, or he’s been having such a good time gadding about in the Zone Libre that he just forgot about eating. It could be any, or all, or none of the above.
Catorze usually eats his first meal of the day at 7am; however, now he isn’t hungry until 5pm or later. It’s impossible to second-guess how much he wants to eat and when; and, although it’s not the end of the world if his food sits around for ages before being eaten, it’s still quite annoying. (Do I count it as an uneaten/rejected portion, or not?) And, if he chooses to ignore his pills – as seems to be the case at the moment, right after I told one of his followers how lucky I am that he happily eats them – it then puts me under pressure to Greco him to even out the space between doses.
Cat Daddy has not been helping matters by keeping Catorze up late during gin-fuelled Boys’ Club sessions, stuffing up the little sod’s body clock even further. And I suspect there may be drunken midnight feeding going on, although I can’t prove it (and Cat Daddy says he can’t remember).
Anyway, Plan C – Orijen Six Fish – is on standby, just in case. At a heart-stopping £29.99 for 1.8kg it’s the priciest of the bunch, so I really don’t want to deploy this unless there’s some dire emergency (Canagan factory blowing up, Scotland gaining independence and no longer being able to export salmon to us, that kind of thing). Even my sister, who hardly ever swears, used an unrepeatable expletive when she saw how much Orijen costs.
Please keep your fingers crossed that Catorze doesn’t score a stoppage time winner by doing something else idiotic on the last day.
Louis Catorze’s skin has been looking scaly and dandruffy lately, so the vet recommended an Omega 3 supplement called Nutramega. I was sure Cat Daddy would disapprove but, when he saw the information leaflet, he asked me why on earth we hadn’t bought them before.
To be honest, I don’t really know why. Over the years there have been so many things going on with Catorze – the worst being tail-chewing to the point of drawing blood, requiring through-the-night attention – that, perhaps, a glossy coat seemed a luxury rather than a priority. Plus the thought of adding another pill to his arsenal of medication didn’t appeal, especially as he is so awful at taking them. But at least we have them now, and we are determined to give them a shot.
The supplements, although not huge, are too big to encase inside a Pill Pocket for tiny Catorze. So I have to make a hole with a cocktail stick (younger followers: ask your parents), squeeze half of the fishy, gel-like contents into the well of a Pill Pocket, like a vol-au-vent (younger followers: ask your grandparents) and reserve the part-squeezed capsule to do the same thing again the next day.
The vet knows what Catorze is like so, initially, I bought ten days’ supply as an experiment. Having seen his reaction to two bowls, I needed to be sure that he wouldn’t go bonkers at the sight of two Pill Pockets, too. But – MERCI À DIEU – he ate them. This is right up there with stigmata and weeping statues in terms of miracles.
Cat Daddy, in a deadpan voice and without looking up from his gardening catalogue: “Amazing.”
I now have to open FIVE packs for him every day, the others being the Pill Pockets, the Prednisolone pills and, of course, the two different foods. But, despite everything, the little sod is worth it.
In this photo he has just discovered that the Nutramega information leaflet smells of vet:
The pubs are now open, although I have to be honest: whilst outdoor dining in April seemed like a nice idea once upon a time, the reality is pretty grim. I have had a couple of outdoor meet-ups so far, and it’s just too cold. And, when I’ve suggested to the other person that we wait until we’re allowed indoors before we meet again, they have agreed without hesitation.
Cat Daddy and his boozy pub mates are still doing their Friday Zoom evenings, and they are very likely to continue even when restrictions are lifted. Louis Catorze attends the meetings every week without fail, sometimes screaming, sometimes just sitting on his papa’s lap and happily absorbing the male voices. The last time they met, the talk was mostly about vaccines and who has had which one. (Tim has had the Pfizer and the others have all had the AstraZeneca, thank you for asking.)
The group has recently decided to form a gentlemen’s book club, and Cat Daddy has been re-reading his favourite novel of all time – Nineteen Eighty-Four – in preparation for the next meeting. Or, rather, he has been TRYING to re-read it, but unfortunately it’s a firm “Non” from Catorze; the minute Cat Daddy sits down with his book, Le Roi is in his face, screaming, staring creepily and demanding attention. Both Cat Daddy and I had hoped that, since I’m home for the holidays, perhaps the little sod might want to spend some time with me instead, but apparently it’s a “Non” to that, too.
If Cat Daddy takes his book outside, Catorze follows him. It’s almost like the constant surveillance described in Nineteen Eighty-Four itself, and I imagine that, had the Thought Police used Catorzian pestering as an enhanced interrogation technique, they would have succeeded in getting anyone to confess to anything. In fact, I can see “Catorzian” being used in the future in the same context as Orwellian, dystopian and all the other undesirable -ians.
This is what it’s like when Big Brother is, quite literally, watching you:
Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges: Louis Catorze is eating food. And it’s food that I want him to eat, not some heinous, cheap, 90%-sawdust rubbish that he’s chosen just to spite me.
It’s been a couple of days since we started putting half a portion each of new and old food into his bowl – sometimes with the halves top and bottom with a horizontal split, like the Earth’s hemispheres, sometimes with a vertical split and the halves left and right, and sometimes in a pleasing yin-yang formation, just for fun – and he has eaten every portion served. And, the other day, when Cat Daddy was drunk and accidentally served him the new food on its own, he ate that, too.
I cannot even BEGIN to articulate how happy this makes me. Unless you have been through it, you will never understand how stressful it is when a cat won’t eat, especially when they’re not even ill (which can be cured) but just being a shite (which can’t). And it’s even worse when you have helpful folk on the sidelines saying things like “He’ll get hungry enough eventually”* and “I don’t see why you can’t just keep giving him his old food”**.
*No, he won’t.
**Which part of “His old food is discontinued” don’t you understand?
I appreciate that some cats will eat absolutely anything put in front of them. If you have one of those, lucky you. We don’t.
The two foods are still served in distinct piles, and I haven’t dared to mix them because this failed the last time, after weeks of us believing it to be going fine. I don’t want the little sod suddenly realising on Day 14 that there is a new food in his bowl and then being difficult. So, after every meal, I go to his plate and re-sort any mixed bits into separate piles again. Yes, it must seem somewhat over the top. But I would rather do this than have Catorze abort the mission at the eleventh hour, and then we would have to start this tedious process ALL OVER AGAIN.
Anyway, Catorze remains utterly unconcerned by the trouble he has been causing. Here he is, having just, erm, ripped a page out of Cat Daddy’s old road atlas and fashioned it into a pillow for himself:
However purgatorial Le Grand Changement may be, at least Louis Catorze doesn’t know about THIS (see link):
A 2kg bag of this food, called British Banquet and containing caviar and lobster, would set you back a cool £249.99 (two hundred and forty-nine pounds and ninety-nine pence).
However, according to the manufacturer’s website – where I browsed just out of curiosity, I might add, and not because I was giving this food any genuine consideration – British Banquet was only available briefly during 2016 as a limited-edition product. They now only stock their standard range, still très fancy by most people’s standards and something I am not ruling out should I require a Plan D.
Now, anyone who has ever met a cat will know that, if they taste something new and wonderful, they reject their boring, everyday food. In fact, even if they DON’T taste something new and wonderful, some of them still reject their boring, everyday food, just for fun, then decide to like it again after we’ve spent a fortune on other food. I cannot imagine any cat sampling British Banquet and then settling for some inferior substitution afterwards, so what did people do after the production run came to an end? Rich, hunger-striking British kitties must have gone through cycle after cycle of Grand(s) Changement(s) in 2017, with their frustrated humans crying into their Cristal and praying for the little sods to JUST EAT SOMETHING, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Anyway, here is Catorze, not quite living the lifestyle of £249.99 food but still acting as if he were:
It pains me to admit this after Sammypuss and Alex were kind enough to send TWO bowls, but double-bowling just isn’t working out for Louis Catorze.
He has no issue with the bowls themselves, but he is utterly flummoxed by the presence of two. Not only does this put him off eating the new food, but he is also unsure of his old, familiar food AND HIS PILLS. Anything that deters him from his pills has to be addressed, because we don’t want to have to add Grecoing to the list of Grand Changement problems.
More worryingly, there has been some bizarre behaviour in response to the two bowls. As well as sitting and staring at them with the level of suspicion usually reserved for unexploded bombs, Sa Maj has been approaching them at a strange angle and eating with his body contorted awkwardly through the legs of the stool* that sits around/above his feeding station. This is something that we have never seen before, and watching it has been quite uncomfortable.
*Incidentally, the stool is not the problem. He has always happily eaten underneath it – in fact, he has never NOT eaten underneath it.
Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “The PDSA are probably used to normal cats who do normal things. They won’t have come across one as weird as Louis.” Sadly, on this occasion, he may have a point.
We then decided to take a risky deviation from the PDSA’s guidance, offering Catorze both his old food and the Plan B food in one bowl. If mixing makes a cat think their familiar food has been poisoned, perhaps a distinct pile of each one in the same bowl would demonstrate that, although they look and smell different, they are both edible? Well, it made perfect sense to me. Which most likely meant it wouldn’t make any sense to Catorze, but it had to be worth a go.
I had some success with the first attempt, and he ate a small amount from each pile. Naturellement, after eating, there was some mixage between the two foods, so I pushed the pellets apart again to form two distinct piles. When I later refilled, once again he ate a little from each pile.
Although this is HUGE progress, we still have some way to go; the next phase involves the bigger deal of 50-50 servings of each food, so it would be premature to celebrate now. Or, as Cat Daddy put it, “There’s still time for him to f*** it up.”
The pubs are open again, as from today. I fear that, if I go into one, I may never come out again.
Plan A has come to an end, and it has been somewhat mixed. (Non-Brits: if your British friends ever use the adjective “mixed”, it’s bad news and you should make them some tea immediately.)
We tried for almost a week for those three days of happy eating and, regretfully, what Catorze demonstrated was more like occasional, reluctant nibbling; of the dozen tasting menu portions served over the week, the little sod only ate two at the start and then no more.
When Plan B arrived I hand-fed him a couple of pellets as an experiment, and he ate them. When I did the same thing with some Plan A pellets immediately afterwards, he refused. Which was pretty conclusive proof that he just DOESN’T LIKE PLAN A.
At that point we decided to bin it and move to Plan B.
Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day, to Catorze: “Poor Louis. Life’s been hard for you, hasn’t it, with two bowls and two foods to choose from? It must be confusing for an old, thick boy like you.”
Anyway, Plan B is Canagan Scottish Salmon, which claims to “excite even the fussiest of felines” (please, Goddess, let this be true). The recipe also calls itself “perfect for your feline friend”; obviously Catorze considers himself my imperial sovereign and commander rather than my friend, so we haven’t told him about that bit.
I sense chaos, anarchy and more sleepless nights ahead. We will keep you informed of our progress (or lack thereof).
We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends: Louis Catorze’s ami, Sammypuss, has very kindly sent the little sod another bowl to replace the evil black saucer. So Le Grand Changement can now continue with two bowls that Catorze likes, rather than with one that he likes and one that he hates.
I spent ages trying to find another matching bowl by myself, but I was only able to find it in two places: one was eBay, priced at £16 for the bowl and £20 for delivery – and it was just a single item, so I couldn’t buy multiple bowls to get full value for money from the delivery charge – and the other was some place that I can’t even remember anymore, priced at £200 for a set of twelve. Neither option appealed, and luckily Sammypuss was kind enough to lend a hand to his troubled comrade, with the help of his amazing Cat Daddy, Alex.
Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “But he used to eat perfectly happily from that black saucer.” That was YEARS ago. We cannot reasonably expect a cat as silly as Catorze not only to recall what he did in 2016 (or whenever it was), but also to repeat it when we want him to.
Anyway, removing Satan’s saucer from the equation surely cannot do any harm? Sincèrement merci, Sammypuss et Alex.
According to the PDSA, the cat must have “happily eaten the new food for at least three days” before moving onto the next stage involving increasing the amount of new food and decreasing the old.
I assume by this that Catorze needs to have eaten most, or all, of the Thrive served over a three-day period. Cat Daddy, however, thinks it just means SOME consumption on each of the three days. My sister says “Whatever is normal for your cat” which could mean anything or nothing, since Catorze wouldn’t know “normal” if it kicked him up the arse.
As we didn’t seem to be making progress with Plan A, I decided to make arrangements for Plan B. And, whilst purchasing Plan B, I took the liberty of also acquiring the wherewithal for Plan C, after a MONUMENTAL search to find one website that sold both. Trust me, this took some doing, given Sa Maj’s very exacting requirements.
Cat Daddy said I should have waited until seeing the results of Plan A before investing the kingly sums of £5.99 and £6.99 respectively in Plans B and C. However, had I done that, as well as paying twice for delivery, we would have been rapidly running down our last pack of Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature – of which there were precious few left in the world the last time I dared to look – in the time it took for each Plan to arrive.
Anyway, within hours of me placing the order for Plans B and C, naturellement Catorze decided that he would comply with Plan A after all.
Plan B and Plan C will arrive tomorrow and, most likely, will just sit uselessly in Catorze’s food cupboard. That said, we know full well, don’t we, that the minute we donate them to
nicer less fortunate cats elsewhere, Catorze will stage a brand new French Revolution and stop complying with Plan A.
And, to add to our woes, the little sod’s skin is looking worse than ever, so he was back to the maximum dose of two steroid pills per day as from yesterday. We don’t know how this could have happened. We have been doing EVERYTHING right.
I know, it’s exhausting to read all this. Imagine how we feel having to live with it.
Incidentally, I’m still not drinking; after the success of Dry February and Dry March, I’ve decided to try for Dry April, too. I’m not sure whether a couple of bottles of Crémant would make this situation worse … or much, much better.
Although we are not Christians, Cat Daddy and I are praying for an Easter miracle: I have decided to bring forward Le Grand Changement since I am home to monitor the proceedings properly. Cat Daddy is, of course, home all the time, but this is a situation that requires the organised, responsible human, not the naughty one.
Plus, after reading the PDSA link properly (see previous post), I realise that it’s a two-week process from start to finish. Since we’re down to our last pack of Lily’s Kitchen, this gives us very little wriggle room should our mutual friend appear to cooperate throughout and then inexplicably change his mind on Day 14.
The PDSA tell us to place a normal serving of old food alongside a very small serving of new food, each in a separate bowl (see below). After the débâcle when I broke Catorze’s favourite one, I wasn’t going to confuse the daft sausage by introducing yet ANOTHER plate in the space of a few weeks, so I thought I might try, instead, to harness his dislike of the black saucer and use it to push him towards the new food.
Anyway, here are the two plates pictured at 7am on the first day:
Catorze ate the pill quite early on, but barely touched either set of food until around 10pm, when he ate the lot. For his next two meals, however, he ate most of the Lily’s Kitchen and absolutely none of the Thrive. Apparently this kind of caper is normal for a new food trial, not that this helps us particularly.
Cat Daddy: “He’s confused by the two plates. We should put the two foods onto one plate.”
Me: “Not only did that not work last time, but we didn’t even realise it wasn’t working until weeks into it.”
Cat Daddy: “Well, if he doesn’t eat, he’ll die. Tough shit.”
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.
Incidentally, I do have both a Plan B and a Plan C in mind should Plan A not work out, but I can see us running the whole alphabetic gauntlet and still getting nowhere.