Le costaud évasif

Back in May last year, I posted about my sister in SE20 who is trying to trap some feral cats who live near her house.

She is soldiering on in her mission, but we are all worried about one particular black cat, known in the neighbourhood as Chunky (for obvious reasons). The poor boy needs a vet but, unfortunately, he is so strong and aggressive that he has proven difficult to catch. One local lady did manage to succeed and was actually on her way to the vet with him when the big sod broke out of the carrier and escaped.

My sister has seen Chunky once in her garden, and the rescue have advised her to leave food regularly and to try to establish a routine of him returning regularly before setting a trap for him. It sounds as if he’s the sort of cat who won’t be trapped if humans are around, so my sister will be relying on one of those self-activated traps that the rescue have agreed to lend. I have only ever seen them used in cartoons so I have no idea how they work but, given Chunky’s track record, I think it could be a challenge.

Let’s hope not only that Chunky will like Louis Catorze’s rejected Canagan, but that he will like it enough to take his eye off the ball and allow himself to be trapped. And, if anyone has any ideas for trapping a cat as big as a Sasquatch and twice as elusive, please let me know.

I have a photo of Chunky but it’s too upsetting to post, so, instead, here is Catorze willing his large, black comrade to do the right thing:

“Piège-toi. You know it makes sense, mon pote.”

Le mal résident

There is a new némésis in town, and Louis Catorze is not pleased about this at all.

I know: when you’ve pissed off almost every animal you’ve ever met, the last thing you need is another enemy, right? But our mutual friend has, for whatever reason, decided that adding one more to his portfolio would be a good idea.

A couple of nights ago, the little sod was happily having a wash on the living room floor when he suddenly stopped, jumped up onto the shutters and started swishing his tail. Now, usually, when Catorze swishes his tail, it’s good news. (I know, I know, this is not remotely typical of normal cats, but that’s Catorze for you.) However, when his tail is swishing AND puffed, Armageddon is nigh. And that is exactly what we saw that night.

After a minute or so of puffed swishing, Catorze’s noises started. Oh. Mon. Dieu. There was classic Hallowe’en cat yowling. There was hissing. And there was … ringing snorting. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: cats can snort, and snorts can ring. Imagine the sounds that the Jurassic Park velociraptors make when they call to each other, and you will have an idea of what we heard.

Cat Daddy and I were in such shock that we didn’t think at all to record what we were seeing. Instead, I went to investigate the cause of Catorze’s fury, praying that it would be a normal animal and not a chupacabra or a Sasquatch or some such thing. Sitting on the wooden planter at The Front, staring up at Catorze, was a never-seen-before tuxedo tabby, with a collar and a bell.

I went out to shoo him off but he returned afterwards, resulting in even more chilling noises from Catorze. Eventually Cat Daddy had to pluck him down from the top of the shutters, but this didn’t really help much since it was Catorze’s creepy kitty sixth sense, and not his eyes, that had informed him of the intruder’s presence. So Cat Daddy had to go outside and shoo him off for a second time.

This is not good. I feel very uneasy that this cat is much larger than Catorze (mind you, who isn’t?), and that we clearly cannot trust Catorze to be the, erm, bigger person and not start any trouble should they meet. But what can we do about it?

Anyway, whatever we do or don’t do, Sa Maj couldn’t give a hoot. Here he is, daring all comers to do their worst, and I fear that this is extended to all creatures, living, dead and undead:

What he lacks in size, he more than makes up in fightiness.

Cent façons d’embêter son papa

Last week Nick Ferrari on LBC (a U.K. radio station) had a phone-in with the question “How many cats is too many?” and Cat Daddy gave serious thought to calling in and saying “One”. No doubt the call would have been punctuated by ear-splitting screaming from a certain individual, proving Cat Daddy’s point.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Louis Catorze has been putting all his efforts into annoying the absolute merde out of his papa. I am not there to witness it because I’m at work, but I receive regular photos on the matter, accompanied with complaints of “He won’t ****ing leave me alone.”

Catorze’s tactics include stalkerishly following Cat Daddy everywhere he goes, headbutting his hands and laptop, and, of course, screaming. It wouldn’t be classic Catorze without the screaming. Cat Daddy has even been known to go for long walks just to avoid the little sod, and he was very upset the last time because it started to rain and he had to come back home earlier than planned.

Here are a few photos from the last session. Luckily they are just photos and we have been spared the horror of his voice.

“Papa! Stroke moi!”
“Papa! Cuddle moi!”
“Papa! Love moi!”
“Papa! Worship moi!”

Posez des questions

At school last week we had a training day, and the theme was “Effective Questioning”. Each of us had to go along to the session with three examples of ways in which we regularly question students in class, although I don’t know what my colleagues made of my choices (“WTF?” “Are you kidding me?” “The hell is wrong with you?”).

In somewhat related news, today is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. However, as we all know, cats simply don’t care enough about us to ask us anything. I don’t even think they could be bothered with any of the ones mentioned above.

So let’s turn this thing on its head: what questions would you ask Louis Catorze, if you could? I can’t guarantee he will answer politely, or even at all, but I will put them to him anyway and hope for the best.

Le Roi will take the next question from the nice gentleman at the back with the inviting lap.

Le réveil-matin (Partie 2)

Every now and again, Louis Catorze wakes me up some time before my alarm goes off. This annoys the hell out of me, but shutting him out of the bedroom would result in him screaming and scratching at the door like an angry poltergeist, which would be considerably worse.

We have known for some time of his creepy kitty sixth sense, which can pick out our car from others parking outside and return him home from jaunts at The Front before his curfew kicks in. But now it appears that the little sod is able to know when the alarm is about to go off, just before it happens.

I often wake up with him lying by my feet or across my stomach. When he feels me stirring, he walks up my body for cuddles, then, suddenly, he sets off decisively and with real purpose across to the bedside table where my phone sits. No more than a second or two later, the alarm goes off.

Every time we decide that he is sufficiently creepy, he does something to out-creep his own creepiness. This is both terrifying and not the slightest bit surprising.

“Alarm is going off in trois … deux … un …”

Le dernier repas

It’s all kicking off here in the U.K. and we Brits are the laughing stock of the world. Again.

During lockdown, when we weren’t supposed to be seeing more than one person outdoors, parties took place at the Prime Minister’s residence. The person hosting the parties initially denied that there were parties, and has now admitted it but claims that he thought they were work events. The person originally investigating whether or not there were parties, attended one of the parties. The person who wrote the Covid rules and who decides whether or not they were broken, also attended one of the parties. The newly-appointed person investigating whether or not there were parties, works under the person who hosted the parties.

I know. It couldn’t be more absurd if it tried, although it certainly explains why Louis Catorze behaved so badly during my online lessons and meetings: clearly he thought he was at a party. And, to be fair, there were a couple of occasions when things were completely chaotic and/or I was drinking neat Absolut Vanilla from a tea mug at 3pm, so I can’t really blame him.

Meanwhile, Catorze’s war against mealtimes is waging on. Cat Daddy has weighed Catorze’s food on our new set of precision scales, and it turns out that we are only supposed to be giving him three scoops per day. In actual fact we have been giving him around 978 scoops per day.

Now, I wouldn’t normally advocate overfeeding a cat but, since the vet told us that the little sod needed to chub up, we aren’t in a rush to change the overall quantity of food. We have, however, been reconsidering his feeding times and, instead of feeding Catorze whenever he asks, we decided that would give him set mealtimes, just like normal cats.

Catorze came downstairs from his nap one afternoon at around 4pm, then began to creepy-stare for food.

Cat Daddy: “Look at him, trying to bully us.”

Catorze continued to creepy-stare.

Cat Daddy: “Ignore him.”

Catorze continued to creepy-stare.

Cat Daddy: “In fact, let’s take his bowl away.”

I put Catorze’s empty bowl into his food cupboard.

Then the screaming started.

Mon Dieu: I know I have said this numerous times before, but you really could strip paint with his voice.

Our new tough love regime lasted a whole minute and a half before we reverted back to our previous system, because I just couldn’t stand the screaming. So here we are – again – at the mercy of this shouty, toothy little dictator.

He really is the worst. And we are pathetic beyond belief for allowing it.

“Feed moi.”

Comme un esclave dans un état totalitaire

Whilst the rest of us have had to deal with all manner of shortages on the supermarket shelves, the squirrels are just fine and dandy, merci for asking. It’s the middle of winter and food is supposed to be scarce, yet they are, inexplicably, looking plump and meaty.

This is not just a generic squirrel thing across the whole population; the ones in TW8 are noticeably fatter than their rest-of-London counterparts, and we know this because other Londoners comment when they visit us. And, despite the fact that they clearly don’t need the extra food, they have renewed their efforts to steal the food that Cat Daddy has been leaving out for the birds.

All this makes Cat Daddy more angry with the squirrels than I ever thought possible. He is also angry with Louis Catorze for “not doing his job” in preventing this thievery.

Now, for a while I thought perhaps Catorze was reluctant to take on the squirrels because they were almost the same size as him. However, we know that he is perfectly happy to confront three foxes at a time, so this can’t possibly be the reason. I have also wondered whether, somehow, due to his advancing years and because the squirrels are the same colour as the fence and the winter shrubbery, he just isn’t able to see them. But then, if he is able to spot a bug who is minding its own business across a dark room, he is quite capable of seeing a chubby chonkster of a squirrel doing this:

Cheeky fat sod.

Conclusion: Catorze is fully aware of what’s going on and would do something if he wanted to, but he just doesn’t want to. And why would he, since he has Cat Daddy to run outside on his behalf, shouting and waving a stick at the offenders?

I was about to semi-quote Sylvia Plath and say that Catorze was steering Le Château like his own private car, but that would be far too much like hard work. He’s happily relaxing on the passenger side and letting his chauffeurs – us – get on with the steering.

Yes, that is a copy of The Bell Jar just in shot.

Le génie du jean, il crie et il hurle

Louis Catorze really is determined to try my patience at the moment.

Here he is, happily settled on my new jeans, so new that I had only unwrapped them from their packaging a few seconds beforehand. The piece of paper behind him is the invoice that came in the parcel with the jeans. I hadn’t even had the chance to cut off the tags. Yes, they are THAT new.

Bastard cat.

Here he is again, with the situation having remedied itself:

Still a bastard cat, whether atop my jeans or not.

In actual fact Catorze chose to get up, at which point Cat Daddy was able to safely retrieve the jeans before claws – or, worse, cat arse – could do their damage. However, I prefer to think that Cat Daddy whipped away the jeans in one deft movement, the way old school magicians used to whip away tablecloths leaving crockery and glasses intact. (Younger followers: ask your parents.)

Had these been my old jeans destined for the clothes recycling bin at Waitrose, I’m fairly sure the little sod would have given them a wide berth. But that’s Catorze for you. Why we continue to be surprised by his behaviour is, perhaps, the biggest surprise of them all.

Se faire posséder par une sirène

It’s turning out to be quite an eventful week at Le Château, with one member of the household suddenly and inexplicably growing a fish tail. I expect you can guess which individual that was.

Responses from others have been as follows:

A friend: “Haha! Coincidentally I am watching Splash right now!”

My niece, aged six: “He looks like a MerKitty!”

Cat Daddy, visibly flinching: “Oh my God. What the bloody hell?”

Interestingly/worryingly, Louis Catorze shares many characteristics with mermaids: magical powers, a love of singing (whether or not we wish to hear it), the absence of a soul and erm, luring hapless men to their doom. However, there are so many freakish things about him that, although far from normal by most cats’ standards, sprouting fins would still be one of the less weird ones.

For the non-believers among you, here is photographic proof. I know. We have no idea what to make of it, either. Although, if it means not having to deal with the feline rear end and all its associated problems, I’ll gladly take the fish tail.

“Under the sea …”

Dérouler le tapis rouge

Cat Daddy: “The red carpet in the living room looks awful. I can’t believe it’s worn down so quickly.”

Me: “Erm, it didn’t wear down.”

Him: “What do you mean?”

Me: “…”

Him: “What happened to it, then, if it didn’t wear down?”

Me: “…”

Him: “Oh my God. Please don’t tell me it was HIM?”

Me: “…”

Him: “[Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind]”

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: he leaves the Yuletide tree and the leather furnishings well alone, but Louis Catorze will attack carpet with every ounce of his evil little being. Carpeted surfaces are his bête noire – or, rather, he is theirs – so it’s just as well we don’t have many in Le Château. But what an almighty mess he’s made of the few that we do have.

So I’m snipping out the unsightly white stringy bits – they ruin every photo taken in this room – and hoping for the best. No doubt as soon as they are gone, Catorze will scratch up new ones, and when they’re cut out he will scratch up other news ones, and so on, until we cave pathetically and buy a new carpet.

Meanwhile, the little sod has no opinion one way or the other. Indifference is what he does, and he does it so well.

“Get a new carpet. Don’t get a new carpet. Whatever. Couldn’t give a merde.”

L’instructeur de forage

Cat Daddy and I have returned our rented Yule tree, having ticked the box stating that we’d like to rent the same one again next year. (I don’t know how on earth they would organise this as it sounds like a massive headache but, apparently, this is a thing.) I have grown rather fond of it, despite the fact that it’s wonky, misshapen and a bit on the small side.

Cat Daddy: “Does that remind you of anyone?” (He meant Louis Catorze, by the way.)

Our January fitness plans are now under way. How did I manage to fatten up over the festive season when I didn’t even drink? I blame my sister and her husband for their irresistible food, and I am firmly back to my strict routine of step and weights workouts in an effort to remedy this sad situation.

Meanwhile, Catorze has taken his creepy staring to another level. (I know. We didn’t think there were any further levels to attain, either, yet he has managed to carve out another one from somewhere.) The little sod has started to sabotage my workouts, initially by sitting by my head when I am doing my sit-ups and creepy-staring into my face. And, if this doesn’t work, he sits on my step and refuses to budge.

When I change from one set of weights to another, he circles my feet, screaming at the top of his tiny little lungs. It’s like being at one of those awful boot camp exercise places, with a small drill sergeant alternating between barking orders and gawping at you in a combination of resignation and contempt.

Here is Catorze, between screams but well and truly in the zone in terms of creepy staring:

Resignation: “Feed moi.”
Contempt: “Feed moi.”

Le repos du Roi

Louis Catorze and I have been enjoying some lap time during the holidays. However, as always, when Cat Daddy sits down with us, the little sod climbs off my lap and onto his. There was a time when he used to wait a minute or two before departing, just to be polite, but now he can’t be bothered and is off instantly. And the only things that stop him from doing it are as follows:

1. Getting my phone out to record it.

2. Saying to a visiting friend, “Watch what he does when Cat Daddy sits down!”

Cat Daddy isn’t especially keen on the constant lap-swoop, as he is harangued on a daily basis by Catorze and could do with a break from him. I don’t like it, either; I will be back at school tomorrow and it’s not very nice to think that, during my precious holiday time, my horrid cat would still choose his daddy over me.

So, whilst I have been trying to make my lap as inviting as possible with a fluffy blanket, Cat Daddy has been trying to put Catorze off and make his as UNINVITING as possible by sitting with his knees pointing at jagged, inhospitable angles, in the hope that it will make Catorze choose me.

Here are the results of our experiment:

Bastard cat.
Bastard cat.
Bastard cat.
Bastard cat.

On each of these occasions, my flat, fluffy-blanketed lap was available. It was declined.

I think we can safely conclude that, even if Cat Daddy wrapped his lap in poison-tipped razor wire, Catorze would still choose him over me. We can also conclude that Catorze is an insensitive, ill-mannered little sod, although we didn’t really need to conduct an experiment to determine that.

Bouillir, servir, manger, recommencer

Bonne Année! Hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve.

The dawn of 2021 saw us messing about with Louis Catorze’s food, hand-sifting the golden pellets from the brown ones like sweat shop workers. We are starting 2022 in a similar way but, this time, instead of sifting, we are pouring boiling water over minuscule portions of the little sod’s Orijen. No doubt we will start next year doing something equally stupid with his food, and the year after that, and so on, forever more.

Catorze is a grazer rather than someone with set mealtimes, so he likes to be able to revisit his bowl multiple times throughout the day. Obviously this works perfectly well if dry food is your thing. But if you insist on boiling water poured over your food and will only eat it if it’s freshly-served and piping hot, the whole grazing thing doesn’t really work. Unless you have a set of serving wenches at hand to dish up a new portion every time you stare creepily at them.

Sa Maj has never liked wet food. In fact, his dislike of it was such that it was even mentioned on his notes from the rescue. I was quite keen for him to have it, as I thought it would be a good way of getting enough water into him, but I failed in my efforts to make him eat it. That, however, was seven and a half years ago. Could it be that the little sod’s tastes have changed and that, after a lifetime of refusing wet food, he now wants it?

We hadn’t planned on changing his food anytime soon; we have plenty of Orijen, despite it still being out of stock at Petscorner, plus after all the Yuletide festivities we aren’t quite in the frame of mind to manage a(nother) Grand Changement right now. But it’s hovering ominously in the background like a Dickensian ghost, and I have an awful feeling that we might have to try it out sometime. Not yet, though. He has to have his dental surgery first, plus we need to mentally prepare ourselves and order in plenty of alcohol and Valium.

Wishing you a marvellous 2022, with lots of love from all of us at Le Château.

Bonne Année. Now feed moi.