Le bonheur de la bicyclette

Sadly it didn’t work out for the Black Cats in the League 1 play-offs, but Cat Daddy and I were lucky enough to score tickets for the Brentford-Swansea Championship play-off final in Wembley … and we won!

In other news: I have had my first session with Cat Daddy’s cycling friend, Gerard, and it was actually more fun than I’d imagined (although my expectations were quite low).

Gerard came to the house at 10am and, as I was wheeling out the Millennial Falcon, Louis Catorze emerged, screaming, from That Neighbour’s garden. (We had no idea what he was doing there. And, no, we didn’t even know he was out at The Front.)

He was thrilled to meet a new man and hurled himself at Gerard, who stroked him and commented on his soft fur. Absolutely nobody has said this before, EVER, and it was such a departure from the usual assumptions (that he’s a stray, that he’s 102 years old, that he’s suffering from some wasting disease and doesn’t have long to live, or possibly all three) that I didn’t know how to respond. Then, as Gerard was adjusting the saddle on my bike, the screaming restarted.

Me: “I’m going to have to let him into the house.”

Catorze: “Mwahhhhhhh!”

Gerard: “Nah, he’s fine.”

Catorze: “Mwahhhhhhh!”

Me: “You don’t understand: I don’t want him disturbing our neighbour. He does it all the time.”

Catorze: “Mwahhhhhhh!”

Gerard: “Your neighbour just needs to ignore it and tune out. I have.”

Catorze: “Mwahhhhhhh!”

Me: “…”

Anyway, adjusting the saddle took longer than expected. All the while Catorze remained on full volume, screaming his lungs out, whilst I shuffled and winced awkwardly. Cat Daddy must have heard him from indoors – he can’t possibly NOT have heard him – and was probably hooting with laughter, but had clearly decided that it was my problem and not his.

Ten minutes later:

Catorze: “Mwahhhhhhh! Mwahhhhhhh! Mwahhhhhhh! Mwahhhhhhh!”

Me: “I’m sorry, I can’t take this anymore. I HAVE TO LET HIM BACK INTO THE HOUSE.”

Catorze: “Mwahhhhhhh!”

This time Gerard didn’t hesitate to agree.

He remarked that the screaming was “very effective” although this would suggest success in achieving some sort of goal, whereas we are yet to figure out the point of it all.

It would be good to be able to say “I won’t ever have to face Gerard again”, but he’s Cat Daddy’s friend AND I have a further two lessons booked with him, so the chances of that are slim-to-zéro.

Next time we’re meeting in the park. Let’s hope that Sa Maj doesn’t find a way of teleporting there.


Quand le prof est prêt, l’élève arrive

After barely seeing any visiting cats at Le Château over the last six years, we are now inundated.

As well as Donnie, Blue the Smoke Bengal and beefy tabby Tigger, Cat Daddy recently spotted a large (although, to be fair, they’re all large compared to Louis Catorze) grey and white cat that we’d never seen before. We’ve named him Jaws because he has the grey upper and white underbelly colouring of a great white shark. And he’s probably not far off the same size, too.

Cat Daddy: “What the hell is going on? It’s Cat Alley around here these days. I reckon they’re coming for the drugs. Word must have spread that Louis has the best stash in the neighbourhood. He’s the Keith Richards of the cat world.”

In other news, I FINALLY DID IT: I sent photos to the phone number on Donnie’s collar tag, with a message saying, “If you’re wondering where your boy is, he’s here in [our street] having fun with our cat, Louis Catorze.” And his humans have replied.

Hilariously, they WERE wondering where their boy was, and it seems that there have been many moments when they’ve believed him to be somewhere in their own house or garden, but he’s actually been here. However, they are delighted to know that he has a safe place on his travels and a friend who looks out for him.

Donnie’s real name is Theodore, or Theo for short, although we can’t seem to stop calling him Donnie no matter how hard we try. And he’s even younger than we thought: just 10 months old. Quite why he would come all this way to seek out the company of an old man like Catorze is beyond me, but I rather like the idea of Le Roi teaching his little* apprentice the ways of the world or, at the very least, HIS world.

*Donnie is actually just a fraction larger than Catorze, but you know what I mean.

I even managed to broach the subject of, erm, les cerises noires, and it turns out that Donnie does, indeed, still have a full set. However, I think I’ve managed to assure his humans that it’s in his interests to have them taken off, and they seem to be tired of never knowing where on earth he is, so hopefully les cerises noires won’t be there for much longer.

I don’t know what kind of conversation is going on in this photo (not great quality because I took it through the patio doors) but I imagine it’s Phase 1 of their plan to kill us all and take over the world.

“La domination du monde requires clean paws. Keep washing, mon gars.”

La menthe des chats

So … cats and cat mint: who knew?

Well, ok, we all knew, but it’s still very funny to watch.

As you may be aware, Louis Catorze was a regular catnip user during his time at the rescue (for medicinal purposes) and, every now and again, we let him indulge in the dried stuff. In fact, when I cleared out his medicine cupboard – whose contents looked more like police-seized contraband than pet supplies – I discovered TWO containers that I had believed to be empty or near-empty, but which still contained enough gear for a couple of good sessions.

Honestly, Officer, that stuff isn’t mine.

However, I had never seen Catorze with the fresh herb until Cat Daddy, Puppy Mamma and I went to the local flower market and came home with heaps of lovely new plants. Puppy Mamma bought some cat mint as a gift for Sooty and Sweep, her babysit cats, but, when she stopped by at our place for a cup of tea before going home, someone got to the cat mint first.

Cat Daddy and I had also bought some cat mint for Catorze. When presented with his own stash, he chewed it, then rolled around on the patio – not the way you’d imagine a cute little cat roll, but more like the terrifying death roll of a crocodile drowning its prey – eventually returning to Puppy Mamma’s bag, all psycho-eyed and stoned, having decided that forbidden herbs intended for others were more fun than his own.

Below is a photo of said bag invasion, although I wish that I’d videoed it instead of taking a static picture. Catorze’s scrabbling, my laughter and Puppy Mamma’s cries of “Noooo! My Turkish delights are in there!” would have added a certain something to the whole viewing experience.

Not his bag, not his gear.

Les grands oiseaux

Cat Daddy’s war against the wildlife is intensifying. Not content with issuing a fatwa on the squirrels, he is now after the birds. Or, to be precise, the large birds.

Apparently, when he set up the bird feeder, he “only wanted small birds to use it”. In fact, its construction doesn’t permit large ones to feed, so I thought he would be satisfied with that. However, the messier of the smaller birds – starlings, I’m looking in your direction – drop bits below when feeding, and it is here that the larger ones take advantage. I don’t feel we should discriminate, especially as we can’t do anything about the extraneous matter that falls on the ground nor the undesirables that gather around it, but Cat Daddy disagrees. And he is cross with Louis Catorze for not doing his bit to deter said undesirables.

Cat Daddy is that grumpy old man that our parents warned us about, who sits by the window with a stick. Sometimes he runs out brandishing his stick, calling the pigeons rude names. And, occasionally, he watches Catorze out there and talks to him the way the Formula One teams talk to their drivers through their Bluetooth headsets, except that Catorze can’t hear him. (And even if he could, he would ignore.)

This is the sort of thing I hear on a daily basis:

Cat Daddy: “Fat bastard pigeon. Come on, Louis, do something! No, not the chaffinch! That’s one of the nice birds! Noooo, don’t go after the nice birds! God, what’s the point in having a f***ing cat?”

Cat Daddy’s most recent addition to the arsenal is this ugly green netting (see picture below), which he claims is to protect the strawberry plants but we all know that it’s to stop the larger birds from picking up scraps that fall beneath the feeder. He has also placed some bamboo canes there, all poking out at various sharp angles for extra menacingness.

This is all going a bit Mad Max. Even Catorze is genuinely fearful of how it will all end.

We dare you, large birds.

Dans la Zone Libre, personne ne vous entend crier

Louis Catorze’s friend Donnie now visits on a daily basis, often stopping by multiple times a day.

Cat Daddy and I are ok with this as long as Catorze remains happy to see his friend. We hope it won’t turn into something oppressive or threatening, and that Donnie won’t become that pleasant-but-too-needy friend who pops round unannounced and who doesn’t seem to know when to leave. (If you’ve ever had that friend, you will know how difficult it is to tell someone to get lost when they’re just being friendly and their only crime is no awareness of boundaries.)

It’s always the same routine when Donnie comes over: he sits outside the cat flap and screams, Catorze goes out to join him, then they either sit and stare at each other in our garden or they pitter-patter off into the Zone Libre. If Catorze isn’t available when he arrives, Donnie will sit outside and wait.

When you’re all set to go out on the town but your friend’s still getting ready.

The route from Donnie’s place to ours takes him through many gardens, over many fences and through the Zone Libre, which is Foxy Loxy’s domain. For the moment Catorze is always the one to host Donnie at Le Château but, should Donnie ever decide to return the gesture, I don’t like the thought of Catorze crossing the Zone Libre to get there. The foxes are becoming braver and more aggressive; Dog Mamma caught one cornering Blue the Smoke Bengal in her garden recently, and she had to intervene. I wouldn’t want Catorze or Donnie squaring up to a whole foxy gang in the inaccessible Zone Libre.

Sa Maj is an old boy and we imagined he would be taking it easy in his twilight years, not gallivanting around town with young whippersnappers like Donnie. But we’re glad he’s enjoying himself.

Hangin’ tough in the Zone Libre,

Journal d’une Chatière (Partie 6)

Good news: our new Sureflap has been installed. Bad news: I left Cat Daddy in charge of programming in Louis Catorze’s microchip, and it did not go well.

There was no real way of me monitoring the proceedings, with Raf the builder doing the job at 8am on a week day. But I didn’t think Cat Daddy would make QUITE the stuff-up of it that he did, manhandling a non-compliant and whiny Roi, stressing me out at work with messages telling me that the Sureflap still wasn’t letting him in, and so on. It’s just as well Sa Maj likes the garden, because he spent a hell of a lot of time in it that day.

Just as I was wondering whether we would have to take Catorze back to the vet to have his chip checked again, Cat Daddy confirmed that it had been “user error” and that he’d forgotten to press the memorising button before shoving Catorze through.

Anyway, Cat Daddy eventually managed to programme Catorze’s chip, and he did so without also programming those of Donnie, Blue the Smoke Bengal, beefy tabby Tigger and whoever else might feel like popping in, so Le Château‘s drawbridge is firmly up. And Catorze sought revenge on his papa for the whole sorry saga by squishing his newly-planted tarragon.

Cat Daddy: “He’s done this on purpose.” You think?

Tarragon hidden from view under Catorzian arse.

La fougère maléfique

We have a lot of bracken in the garden, and we have always rather liked the look of it.

However, when it started to grow out of control, Cat Daddy decided to research the best way of keeping it in check. That’s when he discovered that virtually every horticultural website in creation seems to regard bracken as a hideous toxic invader and best destroyed. Absolutely none of them suggest cultivating it or even controlling it; the advice is pretty much “Cut it down, burn it and also burn the tools that you used to cut it down”.

Naturellement, the moment that Cat Daddy discovered this was also the very moment that Louis Catorze decided that bracken was his favourite thing in the world. And, no, he has shown no interest in it until now. Absolutely zero.

He’s also been scratching himself on the sharp branches of the planted-out Yule tree with the Blood-Letting Needles of Death. And this may just be a coincidence, but his skin is looking ropey, even though he usually starts to look BETTER around this time of year, so we have had to increase his steroid pills to two a day again.

Cat Daddy has already dug up and rehomed our distinctive, frilly daffodils, after learning of their toxicity to cats. But now it looks as if he has more digging to do.

Here is Catorze, resting against the worst thing in the garden and lying in the shade of the second worst thing in the garden:

Just making himself comfortable amidst all the poison and death.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (La Fin)

Louis Catorze has now been eating Orijen Six Fish for a couple of weeks. I haven’t posted much about his daily progress because I haven’t dared to jinx it. But he’s eating it. And, luckily, despite disregarding all advice concerning gradually phasing in the new food, we don’t appear to have had any, erm, undesirable side effects of the digestive kind.

Since Le Grand Changement began, my conversations with Cat Daddy have consisted mainly of whether or not Louis Catorze has eaten and, if so, how much. Sometimes I have even asked Cat Daddy to send me photos of the little sod’s bowl during the day, so that I could compare them to the photos I’d taken earlier and see if he had eaten anything. I know. Truly living the dream.

Although he is happily eating, now that Catorze has acquired senior status he is becoming fussier and he no longer wishes to eat food that is even 0.001% stale (even though he’s the one who’s been leaving it to go stale in the first place). Refilling Catorze’s bowl little and often seems to resolve this and, since Cat Daddy is home all the time, he doesn’t mind doing it.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “I do mind. I f***ing resent it.”

However, it might pose a problem if we have to go away and leave a chat-sitteur in charge of Sa Maj. My sister suggested an automated dispenser which releases one pellet every hour, and Cat Daddy and I are currently discussing whether it would be cheaper to ask someone to stop by sixteen times a day and serve a teaspoonful of food per visit, or sixteen people to each visit once a day and serve a teaspoonful of food.

Anyway, I am going to take a huge chance and tempt fate now, by bringing Le Grand Changement to a close and concluding that Orijen is Le Roi’s food of choice. “Cat puts humans through arduous food changeover and eventually chooses most spendy option” is a headline that will surprise absolutely nobody.

“I’ll have the most expensive dish on le menu, s’il vous plaît.”

Ils glissent dans les rues pendant que tout le monde dort

Louis Catorze’s friend Donnie has been over again, several times, screaming his lungs out. Catorze was eating on one particular occasion, but took a break from his precious Orijen to go out and greet him.

Double trouble.

And, would you believe, Donnie has allowed me close enough to read his tag, which bears a very fancy full name plus a phone number and address. It’s hard to tell whether the name is that of the human or the cat, so for the moment I shall continue to call him Donnie. But I know exactly where his house is: all the way across the Zone Libre and not far from the pub.

It’s quite some way to be coming to see Sa Maj, and I am not sure quite what Donnie gets out of the arrangement since the two of them just sit and stare at each other. (Cat Daddy: “Is that what passes for fun in the cat world?”) However, Donnie was very glad of the Catorzian back-up when beefy tabby Tigger* rocked up the other day and interrupted the proceedings. Sa Maj, despite being half the size of Tigger, did the gentlemanly thing and saw him off whilst poor Donnie cowered, terrified, in the bushes. Cat Daddy was prouder than you can possibly imagine.

*Catorze and Tigger have met a couple of times and have always got along fine: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/05/04/le-roi-attire-tous-les-garcons-a-la-cour/ But, obviously, on this most recent occasion, three was a crowd, a bit like when you’re hanging out with your new bloke and then your ex shows up.

I am unsure whether Donnie still has his full lower portions or whether what I can see is, erm, just the empty purses after tipping out the loose change. But I don’t know how I can find out for sure, without either carrying out closer inspection of his rear end or going to his house and saying, “Good day! Can you spare a minute to talk about cats’ balls?”

Donnie now knows that the cat flap is there but still hasn’t come through, choosing to sit outside and scream for his copain instead. However, every day that goes by is a day closer to him figuring it out, and after that we will be truly sunk. I really, really need Raf the builder to come to our rescue.

The Dark Prince admires the Sun King.

Des chats par millions

When we first moved to Le Château, Louis Catorze struck up a friendship with a stray Ginger Impinger – now called Dosti – who would visit most days. Since then we’ve had very occasional sightings of Blue the Smoke Bengal and beefy tabby Tigger, and, of course, the more recent visits from Donnie, but, apart from that, feline passers-by over the years have been rare.

Cat Daddy says that this is because nobody wants to be Catorze’s friend but, knowing the trouble that others have with neighbouring cats and local strays, I’m happy for him to remain relatively friendless.

Meanwhile, at my sister’s place in SE20, Catorze’s cat-cousin King Ghidorah is never short of playmates. Some encounters aren’t quite as welcome as others – for instance, my sister once found bloodied cat paw prints (owner unknown) on the kitchen floor – but King Ghidorah mostly enjoys the company. He is a sociable cat but there are a few with whom he just doesn’t get along, and he doesn’t always mind his own business which has resulted in some hefty vet bills.

Some of the lady visitors have indicated that they would like to get to know King Ghidorah a little better. This one was his favourite:


Obviously King Ghidorah doesn’t have the wherewithal to become, erm, fully acquainted but, given that there is at least one unneutered feral male of whom we are aware, it was only a matter of time until someone obliged. It then became apparent that there could soon be an enormous feral colony living behind the house so, with the help of a local rescue, my sister is now on a mission to trap as many of the cats as possible.

Initial attempts didn’t quite go according to plan:

Erm …

However, eventually she succeeded with King Ghidorah’s girlfriend. Here she is, ready to be shipped off to the rescue for spaying, chipping, treatment of her dodgy eye and a new life in a lovely new home:


She and King Ghidorah said their goodbyes at length, making sweet little noises at each other:

Bon voyage!

So that’s one down and probably about 738 to go, but my sister is determined. And the rejected food from Catorze’s numerous failed Grand Changement Plans will be put to good use there, making them the best-fed ferals in SE20, if not in the whole world.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan C Partie 2)

After several days of stuffing his greedy little face with Orijen Six Fish, Louis Catorze’s appetite faded as soon as I placed an order for a further supply. (Lizzi, if you’re reading this, I know you told me so.)

The order took a couple of attempts to go through, as if the Apple Gods were trying to warn me. But, luckily, the unhungriness was only a temporary blip and he is now back to being an eating, screaming machine, as he was when he had the appetite-enhancing pill.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “F***ing ridiculous. Expensive food and beauty oil [referring to the Omega 3 vol-au-vents]. It’s like living in a fancy spa with Raymond Blanc cooking for him.”

Cat Daddy and I, on the other hand, are existing on stale bread and stagnant rainwater in order to keep Sa Maj supplied with his various dietary and wellbeing paraphernalia. But then it’s never been about us, so tant pis.

We have half a pack of Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature left, and Catorze appears to have forgotten that it ever existed, which is exactly what we want; continuing to give it to him would be rather like continuing to give him heroin despite successfully getting him onto methadone. We have found a new home for it, though: later this month, along with the 1.5kg of Thrive and the 862kg of Canagan, the Marvellously Mature will be making its way to some hungry kitties in SE20 (more about them next time).

Here is the little sod, waving goodbye to his old food and hoping that the recipients enjoy it:

“Au revoir, Lily.”

Journal d’une Chatière (Partie 5)

Merde, merde and thrice merde: I gave the Sureflap a good clean the weekend before Louis Catorze’s birthday and even programmed it to re-memorise him, but it’s still been failing to let him in when needed. When I sat by the door and observed the latch as Catorze tried to pass through, I noticed that it wasn’t moving.

Me: “So there definitely is a problem with the Sureflap. And all this time you thought it was just him being a shite.”

Cat Daddy, without looking up from his phone: “He is a shite, though.”

Good point, well made.

Anyway, we have a new Sureflap, but Raf the builder glued in the existing one so firmly that we can’t get it out. So we’ve messaged him and asked him to provide a quote for fitting the new one, and we hope he is able to respond before Donnie figures out that he can follow his cher ami through.

Incidentally, Cat Daddy has now started calling him Donnie, too. Sometimes he forgets and calls him Danny, but that also works. (Younger followers: ask your mums.)

Danny, Donnie, whatever. Ça marche. (Taken from Pinterest.)

So now we have to wait to hear from Raf the builder, and we fear that it might take some time. Will Donnie beat him to it?

Cheeky sod.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan C Partie 1)

When Louis Catorze decided that he didn’t want to eat Canagan anymore, despite the fact that he’d eaten it perfectly happily for TWO WHOLE WEEKS BEFOREHAND, Cat Daddy and I decided it was time to deploy the Orijen. This was not a decision that we took lightly, given that it would send us spiralling into debt*, but we didn’t know what else to do.

*Here is a comparison, using a dry food pack of around 1.5-1.8kg as a guide:

⁃ Supermarket or commercial brands: approx. £2-3 per kg

⁃ Mid-range but still perfectly decent brands: approx. £7-10 per kg

⁃ Posh brands: approx. £12 per kg

⁃ Orijen Six Fish: £16.66 per kg, +£2 for the Regional Red (red meat) variant, +£4 for the Tundra (game) variant

I could get better value from the massive 5.4kg pack but we don’t have room to store it, and I refuse to buy a bag of cat food that weighs more than my cat. Plus, if anything were to GUARANTEE our mutual friend ceasing to like it, it would be the purchase of a huge pack costing this much:

Good grief.

Anyway … very tentatively, we gave Catorze a dessertspoonful of Orijen without his old food, and we barely drew breath as he approached it.


Then he ate another portion. Then he ate two more normal-sized portions. And when Cat Daddy came home from the pub later, Catorze did such a screamy, starey number on him that he drunk-served him a fifth – and most likely enormous – portion.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day, sent by drunken text that night: “I told you he knew there was better food around. He’s just polished off a whole bowl like some craved [sic] animal who’s never eaten before.”

Be warned, Chat Noir owners: their power is growing. We thought it only happened in October, but it’s started early. Until now, never would I have believed in mind control so intense that it could compel me to buy the most expensive cat food in existence, to pray for said Chat Noir to love it AND to feel pure joy when he did. Catorze is Charles Manson in feline form.

Mind you, by that point I was so worn down by this whole sorry saga that I would have been grateful if he’d eaten asbestos and drain unblocker. And they would have been cheaper.

Smug little sod.

Aucune limite à son pouvoir

I have bought myself an electric bike, nicknamed the Millennial Falcon, and it’s the best thing ever.

Since most of my possible routes into work are now blocked off with those massive plant troughs in the middle of the road, I needed an alternative to the car. My commute is now fifteen minutes each way, as opposed to anything from twenty minutes to an hour by car.

I am quite a wobbly, nervous cyclist, so Cat Daddy has arranged for his friend Gerard – a qualified cycling coach – to give me some lessons. Gerard is very nice but I don’t really want lessons because I hate people looking at me when I cycle. I always make sure I get to school long before the kids, and leave after them, for this very reason. But Cat Daddy has gone ahead and booked the lessons anyway, so I don’t have a choice.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “It’ll be fine*. Gerard does this for a living, and he will have seen plenty of people who are as bad as you.”

Me: “…”

Him: “Well, ok, maybe not QUITE as bad as you.”

Me: “…”

Him: “Anyway, he likes a challenge.”

*Non-Brits: when a British person says “It’ll be fine”, you should be very concerned indeed. If they say “I’m sure it’ll be fine”, expect the apocalypse.

When I used to drive home from work, Louis Catorze would always be aware of my arrival long before Cat Daddy heard me, and I imagined this to be because he knew the sound of the car. After switching to the bike, I didn’t think this would happen anymore, since nobody really talks about cats knowing the sound of bikes, nor am I even sure if my bike has a sound as such. But perhaps I had underestimated the little sod and his creepy kitty sixth sense because, when I arrive home, he never fails to greet me at the door. (Unless Boys’ Club is in full swing, in which case he doesn’t bother.)

Here he is, pictured mid-shake and, therefore, not looking too brilliant. But at least the Millennial Falcon looks good.

He is as handsome as he is clever.