Traité du zen et de l’entretien des chats

Louis Catorze went for his booster injections yesterday, and what a drama it was.

Obviously he screamed and screamed in the waiting room as usual although, luckily, the only other presence was Poppet the Airedale terrier, who didn’t care and even appeared to wag her tail in time to the screaming. And her Dog Daddy’s glasses were all steamed up after coming in, so I am hoping that he won’t recognise me if he sees me again.

However, it was a new vet administering the shot and, somehow, she wasn’t able to handle a demonically-possessed Catorze in quite the same way that our usual vet does. Every time he thrashed, hissed or screamed, she would hesitate and back off, and there was a dog going ballistic in the next room, which didn’t help. Catorze made an absolute spectacle of himself although, for once, I couldn’t fully blame him. Like a rogue ouija board, he is absolutely lethal in the wrong hands.

I was about to suggest that we abandon the whole thing and try again next week, but that would have meant going through this pain for a second time. Eventually I told the poor vet to commit to the action and see it through, and to ignore any thrashing, hissing and screaming.

She did as I asked. Job done.

Catorze is now safely home and over his trauma, and is cheering himself up by watching some football with me. However, I don’t suppose he has ruled out exacting some excruciating revenge.

“Haunted bones, I command vous to curse the humans forever.”

Des chats et des hommes

It’s the coldest night of the month so far and, naturellement, Louis Catorze has picked now to escape out at The Front.

It’s too cold for me to go out looking for him. In fact, it’s too cold even for me to stand at the door for a few minutes and call for him (not that he comes when he’s called). But the thing is that Laurence driving the Plum Van is due to arrive any minute. And, when Catorze and Ocado drivers meet, it’s never pretty.

This evening will end in one of the following ways:

1. Catorze will come in the next time I call him, forever remaining unaware of Laurence’s impending arrival (unlikely).

2. Catorze will sit quietly on the window sill, observe Laurence from afar and allow him to deliver in peace (not a chance in hell).

3. Laurence have to slalom* around a screaming cat whilst he delivers our groceries, before eventually scrambling to safety and screeching off in the Plum Van at top speed (BINGO).

*Yes, I know that slaloming usually involves weaving in and out of many stationary objects, not one moving one. But anyone who has ever met a cat will understand.

Anyway, the little sod is still out there – we don’t know exactly where – and the clock is ticking for Laurence. The only thing that could make this worse would be That Neighbour putting his bins out at the very moment that the carnage kicks off.

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Où t’es, Louis où t’es?

On ne brisera pas les hommes

I have just returned home after a night away, having left the gentlemen of the household alone for a whole twenty-four hours.

Cat Daddy sent me many Catorze photos during my absence, proving that, for all his besmirching of us cat freaks, he is very much one of our number. This one was accompanied by the word “‘Elmo” and, after some confusion wondering who on earth Elmo was, I discovered that he had meant to write “‘Ello” but it had been autocorrected:

Nothing Saintly about this Elmo.

I thought perhaps at least one of the boys might be pleased to have me back, but this is what took place upon my return:

[Lots of Boys’ Club cuddles]

Me: “I haven’t seen him for a whole day, and he’s not even interested in saying hello.”

Cat Daddy: “Well, that’s because you abandoned him! [Turns to Louis Catorze:] Didn’t she? She abandoned us. It was just the two of us, wasn’t it? And didn’t we have the BEST time?”

Catorze: “Mwah!”

Me: “ …”

[More Boys’ Club cuddles]

Me: “ …”

It turns out that, during my absence, Cat Daddy had intended to shut the bedroom door overnight but, after a few too many Mâcon Villages, he had relented and left it open. So the little sod had pitter-pattered in and gorged himself senseless on the feeling of having his daddy to himself all night. And the pair of them are more smug and pleased with themselves than ever before.

This was Cat Daddy’s view when he woke up on Sunday morning:

“Bonjour.”

Right now as I write, I am relegated to the end of the sofa whilst the boys continue their love-up. Such is life as the second favourite human in Le Château.

Heyyy macadamia!

Cat Daddy and I went to the bulk store the other day to stock up on a few bits. The bulk store is one of my favourite places in the world but it’s very dangerous; it SOUNDS healthy and wholesome but, if you want to buy 934kg of sugary junk, you can. Nobody says anything or tries to stop you. Puppy Mamma and I once bought our weight in Turkish delights and chocolate-coated coconut things, then congratulated ourselves for being so earth-motherly and disciplined.

One of the things that I bought this time was a kilo of roasted macadamias, and part of the ritual of shopping at the bulk store is decanting our goods into jars when we get home. It’s messy but very satisfying. However, during the decanting process, I spilled macadamias all over the kitchen worktop and some of them rolled onto the floor.

Louis Catorze, who was hovering nearby when the incident took place, gave chase to one stray macadamia and sniffed it quizzically. Then he ran for the hills as if he’d just been poked in the eye with a sharp stick.

I can’t imagine what narrative must have been going on his head to make him think, “Sight of a macadamia: interesting and worthy of further investigation. Smell of a macadamia: MERDE, GET ME OUT OF HERE.” Or perhaps The Mothership beamed him a message to say, “Sniff it and run away, just to see what she does. Go on, it’ll be funny!”

For the non-believers among you, here is the little sod fleeing from the offending macadamia. And, yes, I needed a little help from my good friend the black markup pen, on Catorze’s rear view:

Running away up-tailed makes the whole thing even more weird.

Le coussin royal

What was I saying in my last-but-one post? Something about spending money on a fancy cat bed, only to have the little sod prefer the cardboard box that packaged the bed?

What could possibly be more annoying than that?

THIS, that’s what:

Oh. I see.

Le Roi has taken the concept one step further by taking something expensive which we bought for ourselves as a treat, and claiming it as his.

His new favourite sleeping spot is one of the Harris tweed cushions that we bought in the Outer Hebrides. These things cost a lot of money, on account of being handmade, and Cat Daddy and I obviously understand what goes into a handmade piece and why independent craftspeople place such value upon the items that they create. But Catorze clearly doesn’t. Or perhaps he does, but he places just as much value on himself and believes this to be an absolutely fitting bed for him.

Catorze loves his igloo so much that we know he well return to it soon. But not before stringing this one out for as long as possible, just because.

Chauve derrière et, devant, chevelu

Louis Catorze went to see the vet yesterday, both for a steroid shot and because his mysterious bald patch has suddenly returned.

It’s been six weeks since his last steroid shot, which is very pleasing indeed given that, usually, around autumn, he starts to need them more and more frequently. But the bald patch is utterly puzzling. It hasn’t quite developed the narrowed pupil as yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it’s staring creepily at me.

No soreness, no scabbing, no broken skin, just a hole with his ghostly, paper-white skin peeking through.

The vet was as flummoxed as we are and, once again, told us that we shouldn’t be concerned unless the skin started to look sore (it doesn’t) or we noticed Catorze excessively grooming the area (he doesn’t). Obviously this is good. But what makes it appear? And what makes it go away again? It’s yet another Roi mystery to which we will never find answers.

We have been instructed to keep an eye on the bald spot and contact the vet again if it deteriorates. But I already know that it won’t. It’ll just disappear to the otherworldly realm whence it came, only to reappear at some inopportune moment, looking more evil than ever before.

The little sod was able to relieve some of his stress by screaming at a couple of massive Red Setter dogs* in the vet’s waiting room, and is now fully recovered from the misery of his épreuve. As far as he’s concerned it’s business as usual, and he’s now screaming at me to go into the front room. However, with the festive season approaching, I daren’t relax too much, and I have booked him a late December appointment, just in case.

*One dog had curly hair. YES, CURLY HAIR. I wouldn’t have even thought she were a Red Setter had her more traditional twin sister not been with her.

Le thé royal

You know that old cliché about spending time, effort and money on a fancy cat bed, only to have the little sod prefer the cardboard box that packaged the bed? Over the years Louis Catorze has been lucky enough to receive many fabulous toys from various friends, pilgrims and well-wishers. However, his new favourite thing is, erm, a teabag.

In the past, when I’ve made a pot of teapigs Calm tea, Catorze’s head has spun around like Regan in The Exorcist (younger followers: ask your grandparents) as he’s tried to find the source of the smell. The tea contains valerian, which is absolutely vile to the human nose but cats can’t resist it. To them, it’s like Chanel No.5 and crystal meth combined.

A few days ago, when I made another pot of Calm tea, he came and creepy-stared by my feet. He didn’t want food. He wanted valerian.

This isn’t the greatest picture as Catorze was moving, but you can see the most important elements: the teabag, the chat noir shape and, of course, the trademark fang. And, no, we did not make tea with the teabag afterwards, although I know many cat freaks who would (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).

Cat toys: why bother? No, seriously … why?

En vie et en forme

I am at that in-between stage of testing negative and being just about well enough to go back to school, yet still feeling run-down and exhausted. And, bizarrely, the most lingering of my Covid symptoms is that I am craving salt in all its forms. Cheese, crisps, salted nuts, even pure grains of salt twisted straight from the shaker into my mouth, whatever … just give me ALL THE SALT.

Naturellement, Louis Catorze has decided that now is a good time to demand non-stop play.

I found this out when he creepy-stared at me one morning, at a time when I knew that his bowl and his water were full, and I was already in his favourite room. So it couldn’t possibly be any of those things. When I couldn’t stand it anymore and shuffled around to get up, taking longer than usual on account of being slow and ill, the little sod went to the other sofa, looked underneath it, then stared at me again.

It turned out that he’d flicked his toy under the sofa and couldn’t reach it. Of course, when I retrieved it for him, again taking an unacceptably long time, he didn’t want it anymore and, instead, wanted to play with his pink tassel on a string.

I have pointed out the following to him:

1. I am not well.

2. It’s autumn, so most normal cats are calming the heck down and spending more time sleeping.

3. He’s an old boy, so he should be calming the heck down and spending more time sleeping.

Each point was met with a non-committal “Mwah” and he continued to play. And, like a complete idiot, I continued to engage with it.

At least the little sod is full of energy and enjoying life. I wish I could say the same of myself.

EDIT: Cat Daddy has now tested positive. And so the cirque de merde continues.

Enjoying a lovely autumn sunset in true Catorzian style.

Les garçons

At the weekend I had the displeasure of administering Louis Catorze’s spot-on flea treatment. Because he is such a bastard about it, I have never been able to part his fur and apply it to his skin; I tend to just fling the vial in his general direction and, if any micro-droplets happen to splash him, then it’s job done.

I’m joking, of course, but, by the time I’m done, there is so much liquid everywhere (except on him) that I might as well have done as described. It’s a wonder the whole house hasn’t been crawling with fleas, and I consider myself relatively fortunate that they have simply used Catorze as their toilettes and then scarpered.

Anyway, I launched a stealth attack on Le Roi whilst he was asleep, and there was the usual fight to the death before he ran and hid under the bed. I left him to it, feeling like the worst person in the world (again) but, in the time it took me to settle back down in front of the football, he had slipped silently downstairs, into the kitchen and gone to snitch to his papa. And, of course, Cat Daddy couldn’t wait to send me these:

Oh, come ON.
Don’t be fooled by that fake downcast look.

When I went to give Catorze an apology cuddle half an hour or so after the tragic event, he took off outside.

Me: “This is your fault. You’ve turned him against me.”

Cat Daddy: “Why is it my fault? You’re the one who disturbed his nice, peaceful nap. And, anyway, I didn’t turn him against you because …”

Me: “Because what?”

Him: “…”

Me: “You were going to say because he didn’t like me to start with, weren’t you?”

Him: “…”

Cat Daddy spent much of the evening TUC, with me having to skivvy around refilling his wine. (“I can’t turf you off my lap, Louis, can I? Not after the traumatic afternoon you’ve had.”)

So it looks as if I have been relegated from the second to the third favourite human in the house, which is tricky in a house of just two humans, but Catorze has managed to do it. No doubt I’ll be about twelfth by the end of the year, whether or not we gain ten new housemates between now and then.

Les spectacles son et lumière

This time of year is always fireworks a-go-go here in TW8, with Diwali, Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes* Night in quick succession, although not always in that order since Diwali is moon-dependent.

*Non-Brits, if you don’t know about Guy Fawkes, Google him. The government don’t like it when our protests are too loud (whatever “too loud” may be), yet they allow us to have loud firework parties every year to mark the anniversary of when some bloke tried to bomb them. Cat Daddy even remembers when little kids used to wheel an effigy of said bloke from door to door, before setting fire to it. I know. Our traditions are messed up.

There are many, many web pages detailing how to protect your pets from the horrors of fireworks. These range from simple tips such as keeping them indoors, to more elaborate techniques such as playing them pre-recorded firework sounds for several days beforehand to get them used to the sound. Luckily, because Louis Catorze is such a special case and normal rules are null and void when it comes to him, we don’t need to bother doing much at all.

In response to fireworks, we can rely upon Catorze to do any or all of the following:

1. Purring

2. Sleeping

3. Screaming

4. Moving up the stairs to get a better view

5. Gadding about at The Back on Extended ICB

6. Trying to escape out at The Front to flirt with marauding youths setting off firecrackers in the park

In other words, business as usual.

We can’t keep Sa Maj indoors; the screaming to get out would be far worse than the noise of the fireworks themselves. So, if the little sod wants to go out, we let him out (at The Back, at least; he may not be afraid of marauding youths with firecrackers, but it’s still a step too far for me). Despite being thicker than a concrete milkshake, the little sod seems to pick up very quickly on moods and tensions, especially when we are plotting to stop him from doing something that he wants to do, so any diversionary tactics would have him instantly suspicious.

We know we are among the lucky ones that our boy is so chilled. And we hope that your furry overlords were able to get through this noisy and stressful period without too much bother.

If Rothko did rois.

L’as de pique

The Samhain demons have delivered me a belated gift: Covid! Yes, again!

As was the case the first time I had Covid, there were signs that this wasn’t just normal winter unwellness: Louis Catorze was all over me for the few days prior to my eventual positive test. Not only did he approach me of his own accord for cuddles, but he clung onto me with his claws, wailing pathetically, when I tried to displace him. However, as a result of the utterly dreadful symptoms, I have been off sick from work, which is entirely the opposite of what the little sod wants. Since the virus led to me spending more time at home, he’s back to his “normal” self.

Catorze doesn’t like sick people, especially when they sneeze. By this I don’t mean he is scared of sneezes but, rather, in disbelief that anyone would dare to assault his eardrums with such an offensive sound. On a couple of occasions he has tentatively settled onto my lap, only to depart when the sneeze came. And, as he left, he threw me a glowering stare and what could only be described as a wicked-witch scowl.

I have since seen him leave his papa’s lap in exactly the same way when Cat Daddy sneezed.* And this time he came to me.

*Oh yes: Cat Daddy is now experiencing symptoms, too. We have had to cancel a multitude of events – for most of which we had spent money on tickets – as a result. This is not great.

Cat Daddy hasn’t tested positive yet, but it’s only a matter of time. During the torturous wait for his telltale purple lines we are playing a kind of twisted game of tennis, with one of us sneezing, propelling scowly Catorze to the other person’s lap, only for them to sneeze and return him.

It can’t be any coincidence that the tennis term “deuce” is used to refer to both the devil, and to, erm, merde. Catorze is both. He knows it. And he doesn’t care.

This is the look we get when we sneeze.

L’Heure du Diable

Louis Catorze had an absolute cracker of a night on the 31st. Because we had quite the storm raging, he spent much of his time outside on ICB. But he did pop in occasionally to sit at the top of the stairs and creepy-stare at the trick or treaters. And, when they saw him, they decided that they would rather take their chances with the storm, and left quite hurriedly.

Hallowe’en may be over, but my love affair with creepy things on Discovery Plus is continuing.

One evening I couldn’t decide whether to watch murder or hauntings with Catorze, so we went for a combination of the two: Amityville Horror House. In short, it’s about a man who murders his family and then declares that ghosts in the house made him do it. The next family who move into the house then experience all manner of paranormal phenomena, although they rather asked for trouble by keeping all the murdered family’s furniture INCLUDING THE BEDS IN WHICH THEY WERE SHOT DEAD (!).

I quote the narrator of the documentary, word for word: “According to western Christian tradition, Devil’s Hour, 3am to 4am, is the time when demons and ghosts are at their most active. Paranormal investigators theorise that the veil between the spirit world and the physical plane is pierced during Devil’s Hour.”

It’s not just ghosts who are at their most active.

I knew that there had to be a reason why our mutual friend chose 3am to bounce around on the bed, whine, thunder around the house and, erm, pop bubble wrap. (Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: when we first moved into Le Château this actually happened.)

Since I took the decision to actively tackle my insomnia problem, I have stopped checking the time when I wake up in the middle of the night because, apparently, it can train your body to continue waking up at this time. But, if it’s because of Louis Catorze, I don’t need to check the time. I JUST KNOW.

I also know from other cat households that I am by no means the only person who experiences 3am shenanigans. The little sods are all at it. Until now I had imagined The Mothership – the mysterious, invisible vessel that beams messages to them via their microchips – to be of extraterrestrial origin, but now I know that it’s straight from hell. Satan’s control tower, if you will.

Chilling out to some goth rock.

Anyway, Catorze isn’t done with being creepy. So please think of us when you’re dismantling your Hallowe’en displays; your spookiness is over for another year, but we live with ours permanently.

This photo just screams “1st November”.

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.