Le vétérinaire, c’est le bon dieu

I have been back at school for just over a week. My hands are drier than desert sand due to all the washing. None of my school shoes fit, having being abandoned since March, and I’m forced to wear them in again as if they were new shoes. The school roof leaked during lockdown, which dissolved the labels off the science chemical bottles and now nobody knows what’s what. And the top floor – regretfully, where my classroom is situated, next to the science labs – bears the stench of damp, decay and death. But, apart from that, everything has been fine.

Meanwhile at Le Château, a certain someone went for their annual booster jabs yesterday. Any pet owner will know what a joyous occasion this is.

This is how the sequence of events unfolded:

1. Woke up to find Louis Catorze lying on top of me, which is most unusual, and realised then that I had not locked Sureflap to keep him in. (Had we purchased snazzy new model with hub, this could have been done from our phones.) Lay trapped under Catorze knowing that if I so much as THOUGHT TOO HARD about locking Sureflap, little sod would read my mind and dart out before I could even blink.

2. Successfully managed to beat him downstairs and lock Sureflap.

3. Catorze couldn’t get out. Whining started. Ignored him and drank tea.

4. Bagged him up in transportation pod.

5. Set off for appointment, telling Catorze things like, “It’s going to be fine. We’ve got this.” Because whining fell silent at that point and transportation pod doesn’t look at all like an animal carrier, people in park heard/saw me and most likely thought I was talking to myself, like those motivational guru ladies who stand in front of the mirror and tell themselves “I am a warrior woman” every day.

6. Whining restarted. Although quieter than screaming, psychologically it’s much, much worse. Screaming animal = unhinged or has rabies = not your fault. Whining animal = in torment = you are an animal abuser.

7. Arrived at vet practice and handed over Catorze like a bag of heroin. (We aren’t allowed in with the animals, so we have to mask up and hand them over to another masked person as if doing a drugs drop.)

8. Whilst waiting outside, briefly imagined what vets are like when we’re not present. Wondered whether they morph into Cruella de Vil. Visualised vet brandishing massive squirty syringe and yelling at Catorze, “And this is for all those times you clawed my staff and kicked them in the face, you little shit!”

9. Vet returned bagged Roi and informed me that he had been “very well-behaved”. Unsure whether she meant “compared to most cats” or “by his own abysmally low standards”. Thought it best not to ask.

10. Walked home in silence, wondering whether vet might have swapped Catorze for a psychotic changeling. Decided that psychotic changeling would be less trouble, and kept walking.

11. Walked past about seven or eight dogs in park, who took one look at transportation pod and started barking all at once. Realised that I probably had the right cat.

12. Arrived home and Catorze had forgotten how to use Sureflap again.

This is what I brought home from the appointment. Catorze or psychotic changeling?

Yup: looks legit to me.

Le canapé royal

Cat Daddy has decided that he wants to replace our kitchen sofa with a new leather one. The existing fabric one is perfectly fine, but he is adamant.

The only real flaw I can find is that dust mites are more common in fabric than in leather, making the current sofa less Louis Catorze-compliant. So, much to Cat Daddy’s chagrin, I have been telling anyone who cares – and a fair few who don’t – that he is spending £1,700 on new furniture for the cat.

Cat Daddy isn’t thrilled about this. But he can’t stop me, so tant pis pour lui.

After looking at various sofas online we went to try them out in person at Sofology, where we were served by the lovely Ish. Cat Daddy had his heart set on the untreated, almost-suede look but, because it looked as if it would absorb every drop and spill, I told him that the glossier, finished leather would be better. And Ish agreed with me.

I also pointed out that the untreated finish was quite fabric-like in appearance and feel; Catorze scratches fabric, but never leather.

Ish: “My cat is similar. He scratches all the cheap fabric in my house but not my expensive velvet sofa.”

Me: “YOU HAVE A CAT! What does he look like?”

Ish: “He’s ginger and white. His name is Harchi.”

Me: “Please may I see a picture?”

And that was it for the next few minutes, with talk of our cats and their habits. Fun fact: Ish gives his cat rough play sessions in exactly the same way that Cat Daddy does with Catorze.

Cat Daddy: “ANYWAY. Back to sofas …”

After making our purchase, Ish asked if we were happy with the service that we’d received and told us that he would very much appreciate an online review.

Me: “Well, you showed me a picture of your cat so, straight away, that’s worth a 10.”

Ish: “People who don’t like cats … well … that’s just weird. Don’t you think it’s WEIRD?”

Me: “Yes. Very.”

Our new sofa and matching footstool will be arriving within the next eight weeks, and we will be sure to post some pictures of Boys’ Club taking place on them. I am sorely tempted to also send the pictures to Ish. What do you think?

“Non, Monsieur, I clearly said I wanted the Dakota Brown, not the Utah Grey.”

Chat, interrompeur

There seemed to be a lot of missing cat posters around TW8 and its surrounding areas during lockdown. I don’t know whether more cats than usual went missing, or whether my inordinate amount of lockdown walks simply made the posters more noticeable, but I stopped to read every single one.

A long time ago someone told me that it was important to describe a cat’s personality, in addition to appearance, on a missing poster, as appearance is easily seen in a photo and doesn’t need much reiteration by text. I wondered at the time how valid this could be; after all, a fleeting encounter with a cat in the street didn’t seem sufficient to indicate personality and to know whether or not it was the right cat.

That was until my sister successfully reunited Peanut with her owner a few years ago, after reading on the poster of her tendency to sit and stare like the cat from Shrek. Because of her weight loss whilst on the run, Peanut didn’t look an awful lot like the picture shown on the poster. But the description of this one character trait nailed it.

And Cat Daddy was convinced of this, too, when he and I had the following exchange after he sent me a photo of a cat he’d seen in the street.

Me: “That cat looks like Catus Interruptus.”

Him: “Who’s Catus Interruptus?”

Me: “He lives a few doors down from Cocoa the babysit cat.”

Him: “Why do you call him Catus Interruptus?”

Me: “Because he barges up to random strangers and makes them stop whatever they’re doing to give him attention.”

Him, very firmly: “Yes. That is EXACTLY what happened. It was definitely him.”

Obviously I hope none of us will ever have to think about this, but a description of character traits on a missing pet poster might just be worth a shot. I did briefly think about what I’d say about Catorze, but we would be able to hear his screaming from wherever he was in the country. So he wouldn’t be missing for long.

Here is Catus Interruptus, homing in on Cat Daddy like a heat-seeking missile:

Stop! Cuddle time.

La reprise

Tomorrow I will be back at school. So, after almost six months of spending all day, every day, at home with Cat Daddy and Louis Catorze, it will once again be just evenings, weekends and school holidays.

I am looking forward to some workplace normality, whatever that may look like. Online schooling was never going to be a long-term solution, although I am going to miss the Google Meet and alcohol pairings: Crémant pairs well with virtual staff meetings, and neat Absolut Vanilla pairs well with Year 10 French. You can’t get away with such pairings in school in QUITE the same way.

I will also miss being with my two boys. However, I don’t think the feeling is mutual, and the novelty of having me at home wore off long ago as far as Catorze is concerned. These days, if the two of them are having a special Boys’ Club moment and I so much as walk past them, he meows disdainfully, gets up and leaves. And Cat Daddy doesn’t (usually) say anything in response to this, but he gives me the eye-rolly death stare which speaks much louder than words. So, in many ways, there’s no point in me hanging around where I’m not wanted.

Good luck to everyone who is having to precariously negotiate post-Covid workplace life. As for Cat Daddy and Catorze, their days will look something like this (except with appropriately-paired wine too):

“She’s gone. Merci à Dieu!”

Le lit du Roi

Oscar the dog’s human sister came over recently for some Louis Catorze time. They spent a lovely afternoon together, playing with cat toys and old cardboard boxes, and Catorze was on his best behaviour, the way he always is when guests come so that nobody believes us when we complain about what a psycho he is. He played happily with her and meowed sweetly every time she spoke to him. (Yes, they regularly have actual conversations, with her speaking and him replying.)

Dog Sister’s time with Catorze is also teaching her more and more about the differences between cats and dogs, as demonstrated here:

Dog Sister: “What’s that box?”

Me: “That’s Louis’s bed.”

Her: “But it says “Cats are NOT permitted …””

Me: “Yup. That’s cats for you.”

During her visit Dog Sister decided to renovate Catorze’s bed by filling it with old cushions that we were going to throw away, and now he can’t get enough of it. His upgraded bed is his new favourite place, so much so that he even stayed put here during the beautician’s first visit since lockdown, instead of following her upstairs, rolling on all her stuff and screaming at her. The best thing is that he sleeps here most of the night, which means he isn’t annoying us, nor is he out picking fights with the local wildlife.

Here he is, enjoying the handiwork of his best buddy:

Yes, he has more beds than we do. Et alors?

Le détenu se sauve

A few days ago, I was woken by the sound of the council mowing the grass in the park at The Front.

As I made my way downstairs the hum of the mower suddenly changed pitch, and my first thoughts were: “That mower must have just run over some rocks, or they need to oil it or service it or SOMETHING.” I then realised that the change of sound was not the mower but Louis Catorze, screaming his little lungs out on the doorstep outside, having spent the whole night out at The Front.

It turned out that Cat Daddy, after a few too many glasses of Mâcon Villages, had not seen him dart out when he was putting the empty wine bottles in the recycling. Luckily the little sod was neither hurt nor hungry nor thirsty nor frightened, just affronted at the inconvenience of it all. And, better yet, this did not take place during the road resurfacing, as Catorze would most likely have clambered into one of the trucks left overnight and pressed random buttons for fun.

Cat Daddy, when I told him later on: “Oh dear. He actually DROWNED OUT THE MOWER with his screaming?”

He did.

Anyway, Le Roi has had cuddles galore and the entire incident has been forgotten. The one benefit of him being this dim is that nothing upsets him for very long. However, since each new memory that he makes erases a previous one, I fear that he will, most likely, do it again.

He will, won’t he?

Boys’ Club soon cheered him up.

Le couvre-feu (Partie 3)

Since we implemented Louis Catorze’s Front Curfew, he has been in on time every night without fail.

Now, we know our boy and we knew something would go wrong. And we were right.

Last night we’d had the window open for several hours and Catorze had been back and forth numerous times throughout the evening whilst we watched television. Then, as curfew time approached, it dawned on us that we hadn’t been keeping track properly, and so we didn’t know whether he was in or out.

Calling him would have been pointless, as we know from bitter experience that he hides/ignores when he doesn’t want to be found. So we had no option but to sit with the window open until we were sure of his whereabouts, and we knew that we could be sitting there for several hours.

At 10:20pm, Catorze appeared at the living room door. He had been indoors and/or at The Back the entire time.

Cat Daddy was sitting nearest to the window so I asked him to close it before the inmate absconded. However, by that time, he’d had far too much of his weird cocktail* and wasn’t good for anything, so he just sat and flailed about like a flaccid octopus.

*Artisan south coast rum mixed with some of his dodgy home-made pineapple concoction. When I asked if the latter were alcoholic or not, he said he didn’t know (?).

Me: “He’s going to do a runner if we don’t shut the window.”

Cat Daddy: [Flaccid octopus flailing]

Me: “Did you hear what I said? I’ll take too long stepping over you, so it’ll be quicker for you to shut it.”

Cat Daddy: [More flaccid octopus flailing]

Me: “SHUT THE BLOODY WINDOW!”

The moment I raised my voice, Catorze picked up on the “Someone’s in trouble here” tone and, understandably, assumed it to be him. After all, it usually is. And he wasn’t hanging around to find out the specific nature of said trouble; he was out of the window like a speeding train before either of us could so much as draw breath.

So there we were, sitting and waiting. Again.

Cat Daddy and I really need to get better at this. It’s a tragic day when you’re outwitted by a cat who’s thicker than a block of wood and not nearly as useful.

Catch him if you can. (We can’t.)

L’ami fidèle

We had some sad news at Le Château during the week: Louis Catorze’s sparring partner Oscar the dog, aka the Flash Gordon to Catorze’s Ming the Merciless, is no longer with us, following a sudden inoperable illness. He was 13 and three-quarters, or in his 70s in dog years.

Cat Daddy and I adored Oscar and have been quite tearful about this. And, despite their turbulent relationship, I am certain that Sa Maj also had a fondness for his canine adversary, and that he detected our sadness on the night that Oscar departed. He kindly gifted me with a cheer-up mouse the next morning although, as he was still unable/refusing to come in through the Sureflap at that point, how he brought it into the house is another one to add to the list of Roi mysteries.

For the last five years, Oscar and Catorze’s comedic partnership has made us smile more times than you can imagine. If you have been following Le Blog at length you will, no doubt, be aware of their ridiculous capers. But, if not, here are some of their best moments:

https://louiscatorze.com/2016/05/22/le-diner-chez-oscar/

https://louiscatorze.com/2016/05/28/la-deuxieme-prise-du-chateau/

https://louiscatorze.com/2016/07/24/lenvahisseur/

https://louiscatorze.com/2017/05/14/le-mur/

https://louiscatorze.com/2019/06/03/vieux-chien-fait-bonne-chasse/

https://louiscatorze.com/2019/08/27/jadore-harceler-les-chiens/

Au revoir, dear Oscar. We will miss you. Have fun barking away to your heart’s content in doggy heaven.

Keep smiling, boy.
Picture posed by (very similar) lookalikes … but this was, without a doubt, the reason behind their feud.

Journal d’une chatière (Partie 3)

Good news: Cat Daddy has fixed the Sureflap, which is astounding as he is, shall we say, not a natural handyman. It turns out that the sensors just needed a good old clean. So we will not have to spend £150 on the snazzy space-age Sureflap with hub (although I was looking forward to the adventure of figuring it out).

Bad news: Although Louis Catorze is continuing to go out through the Sureflap, he won’t come in. Even when we turned it into a manual swing door, he still wouldn’t come in. He will either enter the house through the bifold doors if they’re open, or just stay out all night if they’re not.

When Catorze first came to live with us, it took him several months to learn to go out through the cat flap and another few weeks to come in again. And now history is repeating itself. Going out is fine. But, because of previous failed attempts to come in, he has either been discouraged from trying again or (more likely) he is so thick that he has forgotten what to do.

We have scrubbed the Sureflap with plain hot water, in case there was a cleaning product residue that Catorze didn’t like. We have sprinkled catnip in the tunnel (I’m not joking). We have tried using brute force, which REALLY didn’t go well. But, whereas he used to push the door with his head when coming in, he now won’t.

And we have checked and double-checked the way his chip activates the latch, and it has worked fine every time but one. (That one time was when we were trying the brute force method, so we can’t be sure whether the fault lay with the Sureflap, his chip or his Exorcist-style struggling and writhing.)

Next steps are as follows:

1. Further studies of exactly what happens to the latch when his chip activates it, to be sure that it’s opening properly every single time.

2. Cat flap retraining.

3. A trip to the vet to see if his chip has been dislodged. (This only happens to one cat in every 873 billion. We just KNOW it will be him.)

I will be back at school in just over a week, so it looks as if Cat Daddy will have to be responsible for conducting any cat flap retraining. I have no idea how to break the happy news to him.

Gladiator, ready!

Sésame, ouvre-toi! (Partie 2)

A few nights ago Louis Catorze somehow wasn’t able to come in through the Sureflap, and the little sod was stuck outside all night.

If Catorze stops wanting to use the Sureflap and screams for the door to be opened for him instead – which he does from time to time – it’s hard to know whether something is genuinely wrong or whether he’s just being a lazy shite. We do thoroughly check the Sureflap for any problems – malfunctioning mechanism, duff batteries, deadly tarantulas nesting in the tunnel and so on – but we can never find anything wrong, so usually we just put it down to him being a lazy shite and ignore him. And then he starts using it again.

However, the following night, after trying several new sets of batteries, the same thing occurred and he was stuck outside again. So it looks as if Sa Maj will require a new Sureflap. And, naturellement, this isn’t as straightforward as I imagined because Sureflap has advanced significantly since we first became customers in 2012, when we had Luther.

The models from which we can choose are as follows:

1. Entry level model – lets only certain cats in but all out, up to a total number of 32 (!) cats

2. DualScan model – lets only certain cats in and certain cats out, for those of us who have both the rare ones who behave and the troublemakers who need to be kept isolated from society

3. Connect model with hub – enables you to “connect with your cat from anywhere in the world” (whatever that means)

Cat Daddy, laughing hysterically: “CONNECT WITH YOUR CAT FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD?”

He has a point. If Catorze is here and we’ve chosen to be somewhere else in the world, the chances are we don’t want to connect with him.

Anyway, Cat Daddy wants to try to fix the Sureflap. However, I want to buy the super-snazzy connect model with hub. (In the highly likely event of me never figuring it out, school starts in a couple of weeks so I can always show the accompanying app to one of my Year 9s and ask them to explain.)

Whilst we make up our minds what to do, we have had to deactivate the Sureflap’s magical selective powers and turn it into a manual swing door, to allow poor Catorze to come in.

Sadly this means that any old random punter who wants to come in, can also do so. The only question is: who will be first?

Vampires can only enter if invited.