“Miam miam! Ce porridge est parfait!”

Dampening down Louis Catorze’s Orijen is such a pain in the arse. I don’t mind doing it in principle, but I take exception to the unreasonably exacting specifications that we are required to meet.

Food can be rejected for any of the following reasons:

⁃ Too big a portion: NON (goes stale)

⁃ Too small a portion: NON (is eaten quickly and then he frightens us with the creepy staring)

⁃ Too dry: NON

⁃ Too wet: NON

⁃ Too-hot water: NON

⁃ Too-cold water: NON

⁃ Water not sunk in enough: NON (leaves pellets too crunchy)

⁃ Water sunk in too much: NON (leaves pellets too soft)

Cat Daddy despises waste of any sort, yet even he leaves the hot tap running whilst taking the Orijen out of the cupboard, so that it’s at optimum temperature for his boy’s precious food. And, if I am the one feeding the little sod, Cat Daddy reminds me, “Warm water. Don’t forget, warm water on his food. He likes it at about 70 degrees, and by the time it hits his bowl it will have cooled down enough for him to eat it.”

Well, lah-dee-dah.

If you think we’re pathetic for going to such lengths, you would probably be right. That said, I challenge anyone to stand strong against this level of creepy staring, especially from a black vampire cat, in the run-up to Hallowe’en.

Yes, there is food in his bowl. No, it’s not up to standard.

Où est ma bouffe?

Cat Daddy and I placed an Ocado order recently and, on the day it was due to arrive, we learned that twenty-eight items would not be delivered. Well, I guess it was really twenty-seven since one of the items was substituted with the same product in a smaller pack size, but I consider that as “not delivered” as nobody wants a small pack of something instead of a large one.

Although twenty-eight items is a LOT to be missing, Cat Daddy and I are determined not to be those people who go into the supermarket and clear the shelves of absolutely everything. However, if a certain someone’s Orijen were to disappear, we would be well and truly dans la merde. As you are already aware from having followed us through the purgatory that was the Grand Changement in all its excruciating forms, Louis Catorze is not one to “make do”. He will happily starve to death rather than consume one crumb of less-than-perfect fare. In fact, he will happily starve to death rather than consume one crumb of perfect fare from a LESS-THAN-PERFECT BOWL.

I asked Cat Daddy whether we should buy an extra few months’ supply of Orijen, and his response was, “Do whatever you think you should do” (which sounds like approval/support but, in fact, is more like a dare). I did it anyway – a reasonable quantity, I might add, not 9,083 packs – and I feel much better for it, especially as Catorze has permanent post-steroid hungries at the moment and is an eating machine. A couple of days ago he had seven dinners, and Cat Daddy gave him an eighth after I had gone to bed.

Here is Sa Maj, listening to irate radio show callers complaining about the lack of fuel and the empty supermarket shelves, smug in the knowledge that he’s all right:

“No need to panique-acheter. Unless it’s Orijen for moi.”

*UPDATE: Five days after I finished writing this, Petscorner emailed me to tell me that Catorze’s regular subscription order of Orijen Six Fish wouldn’t be coming, and the main Orijen website is currently also all out.

Cat Daddy: “You see? I *TOLD* you to get some in. We don’t want him going hungry.”

La Cape d’Invisibilité est de retour

Cat Daddy and I returned home from the cinema not long ago, to be greeted at the door by Louis Catorze and his raspy screaming. Yes, his voice is different since his surgery; whereas he used to sound like a whiny child whose mummy had just told him that he couldn’t have any ice cream, now I would describe his sound as “chain-smoking drag queen”.

I even wonder whether the sounds he makes mean different things now, like those people who wake up after an operation or a head injury and are able to speak a new language. My friend Lizzi thinks Catorze is now Russian, and I can’t say I would be remotely surprised if this were true.

Anyway, after his initial bonjour/Привет, the little sod disappeared back upstairs and was gone for ages. It’s unusual for him to be absent at length at that time of the night, so eventually I went to look for him to make sure he hadn’t crawled under a bed and died of some horrific post-surgical complication.

He was nowhere to be found.

Cat Daddy: “He must be there somewhere.”

Me: “Trust me, I’ve looked everywhere. There’s nowhere left to look.”

Cat Daddy: “I suppose as a last resort you could try The Front, but I know he’s not there. I saw him run back upstairs.”

I opened the front door.

There he was. And, no, we have absolutely no idea how he is doing this.

Autumn is only just getting started. And I fear that the same may be said of Catorze.

Be afraid. We certainly are.

Le Roi diabolique

The autumn chaos has started, and Louis Catorze is in big trouble.

First of all, when Cat Daddy was organising some important papers, Sa Maj decided that a paperweight was required, and that he was it:


Secondly, on the day of the autumn equinox, Catorze shamed us beyond words by attacking another cat who passed through the garden. Despite being much larger than Catorze (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?), this poor cat was terrified and desperate to get away; Cat Daddy even intervened to try to help him but, somehow, in doing so, only succeeded in blocking off his escape routes and making him an easier target for evil Catorze.

The little sod eventually emerged from the skirmish as the victor, utterly unscathed and ACTUALLY SPITTING OUT LUMPS OF THE INTERLOPER’S FUR.

And we have just discovered that, as well as rubbing his Gabapentin onto his new bed (which isn’t the end of the world since it’s only for his use), he has rubbed it off onto our sofa (which absolutely IS the end of the world since it’s for everyone’s use). It has discoloured the leather, and Cat Daddy is absolutely enraged.

We didn’t see Catorze do it but, before you all start sticking up for him, there is nothing else whatsoever that this could be. We do eat and drink on the sofa, but we always do so on the seat bits in the middle, never whilst leaning over the arms.

He did it. We can’t prove it, but we know it.

Luckily we took out additional five-year insurance cover when we purchased the sofa, and this entitles us to a replacement in the event of damage, including cat damage. But, no doubt, if we go ahead with that now, the little sod will only do something else to the next one, and I fear that the cover only allows replacement of the original sofa and not every subsequent one cat-damaged.

Cat Daddy: “Getting rid is going to be such a pain in the arse.”

I think he was still talking about the sofa.

La saison de la citrouille

It’s autumn! And I swear I can actually feel Louis Catorze’s powers growing with the new season, quite possibly because it’s peak visiting time for pilgrims and his creepy kitty sixth sense knows this. He has one visitor coming all the way from the west coast of Ireland at the weekend, and two more, who have been before, are returning in October. (Cat Daddy: “Really? Most people who’ve seen him once don’t bother coming back.”)

Catorze is at peak energy at the moment, gallivanting all night, chasing squirrels, guzzling down Orijen, screaming (in his new, post-surgery voice – more about that another time) and I don’t suppose it helped that we gave him a steroid shot the night before the full moon, but it’s too late to do anything about that now. His fur is thick and shiny and, for an old boy, he seems in fine form. No doubt part of it is due to the drugs, but at least 83% of it is him being a bit unhinged anyway. I dread to think what he will be like on Hallowe’en.

Speaking of which, this year, against all the odds, our lone pumpkin plant survived. The flower that I photographed in early July was a largeish tennis ball by the time we came back from holiday. Cat Daddy was a little disappointed that it was green and not orange – neither of us realised that pumpkins changed colour – but, towards the end of August, it had begun to turn. I would have been grateful for any pumpkin at all, whatever the colour, but the fact that it’s an orange one makes me very happy indeed.

Now all we have to do between now and 31st October are to nurture it and pray for no unfortunate incidents (doable), and to get Catorze to pose beautifully next to it for this year’s Official Hallowe’en Portrait (somewhat more challenging).

Here are some pictures of its progress (with a 20p coin for scale, which was later removed when I realised it was leaving a mark), plus one of my warm-up photos with Catorze. The final masterpiece really won’t be much better.

Tennis ball.
Smallish football.
Just starting to turn.
Oranger still.
For goodness’ sake.
More orange than not.

J’adore mon nouveau lit (enfin)

Cat Daddy and I spent the weekend in the Midlands, watching Brentford beat Wolves. And, whilst there (not in the stadium, obviously, but in the place where we were staying) we bumped into these two magnificent chaps:

Twice the size of Sa Maj … but then who isn’t?
The same one again, caught mid-scream.
This tailless one was nervous but still very sweet.

Cat Daddy: “Is this, like, Black Cat Town or something?” If it is, I’m definitely coming back.

In other news, merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges: we appear to have a result with the new bed, with Louis Catorze finally sleeping in it the other day:


However, he hasn’t used it to sharpen his claws, not once. He is still using both the stair runner carpet and the outdoor cushions, and Cat Daddy has yelled at him at least 963 times in the last day or two for doing this.

I should be switching to his autumn-winter igloo from Wednesday onwards. However, because Catorze is so dense, there is a real risk of him forgetting that his spring-summer bed was ever a thing and, when I reintroduce it next March, he will most likely stare at it as if it were some alien life form sent to destroy the planet. Oh no, wait … THAT’S HIM.

So I shall keep it in place for a little longer but, as soon as October hits, only the El Día de Los Muertos igloo will do.

L’alpha et l’oméga (Plan B Partie 2)

Since that time Louis Catorze came home caked in dust, his fur has been unbelievably soft and beautiful. Even Cat Daddy has noticed and commented.

In seemingly-related but, in fact, completely separate news, we decided, a few weeks ago, to ditch Catorze’s beauty oil.

The reasons for this were as follows:

1. We couldn’t cope with the smell; although the new product was moderately less pungent than the previous one, it was still pretty awful.

2. Because he was so useless at grooming it off, all manner of crud stuck to the residue, making him permanently gross to look at and to touch.

3. The stickiness meant that, when we brushed him, the excess fur wouldn’t come off.

So, all in all, not really enough net gains to make it worthwhile.

It’s a bit of a shame as we had just discovered an improved application technique: piercing the capsule with a cocktail stick, waiting with Satan’s lollipop (see below) within easy reach, then whipping out the stick and pouncing as soon as Catorze approached. The stick served the dual purpose of reminding me where the hole was and also preventing him from smelling it too quickly and then doing a runner.

Mmm … fish!

However, all this is irrelevant now, since we know that we can achieve the desired effect by letting him hang out with builders and roll around in their dust.

In fact, if they were to use him as both the dustpan and the brush at the end of their working day, it could be a win-win for all, non?

He’s a creep. He’s a weirdo.

J’adore la valériane

Louis Catorze has had his post-op follow-up and all appears to be going well, although he needed an antibiotic shot because his gum is still a little inflamed. This is most likely because he insists on leaving the softened Orijen pellets, and just eating the hard ones around the edges of his bowl which escape the water.

Since I have no idea how to make a cat who doesn’t like wet food eat wet food, I have been giving the little sod the one soft food that I know he will eat: Reflets de France tuna rillettes. I know that Cat Daddy won’t approve, but by the time he finds out I’ll already have done it, so he can’t do much about it.

We do have some good news: the little sod has started to use his new bed. However, comme d’habitude this is accompanied by bad news: it seems it’s actually a bath tub, not a bed.

Silly sod.

He has also rubbed his Gabapentin onto the bed and, of course, being cardboard, it has soaked up every drop. So now the bed has unsightly, meaty stains on it. (Yes, the Gabapentin smells of meat, for whatever reason.)

Bed is ruined. Bastard cat.

On a not-really-a-great-deal-better note: cats and valerian. Who knew? Well, ok, I knew, but I had completely forgotten until I was woken at 3am by Catorze playing with the opened blister pack on my bedside table. The little sod then flicked it under the bed and had a fine old time trying to grab it among the shoes, boxes and old gym bags, which meant no more sleep for me until one or other of us had successfully retrieved it.

Sharing a house with Catorze means that calm and sleep are distinctly lacking, hence why I use valerian. It smells pretty foul to us humans – in fact, I once put some into my shopping basket whilst in a health food shop and spent the rest of my shopping trip checking under my shoes because I thought I’d stepped in something unpleasant – but it is the crystal meth of the cat world. The little sods go nuts for it.

Obviously it would have suited me better had Catorze decided to play around with my valerian blister pack during the day instead of at 3am. But then he has never done what we want him to do, when we want him to do it, and I don’t suppose he’s about to start now.

I have now switched to a brand of sleeping aid that comes in a glass jar with an aluminium lid, so Catorze can no longer smell the herb through the packaging. Restful sleep shall be mine once more.

Well, as restful as it can be when you’re living with this horror show:

I can’t get no sleep …

Le repas à l’eau

Louis Catorze is on liquid Gabapentin for his post-op recovery. I put the first dose on his fur, expecting him to groom it off, but he didn’t; he just let it air-dry on his body, then rubbed it back onto me. The second dose was spat into my face. So … going well so far.

Despite the fact that only 0.3% of his pain relief has been ingested, he is on astonishingly good form and has the energy of a ninja on amphetamines. In fact, we can’t believe he’s just had surgery.

I managed to cut off his bandage at the weekend, after the mother of all Greco-style fights. As it loosened, he appeared to understand that I was trying to help him – it’s only taken him seven years – and he relaxed slightly. When it finally fell away, he purred, rolled and repeatedly headbutted my leg as if he were saying thank you. I know: Catorze, being GRATEFUL! Whatever next? (Armageddon, I imagine.)

Photo taken before the assault with a bladed weapon.

When the bandage came off, I saw that his paw was enormous, twice the size of the others. Luckily it was able to bear weight and, other than giving it a good wash, he wasn’t remotely concerned. And, better yet, the giant paw has now reduced in size.

Not a great photo, but look at that paw!

He is also happily guzzling the dampened-down Orijen. However – and you knew there would be a “however”, didn’t you? – the little sod has started to reject it if it’s TOO damp.

Given that he’s recovering from dental surgery, I’d have imagined too damp to be better than not damp enough. Mais non: if the food has been left to soak up water for too long – even though this is his own fault for not eating it promptly – he will sit at our feet and do the creepy staring thing, the way he does when his plate is empty. As a result I have had to throw away uneaten Orijen, and Cat Daddy is not happy about this at all.

Anyway, this means we can no longer put food into Catorze’s bowl at our convenience, and instead we have to be responsive to when HE wants feeding. As anyone with a cat will know, as ever, it’s all about them.

La chirurgie dentaire

Louis Catorze’s dental surgery went well. Because the procedure took longer than expected, he missed the Animal Bus back and so we had to collect him from TW3. Whilst there, a little boy in the waiting room pointed to me and said, “Wow! Look at that lady’s cat bag!” (great) and a manic, disobedient puppy called Duke, who dragged his poor human into the practice with unbelievable force, licked my elbow as he passed me (not so great).

During our very long wait, Cat Daddy was bored so he, erm, photographed the Animal Bus.

Le Roi had to have THREE teeth out, all from his lower jaw. There is a fourth one – also from his lower jaw – which will need to come out later but which couldn’t be removed this time, because that many deep extractions in one go would have been too much. He will have a follow-up consultation next week, and X-rays in six months or so to determine the right time to remove that pesky fourth tooth.

Luckily none of these teeth are his trademark vampire fangs. Obviously had he needed them removed we would have done it, but it would have been very upsetting indeed. A vampire cat without fangs is, erm, not really a vampire cat.

Catorze was very disorientated when he returned home, sniffing everything as if it were his first visit here, but this was nowhere near as unnerving as his silence. He didn’t make a sound from the moment we collected him and, at the time of writing this, he is still mute (with the exception of one yowl when I stabbed him in the arm with my nail scissors – see below). As you are very much aware, noise is what he does, so the lack of screaming is deeply, deeply uncomfortable.

We had been told to remove Catorze’s bandage when we arrived home, but he defiantly resisted all attempts to do this. The vet had said it would be easy. It wasn’t. It was just like trying to find the edge on a dodgy roll of cheap cling film, except that the roll of cling film fought back. So I am going to have to either take him in again on Monday to have the bandage removed, or keep trying over the weekend and risk further stabbings to le bras royal.

Catorze will, apparently, “look rather sorry and horrible for a while” (Cat Daddy: “So what’s new?”) but, in actual fact, apart from being a little drooly, and apart from sporting a new stab wound on the arm, he’s doing much better than we expected. All we need is for his voice to return, and he will be fully back to normal*.

*His normal is not like most people’s normal.

Poor spitty Roi.

Les dents du Roi

Louis Catorze is due to have his tooth extraction today.

I don’t feel great about this. I am an anxious person by nature and I am particularly anxious when it comes to his health issues, which just seem to keep coming (although, to be fair, we were warned about this). And this week is my first full week of the new school year, so the timing really couldn’t be worse.

Catorze is also ageing faster than Dorian Gray’s portrait. His white hairs are becoming more and more numerous and, when we compare him to pictures from two or three years ago, the difference is startling. The fact that he’s an old man with the constitution of a swatted gnat doesn’t make him an ideal candidate for surgery, regardless of how common the procedure.

As ever, the one positive in this situation is the fact that he doesn’t appear to know or care that he’s not well. He is still carrying on with life as he did before, and loving every bit of it. If his health were half as robust as his sass, I know that he would get through the surgery with no problem whatsoever.

Please keep your fingers crossed for the little sod. Cat Daddy and I will be awaiting his return with ample Orijen (and water to dampen it).

Old man white hairs … plus a scratched nose and a chipped ear, most likely from scrapping with Goliath.

Je n’aime pas mon lit

It’s been a couple of weeks since we (Cat Daddy: “What do you mean, “we”?”) bought Louis Catorze his new bed, and he still hasn’t slept in it.

In fact, as if to try and spite us, he has been making a special effort to sleep in as many places as possible that are not his new bed. Mind you, this is not unusual, because he once spent about half an hour trying to make himself comfortable on a surface that would never have been comfortable even if he had spent the rest of his life trying. Despite the fact that he has human beds and sofas galore, it seems there’s nothing quite like … a paper bag containing plugs and wires:


I even found him sleeping on a pile of Cat Daddy’s clothes in the bath* last week. I know that this kind of behaviour would usually be an indication that all is not well with poor kitty but, trust me, there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just being an idiot.

*Before Cat Daddy goes to bed at night, he puts his clothes in the bath. I know. Nobody understands it.

Right now, on an uncharacteristically hot September day, I would bet my savings on him having rejected his cool cardboard bed in favour of being in the attic, which is the hottest room in the house. In fact, no, I would bet HIS savings on that, since the little sod has more money in his account than I do.

As we roll on towards the autumn equinox, which is when we would ordinarily swap from his open spring-summer bed to his enclosed autumn-winter igloo, we are running out of time. But I know that there’s no point in trying to force it, and that he will just inexplicably start using the new bed at some arbitrary moment. In fact, he will most likely do this on the morning of the planned changeover.

I would usually end such a post by saying something about so-called cat logic. But I am starting to have my doubts that Catorze is even a cat.

Mon lit, c’est ma drogue

I have unleashed the special party herbs and, although I was warned that the stuff sold with cat beds isn’t usually top-notch gear, Louis Catorze didn’t care.

The good news is that he now knows that his new bed exists.

The bad news is that he still hasn’t slept on it. In fact, he sees it very much as a place to get high, not to sleep. Right now he’s saucer-eyed and manic, and I don’t imagine either of us will be sleeping much tonight.

This is just the start of what happens when you give mood-enhancing drugs to a cat whose mood doesn’t need enhancing:


Le bain de poussière

Dear Neighbours Who Are Renovating, I have great news: you won’t need to bother sweeping up your dust today. Our silly, once-black cat has taken the liberty of trespassing onto your property, and he has brought most of it* home in his coat.

*It = the dust, not the property. Although both work equally well in this context.

Cat Daddy is repulsed beyond belief and, between all the unrepeatable expletives, is threatening to deploy the water cannon again.

It’s very difficult to photograph a dirty black cat, as both over-exposure and light reflection can make a (clean) true black cat look grey and, likewise, dirt can look like a trick of the light. This was the best that I could manage:


Louis Catorze is filthy. It’s just foul. He’s so dirty that I had to check twice to make sure that it was really him and not some grey cat who had randomly wandered in, as appears to be the custom in our street with cats forever straying from their designated lanes. Whilst I am not surprised that Catorze would be so gross, nor that he would gravitate towards a place with big, strapping workmen, what does astonish me is that a cat who is awaiting dental surgery, and therefore isn’t supposed to be feeling very well, has the energy and the inclination to go to places where he has no business being, and to roll around like an idiot. (Yes, he has definitely rolled. The dust is too deeply embedded, and there is far too much of it, to have got there just by him brushing past something.)

Anyway, brushing hasn’t done much good and, short of holding him up by his tail and beating the crud out of him, the way people used to de-dust their carpets, there isn’t a great deal more that I can do. And, yes, despite everything, I have been pathetic enough to allow him onto my lap, dirt and all.