Notre cher ami; une chanson pour fêter les 12 ans du Roi Soleil

So no one told us he was gonna be this way
This cat’s a joke, and blokes
Are all frightened away
It's like he’s always stuck in psycho gear
And he won’t behave today, this week, this month or even this year, but ...

We’ll be there for him
When the vet bills pile in
We’ll be there for him
Gonna bear it and grin
We’ll be there for him
If not us, well then who?

When we’re in bed asleep
His screams ring through the night
He knows we need our rest, but
He don’t give a shite
Nobody warned us there'd be cats like this
And although he’s cute it’s really clear how much he’s taking the piss, but ...

We’ll be there for him
Even though he’s so odd
We’ll be there for him
What a weird little sod
We’ll be there for him
If not us, well, then who?

No one could ever know him
No one could ever read him
Not even Satan has a clue
What it's like to be him
We’re knocking back the French wine
‘Cos of this crazy feline
But, you know what, it’s all fine
And if it weren’t us it could be you ... yeah ...

It's like he’s always stuck in psycho gear
And he won’t behave today, this week, this month or even this year

We’ll be there for him
Though he drives us both mad
We’ll be there for him
Guess it’s not all that bad
We’ll be there for him
If not us, well then who?

Bon anniversaire, little sod.

Les douze

Louis Catorze will be twelve years old on Saturday. This means that he will overtake Cat Daddy and become the oldest member of the household (based on cat years and their equivalent to human years).

When Catorze first came to live with us, we didn’t think he would live very long because he was such a sickly little thing. Yet here he is, not just soldiering on but positively thriving. My dream of him turning fourteen – simply so that I can tell people that Catorze is quatorze – is now a distinct possibility. Back in 2014 the idea of another ten years seemed a bit of a reach, but not anymore.

We had originally planned to be away for Catorze’s birthday – not to get away from him, I might add, but because Brentford are playing Manchester United away. However, the date of the match has been changed, so we will be here after all. Obviously he doesn’t give a shite whether we’re here or not, but I’m rather glad that we will be able to share his big day with him.

I had written a birthday song for him, too, remodelling the lyrics to Boney M’s Rasputin*. However, given recent events, it seems insensitive to post something with Russian references. I was looking forward to using the line “La la little sod, struts around as if he’s God” but he now has a new birthday song, to be posted on the day.

*Younger followers: ask your grandparents.

Here is the little sod, dreaming of the birthday tomfoolery that he can conjure up:

Relaxing on what he believes to be HIS outdoor sofa.

La vengeance des nœuds

Merde. We have just experienced MatGate 2.0. And, once again, the TWO mats in question were at the undesirable end of la personne royale:

“ … There’s a mat on mi kitty, what ammm I gonna do? …

I don’t know whether these were new mats, or leftovers from the previous ones which I thought I’d removed but hadn’t. Either way, I have had to deploy the Dematting Rake again. This time the mats were stubborn beyond belief and our mutual friend was not happy with my efforts to remove them. And I don’t think I will ever recover from the fact that the larger mat was coated in some sort of transparent, dried crud which TOUCHED MY HAND. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he had sat on a snail, the only animal too slow to move out of the way of his arse.

This one was HARD WORK.

I know that mats are not unusual for cats, but these two recent incidents are Catorze’s ONLY incidents. What could possibly make a once-unmatty cat suddenly develop them after twelve years? Does it mean that, in his old age, he is becoming less and less able to groom his arse end, despite being lithe and kittenish in every other way? That said, if it’s taken twelve years for us to see any signs of his advancing years, the little sod has had a pretty good run.

Cat Daddy: “It’s just his runtiness. It’s all part of being the runt of the litter.”

Me: “Awww. You think he was the runt of the litter?”

Cat Daddy: “Oh my God. You DON’T think he was the runt of the litter?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Anyway, I don’t suppose it matters as long as Catorze has his entourage at hand to fix the problem (which we have, in time for his birthday so, hopefully, he will be presentable for his party). And that is exactly as it should be for a Sun King.

Matty cat.

UPDATE: since writing this post I have found yet another mat, again at the arse end. And this one was STICKY. Ugh.

Le brouillard

Cat Daddy, Louis Catorze and I recently had one of our legendary vodka and horror movie nights. (We like Swedish vodka. And, when we went to Iceland, thanks to a very generous bartender who gave us a reduced-price sample, we discovered the pure joy that is Icelandic vodka. This is our new favourite and, amazingly, it’s available on Ocado.)

Cat Daddy doesn’t like modern horror films and tends to favour the old classics, so we went for John Carpenter’s The Fog. If you haven’t seen it, and without giving too much away, it’s all about a spooky fog that envelops the land on the anniversary of a tragic event, bringing all sorts of nasties with it.

Part of the story involves the town’s priest reading from his ancestor’s creepy old diary which documents said tragic event. And Cat Daddy and I couldn’t help but shriek with fear when we saw this entry:

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: this is the date detailed on Catorze’s paperwork as his birthday.

All this time we have celebrated this day, year after year, believing it unlikely to be his actual birthday but going along with it as we didn’t have a viable alternative. However, the fact that it’s Beltane Eve, the second spookiest day in the calendar after Hallowe’en, made us wonder if there may be some truth in it. And, now that we have seen this – especially that last line – not only do we think he almost certainly WAS born on this day, but we would bet Le Château on him having been born between midnight and 1am.

We were scared before. We’re absolutely petrified now.

“Caller, the screams are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE.”

Une mouche noire dans mon Chardonnay

Some things are so predictable that not only should we see them coming, but we don’t really deserve much sympathy if we don’t. One of those is Louis Catorze doing the ONE THING that we don’t want him to do. And, yet again, he has delivered.

The little sod has managed to slalom his royal rump between Cat Daddy’s barricades and is sitting in the tarragon trough again. Yes, I know you told me so. And, yes, I know I was stupid for thinking it would go any other way than this.

Bastard cat.
Insouciant royal rump.

Cat Daddy, as you can imagine, is enraged beyond belief. He has now jabbed even more shanks into the trough, at various forbidding criss-cross angles, in an effort to discourage Catorze, and only time will tell whether or not this will work. We have to hope that it will. Otherwise, what next? Poison-tipped razor wire? Motion-activated toxic gas sprinklers? Garlic and a crucifix?

I often talk about ear plugs to block out Catorze’s screaming. However, right now, it’s the Unrepeatable Expletives that are battering my eardrums. Between them, the males of this household are doing me in.

La folie de la lune

We took Louis Catorze for his steroid shot just a couple of days before the full moon. And, on the night of the full moon, I kept the uppermost shutters open because I like the moonlight coming in and I find it quite relaxing.

I have now paid the price for my stupidity.

Firstly, having the uppermost shutters open and the lower ones closed provides a platform onto/from which feral little sods can jump. And, secondly, direct moonlight flooding in, as opposed to it being hidden by the shutters, is rather like giving said feral little sods a neat double vodka instead of a single measure diluted with soda.

Catorze was absolutely manic all night, bouncing around from the shutters to the dresser to the bed to the bedside tables and back again, knocking bottles and jars to the floor and generally being a pain in the arse. I actually had to sit up in bed and yell at him, not that it did any good because he just resumed his stupid behaviour as soon as I had drifted off to sleep again.

The next morning I was as far from being relaxed as is humanly possible, and I had to crawl around on the floor to retrieve various skincare products which had been kicked from the dresser during the chaos and which had rolled under the bed.

Cat Daddy: “It’s your own fault. You should have known that he’d want to get up onto the shutters and look outside at the foxes in the park.” (???)

I had a lot of things to do that day, and I have no idea how managed them on no sleep. Catorze, of course, doesn’t have to concern himself with such trivialities, and happily enjoyed Boys’ Club as if nothing had happened.

Bastard cat.

Une femme noble et son thé

A couple of mornings ago, Louis Catorze and I settled in front of the television for our usual early morning horror extravaganza.

I had prepared for being TUC by making sure I had as many important things as possible – tea, the remote control, a book and my phone – within easy reach, so that I wouldn’t have to wake Cat Daddy and ask him to bring me further supplies. He was already cross enough with me because, since the research I carried out for my Louis le Comte post, he has been inundated with county notifications. So I didn’t really fancy annoying him for a second time.

Email sent to me by Cat Daddy the other day.

Anyway, as Catorze stirred on my lap, his tail dipped into my mug of tea. I had a teapot at hand but only one mug, and I didn’t want to pour good tea into a mug containing horrible taily tea. And there was nowhere to tip out the taily tea without displacing Le Roi. So I had a dilemma. I knew that Cat Daddy would not appreciate being woken to help me. In fact, he would have just drunk the taily tea had he been in this situation. But I have horrifying visions of where that tail has been, so that wasn’t going to happen.

Teay tail.

Just as I had finished typing my message but before pressing SEND, Cat Daddy’s wine subscription delivery arrived. Now, as I have mentioned previously, dislodging a cat when TUC is akin to blasphemy in the cat freak world. However, not answering the door on this occasion would have meant losing the life-giving substance that fuels Le Château and helps us cope with Catorze, and that – along with Cat Daddy’s Unrepeatable Expletives that would have ensued – was utterly unthinkable.

So Sa Maj was undignifiedly turfed off my lap to allow me to take the wine delivery. He was not pleased.

I am expecting nothing short of Armageddon now.

Send holy water to TW8, merci s’il vous plaît.

Des souvenirs dorment dans cette chevelure

Louis Catorze had his steroid shot yesterday. There was the usual Benny Hill-style chase when putting him into his transportation pod and, as I was leaving, Cat Daddy – who was in the middle of a massive DIY session – asked me to pop into the hardware shop on the way back and buy a lightbulb and two little transponder-type things.

Catorze screamed all the way through his examination, but the vet confirmed that all was well and that he was “looking good”. He fell deathly silent as we went into the hardware shop then, as the shopkeeper spoke, the screaming resumed.

The shopkeeper was startled and looked outside, thinking there was some altercation taking place.

Me: “Oh, that’s just my cat.”

Shopkeeper: “Sorry?”

Me: “My cat is in this bag.”

Him: “There’s a cat?”

Me: “Yes.”

Him: “IN THE BAG?”

Me: “Erm, yes.”

Him: “…”

I should have explained that I’d come straight from the vet, instead of just saying “My cat is in this bag”, but I didn’t think of it at the time. So now the shopkeeper thinks I am the kind of weirdo who goes shopping with her screaming cat. And I can never go back to that shop again.

Although Catorze is in good health, his body is still spewing out fur. Clumps of it are drifting around Le Château like tumbleweed rolling through the American west.

A few days before the vet appointment, we had a Code Gris emergency on our hands. And by “on our hands”, I actually mean “on Catorze’s arse”. This (see below) started out as a few tiny strands of grey undercoat sticking out from his fur and I left it, imagining that, at some point, it would just come off by itself.

It didn’t. In fact, over the course of just a couple of days, it grew.

What in the world …?

My sister: “It’s a mat. You can get special mat combs that get them out.”

Me: “Could I not just use scissors?”

Her: “Do you trust him to hold still and not injure you or himself?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Narrator: “And so she bought the special mat comb.”

Anyway, the comb arrived the next day, and it seems that someone in the marketing department felt that its appearance wasn’t quite scary enough, so they named it the Dematting Rake. RAKE.

Ouch.

Catorze sat on my lap and, astoundingly, was happy to let me hack away at his arse end with this device, only emitting the occasional squeak when I accidentally pulled too hard. Perhaps he felt uncomfortable and knew that whatever I was doing had to be better than living with the mats? It was quite the feat but, eventually, I managed to loosen and remove the TWO horrible knots:

The mats, alongside my customary £1 coin for scale.

So Le Roi is now a mat-free zone. And I have something fun and unique to tell my students when they ask me what I did during my holidays.

What a time to be alive.

The Catorzian arse, sans mats.

Un plat qui se mange froid

Remember Kurt Zouma? Remember what he did? The British public certainly do and, given that he’s now being prosecuted AND he had the ignominy of an own goal against Spurs a few weeks ago, it seems that Lady Karma is doing her thing.

However, we certainly weren’t about to pass up an opportunity when West Ham came to play Brentford on Sunday. Now, I’m not one of those who shouts abuse at sportspeople, no matter what they’ve done. Instead, I decided to take a leaf from the Catorzian Playbook of Unsettling Behaviour and just creepy-stare, with the help of one of these:

Good grief.

These items, unbelievably, are not props from The Purge but part of a kids’ party pack of a dozen animal masks, of which seven are cats (and one is a fox but looks sufficiently cat-like from a distance). There isn’t a fully black cat, as you can see, which upset Cat Daddy far more than he will ever admit, so he picked one of the tuxedo cats, which were plain black on the reverse, and wore it inside out.

I bought two sets of masks and handed them to anyone who would agree to wear them. However, it seems we needn’t have bothered, because the rowdy blokes in the West Stand were on it. Not only did they boo every time the ball went to Zouma, but they blasted him with two new, never-heard-before chants. The first was “R, S, P-C-A, R-S-P-C-A!” to the tune of Oops Upside Your Head (aka Louis Catorze’s Chubbing Up Song). And, when Zouma hobbled off, injured, after twenty-nine minutes, he was hailed with a chorus of “Put him down, put him down, put him down!” to the tune of Stars and Stripes Forever.

I would never wish an injury on anyone, not even Zouma. But there was something about it that felt like a karmic coup de foudre.

At the start of the game, one of the blokes who sits in front of us asked me for my score prediction, and I said, “2-1 to Brentford, with Zouma being sent off.” And that’s so eerily close to what ended up happening that I can’t help wondering whether The Mothership had anything to do with it.

Catorze doesn’t need a lawyer because he knows we can’t prove anything.

Les fangs sont de retour

Louis Catorze’s fangs FINALLY seem to be reappearing from wherever it was that they went.

And I don’t know whether this is just wishful thinking on my part, a genuine consequence of the new way that his mouth fits together or just an illusion because I am home for the holidays and seeing more of the little sod, but the fangs appear to be slightly more prominent. I love it. Whereas they previously appeared as tiny white dots under his jowls, now they have a little more length to them. (More photos to follow, so you can help me decide whether this is true or whether I’m hallucinating.)

This picture was taken when he was doing the Chubbing Up Dance in bed with Cat Daddy. It’s wonderful to have him looking like our spooky little boy again.

Looking fangtastic.

Le poids du Roi

Louis Catorze is an eating, screaming machine, and we can see and feel him chubbing up. Cat Daddy even saw him in the garden the other day and thought he was another cat.

To mark this auspicious occasion Catorze has done the Chubbing Up Dance, which involves Cat Daddy bouncing him on his lap whilst singing “You, are, chub-bing up, say you are chub-bing up!” to the tune of Oops Upside Your Head. (Younger followers: ask your grandparents.)*

*About the song, I mean, not about the Chubbing Up Dance. They will probably look at you very strangely if you ask them about the Chubbing Up Dance.

Gone are the days of minuscule portions of Orijen sprinkled with exactly the right amount of boiling water. These days Catorze is guzzling down generous scoops of dry food and loving it. He still prefers freshly-served Orijen to food that’s been sitting around for a while, naturellement, but, at a push, he will eat slightly stale food eventually. Whereas if his food had absorbed too much water, he would quite literally starve himself rather than consume a single pellet.

Assuming the little sod doesn’t randomly change his mind again, this could be an absolute game changer for chat-sitting here at Le Château. And, in equally magnificent news, it’s exactly a month since his last steroid shot and, astonishingly, he has shown no sign of needing the next one as yet. Usually, after three weeks, we are counting down the days to that calendar month marker but, right now, he’s looking and feeling good.

Could his birthday at the end of the month be his happiest and healthiest yet?

Who ate all the Orijen?

Le chat chassé

Every now and again, when Cat Daddy and I want to relax in front of something mindless and unchallenging, we watch Celebrity Hunted. If you haven’t seen it, celebrities team up and “disappear” in the U.K. and, the longer they can stay hidden, the more money they raise for charity. This particular series features two athletes, an actress, a musician, a drag queen and a girl from Essex whom we presume to be a reality TV star or a YouTuber or some such thing.

Cat Daddy and I often marvel at the stupid things they do to give away their whereabouts, such as calling friends and family (their phones are monitored) or letting random members of the public take pictures with them and upload them to social media (also monitored); we are pretty certain that, if we ever took part in this show, we would be cleverer than that.

However, we are mere amateurs compared to Louis Catorze. It’s time to give Catorze his flea medication. And, naturellement, the little sod is nowhere to be found.

I have to hand it to him: for a not-especially-intelligent cat, he is good at vanishing. A few years ago we made Disco the dog’s folks go searching for him in their shed in the middle of a storm, when he turned out to be somewhere in Le Château – we still don’t know where – all along. He has also been known to go missing at The Front, right after chasing down the Ocado delivery driver, and on many occasions we have debated whether or not to call the driver and ask him to check the back of his van. Luckily he has always reappeared but, again, we don’t know from where.

Cat Daddy and I still can’t find Catorze, but I’m hopeful that one of us will soon utter the magic words: “I have eyes on the fugitive!”

Où est Le Roi?

Louis le Comte

You know how annoying it is when you’re messaging someone and Autocorrect changes it to “ducking”? Come on. Anyone who claims not to know this is a liar (or doesn’t have a phone).

Cat Daddy has discovered a new dimension to this problem.

Louis Catorze recently decided to curl up on a mattress cover which had just been washed and which was drying outside. Cat Daddy photographed him and sent me the picture, declaring that Catorze was a “total count”.

Just make yourself comfortable.

So … which count is he?

Here are some options, as suggested by friends:

1. Count von Count from Sesame Street. He’s goth, toothy and cute, but is he a bit TOO cute to be a role model for Catorze?

Picture, very appropriately, from muppet.fandom.com.

2. Vicomte Sébastien de Valmont from Dangerous Liaisons (if, indeed, a viscount can still count as a count?). Like Catorze, he’s French. However, he seduces women for fun. And ladies aren’t really Catorze’s thing, if you get what I mean.

Picture from vulture.com.

3. Edmond Dantès, aka The Count of Monte Cristo. He’s French, vengeful and a skilled escape artist, and he suddenly finds himself with untold riches, all of which make him startlingly similar to Catorze. This could be the one.

Picture from thetimes.co.uk.

4. Count Dracula, the papa of them all. An evil, shapeshifting bloodsucker who sleeps all day and goes on psychotic rampages at night. Bingo. I think we have our answer.

Picture from lwiles.com.

Maybe he should never have been Sa Majesté Louis Catorze, Le Roi Soleil. Maybe he should always have been Count Dracula. But, as we Brits are aware, once the monarchy are in place, deposing them isn’t as easy as all that.

Which member of the aristocracy most resembles your cat? And are there any counts that we have neglected to, erm, count? Please let us know.

Les poils de la bête

Merci à Dieu: the Easter holidays are here. And it looks as if I will be spending them brushing, because Louis Catorze is shedding fur. A lot of fur. His tiny body is producing more fur than I can handle, a bit like that old fable about the machine that churns out salt forever because the person forgets the magic word to make it stop.

Yesterday I managed to extract a huge handful of fur from one side of him.

Cat Daddy: “Why only one side?”

Me: “I couldn’t brush the other side.”

Him: “Why not?”

Me: “He was lying on it.”

Him: “So just flip him!”

Me: “I couldn’t. He refused to be flipped.”

Him: “He’s 3kg!”

Me: “HE REFUSED TO BE FLIPPED.”

Cat Daddy has probably only had to force Catorze to do things against his will about four times, versus my countless times. So, really, he should be taking my word for it regarding Catorze’s flippability, or lack thereof.

Anyway, I’m brushing him 862 times a day (that’s sessions, not individual brush strokes) and it’s not enough. No number in the world would be enough; every time I do it, it’s as if I have never done it before. And I am pretty sure that, if I kept brushing indefinitely and didn’t stop, the fur would just keep coming until, eventually, I would be left with a bald, screaming skeleton.

Here he is, sitting in the tarragon (again), looking wonderfully soft. And so he should, after all my efforts:

“Brush moi.”
“Then brush moi again. And again.”

UPDATE: since the above photos were taken, Cat Daddy has devised a plan and put it into action. Will these lethal shanks solve the problem, or just move it elsewhere?

Sit on THIS, Sa Maj!