Les monstres qui rôdent autour de nous

Louis Catorze’s party month is always busy, but this October has been rammed full of things to do and people to see. Four of those people were Family Next Door, who still have Catorze’s picture hovering creepily on their knife block and haven’t (yet) reported strange noises at night and objects being moved.

Quieter than the real thing.

Daughter Next Door proudly showed me a magic 8 ball that she had received for her birthday, and urged me to ask it any question requiring a yes/no answer. So I said, “Is Louis the creepiest cat in the world?” And the ball malfunctioned. MALFUNCTIONED.

The message was just random white streaks on a background of darkness.

Daughter Next Door: “Oh. I’ve never seen it do this before.”

Neither of us knew quite what to say, but I am now more certain than ever that I won’t be trying out my new divination pendulum on Catorze, despite the giver daring me to do so. That thing will end up spinning like a rogue planchette during a séance with Satan.

Because of everything that we’ve had going on, and because our pumpkins are too heavy to lift, AND because of Louis Catorze’s unbelievably annoying habit of refusing to pose for my photos, somehow I just haven’t made much progress with his Official Hallowe’en Portrait.

Naturellement, when friends take pictures of him, he morphs into Compliant Supermodel Cat. When my friend Emily visited for our annual October spookathon weekend, she was able to capture this:

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam …

Although I love the classic cuteness of this photo, no way is he this sweet and obliging in real life. A picture may well paint a thousand words but, in this case, they’re all lies.

Then, with a few days to go until the big night, Cat Daddy managed to produce this:

Don’t ever invite a vampire into your house. It renders you powerless.

Ah yes. This is a far more accurate depiction. It’s like a deleted scene from Salem’s Lot which didn’t make the final cut on account of Stephen King finding it too scary, and it truly shows Catorze for the demonic hell-beast that he is.

So, Mesdames and Messieurs, take your pick. Are you like Emily, kidding yourself that Catorze is an adorable little Hallowe’en kitty (not that I can blame her because he always behaves for her)? Or are you living in the real world?

Whilst I leave you mulling over that tricky decision, may I wish you all a Joyeuse Fête.

Hallowe’en Boys’ Club.

Les animaux légendaires

I am in a cryptozoological mood at the moment, and I have been getting my fix by watching In Search of Monsters on Discovery Plus.

The Ozark Howler, also known as the Nightshade Bear and the Devil Cat (!), is said to roam the Ozark mountains in Arkansas and Missouri, and one of the experts on the show had this to say about it: “The reason why it terrifies people so much is because of its distinct howling.”

Howling, screaming. To-may-to, to-mah-to. Cat Daddy and I feel your fear, good citizens of Arkansas and Missouri.

An eyewitness had even succeeded in audio-recording an unearthly cry said to be that of the Ozark Howler.

Louis Catorze slept peacefully through the howling but, as soon as he heard a squirrel scuffling around outside, his head did that velociraptor-style whiparound and he was wide awake and alert.

We happen to have two cryptozoological curiosities in our lives so, as regards searching for monsters, we haven’t had to search very hard. One, of course, is Catorze, and the other is Gizzy the … well … the Puppy Parents claim that she is a dog, but we’re not convinced.

Gizzy, weighing in at under 3kg, is the only living creature who is smaller than Catorze (with the exception of insects and maybe the odd hamster). At times she can sound like a dog but, equally, her ears, when alert, make her look like a bat. Her coat has the texture of a sheep’s fleece (not that I go around feeling sheep but you know what I mean) and her eyes and nose, from certain angles, can give her an angular, almost bird-like appearance. Furthermore, Puppy Mamma says that her character and mannerisms are very like those of a cat (normal cats, I mean, not Catorze).

In conclusion, Gizzy appears to be all creatures and yet no one creature. She truly is a wonder of nature.

Here are some pictures of her, with her big sister Nala, taken last Hallowe’en. Unfortunately in no way do these help us to figure her out and, in fact, they only leave us with further questions.

What on earth IS she? Any ideas?

Not a clue.
Still no clue.

La matière noire

I am trying to listen to a radio interview on my phone, but Louis Catorze is making it very difficult. Something about the interviewee’s voice (male, of course, with the rise and fall and singsong vowel sounds of a North Carolina accent) is casting a spell over the little sod, who won’t leave my phone alone. He’s nuzzling it and even trying to nip it, all the while purring and rolling and, despite my best efforts to hold onto it, he has knocked the phone out of my hand a number of times.

Unfortunately the interviewee is the father of a notorious killer, and he is protesting his son’s innocence despite a mountain of damning evidence to the contrary (including, erm, a confession, and the fact that his vehicle was the only one caught by CCTV at the crime scene). At first I thought it rather sweet that Catorze would be naively ignorant of the content and just in love with the voice. But then I remembered that this is Catorze, and that we are in the run-up to Hallowe’en. I wouldn’t put it past him to understand it and to condone every word.

I hate myself for wondering this, but … how would Catorze respond to the sounds of ACTUAL serial killers’ voices? (The mere fact that I’m even thinking this, never mind putting it in writing for the world to see, is terrifying.) If he were to purr and roll in response to the dulcet tones of Richard Ramirez and the like, whilst I would rather not know, a strange part of me also wants to test him out. And, of all the creepy things Le Roi has done over the years, it still wouldn’t be the worst.

So, erm … if you have a favourite serial killer whose voice you would like me to try out on Catorze, please let me know. Mon Dieu, this is dark, even for Hallowe’en and even for him/me.

Yikes.

La foudre et les éclairs ne font pas vraiment vraiment peur

We all know that Louis Catorze, to put it mildly, isn’t quite like other cats. Gadding about outside in the rain is just one of the peculiar things that he does. However, last weekend, when we had torrential Blade-Runner-meets-Se7en rain for several hours straight, we witnessed something quite unthinkable: the little sod headed for the cat flap at the first sign of thunder and lightning.

Cat Daddy and I both thought he was just going to look, which would have been strange enough. Mais non: he was off out.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Catorze is irresistibly drawn to the two forces of nature which scare most animals witless. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that they call to him, in the same way that The One Ring calls to the Dark Lord.

This is weird, isn’t it?

Cat Daddy: “He’s going out in it! HE’S GOING OUT IN IT! ****ing werewolf cat! What’s wrong with him?”

We have been asking ourselves that question forever, and I don’t think we will ever know the answer. Here he is, communing with the elements from one of his favourite spots, not even caring about the water dripping from the table onto his rump:

Is he hoping it’ll start raining men?

Fixer le regard (Partie 2)

Louis Catorze likes the living room better than the kitchen.

Now, I know that you’re probably thinking, “Really, did he tell you that?” Well, yes, he did. Not in words, but by approaching us when we settle down in the kitchen and creepy-staring so intensely that we eventually feel uncomfortable and just do what he wants.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, you have heard that correctly: our cat has a favourite room. And he lets us know when he wants us to go and sit in it with him. And, being the utter mugs that we are, WE ACTUALLY DO IT.

The first time he creepy-stared to make us move rooms, I initially assumed he wanted food. But, when I got up to feed him, rather than circling my feet, screaming, then assuming the usual position under the breakfast bar stools, he took off into the living room. And, when I followed him, he was sitting on the coffee table, ready for us to assume OUR positions.

He has now perfected his technique and we can tell the difference between a food creepy stare and a room-change creepy stare. It’s all about where he sits to deliver it. When he wants food, he either sits at our feet or sits by his bowl, staring dejectedly at its tragically empty condition. When he wants us to change rooms, he sits here and does this:

Ok, ok, we’re coming.

There is no doubt whatsoever that he is the king of his Château. And he knows it.

Le pays des bayous

One day, Cat Daddy and I would like to go to New Orleans for Hallowe’en. The voodoo, the Frenchness and the stark differences between their lifestyle and ours make it a very intriguing place to visit.

Until we make it over there, one of my favourite things to watch is Cajun Justice on Amazon Prime. It’s reality series that follows a Louisiana police department, which is not my usual kind of thing, but what makes it appeal to me are the folklore and the intrinsic part that it plays in the Louisiana way of life.

Members of the community call the police for supernatural reasons such as creepy noises in the attic, as well as for regular things such as, erm, accidentally running over a wild hog and disputing ownership of the carcass. Does it belong to the person who ran it over, or to the person on whose property it landed after the collision? The gentlemen involved couldn’t agree, and they refused to share it, so, in the end, the police lady told them that neither of them could have it and that it belonged to the state.

One day, the police were called to a dispute between neighbours who had been at war for some time; one household was “Cajun” (of local origin) and the other was “Redneck” (not of local origin) and, apparently, the two aren’t compatible.

In this case, the Rednecks’ cat had wandered onto the Cajuns’ property and “disappeared”, the suggestion being that the Cajuns had done something nasty to it. The Cajun neighbour was denying all knowledge, and, of course, the only way to prove it either way would have been finding the cat, dead or alive.

Police officer: “There’s a cat right there. [Points] Is that not y’all cat?”

[Cat strolls casually across the grass without a care in the world]

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Redneck lady, looking mortified: “Erm … yeah.”

[Laughter from wrongly-accused Cajun, no apology given by gun-jumping Rednecks, zero shits given by cat regarding the trouble caused]

Louis Catorze would have an absolute ball if he were a Louisiana cat, so much so that I gave serious thought to taking him with us on our trip. This is what I think he would love about the place:

⁃ Searing heat

⁃ Abundant nutria (large, toothy rodents regarded as vermin)

⁃ He would be first in line to cause neighbourhood discord and waste police time (although he manages the former perfectly well here, and it’s only a matter of time before he also achieves the latter)

⁃ He would be worshipped by voodoo priests as some sort of holy deity

However, the disadvantages are rather concerning:

⁃ Alligators

⁃ Snakes

⁃ Everyone has guns

⁃ He could be mistaken for a nutria by an alligator, a snake or a person with a gun

Hmmm. Perhaps it’s just as well he doesn’t have to travel, and that the world comes to him. And that is exactly the way it should be for a Sun King.

A nutria.
Catorze.

Qu’ils mangent du gâteau (Partie 2)

Yesterday it was my birthday. I don’t usually have a birthday cake – the last one I had was ten years ago, and the one before that was probably as a child – but I wanted one this year. And, since I can’t bake, I decided to have one made for me.

You’d think this would be easy and that, in these difficult times, bakers would be more than happy for my business, non? Well … NON. One of the three local bakers whom I approached replied promptly and told me that she no longer made bespoke cakes (fair enough), another promised to contact me with costs but then didn’t despite me politely following up, and the third just didn’t reply at all. I messaged her on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, she read both messages (ah yes, the magic of modern technology and read receipts) but still didn’t reply.

Merci à Dieu, then, for Cat Daddy. He has never baked, nor has he decorated a cake, in his life. But, when he saw my predicament, he stepped in to be my dashing knight. And this magnificent masterpiece was the result of his efforts:

Saint Jésus et tous ses anges.

It may be 70% sugar and 30% food colouring, but it’s the best thing in the world. Bravo to Cat Daddy for stepping out of his comfort zone to save the day, and to my sister and nieces for making the fondant features. The cake tasted as good as it looked, and the only costs to us were the ingredients, the constant questions and Unrepeatable Expletives as Cat Daddy prepared it, and black tongues for several days.

Louis Catorze had plenty of attention over the weekend and is now recovering on his papa’s lap after all the over-stimulation. After all, he needs to conserve some mischief for the rest of the month.

Don’t overdo it! There’s still almost half of the party month left to go.
Take it easy, little sod.

Qu’ils mangent du gâteau

Earlier this year I treated myself to a Discovery Plus subscription, with the intention of taking advantage of the cheap trial period and then cancelling before the £4.99 per month kicked in. However, after just a week or two I was hopelessly addicted, and now I have lost all intention of cancelling. In fact, I’d happily keep the subscription even if it cost £499 per month.

One of my new favourite shows is Hallowe’en Wars, which is essentially The Great British Bake-Off except American and Hallowe’eny. I rarely bake because I don’t enjoy it, and most of the things I bake turn out awful but, dammit, I will happily judge an experienced artisan confiseur’s sugar work and remark that it looks wonky.

However, a warning to my fellow Brits: Bake-Off it ain’t. On Hallowe’en Wars, they randomly stop the teams mid-task to announce that there’s a surprise twist. Contestants are snarky and gobby towards the judges. There is in-fighting between team members, resulting in individuals storming off in a huff, never to be seen again, and eventually being replaced by members of previously-eliminated teams. And at no point do the presenters let the losers down gently and Britishly by saying, “And, sadly, I have the horrible job of announcing who will be going home this week.” Instead, they just turn to the eliminatees and say, “You’re done”. It’s brutal.

In one of the earlier episodes of series 1, the challenge was to create a scary animal-themed cake. I couldn’t have thought of a better premise than a cat who came back from the dead to eat its owner. And, naturellement, such a cat couldn’t possibly look any other way than this:

Saint Jésus.
SAINT JÉSUS.

I know. It’s like a flash-forward into the future, when Louis Catorze is denied entry into hell for being too creepy and decides to come back to lay his vengeance upon me.

I don’t usually eat cake but I want this one. And I bet you do, too.

La ferme des animaux

As the cooler weather continues, normal cats are beginning to spend time indoors. However, the more troublesome adventurous cats among us are still fixed in summer mode and are constantly out. And, unfortunately, this means that there are rather more encounters with Foxy Loxy and his relatives than one would want.

Some cats clearly take their guard duties very seriously. Boots, the usurper stepbrother of Louis Catorze’s frère d’âme, Antoine, happily shows the fox contingent who’s boss. And Larry the Downing Street cat, possibly the most famous cat in the United Kingdom, doesn’t hesitate to get stuck in. Although, being an employee of the Cabinet Office, it’s hard to know whether he is defending his territory (GOOD) or sharing his employers’ stance on seeing off anyone who may appear to be slightly different, even if they need help (BAD).

As for Catorze, referring to his encounters as “encounters” is probably a bit of a reach, since foxes either don’t notice him or run away from him before an altercation can even start. Obviously this is a positive thing, although we do worry that, one day, the foxes will get hungry enough, or just plain fed up with his nonsense, and finish the little sod once and for all.

Here are Boots and Larry in action (not together, obviously … although that would be very funny to watch):

“Gerroff my lawn!”
“And stay off!”
Seeking to rapidly remove those with no right to be here.

And here is Catorze, giving Foxy Loxy one of his trademark creepy stares and knowing that that’s enough:

Evil lives here. (Well, not HERE because this is on next door’s territory, but you know what I mean.)

EDIT: Don’t get too comfortable, Mesdames et Messieurs, because it appears that the foxes are fighting back. A family member’s chat-sitteur has a fox who regularly comes in through her non-Sureflap, and not long ago it left a dead rat on her bed.

Il y a plus dangereux que les vampires ce soir

Cat Daddy and I have just returned home from a weekend away.

When we away, Family Next Door often feed Louis Catorze, as they did this time. And, sometimes, Daughter Next Door, aged eight, likes to come over and play with the little sod when we’re here. The last time she came over, we had some Catorze photos lying around on the coffee table. We told her that she was very welcome to take some home with her, and so she did.

When we went over to their place for drinks recently, this was what we found in their kitchen. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Catorze is creepily hovering on their knife block. THEIR KNIFE BLOCK.

Stabby little sod.

I know. Just as we thought he couldn’t possibly be any more sinister, THIS. And the following elements of the whole ensemble make it all the more chilling:

1. The smug look on his face.

2. The fangs (zoom in and you’ll see them).

3. The random extra blade on the block, for no apparent reason.

4. The fact that one knife is missing.

I plucked up the courage to ask if I could take a picture, but was too scared to ask Mamma Next Door any of the many, many questions that I have.

I am now counting all the knives in our kitchen before I go to bed. And, before you try to convince me that nothing could possibly go awry, may I remind you that Catorze has past form when it comes to attempted murder (look here if you don’t believe it). Oh, and he’s a black vampire cat with a Beltane Eve birthday, who lives in a house containing a haunted sculpture.

Aux idiots l’argent brûle les doigts

When Cat Daddy noticed the ferocity with which Louis Catorze pounced upon a newly-opened pack of Orijen, he suggested that we start buying the small packs instead of the fractionally less expensive medium-sized ones. I may have mentioned this previously on Le Blog, but I’m mentioning it again as I’m sure Cat Daddy will deny that it was his idea and start complaining about the cost again. (The smaller packs are 9p per kg more expensive than the medium-sized ones.)

Last week it was time to re-order as Louis Catorze was on his last pack of Orijen. We had stopped our medium pack subscription with Petscorner.co.uk with the intention of restarting on the small pack but, when I tried to resume the subscription, I discovered that they were out of stock.

Orijen’s main website was also all out although, annoyingly, they had supplies of the Orijen Six Fish for dogs. (Yes, I did compare the ingredients lists to see if there was a difference. And, yes, I did consider trying it to see if Catorze would notice, but I had grotesque visions of each pellet being the size of a brick and the silly sod overstretching his tiny jaws to eat them, like a snake swallowing a whole cow.)

Merde.

Eventually I managed to find the last five packs in the world at Mypetwarehouse.co.uk, so I ordered all five. Since then I have found a few more places that stock the small pack, and I think the Orijen site may have replenished its stocks now, but my hopes of finding a reliable subscription service are dwindling. I want to be able to subscribe and then forget about it. I don’t want to have to order from a different place every time and pay delivery costs because they don’t have enough stock to enable me to meet the free delivery threshold. Yet this still beats the horror of leaving Catorze foodless and screaming.

When I told Cat Daddy about this, he muttered something about Brexit, supply chains and some other thing that I don’t remember. He doesn’t stockpile – in fact, he thinks people who do stockpile are scaremongering idiots – yet even he was encouraging me to buy every single pack of Orijen Six Fish Cat (and Dog, if I had to) that I could lay my hands on.

More Orijen than he can handle.

It shouldn’t be this complicated, should it? But then “complicated” is what Catorze is and does.

Cat Daddy took these pictures during an especially rambunctious Boys’ Club and, throughout the session, he was telling Catorze what an emotional and financial drain he is and how unhelpful this is when the country is gripped by what we keep calling a Cost of Living Crisis (but, in fact, is really a Cost of Voting for the Wrong Party and Having Them Do Us Over Crisis). Luckily Catorze didn’t understand and, even if he did, he wouldn’t have given a merde.

One of the last alfresco Boys’ Clubs of the summer.
It was quite the session.

Mahomet ira à la montagne

Cat Daddy’s friend Mike – one of the boys from the notorious Friday night Zoom call – has given us some home-grown pumpkins. Some are tiny ghost pumpkins that fit into the palm of my hand. The the others are the familiar, traditional orange ones, and so ridiculously heavy that I can’t lift them.

If I am to achieve the Herculean feat that is a faintly passable Official Hallowe’en Portrait for Louis Catorze, I am going to have to do one of the following:

⁃ Rely on him to come to wherever the big pumpkins may be, rather than carrying them to him when he happens to be in an appropriate place/pose.

⁃ Use the small ones (taking them to him), which will make the little sod look comically gigantic.

One of those is far more likely to yield results than the other. Although I use the word “results” somewhat loosely.

For the moment, the big pumpkins are sitting on the outdoor sofa until I figure out how on earth I can not only get Catorze to them, but make him pose beautifully. I’m going to need a little luck, and a LOT of time.

Like a hot stone massage, except … neither hot, nor a stone. Nor even a massage.
Oh dear God, no.

Le mannequin de haute-couture

After Louis Catorze’s success in modelling for the Christmas collection, Puppy Mamma decided to use him again as her photographic muse, for the launch of her 2022 autumn collection.

I did warn her that lightning didn’t strike twice where Catorze was concerned – unless, of course, it was the bad kind of lightning. But, having tried her luck once with him, with great results, Puppy Mamma couldn’t resist another go.

On the morning of the shoot, Cat Daddy decided to scatter stinky compost juice all over the garden. I know. I was doing my step workout outdoors at the time, so this wasn’t great timing. And, worse yet, I had the bifold doors open because I was listening out for the postman, and the gut-wrenching stink floated into the house and clung to every surface and every space.

When Puppy Mamma arrived, the whole house still reeked and Catorze, presumably unable to stand the stench, was asleep in the attic bedroom. I suggested that we take the props to him rather than vice versa, mainly because I knew that upstairs would smell better. However, Puppy Mamma had her heart set on photographing Catorze in the hearth and, after arranging the props in an artful fashion, she said, “It would be great if we could get Louis to sit right there, in the middle.”

Hmmm. This would have been impossible even if he were in a good mood. But after being rudely awoken from his slumber and dragged into a room stinking of rot? Non, non and thrice non.

Or so I thought.

Oh. Mon. Dieu. The little sod was flawless, and Puppy Mamma was able to take some of the best pictures I have ever seen of him. As a result I am feeling much more confident of achieving a passable Official 2022 Hallowe’en Portrait (although I may have to ask Puppy Mamma to do it). Cat Daddy is super-proud of his spooky boy, although he would punch himself in both eyes before he ever admitted it.

If you are anything like me and you start thinking about the next Hallowe’en before the pumpkins from the last one have even made it to the compost heap, you will have organised yourself a long time ago. However, if you are a normal person, please have a look here at Puppy Mamma’s handmade seasonal decorations. And below is Le Roi‘s best picture from the photo shoot.

Cat Daddy: “He never poses like this for you. In fact, your photos of him are always the worst.” Thanks for that.

Tip: to make the model more compliant, dust the props liberally with catnip. (I’m not joking. You can even see the bits on the floor.)

L’œil maudit (Partie 3)

October is upon us. And, would you believe, Louis Catorze’s evil eye has vanished into the swirling mists of autumn, as swiftly as it came.

I can’t explain it, but I suspect that what prompted the disappearance was me making an appointment with the vet for Catorze’s steroid shot, and planning to discuss the bald patch at the same time. I have plenty of pictures of it, of course, but they’re not much use to the vet. At least the appointment was relatively straightforward, though. Apart from the heavy rain, the long wait and the other two cats in the waiting room whom Catorze managed to rouse into song.

Here is what’s left of the area where the eye used to be:

I spy, with my little … oh wait, where is it?

Now that the appointment is over, and now that I have mentioned all this online, no doubt it will return, only to disappear again when I make the next vet appointment.

I am relieved because I didn’t want Catorze to start over-grooming the area, plus it was weird as hell. But, at the same time, part of me is disappointed that it won’t be here for Hallowe’en. I was quite looking forward to showing my black vampire cat with an evil eye to the trick-or-treating kids and watching them flee in terror.

Catorze may now look 1% less creepy than he did before, but I’m sure he will make up for that in other ways. I daren’t even think about what these could be.

Oh dear God.