My summer holiday, so far, has been all about Louis Catorze: organising his vet appointment, his chat-sitteur and his play dates with the little girl next door, and trying (and failing) to stop his ear-bleedingly noisy altercations with the parakeets. It’s like having an especially high-maintenance and troublesome toddler.
In better news, after what feels like an age, Catorze’s bald patch finally appears to be growing back. Obviously this is a relief. But how annoying that it will be looking comparatively normal for his chat-sitteur, whilst we have had to put up with it looking more like an eye than ever before, following us creepily wherever we go.
A couple of my friends have seen it face to face. One of them stopped laughing for long enough to say “I can’t believe it even has a … PUPIL!” before laughing again.
This is what it looks like now:
And this (below) is what we have had to endure over the last however-many weeks. The last one is the most scary, in my opinion:
By the time the chat-sitteur arrives, I imagine it will have vanished entirely and that Le Roi will have morphed from this:
It’s not really fair, is it? But this perfectly sums up life with the little sod.
At the weekend I was chat-sitting Blue the Smoke Bengal whilst his mamma was away.
I am very lucky that I was trusted to look after him, after what happened last time. During the Easter holidays I was supposed to feed him from Sunday evening to Thursday morning, and I forgot. I don’t know how I could have possibly done such a thing, but I did.
Cat Daddy and I were out walking on the Monday morning when I remembered. We had just reached the point in our walk where we could choose between the long route and the short route and, naturellement, after realising my grave oversight, we chose the latter and powered round as quickly as possible so that we could get home for Blue. As we walked we debated whether or not I should tell Blue’s mamma, and I was leaning more towards not saying anything if he were fine when I arrived.
I felt awful about it, and I told Cat Daddy that I’d be livid if someone had done this to Louis Catorze.
Cat Daddy: “Would you really, though?”
Me: “Actually … maybe not. If it were just one day, then no.”
Cat Daddy: “But if they didn’t say anything, and I found out afterwards, I’d be pissed off.”
When I went to Maison Blue, I discovered that his mamma had had a Ring doorbell fitted since the last time I went over. Those things send you a notification if you have so much as an leaf blowing past, so she would know perfectly well that I hadn’t been over on the Sunday evening.
Luckily Blue was perfectly ok, and he purred and rolled when I walked into the house. As I cuddled him, I said, “I’m so sorry, boy. I let you down yesterday evening, didn’t I?” I then realised that there was another camera-type device plugged into the hallway, which had probably recorded what I’d said.
MERDE MERDE MERDE.
In terms of evidence against me, it doesn’t get much worse than video surveillance and a taped confession. If this were a criminal investigation, Blue’s mamma’s legal team would be pressing for the death penalty.
Anyway, when she gave me some lovely chilli goat’s cheese to say thank you for looking after Blue, I decided that I couldn’t accept it with a clear conscience and so I confessed. Blue’s mamma was absolutely fine about it, and clearly didn’t think my offence was cheese-withholdingly bad because she insisted that I take the gift anyway. She added that Blue was a bit of a chubber and so one delayed meal wouldn’t have done him any harm. This is true. Plus he is an adept hunter, AND he is clearly visiting at least one household for their all-you-can-eat self-service buffet, so he certainly wouldn’t have starved to death.
Here is the big sod, telling me to hurry the hell up with his food:
Merci à Dieu: it’s the school holidays. And my long summer break started off in true Catorzian style: when I came home I trod in some cat puke and, because I was three double vodkas under, I didn’t notice and ended up treading it all around the place.
My conversation with Cat Daddy went something like this:
Him: “What’s all this mess?”
Me: “Nothing to do with me.”
[I check under my feet.]
Me: “Oh my God.”
My flip flops have since been jet-washed, but nothing will jet-wash the images from my soul. Especially the bit when I borrowed Cat Daddy’s flip flops whilst I jet-washed mine and, somehow, in the jet-washing process, I managed to transfer some cat puke to his flip flops via my bare toes.
Other than going away with Cat Daddy next week, my plans involve mainly watching horror with a cup of tea in my hand and Louis Catorze on my lap. Well, there’s no point spending my holiday doing things I don’t like, is there?
In other news, one of our neighbours, who is a plumber, popped round the other day to look at our bathroom sink because, somehow, the plug has dropped down the plug hole and is stuck. (Yes, I know that being small enough to actually fit DOWN the hole is the least useful quality for any sink plug.)
Upon his arrival I was TUC, so I called hello to him and he came into the living room for a chat. When he saw Catorze on my lap, I could tell by his face that they already knew each other.
Plumber Neighbour: “Ah, it’s him!”
Me: “Oh God, I’m sorry.” [It’s become a routine thing to apologise for Sa Maj before I even know what’s happened.]
Him: “Oh no, he hasn’t done anything wrong. I often see him in my garden, looking very pantheresque.”
Me: “Oh, right!”
Him: “And Heather says she’s seen him in her garden, too.”
Me, with no idea of who Heather is or where she lives: “Oh, right!”
Merde, I should have thought this through and hidden Catorze as soon as I knew that Plumber Neighbour was coming. Now that he has seen him at our house, not only can I no longer give him the “Oh, it must have been some other cat” line if there’s any trouble, but he is also able to tell the mysterious Heather that he knows who the black cat is and where he lives.
Worse yet, Plumber Neighbour’s house backs onto a prime parakeet stronghold and, when there’s a cat in the Zone Libre, they all gather here to shriek at it. This is what their symposiums look like:
And this is how they sound:
So Plumber Neighbour is perfectly placed to be ear-assaulted by the hideous noise AND to see who is causing it. On the occasion captured above it was actually Beefy Tabby Tigger (just visible in the video) who was responsible for the unrest, but we know that Catorze is capable of it, too, because we’ve seen him do it. Having Catorze on Plumber Neighbour’s radar, and having that connection back to us, isn’t a good thing at all.
Note to all owners of troublesome cats: hide the cats when neighbours come round. Or, at the very least, kick them outside and, if the visitors happen to see them through the window, act as if they’re someone else’s cats. It’s considerably more difficult to lie when you’re TUC and the offender is the very C that you’re TU.
I can now report that the little sod has a new sound, a kind of irritated “Prrr-owww!” chirp that he emits only during grooming, either when I try to flip him or when I brush his fur in the wrong direction. I always do the latter to loosen any stray hairs and crud before brushing him normally, and he gives me the “Prrr-owww!” every time.
I took that to mean he doesn’t like the feeling of this on his fur, which is fair enough as it must be like us brushing our hair from tip to root instead of vice versa. However, one fine day, this happened:
I know. We have never seen anything like it, either. And, astoundingly, the silly sod did this to himself. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: he happily washed his own fur in a thousand wrong directions, making himself look like Father Jack from Father Ted* after being put through a spin cycle and then dropped from a great height, but heaven forbid should I do one or two rogue strokes with the brush. I always thought the idea of cats washing was to smooth themselves and make their fur look and feel better. Who the flip does this?
*Younger followers: ask your parents AND look for Father Ted on YouTube. You will not be disappointed.
If I deserve the “Prrr-owww!” for my minor brush transgression, what kind of sound does justice to this self-administered apparence débraillée? A growl? An air-raid siren? Although I’m pretty sure that, if I asked Cat Daddy for his least favourite sound in the world, he would tell me it were Catorze’s normal voice.
It’s the summer solstice, and today is Cat Daddy’s favourite day of the year because of the almost-everlasting light. This year it’s mid-week, which isn’t ideal for me, but the fact that Cat Daddy is retired means he can enjoy it to the maximum without having to worry about going to work the next day.
Sa Maj also loves this time, because he is usually in peak health and there is always plenty of Important Cat Business for him to do.
After the squirrels chewed through our last set of solar outdoor lights, Cat Daddy bought not one but THREE new sets: a string of lights that glimmer softly across the green roof of our shed, half a dozen individual bulbs attached to the wire fence separating the Zone Occupée from the Zone Libre, and a quintet (?) of what look like fireflies in jam jars. When dusk falls, the garden comes alive.
Louis Catorze loves nothing more than to sit outside and take in the light show which, I’m sure, he thinks has been prepared in his honour. He settles in the garden long before sunset, after going about his Important Cat Business in the Zone Libre and his Rodent Duty, and he remains there long after dark, for much of the night. Sometimes he is even out all night.
Cat Daddy didn’t create the light show for Catorze. But it’s funnier for people to think that he did, so that’s what I tell everyone. And it’s certainly what Catorze believes, irrespective of the truth.
Here he is, enjoying his spectacle de lumière and wanting to be part of it. Happy Solstice to you, and I hope you enjoy your day as much as the little sod is enjoying his life.
There has been so much going on at Le Château. Firstly, my students have completed their exams and this pretty much sums up their level of preparedness:
Cat Daddy is home, and Louis Catorze is so happy about this that his screaming and purring have been through the roof. A couple of nights ago a flock of parakeets, irritated by the infernal racket, gathered to see what was going on in the garden below. Yes, it was THAT bad.
Dans un autre domaine, as well as my long-standing neck and shoulder problems, I now have a new lower back problem which just came from nowhere. So I have been back to the physio again.
Cat Daddy, before my appointment: “I bet it’s because of all those hours on the sofa watching horror films with HIM on your lap.”
Me: “I’ve sat on that sofa with him a zillion times and my back’s always been fine. It can’t possibly be that.”
During my appointment:
Physio: “Was there a particular activity that caused you to hurt your back?”
Me: “No. It was just like that when I woke up one morning.”
Her: “Lower backs don’t react well to many hours in the same position …”
Her: “Have you been doing a lot of sitting down lately?”
Since this is the same physio that I saw when I had my Laziness With Cat knee injury, I couldn’t quite bring myself to tell her that I now had a new injury caused by the same thing. So I just said I didn’t know. Yes, I know how preposterous it sounds to tell someone that you actually DON’T KNOW whether or not you’ve been doing a lot of sitting down.
Anyway, the physio has given me some exercises to do twice a day, and it seems that Le Roi does not approve of these exercises. Which is a bit rude since he is the reason I have to do them. He has let me know of his disapproval by circling me on the bed as I do the exercises, screaming his guts out, then putting his front paws onto me and screaming some more.
I guess this is the end of me being TUC unless I take regular stretch breaks every two hours. Not that Sa Maj gives a merde since he is now back in his happy place:
Not long after the Louis Catorze’s vet appointment, during which we didn’t mention the mats on account of them having long gone, I discovered these:
These quite literally sprang up overnight and, during the few days leading up to me spotting these, he showed no indication of struggling to groom or any such thing. Clearly it was time to deploy the Dematting Rake again … and, naturellement, that was when Catorze decided that he was going to lie on that side of his body (his right) forever more.
Usually he favours lying on his right side around 70% of the time, so getting to these mats was always going to be a challenge. However, when I really, really needed him to lie on his left side, he firmly decided that he wasn’t going to do it, ever again.
Cat Daddy refuses to believe that one cannot flip a cat who doesn’t want to be flipped, and thinks it’s just me being pathetic. Not long ago, when he was brushing Catorze on his lap, he tapped the royal rump with the brush, gently said, “Come on, Louis, let’s flip you” and the bastard cat happily obliged, purring away. When I try it, the little sod turns himself into a dead weight and gives me a new type of scowly meow which I’ve never heard before and which has been invented just for this purpose (more about that another time).
After several days of sitting pointlessly with the Rake at my side, at long last I had a result when the little sod suddenly acquiesced and lay on his left side, matted side up.
The mats were gone. Nothing, niente, nichts and nada.
No doubt evil Catorze wants me to be left wondering if I had dreamed the whole episode, so merci à Dieu for photographic evidence. That said, somehow it still feels as if he has won this battle.
Cat Daddy is away on holiday with his cycling buddies, so it’s only me and Louis Catorze at Le Château.
This was Cat Daddy’s view the other day:
And this was mine:
As if it’s not bad enough being home alone with a black vampire cat whose body is adorned with an evil eye, the little sod is doing everything to make this as unsettling an experience as possible: stomping up and down on the floorboards in the dead of night, doing parkour around the house, knocking things over, making paper-rustling sounds in rooms that I didn’t even think had paper in them, and so on. Whereas he used to lie quietly at the foot of the bed, he now bounces across my belly repeatedly before eventually settling, wide-eyed and purring, next to me, slapping my arm with his tail.
No doubt he will morph back into an affectionate little kitten the minute Cat Daddy returns and, when I report the mayhem and mischief that took place during his absence, I won’t be believed.
The last thing Cat Daddy said to me before setting off was, “I bet you’ll waste the entire time watching horror films and drinking tea with HIM on your lap.”
Erm, ok, so that is, indeed, how I have spent much of my week – at least, the part of it that’s NOT spent being scared witless. But in no way do I consider it wasted time. Wasted time is when you the return for your efforts doesn’t justify the time spent. Time spent drinking good tea and watching good (or bad) horror with a cat on your lap is time very well spent indeed. And I’d do it every single day for the rest of my life, if I could.
All I need to make this perfect is for cats to be able to go to the kitchen and put the kettle on. I bet they could if they wanted to. They just don’t want to.
One of the good things about having a black cat is that, if they’re raising hell in public, you can always pretend it must be some other cat. I have had to do this around 8,073 times (each) with Louis Catorze and his big brother, Luther, so I’m used to it by now.
However, it’s rather difficult to deny it in the following circumstances:
1. The hell is raised in broad daylight.
2. The hell is raised in an elevated area surrounded by multiple houses.
3. The hell is raised in the early hours of the morning, when everything is quiet, so people are likely to hear it and investigate.
5. Your cat is unusually small, so onlookers know instantly that he’s yours.
6. Another cat is with him, so the sense of scale makes it even more evident that the small black hellraiser is your cat.
7. Your cat still has the Eye of Sauron on his body from a bald patch that just won’t go away, again making identification very easy. (He’s fine, by the way. The vet says steroids can delay hair regrowth, although we’re to book another appointment if it’s not improved in a couple of weeks.)
A few days ago, we had each and every one of the above factors working against us.
When I was getting ready to go to work a couple of mornings ago, I heard the familiar sound of a parakeet shrieking. Somehow you can tell when it’s an altercation as opposed to just generic shrieking and this was, without a doubt, an altercation. I looked out, fully expecting Catorze but, to my surprise, he was accompanied by Beefy Tabby Tigger, a local unneutered male whom everyone hates but who, bizarrely, gets along very well with Catorze. The two of them were hanging out on top of our trellis and next door’s shed, and a parakeet, perched atop the telegraph wires above them, was hollering its lungs out.
Naturellement, as soon as he saw me, Catorze decided to flee from the scene of the crime. I wasn’t quick enough to photograph him on the trellis but here he is, absconding, with Tigger and the shrieking parakeet looking on:
I imagine that the parakeet was either warning its buddies of not one but TWO predators below, of which one appeared to have a third eye. Or maybe it was shrieking at them to go away so that it could swoop down and steal some of the food that Cat Daddy puts out for the goldfinches. Either way, it was loud enough for me to go and look. And so, I imagine, did all our neighbours. (Sorry, if any of you are reading this.)
How does an ageing cat have the time or the inclination for any of this nonsense? I can’t figure it/him out, nor do I think I ever will.
Louis Catorze has a complicated and bizarre water drinking ritual, which is as follows:
1. Approach drinking station and position himself appropriately, usually – although not always – with his back to the wall and facing outwards, to avoid stealth attacks from unknown enemies.
2. Sniff water to ensure that it isn’t poisoned.
3. Look around to make sure nobody is about to steal water.
5. Sit for a few more minutes.
6. Make a couple of fake-puke sounds to scare us.
7. Drink some more.
8. Leave drinking station.
The whole thing usually takes about twenty minutes and is quite comical to watch, if you can be bothered.
However, yesterday morning I noticed that Catorze had completed steps 1 to 3 and was just sitting there. I glanced over to check that he had sufficient water, which he did. But then a further fifteen minutes elapsed and he still hadn’t drunk. This was somewhat unusual.
I decided to get up and check that there was nothing wrong with his water. It was then that I saw a big fat fly floating in it.
Now, Catorze is an avid hunter of flies. I have even seen him swipe them in mid-flight like King Kong with those planes or helicopters or whatever they were and, once they are mortally wounded, he snaps his jaws around them before they even hit the ground. Perhaps the problem was the fly being dead, therefore making the water gross and contaminated, yet I have also seen him drink from the ancient watering can which was here when we moved in. This predates time itself and contains untold horrors that I daren’t even attempt to discover (and I am pretty sure he doesn’t know what’s in that water, either, given that it’s dark when he sticks his head in).
So, clean water containing one fly: NON.
Stagnant, old rainwater containing stuff he can’t even see, most likely including 8,972 flies: OUAIS.
It’s good to know where Catorze’s line is. Even though it’s weird.
Kurt Zouma has been sentenced to 180 hours of community service and been banned from keeping animals for five years. As he left court, he was greeted by this:
No, this isn’t me. (Only because I didn’t think of it.)
We don’t yet know what the community service will be, but I hope it will involve cleaning animal excrement of some sort. Alternatively, he should be made to wear these for the whole of the new football season, on and off the pitch:
These shoes have been inspired by Snowball II from The Simpsons. But, since Snowball II happens to be a black cat with vampire teeth, we’ll claim it and happily pretend that Louis Catorze is Adidas’ muse.
Aren’t the shoes splendid? The only problem is that they don’t make them in adult sizes so, since I can neither wear them myself nor buy them for Kurt Zouma, I shall, instead, have to choose the least resistant of my nieces and nephews to be the wearer.
This is how much I fancy my chances, with 0 meaning utter compliance and 10 representing an unyieldingness harder than diamond:
Merde, merde and thrice merde: my alternative bunting didn’t arrive, despite me paying an eye-stingingly expensive delivery charge to have it in time for the weekend. So I guess it will have to wait until the next noteworthy royal event, and luckily it’s the kind of timeless design that will keep.
Cat Daddy: “Is it the kind of thing that’ll draw attention to our house?”
You could say that, yes.
At least the platinum jubilee is over now, although its efforts to drive me insane worked a treat. Last week I was so far gone that I swore I could see Boris Johnson’s face in Louis Catorze’s bald patch. You can see it too, right?
Cat Daddy thinks the bald patch is expanding, yet I think we’ve had some regrowth since the above photo was taken. I don’t really care which of us is right because the most important thing is that it doesn’t look like Boris Johnson anymore. It now looks like Ghostface from Scream or Edward Scissorhands, depending on the angle and the light, but either of those would be far preferable to Boris Johnson.
In any case, it’s still not bothering Catorze. And I’m happy to just leave it for now, but I’m ready to whisk him back to the vet should I spot any cuts, soreness or changes of temperament/habit.
Parmi les autres nouvelles, we were given a flower bouquet recently which contained evil lilies. Lilies are highly toxic to cats so, if we ever receive them, we gently fish them out of the bouquet and dispose of them, leaving the cat-harmless flowers in place. On this occasion, Cat Daddy put them into the garden waste recycling bag in an unobtrusive corner of the garden, far from inquisitive Catorzian paws.
Naturellement, despite never usually venturing into this part of the garden, Catorze suddenly decided that the green waste recycling bag was the most interesting and attractive item in the world. Luckily we were able to whisk him to safety and Cat Daddy rearranged the bag, rolling it tightly like a Swiss roll* and placing a few bricks on top to seal in the contagion until the next collection (although no British person has the faintest idea when this will be, since the double bank holiday has stuffed up our bin days).
*Younger followers: don’t bother asking your Swiss friends. Ask your older relatives who lived in the U.K. during the 70s or 80s.
I had hoped that, in his advanced years, Sa Maj might show SOME sign of stopping all his nonsense. But it’s no real surprise that he hasn’t.
Today marks the Queen’s platinum jubilee and, apparently, there are around sixteen thousand street parties being held around the U.K. this weekend. Neither Cat Daddy nor I are royalists and we find it all rather grotesque and distasteful, so we won’t be joining in any celebrations. Also, since we are already being bled dry to fund the luxurious lifestyle of a certain member of the French aristocracy, we have neither the time nor the wherewithal to fuss over another monarch.
My friend Lizzi sent me this a few days ago (see below). At first I thought it was a meme, but it’s actually more like a reminder. A Polite Reminder*, in fact, politely reminding us that, if we aren’t already providing our feline overlords with royal feasts, tributes, castles and thrones, we flippin’ well ought to:
*Non-Brits, ask your British friends and they will tell you that a Polite Reminder is the opposite of what it appears to be. Polite Reminders also vary in their level of politeness, for instance the one above is moderate, but we have a far less polite Polite Reminder affixed with Blu Tac above the sink at work, typed in Comic Sans font with the message: “POLITE REMINDER: STOP LEAVING DIRTY MUGS AND PLATES IN THE SINK!!!!!!!!”
Just like the Queen, Louis Catorze has multiple celebratory days which are all about him. In fact, he has more: 30th April (his birthday), the summer solstice (simply because he’s the Sun King), 14th July (la Fête Nationale, which is entirely the opposite of a salute to the monarchy but he’s claiming it anyway), 20th July (his moving-in day aka the Ascension to the Throne), 17th August (Black Cat Appreciation Day), 27th October (National Black Cat Day) and 31st October (Hallowe’en). However, this is by no means an exhaustive list and Catorze reserves the right to assert ownership of further days, as and when they take his fancy. In fact, when he sees the jubilee party taking place tomorrow afternoon in the park over the road, he will naturally assume that it’s all for him, whether we go or not.
Anyway, whilst the rest of TW8 celebrates the Queen, we will be celebrating the Sun King, and I’ve even bought my own, erm, alternative bunting for the occasion. I haven’t told Cat Daddy about it yet but, by the time this weekend is over, the whole street will know about it.
The vet told us that Louis Catorze’s bald patch was growing back, but I am not convinced. The more I stare at it, the more it starts to look like the Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings:
Many friends have asked whether the little sod is over-grooming it and, although he is fastidiously clean in general, we haven’t noticed him paying more attention to the bald patch than to the rest of his body. In fact, I only think I’ve seen him grooming it once or twice. The skin is neither broken nor irritated, and it doesn’t appear to be bothering him in the slightest. Yet the area seems to be widening in size, whilst also filling in from the middle.
Can hair thin out and regrow at the same time? I’m pretty sure this defies all laws of Physics but, since we are dealing with an animal who can teleport, the notion of some anomalous time and space warp appearing on his body is not entirely ridiculous.
I have no idea at what point to take Sa Maj back to the vet again, but I really hope this clears up before we go on holiday in July (and I’m sure our chat-sitteur does, too). In the meantime, should I put sun block on the bald patch when he ventures out? And, before you ask, yes, the silly sod absolutely will sunbathe with that side facing upwards and, yes, he will decide to do it on the hottest day of the year, when there is no cloud cover and when the vet surgery is shut.