Apprivoiser la faune sauvage

Joyeux Lendemain de Noël à tous!

Cat Daddy and I were lucky enough to make it to Christmas-by-the-sea, but hasn’t quite turned out quite as planned. I fell ill the day my last post went live, and I’m on monster antibiotics which are knocking me dead. (Mum, if you’re reading this, don’t worry; everything is under control.) So no drinks for me this festive period, and the drowsiness from the antibiotics means that I am even duller company than usual.

Although it’s been stressful, at least I don’t have Covid (again). And I would far rather be doing the pre-Christmas doctor and pharmacy relay for myself than for Louis Catorze.

The little sod is in fine form and having the time of his life with his chat-sitteur. He has been all over her ever since she arrived, following her around like a puppy, and there have been no rodents and no nocturnal misbehaviour. Apart from headbutting her laptop whilst she worked, and one minor incident when he jumped into a parcel that she was about to send and stomped around on the tissue paper, he has behaved impeccably.

Here he is (using stills from a video, since actual videos don’t seem to post properly here), excitedly opening his present from Disco the dog with the help of his chat-sitteur. No doubt he is saving up his psycho for when we get back.

“C’est pour moi?”
“Dépêche-toi!”

Les vacances de Noël

Last week Louis Catorze’s vet practice had to close suddenly due to staff shortages as a result of self-isolating, and they won’t be open again until the New Year. Thank goodness we organised the little sod’s medication and vaccinations beforehand, and thank goodness he is doing well at the moment, otherwise we would be well and truly dans la merde.

Catorze, Cat Daddy and I are double-, triple- and quadruple-jabbed respectively, as follows:

– Catorze: annual booster (eventually) and steroid

– Cat Daddy: double-Covid vaccine and booster (Original Trailblazing Pfizer for all)

– Me: double-Covid vaccine (Blood Clots ‘n’ Death AstraZeneca), booster (Cool ‘n’ Trendy Moderna) and flu jab

Now all we have to do is stay out of mischief until we head to the south coast for Christmas-by-the-sea. Surely not even I could be unlucky enough to test positive at Christmas AGAIN?

During our couple of days away, a friend will be coming to live with Catorze. Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that, perhaps, we haven’t told her the full truth about him. But she knows everything – yes, even about feeding him one teaspoon of boiling-watered Orijen 98 times a day – and, inexplicably, she wants to come anyway. There was once a time when we would have been very nervous about leaving anyone alone with Catorze. However, we have come to realise that, in actual fact, he behaves perfectly well for others. Apart from, erm, the rat he brought to one chat-sitteur, and the time he screamed at another through the skylight, leaving her turning the house upside-down trying to find the source of the sound.

Anyway, having let our gifts pile up in the dining room over a number of weeks, we are now sorting through it all so that I can wrap things properly. And, at one point, I really did hear Cat Daddy utter the words “No, don’t put the scented candles there! They might contaminate the chicken feet!” To Catorze, gift-wrapping is hugely exciting because it means COMMOTION and BOXES, two of his favourite things in the world.

Here he is, taking a brief break before the next round of pitter-pattering, screaming and attacking the packing tape:

Little sod.

Il y a plus de bonheur à donner qu’à recevoir

The best thing about the school holidays is turning off the weekday alarm. Regretfully, Louis Catorze has not adjusted his. He still bounces around on top of me from 5am onwards, whining, wanting attention/food/a friendly chat/whatever. And, if I ignore him, he pushes things off the bedside table, one by one.

In much better news, after the second weirdest year ever (with the first, of course, being 2020), we are all looking forward to the shift in energy that the winter solstice will bring.

Catorze is making his list and checking it twice. However, he’s not bothering to find out who’s naughty or nice because it’s abundantly clear. I’m pretty sure you already know, too. That said, since he was a very good boy for not one but TWO photo shoots for Puppy Mamma (details of the second one will follow another time), we have bought him a couple of new toys and a bottle of catnip spray this year.

Thanks to making new animal-loving human friends and reconnecting with old ones, we have some new additions to Catorze’s Yuletide list this year:

1. Cat-Cousin King Ghidorah

2. Cat-Auntie Zelva

3. Cocoa the babysit cat

4. Chanel, Cocoa’s little sister

5. Blue the Smoke Bengal

6. Theo aka Donnie

7. Nala the dog

8. Gizzy the [insert name of species]

9. Disco the dog

10. Barney the dog, whose humans we will be visiting over the festive period (although, at this rate, it looks as if we’ll be meeting in their garden wearing masks)

11. Bandit the dog, Barney’s brother

Cat Daddy has no idea that we buy for so many pets and I don’t suppose he will be overjoyed but, by the time he finds out, I will already have bought everything (and given most of it to the recipients). Worryingly, when one delivery arrived and I said “Oh, that’ll be my chickens’ feet”, he didn’t seem that surprised.

(Yes, I do mean actual chickens’ actual feet. Apparently they are Barney and Bandit’s favourite.)

As well as giving small gifts to his animal friends, Catorze will be giving his usual winter solstice donations to Lilly’s Legacy (PayPal: lillyslegacy@hotmail.com) and All Cats Rescue. Despite being a selfish little sod at times, deep down he wants to help his less fortunate comrades. Especially at this time of year.

Joyeux Solstice from all of us.

Satan’s little helper.

La poudre à cheveux

I have bought some dry shampoo powder for Louis Catorze, since his bath in our neighbours’ building dust had such a lovely effect on his fur. So, just like the proper French aristocracy back in the day, the little sod will be strutting around his Château with powdered hair.

Because Catorze is so sensitive, I decided against a ready-made product with a long list of ingredients and, instead, I’ve chosen a pure colloidal oatmeal powder. I have no idea what “colloidal” means but it sounds medicinal enough without being TOO medicinal, if you get what I mean. (Cat Daddy: “Not really.”)

The only thing is: how do I apply it? When he went to our neighbours’ house and came back caked in dust, I imagine he rolled it in of his own accord rather than having the builders rub it into him – although the latter would have been funnier – so I am more inclined to scatter it on the floor and wait. Yet all internet advice about dry-shampooing cats suggests putting poor kitty in the bath (!) and assaulting him with handfuls of powder, which would be absolutely hellish for all concerned.

So the pack of colloidal oatmeal is just sitting in the cupboard until I decide how to use it. Any suggestions would be gratefully welcomed.

“Bathe moi if you dare.”

Un sapin de Noël digne d’un Roi

Our Yule tree has arrived, and I couldn’t be happier. There is something about decorating a festive tree that’s wonderful for the soul.

This year we decided to try out a tree rental service (the kind of thing that we had hoped to do last year, but it all went wrong). It’s exactly as it sounds: they lend you a tree in a pot, and you return it at the end of the festive season. I arranged the delivery some weeks ago, making sure that I added it to my Google calendar as an event AND added Cat Daddy as an invitee. However, when I reminded him to wait in that day, not only did he respond with surprise as if I had never mentioned it before, but he moaned and griped as if it were the worst thing in the world.

Cat Daddy: “So I’ve got to wait in ALL DAY? It’s like being a prisoner!”

Is it ACTUALLY, though? Prisons don’t have the cheering company of a screaming vampire cat, for a start. (Although, if they did, people would try harder to stay out of them.)

Anyway, because the tree can only be indoors for 3.5 weeks, it has been waiting outside since its arrival and we have only just brought it in. Tree rental is not the cheapest option, but it means the tree won’t end up discarded on the roadside on 5th January. It also means that, unlike cut trees which some people put in a bowl of water, naughty cats can’t drink the toxic sappy water.

Usually Louis Catorze gets his own tree alongside our main one (I’m not joking; look here if you don’t believe me) but the one we gave him last year, which has been living in the garden in a pot, hasn’t survived well. Rather than buying or renting a second one for him, we decided to make our main one his. And we can do so without worry because, astoundingly, Louis Catorze has never trashed a festive tree in all his life (although he did chew one of the tags which we are supposed to attach to the tree before returning it).

Well, come on. We surely deserve to have SOMETHING go right when it comes to him?

Loving his tree.

Le plateau à fromages

Cat Daddy and I placed an order for our festive cheese board this week.

When making our selection, I was dangerously close to choosing some Comté because Louis Catorze likes it, but then I slapped myself around the chops and told myself not to be so stupid. I then recalled the wearisome time when we were still pilling Catorze, and I had to start making his Trojan Horses from Comté because he had begun to tire of Reflets de France tuna rillettes.

I often berate parents who raise fussy eater kids and yet there I was, waiting for the Comté to come to room temperature so that I could pill my cat. If you have never used Comté for this purpose – and, let’s face it, who has? – it’s not easy. Its waxy texture makes it quite hard to mould and, rather like damp sand, the more you work it, the more crumbly it becomes. Something like Brie would have much easier, but of course the little sod won’t eat that.

Eventually I took the Trojan Horse up to our bed, where Catorze was sleeping, and I presented it to him. After a couple of licks the whole thing disintegrated completely, sending bits of cheese rolling into the folds of the duvet, so I had to Greco him.

Me, to Cat Daddy, immediately after the event: “I’ve just had to pick bits of Comté out of the duvet.”

Him, without looking up from his phone: “No wonder you can’t sleep at night if you’re eating cheese in bed.”

Me: “What? Nooo. It wasn’t for me, it was for his pill. I just had to Greco him because he wouldn’t eat it.”

[Catorze enters the room and goes straight to his daddy to snitch.]

Cat Daddy, actually looking up from his phone to cuddle his boy: “Aww. I know, Louis. I don’t like Comté much, either.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

A week or so later, after further refusals, my Trojan Horse was finally eaten very happily when I bought a new slab of Comté. I then realised that the little sod had been refusing the earlier ones because I had used Marks and Spencer Comté and not the organic aged stuff from the deli.

Anyway, our order is pictured below, penned in the hand of the delightful Dom from the deli (alliteration entirely accidental), and we will be collecting it on the 23rd. I already know that Catorze won’t eat any of these, but tant pis pour lui.

Yes, that does say 750g (seven hundred and fifty grams) of Gouda with cumin. Please don’t judge us.
“Où est mon Comté?”

Ce n’est pas seulement un lit

After coming back from Louis Catorze’s vet appointment on Tuesday, Cat Daddy and I debated how and when to Gabapentin him.

Cat Daddy: “You could do it in the morning.”

Me: “But that’s when he and I have our morning cuddles. Plus it means my day starts with a stress.”

Him: “How about when you come home?”

Me: “…”

Him: “…”

Me: “Can’t you do it?”

Him: “But then he’ll hate me. He needs to have one of us that he can trust.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

Anyway, I drew the short straw and I’m the bad guy. It’s not fun. But if I do it in the morning, because the little sod has the Post-Steroid Hungries, it seems I’m forgiven quite quickly.

In other news 9,083 sleeping spots aren’t enough, and you simply have to look for one more. Preferably one that isn’t anywhere near as nice as the others.

This is one of those times.

For reasons that we cannot fathom – and, quite frankly, nor do we want to – Catorze decided that, today, he wanted to sleep on the Marks and Spencer bag containing my nieces’ and nephews’ presents.

Cats: why? And, please, don’t bother saying “Because cat”. That excuse just doesn’t wash anymore.

I’m not even going to ask.

Un imbécile et son argent

I am the worst person in the world. Not only did I forget to Broadline Louis Catorze this month but, when I finally remembered and went to his cupboard to take out a vial, I discovered that we were all out. Never in all my cats have I let this happen; I am usually meticulously organised when it comes to their health matters.

Luckily I realised my mistake on the day of Catorze’s steroid shot, so I was able to email the vet and ask them to order in some Broadline and, in the meantime, to give him an emergency dose of whatever flea and worm medication they happened to have lying around. I know that lots of us let the treatments lapse, and some don’t do them at all, but this is Catorze: we all know very well that, if I don’t do it this month, given that he goes rummaging around in all manner of undesirable places, we will be spending the festive period dealing with the maman of all flea infestations, fixable only by setting fire to our soft furnishings, and worms crawling out of his arse end and mating with each other to make more worms.

When it was time to leave for the appointment, despite having clung like a limpet to Cat Daddy all day long, Catorze had disappeared. We eventually found him hiding underneath a sheet that was drying in the dining room and, after the most undignified and unwieldy struggle hauling him out, with the little sod screaming his lungs out, we were able to stuff him into his transportation pod.

One steroid shot, one flea and worm treatment and one Gabapentin (for his possible* continuing toothache) later, we were £138 down. I took Cat Daddy’s credit card into the surgery with me and he was most displeased when I had to run back out again to ask him for his PIN, because the bill came to over £100 and therefore I couldn’t do a contactless payment. There were Unrepeatable Expletives on the way home, but Sa Maj was utterly mute so at least I only had to listen to one of them.

*It’s “possible” toothache because he wouldn’t let the vet look in his mouth, so she was unable to confirm it for sure. We now have to Gabapentin him and, if he eats more normally as a result, then most likely he did have toothache.

The minute we arrived home, Catorze pretended to forgive me and to come for lap cuddles, but in reality he just wanted to roll the flea treatment all over a scarf that I’m knitting.

And there is still the matter of the removal of his final troublesome tooth, which the vet suggested having in the New Year. I don’t suppose there is a “good” time for planning ruinously-expensive feline dental surgery. But January sure as heck isn’t it.

Haemorrhaging money because of this little sod.

Le jouet du moment

Louis Catorze is overflowing with energy at the moment.

My friend: “It’s probably because of the steroid shot. He’ll calm down.”

Me: “He hasn’t had his shot yet. He’s having it on Tuesday.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

He is also obsessed with his new toy. We play with him every night for about twenty minutes, in the hope that it will wear him out and that he will calm down during the night as a result.

It doesn’t work.

We are the ones who are worn out by the play, and Catorze is almost as much of a nuisance through the night as he is when he doesn’t have play. (Granted, his new-found love of his igloo helps in that respect, but he’s still utterly unhinged.)

One night, after TWO evening play sessions of twenty minutes each, I awoke to hear him downstairs, scrabbling around with his toy, having dragged it out of the hiding place where we’d put it because we don’t trust him alone with it. When all eventually went quiet, I didn’t know whether to be relieved that we finally had some peace, or concerned in case he had hung or impaled himself. (I’m not sure whether any vampires throughout history have managed to do THEMSELVES in with a stake through the heart but, if anyone’s going to do it, it’s him.)

At 5am, when I decided that I would go down and check on him, Sa Maj appeared upstairs. Then the screaming started, which was when I discovered that, even whilst asleep, Cat Daddy is capable of Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind.

Here is the little sod, enjoying one of many play sessions that he had with our friend Emily recently. Yes, he is responsible for the white stringy bits pulled from the red rug. And, no, he never poses like this for me.

Having fun with one of his favourite people.
Bit of fang.

Les liens qui nous unissent

Louis Catorze has just tangled himself up in his new toy. (See photo below – and, yes, I did deliberately choose pink.)

Obviously we would have untangled him had he been in distress, but he wasn’t. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice that the cord was wrapped around him. Cat Daddy and I watched him at length, giggling a little and saying, “Any minute now he will realise.”

Nope.

The little sod took a break from play, went for a casual wander around the living room, then settled down on Cat Daddy’s lap, all the while remaining entangled and dragging the stick behind him. How on earth it could possibly have been comfortable is beyond me, but then we have never understood this beast and it’s unlikely that we will start now.

Here is Sa Maj, blissfully unaware of his entrapment:

Yes, that’s the wooden stick under his rump.

Le dernier mois

It’s December and, whilst we haven’t had any snow in London, it’s cold.

Louis Catorze is firmly back in his autumn-winter igloo. He has been known to spend all day in there, even foregoing food and drink (I am not overjoyed about this) and eventually crawling out at 9pm, all dishevelled and blinking at the light like a little cave gremlin, to sit on his daddy’s lap. For a while we were quite worried about him and almost whisked him off to the vet, but now normal service has resumed and he’s back to screaming and being a shite.

Cat Daddy: “Maybe he wasn’t ill. Maybe he’s so thick that he just forgot to wake up” (?).

The igloo, which was gifted by one of his beloved pilgrims, has been in the living room for a couple of months but he didn’t set paw in it throughout that time, no doubt because the weather was so mild. However, the Arctic blast brought by Storm Arwen was obviously too much to bear, and he has now retreated so deep inside that there’s no budging him. (Catorze is notoriously difficult to shift from his igloo once bedded in; if we need to get him out, for a vet visit or a pill, for instance, Cat Daddy has been known to pick up the entire igloo and shake it, like shaking vinegar over chips*. Catorze clings on for dear life and eventually exits the igloo with all the urgency of a very viscous, gloopy, screaming sauce.)

*Non-Brits: ask your British friends.

Cat Daddy and I are both quite happy that Catorze has rediscovered his igloo. As well as giving us some peace at night, it also keeps him out of mischief somewhat (Catorze, I mean, not Cat Daddy).

Here is the little sod, enjoying his cosy bed:

He’s in there somewhere.

Les yeux sur nous

A few updates from us at Le Château:

I am still alive. This is good news, although I still think death would have been kinder because I now have to live out my days knowing I have indirectly had cat arse in my mouth. And our holiday apartment hosts have emailed Cat Daddy to thank him for leaving the place clean and tidy, and have said he is welcome to return anytime. This is also good, if surprising, news.

However, Deliveroo, having pocketed the £100 cost of the order that never came, have still not refunded Cat Daddy and have closed the case because he “failed to respond to their emails”. (He DID respond, multiple times.) This is not quite such good news.

And, in even less optimal news, Louis Catorze has taken his food-driven creepy staring to another level. As well as staring from a distance, staring from close up, and the more passive-aggressive sitting by his bowl looking dejected, he has now begun to creepy-stare whilst we watch television in the dark.

Now, having him stare in the dark may not sound that bad, since a black cat in a dark room is technically invisible. However, this is what we’re faced with:

For heaven’s sake.

I know. It’s just not on.

I fear that the little sod may be channelling his big brother Luther, who practically INVENTED food-driven bullying and intimidation. If his pleas for food were ignored and his creepy staring didn’t work, he would take to sliding objects off the table, with his eyes fixed unblinkingly upon mine. If that didn’t work, he would jump up on top of the television and dangle one limb down over the screen, then another limb, then his tail. And if THAT didn’t work, he would pad about on top of the television and find the power button to switch it off.

This chap would be proud of his little brother for following in his foodsteps.

Because Catorze is considerably less bright than Luther, it has taken him seven years to get to this point. But the fact that he’s got this far is alarming (our expectations were pretty low).

I know that the only solution is not to look at him. But, just like those people who can’t tear their eyes away from a horrible car accident whilst passing, we can’t help it.

Un fromage gras nourrit bien des vers

I am very upset, because I have consumed food from a plate that was licked by Louis Catorze. And, yes, I am fully aware that cats lick their arses. That’s why I am upset.

Ordinarily I would die a thousand deaths before anything licked by a cat touched my mouth. But, on this occasion, I just … FORGOT. I know. It’s embarrassing and pathetic.

I had settled down in the living room with a plate of Woodlands Melbury ewe’s milk cheese, and Catorze was on my lap. After I had finished the cheese, very unusually the little sod went to my plate and licked it from one side to the other, cleaning it of every microscopic crumb. Yes, I know that I only posted a few days ago to say that he didn’t really like cheese other than organic aged Comté. Now, it seems that either he has changed his mind, or the weird space-time fabric warp that took place last Friday is still in effect.

Anyway, after finishing my cheese, I wanted something sweet but couldn’t fetch it myself because I was trapped under Catorze, so I texted Cat Daddy and asked him to bring me some coconut. He brought me a big chunk on a chopping board, with a knife, and obviously I should have cut it up on the chopping board and eaten the bits from there. But I didn’t. I put the bits on the plate, and I only remembered the painful truth about the plate when I had eaten all the pieces but one.

Naturellement I have Googled “Will eating cat saliva kill me?” and it seems that it’s only life-threatening if it enters the blood stream, but the idea of it is so gut-wrenchingly vile that I would actually rather choose death. But I want a quick death. I don’t want the slow one that would come from worms eating me from my mouth downwards. (I am convinced that I can feel cat arse tapeworms slithering around in my mouth, in the same way that, if you talk at length about ants or fleas, eventually you’re sure that your skin is alive with them.)

So here I am, waiting to die. And Catorze is by my side, urging me to hurry up so that he can have Cat Daddy all to himself.

“Merde, she’s still alive.”

La piqûre royale

We have had a right old rigmarole this year with Louis Catorze’s booster vaccination.

He was due to have it in September but, because he needed an antibiotic shot after his dental surgery, he couldn’t have the booster in the same appointment, as planned. Then supplies of the vaccine ran out, with replenishments not due until early December.

To complicate things further, because Catorze also needs a steroid shot which can’t be administered alongside the booster, the out-of-stock problem royally messed with the timings. In short, to guarantee him a timely booster in December, we’ve been having to choose between giving him steroid shots when he didn’t need them, or NOT giving him steroid shots when he DID need them. Naturellement we opted for the former.

We were due to take him for a not-urgently-needed steroid shot on Monday, when he decided to go completely psycho an hour before the appointment.

He was racing around, attacking invisible prey and leaping in and out of Blue the Smoke Bengal’s mamma’s Thank You For Cat-Sitting gift bag. Somehow he managed to loosen the lid on one of the jars in the bag, leaking fruit jelly everywhere, so I had to wipe down the containers and give them away bagless. (Catorze kept the bag as a play yurt, jelly residue and all.)

More worryingly, he was also chasing his tail. Although he was doing it playfully, and not in the steady, trance-like way that he did when he had Feline Hyperesthesia*, I didn’t want him reminding himself of how much fun it is to chew his tail. So I had to unleash the toy that I’d bought him for Yule, to take his mind off his tail and to wear him out a little.

*If you have the time and the inclination, have a look through the blog entries from December 2016 to February-ish 2017, for the full horror of this. Feline Hyperesthesia is a horrible condition like no other I’ve ever seen, and for most cats it means medication for life. Catorze, being the oddity that he is, is the only cat I’ve known to recover from it and to no longer require medication. (Obviously he still needs it for the other 7,052 things that are wrong with him, but not for Feline Hyperesthesia.)

During the short journey to the vet, and upon arrival there, an utterly unworn-out Catorze screamed his guts out, so much so that a massive Dulux dog in the waiting room barked at him to shut up. (He didn’t.) I wasn’t looking forward to giving an already-manic cat an injection that would make him worse, but then our vet delivered the joyous news that the vaccine had come in early.

Merci. À. Dieu.

So we swapped treatments, and Catorze had his booster instead of his steroid shot.

We are most relieved that little sod is no longer running around like a gun-toting, placard-bearing anti-vaxxer. (You’ve seen the trouble he causes WITHOUT a gun and a placard, so can you imagine him WITH them?) And, with his steroid shot not due for another week or two, perhaps we can look forward to a brief peaceful interlude before his madness starts again.

What would it say on his placard? All suggestions welcome.