Le chemin le moins fréquenté

Our road is being resurfaced at the moment, and Cat Daddy has had a good old moan about the fact that the trucks have been waking us up at 7am. Even though he is retired and doesn’t have to go to work. And even though 7am isn’t THAT early.

If you have never had your road resurfaced, I’m sure you can imagine the process. And most cats would not be too pleased about it. Louis Catorze, on the other hand, is relaxed, curious and interested – most likely because of the workmen – and happily sits and listens to the trucks, swishing his tail.

The combination of machinery, toxic air and hot tar make The Front a highly unsuitable place for cats to be right now. And, naturellement, the fact that it is highly unsuitable will make it more inviting than ever. So the Front-facing windows are remaining firmly shut whilst the work is taking place, and we are taking extra care that Catorze doesn’t bolt when we open the front door. The last thing I want is to discover that he has been steamrollered flat and become one with the road surface, and the second-from-last thing I want is for the workmen to knock on the door and ask if the screaming, fanged beast, who got stuck to the tarmac mid-roll, belongs to us.

(And if I may be permitted to have a third-from-last thing, too: I don’t want Sa Maj flirting, rolling and distracting the workmen from their duties, resulting in what was meant to be a long weekend of roadworks taking a month. Trust me, he would do it without hesitation.)

This picture, taken last spring, demonstrates perfectly why the road needed resurfacing and also why Catorze can’t be trusted unsupervised at The Front:

🎵 Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ … 🎶

Le couvre-feu (Partie 2)

Louis Catorze remains relentlessly and unnervingly punctual when it comes to his Front Curfew (10pm on weekdays and 10:30pm on weekends). He has never been late, not once, not even by a minute. It’s actually getting creepy now.

On Tuesday night, when we were a little later than usual after watching Brentford play Fulham in the EFL Championship play-offs (don’t even ask how that went), Cat Daddy decided to grant his boy a late pass until 11pm.

Me, as Cat Daddy opened the window: “Would you remind him that he has to be back by 11pm?”

Cat Daddy: “What, you actually want me to say it?”

Me: “Yes, please.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Cat Daddy, to Catorze: “11pm, please.”

Catorze, as he bounded out: “Mwah!”

Cat Daddy, muttering under his breath: “[Unrepeatable expletives]”

Unusually, instead of hanging around on the window sill, this time Catorze took off down the street, and I was convinced that that was the last we would see of him that night.

When Cat Daddy put out the recycling, he could just about make out Catorze’s silly shape rolling undignifiedly all over the pavement outside the gate of number 35 (or thereabouts). But he knew the futility of trying to herd him back in, because the little sod would only dart under a parked car and there would be no retrieving him from there.

We had no choice but to make some tea and sit with the window open, steeling ourselves for the fact that this could be a long night.

Then, before we knew it, the little sod was back. I checked the clock and it was 10:57pm.

We haven’t the faintest idea what to make of this. Yes, we are pleased that he is sticking rigidly to the rules and doing as he’s told. But we’re also bewildered. And terrified.

Ask him if he knows what time it is. Go on, I dare you.

Là où l’air est doux

After Louis Catorze’s biopsy confirmed that his skin problems are due to an external allergen, I decided that beeswax candles should become a permanent fixture here at Le Château. Have a look at this link if you fancy finding out more about their air-purifying qualities: https://candles.lovetoknow.com/Beeswax_Candle_Health_Benefits

We usually get our beeswax candles from Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma, but her beeswax is a very precious, seasonal, small-batch product. So, because her candles aren’t available all year round, we tend to save them for special days. And, after a number of hits and misses with other ready-made beeswax candles, I decided to have a go at making my own for everyday use.

Now, I had some reservations about doing this, for the following reasons: firstly, and most significantly, I don’t have a great record of handmade things turning out well. Secondly, many years ago, I had a horrible work colleague who made candles, and this was a hobby that the 25-year-old me regarded as deeply uncool. Whenever she was mean to me, my friend Jamie would attempt to cheer me up by saying, “Don’t be upset. She’s an idiot. Plus she makes candles for fun. FOR FUN.”

(Incidentally, karma gave her a hefty slap around the chops during one summer heatwave. All her carefully-crafted candles, stored away in her hot attic, melted together into one massive, waxy lump, resulting in inconvenience and mess for her, and the biggest laugh imaginable for me and Jamie. Revenge isn’t always a dish best served cold; sometimes searing heat will do just fine.)

Never before did I imagine I would now be doing that very same deeply uncool hobby. But here we are. And it’s all Catorze’s fault.

Cat Daddy: “You’re making candles? You used to ridicule your friend for doing that.”

Me: “SHE WAS NOT MY FRIEND.”

Cat Daddy: “And you laughed at her when she put her candles in the attic and they all melted.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets, then giggles from me]

Oh, come on. Anyone who claims not to find that funny is either a liar or dead inside.

Anyway, pictured below is my first attempt at a rolled candle using a Lammasy harvest-coloured natural beeswax sheet. Also pictured are the ten wicks that I ordered, which I imagined would be, erm, approximately as long as an average candle, but each one turned out to be 5 METRES LONG. So everyone I know will be receiving handmade beeswax candles for birthdays and Christmas for the next 734 years. Whether they want them or not.

It’s hard to know whether Catorze approves, as his “I approve” face is the same as his “Just go away and die” face, but I shall assume the former even though it’s most likely the latter.

So far I have used about 20cm of wicking. Only another 49m 80cm to go.
Beeswax sheets. Weirdest things ever.
Quality control test, part 1.
Quality control test, part 2.

I know that you don’t need to be told about not leaving pets unsupervised with burning candles, but it’s worth repeating. Especially if you have a pet who is known for doing exactly the opposite of what you want.

Attention à la pleine lune

It’s a full moon today.

The next one will be on 2nd September, and the following month we will have not one but TWO full moons, with the first taking place on 1st October and the second on the 31st.

A full moon on Hallowe’en is a rare thing, only occurring once every 19 years or so. There have been a couple of Hallowe’en full moons in my lifetime but, regretfully, I was unaware of them at the time. So, in many ways, this will be the first one for me, and I intend to make the most of it as if it were the only one.

Long before Covid 19, Cat Daddy and I had talked about going away to celebrate, for instance to Mexico for El Día de los Muertos. But, with travel being unpredictable and likely to remain as such for some time, we will be at home this Hallowe’en. And, in many ways, this is the best thing, because how could we not celebrate a full moon Hallowe’en with a black vampire cat?

(Also: had we gone away, our poor, unsuspecting chat-sitteur(s) would have been stuck with Louis Catorze and his stupid shite, and that wouldn’t have been very fair.)

The downside, of course, is Catorze’s psycho behaviour. He is pretty unhinged at the best of times, but he is noticeably worse during the run-up to Hallowe’en and during full moons. So, with both events combining, we are going to need to stockpile our arsenal of defensive weapons: crucifixes, Valium, aluminium foil to cover the windows, the works.

Here is Catorze in a pose which, although terrifying, is a relief to have caught on camera, as people will finally start to believe me when I say how creepy he is. Even though the little sod was all the way outside, his stare was so intense and unnerving that Cat Daddy actually FELT it and called me to come and look.

And I think this is Catorze’s way of saying, “Bring it on.”

He’s he-errre!

La récolte

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, with Heathrow (6 miles away) hitting 37.8 degrees. Louis Catorze dealt with this by, erm, escaping out to the south-facing, waterless Front when Cat Daddy returned from the food bank. When I retrieved him two hours later, he had leaves stuck to his fur and was screaming his guts out. Then, when the sun passed to The Back, he went there to sunbathe when the temperature reached its peak.

In other, better news, it’s the festival of Lammas today, which is traditionally a celebration of the grain harvest, bread and baking. So how wonderful it is that we have recently discovered wheat – yes, ACTUAL WHEAT – randomly growing in our garden at The Back.

Unfortunately we only have five stalks which are barely enough to yield a teaspoonful of flour, not that I have the slightest idea of how to turn it from grains into flour. Plus I don’t even really like baking and am spectacularly bad at it. But free food is free food, non? So I intend to treat our wheat stalks with love in the hope that they will multiply, but we will need to take into account the Catorze risk factor. He has never shown much interest in that particular part of The Back before but, now that I want him to stay away from it, we all know what he’ll do, don’t we?

This is what we have (x 5).
This is what we want to end up with.
This is what Catorze will see when he looks at it.

We know absolutely nothing about cultivating wheat, so are very much open to advice. And, should you know – and be willing to share – the secret of keeping a cat who always does the opposite of what you want, from doing the one thing that you don’t want him to do, we would be very grateful indeed. (We’ve spent 6 years trying to figure that one out, with zero success.)

If you fancy entering into the Lammas spirit but your baking is anything like mine, you might like to check out the link below from Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma. I highly recommend her Hen Corner courses and, should you attend an in-person course (with safe distancing and hygiene measures in place), you will actually get to meet Cocoa and Chanel!

https://youtu.be/TbeqNddE7FM

Le couvre-feu (Partie 1)

Before we open the living room window in the evening, we always go through the following ritual with Catorze:

Me: “You know you have to be back by 10pm, don’t you?”

Catorze: “Mwah!”

Me: “10pm. Is that clear? Meow once for yes, twice for no.”

Catorze: “Mwah!”

Cat Daddy, without looking up from the television: “He can’t understand you. He’s French.”

Unbelievably, the little sod has made it indoors almost every night at 9:57pm.

The only exceptions were yesterday, when he rolled in at 10pm on the dot, and last weekend, when Cat Daddy allowed him a half hour weekend extension and he came in at 10:24pm on Saturday and 10:28pm on Sunday.

(And, yes, I know that a weekend extension is nonsensical since Catorze doesn’t have a working week from which he needs to wind down, nor does he even know what a weekend is.)

Other than being creeped out by the fact that notre cher ami can apparently tell the time with some precision, we are trying not to read too much into this. Anyone who was ever grounded by their parents as a teenager knows that a run of good behaviour is highly suspicious. At best, it’s a trick to get the curfewer(s) off their case and to convince them to bring forward the lifting of the curfew. And, at worst, it’s a cover for a stunt even more outrageous than the one that caused the curfew to be imposed in the first place.

And it’s a full moon next week. Merde.

Dare we wonder what horrors lurk ahead?

He’s not always there when we call. But he’s always on time.

J’adore le papier toilette

Louis Catorze went AWOL the other day and, after a thorough search of Le Château, he was eventually found in a box of toilet rolls in the attic.

Cat Daddy: “Was it the box with just a couple of rolls left? Or the one with loads of rolls?” YES, THE NUMBER OF ROLLS IS THE ISSUE HERE.

(Incidentally, we haven’t been hoarding toilet rolls. We are not THOSE people. The huge boxes are what we received anyway in our standard online orders placed long before lockdown, as you will see from the photos of Catorze in this post: https://louiscatorze.com/2020/01/29/les-chiens-ont-des-maitres-les-chats-ont-des-serviteurs/)

Anyway, here is Catorze, choosing to spend a glorious summer’s day holed up in a dark and distinctly unclassy place. And, yes, the wording on the box is somewhat ironic given that cats’ arses are not nice things at all.

Apparently three beds with anti-allergy bedding, a winter igloo and a summer chaise longue are not sufficient.

Mange, crie, aime

This week I left the front door open by accident after putting out some recycling. Louis Catorze, without so much as a blink, seized the opportunity to escape out at The Front – YES, AGAIN – and, when Cat Daddy went to shut the door, he found the little sod screaming at a random passer-by in the street.

Now, of the 835 occasions that Catorze has caused mayhem in the street, we have probably only been present for a couple. It’s embarrassing enough when That Neighbour escorts him back to Le Château and we have to imagine all the horrific things he’s done whilst out on the rampage. But nothing – je répète, NOTHING – is as mortifying as actually being there. Because not only do people then know that he is our cat, but we are also obliged to Do Something About It.

(And, yes, Cat Daddy did once try to scurry past Catorze in the street, pretending not to know him. But the little sod chased him down like a wolf hunting a rabbit, screaming himself witless, and there was no escape.)

There was a brief conversation between Cat Daddy and the lady, and I heard him say, “Yes, he’s a noisy one, isn’t he?” Then he and Catorze came in, with Cat Daddy rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

He has not spoken about it since, and I have a feeling he never will.

This video was taken mid-February and isn’t of the actual incident – because I wasn’t there, thank God – but I suspect he sounded exactly like this. He’s a noisy one, indeed:

“Wahhhh! Aucune raison!”

La fuite

Someone had a massive telling-off from his daddy this week, after disappearing out at The Front and being gone all night.

To make matters worse, Cat Daddy had planned a big bike ride for the next morning and, of course, a poor night’s sleep stressing about an idiot cat isn’t exactly the best preparation for such a thing. The little sod did this on purpose.

I woke up that morning to the sound of faraway screaming, and I knew in an instant that Louis Catorze was out at The Front. Sure enough, when I opened the front door, he dashed in, bellowing indignantly, then headed straight for his glass of water.

I called up to Cat Daddy to let him know that he’d dropped the ball again (because he was the one who’d been on Late Shift after I‘d gone to bed), and he replied, “Thank God!” Then came the full story of the previous night’s fiasco:

Usually, if we sit in the front room with the window open, we can keep an eye on Catorze as he sits on the window sill and surveys his royaume. However, that night, very unusually, he’d decided to do a runner and hide.

Cat Daddy went out twice with his torch during the early hours of that morning, peering into neighbours’ gardens and bins – all the while fully aware that such behaviour usually results in the police being called – but there was no sign of Catorze. Now, if you’re at The Front at that time of the night/morning and a member of your family is out there looking for you, you cannot possibly be unaware of it. Unless, of course, you are a horrid little shite who is deliberately trying not to be found.

Eventually, at 1:25am, Cat Daddy came home empty-handed and went to bed. He usually sleeps very well but he had a terrible night, wondering if every sound was Catorze in distress and mentally planning the distribution of the “Missing” posters.

Anyway, by some miracle Sa Maj actually hadn’t bothered any of the neighbours during his overnight jaunt, although Cat Daddy sleepily overheard “an exchange of some sort” when the Abel and Cole parcel came at around 7am, and he now wonders if perhaps Catorze had accosted the delivery man. And we have agreed that our boy now needs a Front Curfew: 10pm on normal nights, possibly earlier on troublesome nights such as Friday 13th, Hallowe’en or a full moon.

This is worse than being the parents of a wayward teenager.

*EDIT: The night that we agreed the curfew time, Catorze actually returned of his own accord through the front window at 9:57pm. Cat Daddy and I found this satisfying yet also creepy beyond belief.

On which foot should we put the electronic tag?

Les poils sont de retour

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of when Louis Catorze came to live with us. Or, as Cat Daddy puts it, “Six years of him and his stupid shite” (and he may have a point but I don’t imagine they’ll be putting that on the front of greeting cards anytime soon).

And, to mark this auspicious occasion, we have good news: his ear fur is growing back.

Obviously we love the little sod whatever his physical appearance but bald ears are vulnerable ears, so we are both relieved and delighted that they are returning to normal. He could even be fully furred by the time he poses for his Hallowe’en 2020 Official Portrait, which is très important this year with it also being a full moon.

We have no idea why the fur is coming back – in fact, we are at a loss as to why it even disappeared in the first place – BUT IT’S COMING BACK. If you compare these two photos (below) from 22nd June and 13th July, there is definite fine-yet-visible regrowth, n’est-ce pas?