Si on donne un poisson à un chat …

If you are British, over a certain age and a follower of this blog, you will, no doubt, have spent New Year’s Eve exactly as we did: at home, TUC, watching the London fireworks on television and muttering things like, “What a waste of money” or “I bet Sydney’s were better”.

Louis Catorze ended last year, and began this one, doing what he does best:

1. Hunting*.

2. Playing with the motion-activated catnip fish that the Dog Family gave him for Christmas. He absolutely loves it.

When in motion, the fish’s tail makes a kind of yappy-slappy sound. This doesn’t bother us in the slightest when we know that Catorze is playing with his fish. After all, if he weren’t, he would be demanding play from us. And, when you’re still seeping flu from the eyeballs, a cat wanting relentless play is like watching a performing artist who requests audience participation.

However, if we happen to be walking past the fish and glance it very slightly with half a toe, that’s enough to set it off. And don’t even get me started on how scary it is when you’re home alone and the yappy-slappy sound starts up from another room. I daren’t even go and check whether it’s Catorze or a poltergeist, although there are times when I wonder if the latter would be less stressful than the former.

If we try to take the fish from him, he hangs on with his claws and not even an atomic bomb would shift him. Let’s hope that le poisson will make a dent in his excess energy, and give us all at least a few minutes of peace in 2023.

“MON poisson.”

*Oh yes, we had another mouse on New Year’s Day morning, and this time Catorze was sitting proudly by his victim, tail swishing menacingly, looking thoroughly pleased with himself. And, would you believe, on that day, of all days, the park bin was overflowing. So I had to tip Mousey into the park’s undergrowth and hope not only that Foxy Loxy would get it, but also that none of the neighbours’ Ring doorbell cameras caught me. The last thing I want is That Neighbour and the rest of the Neighbourhood Activist Committee admonishing me for dumping random shite in the park.

Il est 11h30 et Le Roi saute et saute

It’s New Year’s Eve. There was a time when I would rather have punched myself in both eyes than stayed home tonight. Whereas, now, the idea of catching a tube across town and paying £30 to enter a pub that I would ordinarily be able to enter free of charge, doesn’t appeal at all. Plus queuing for toilets, Compromise Prosecco instead of proper Crémant and so on – just NO. So Cat Daddy and I will be spending the night TUC.

For once in our lives, the member of the household who is in the best state of health, not simply lacking in ailments but positively glowing and well, is Louis Catorze.

I was a little worried about him when his last vet visit revealed a weight loss of 190g (almost two bars of Green and Black’s chocolate – a lot for one so small), but the vet wasn’t unduly concerned since his habits haven’t changed. The little sod is showing every sign of being a healthy cat: eating and drinking well, playing constantly, diving underneath blankets and cushions and thrashing around and, somehow, managing to find rodents from somewhere, despite us being in the depths of winter.

(I could do without that last one but, since it’s a clear sign that he’s feeling good, I’ll take it. Cat Daddy, however, is delighted that his boy has rediscovered hunting, because it reassures him that he has raised a manly cat who can take care of himself.)

If it’s true that the way in which one year ends is indicative of how the next one will go, Sa Maj looks set to have an absolute cracker of a 2023, when he will turn a sinister but impressive thirteen.

I hope 2023 is a glorious year for you, and thank you so much for putting up with supporting us and our dear little sod. Here he is, having just finished gadding about in the soft plastics recycling, ready to race up the stairs and attack some hapless object (probably me):

If there were ever a good moment for chain mail socks, this would be it.

Ils sont là!

Cat Daddy and I are feeling very smug indeed at the way in which we have used almost every last scrap of turkey. We have had turkey pie and turkey curry, and I am about to make and freeze a large batch of turkey and garlic soup, ready for when I return to my plague pit of a school in January. The only part of the turkey that we didn’t use was the giblets. Cat Daddy spent some time painstakingly boiling and chopping them for Louis Catorze, who took one sniff and walked away.

Cat Daddy: “Oh, he’ll eat it eventually.”

He absolutely will not. In fact, that’s the last thing he will do. And you ought to know this.

Ever since The Curious Incident of the Jet-Black Mouse in the Night-Time, I have been trying to figure out what on earth it was that Catorze brought in.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: nothing says “The magic of the Yuletide season” quite like being TUC and Googling “black mice”, “black rats”, “black shrews” and every other black rodent and rodent-like creature known to science.

Catorze’s offering was too velvety to have been a regular mouse, too bald-tailed to have been a rat, and it didn’t have the creepy pink hands* of a mole. What WAS it? And why didn’t I think to take a picture? (Well, ok, I know why. I was a few shots of vodka under, that’s why.) After a group of so-called friends – you know who you are – scared me with stories of roof rats, I am now hoping beyond hope that there isn’t a family of these critters living in or under Le Château somewhere, and that Catorze won’t unveil them one by one at some highly inopportune time.

*If you can stand it, Google pictures of moles and look at their disproportionately huge, terrifying hands. And, if you are especially brave, Google “star-nosed mole”. This creature will blow your mind, and is the sort of thing that would keep Lovecraft awake at night.

In either horribly coincidental (I hope so) or related (PLEASE NO) news, some sort of entity, most likely a squirrel but possibly a demon, has been scratching and scrabbling outside our bedroom window in the early hours of the morning. The sound itself isn’t enough to unduly disturb my sleep at night. However, Catorze’s response to the sound most certainly is.

As you are aware, the little sod is manic anyway, and he’s just had his steroid shot which has made him even worse. But this sound triggers his Urge To Kill switch like nothing else and, after bouncing around on the bed at length, he eventually settles in his classic Rodent Duty pose, on top of my chest. I have to make sure that the shutters are very firmly closed at night because, if they’re not, he tries to pry them open to create a platform on which to jump, causing even more of a disturbance.

I had hoped that spending the festive season relaxing quietly at home would be … well … relaxing and quiet. I should have known better.

Hallowe’en spooks outside my window … and one in my house.

Le rebut du diable

We had a wonderful Christmas Day, and we hope that you did, too. The only real incident was caused not by Louis Catorze but by Cat Daddy, when he told me to put the bread bin on the floor “to see if Catorze would be stupid enough to climb into it”, then got drunk and fell over it.

Et merci à Dieu: I am feeling better than I was last week, thanks to the magic of home-made chicken soup using a whole head of garlic. Vampires should be steering well clear of me, although there is one who seems immune to garlic. Yes, THAT one.

When my flu was at its peak/nadir (depending on how you look at it), Catorze did a runner. There is never a good moment for this but, when you’re not in a fit state to even scrape a sentence together, let alone go searching for the little bastard, it’s especially bad timing.

I’d had an awful night, exhausted yet unable to sleep because of my painful throat. At 7am, when I finally accepted that proper sleep wasn’t going to happen, I decided to come downstairs and have some tea. This is a morning ritual that I usually enjoy with a book in my hand and Catorze on my lap but, on this occasion, he was nowhere to be seen.

I finished my tea. Still no sign.

I put on my coat and, somehow, managed to drag my diseased carcass out to The Front to see if he was there. Still no sign.

I came back indoors and looked under all the beds. Still no sign.

Cat Daddy came downstairs, agreed that it was unusual not to see Catorze, then wondered if he’d been picked off by some bird of prey. Still no sign.

Cat Daddy had one more look upstairs. He didn’t find him, although he did find a mouse (charcoal-grey this time, rather than jet-black) in the bedroom. So clearly Catorze had had a busy night and was sleeping it off in some unknown location.

Before the last resort of making Cat Daddy scour the Zone Libre for a red kite tucking into a screaming, writhing amuse-bouche, I conducted one final sweep under the beds. And yes, gentle reader, that is where I found the little sod, inside a dusty old sports bag. He had clearly been there the whole time, but I hadn’t seen him previously because he’d kept his head down. This time, because he stirred (as opposed to just ignoring me and letting me waste my time calling and scrabbling like an idiot), I saw the giveaway sign of his stupid little ears sticking up.

Cat Daddy pointed out that this sleeping spot happened to be perfectly positioned for viewing the dead mouse. So it seems that Catorze had decided to sit in the bag, gazing proudly at his handiwork until he fell asleep. He may even have silently watched Cat Daddy dispose of it. Yes, I know that this kind of behaviour is more appropriate for a Rob Zombie film than for a supposedly civilised Château. No, I am not surprised.

Cat Daddy: “It’s the fault of the people who have given him catnip toys. They’ve triggered a taste for murder.”

Catorze then demanded play for the whole morning and, because Cat Daddy was out, I was the one who had to attend to this. By the time Cat Daddy came home, I was TUC. And, naturellement, Cat Daddy didn’t believe me when I complained about Catorze’s lack of regard for my frailty.

Somewhere out there, in a parallel universe, is a psychotic serial killer who has a sweet, well-behaved cat. And I know this because the cat who was supposed to be his, has somehow made its way to me.

The serial killer just called. He says I can keep his cat.

Roi pour toujours, éternellement

“It’s Christmas time. There’s no need to be afraid.”

Clearly Bob Geldof and Midge Ure had never met Louis Catorze; the last few days have been awful because of my flu, and the little sod has been nothing short of merciless in his demands for play. If I ignore him, he either chases his tail or attacks my blister packs of painkillers.

He is especially bad when Cat Daddy is out, snarling at his manly pink butterfly on a string the way vampires snarl when shown a crucifix. Then, when Cat Daddy comes home, he is either sound asleep or sitting in perfect porcelain cat pose, tail tucked around his neat paws, all cutesy-eyed and innocent.

He shouldn’t even be out at the moment. Black cats are for Hallowe’en and not for Christmas, right? Well, so I thought, too, until Cat Daddy and I went for our annual festive meal at our local pub (before I fell ill), and two of these were on our table:

I now realise that this was a warning.

The landlord and landlady are cat people, and they know that we are, too, so they had done this just for us. At the end of our meal, our server asked us whether the management had supplied the cats or whether they were ours. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: she thought we looked like the kind of people who would bring our own black cat decorations to a festive meal. (And, to be honest, the only reason I haven’t so far is because I didn’t think of it.)

Then Cat Daddy bought me this:

I will be wearing this today.

So, even at this time of year which is supposed be all Joy to the World and Peace on Earth, it’s all about Le Chat Noir. And not only do I suspect that that is exactly how Catorze planned it, but I’d go as far as to say it’s probably Phase 3 of the Chat Noir Plan for World Domination. Phases 1 and 2 are, of course, infiltrating our houses (CHECK) and mind-controlling us to do all manner of things for them (HELL, CHECK).

If Noël is your thing, I hope it’s a Joyeux one. We wish you and your furry psychopaths a wonderful day.

Happily making a nest on the present bag given to us by the Dog Family.

Que Dieu vous garde en joie, Messieurs

Merde, merde and thrice merde: I have the flu. And I don’t mean a bad cold which I’m calling “the flu” just to feel sorry for myself. I mean proper, checked-the-symptoms, can’t-sit-upright flu. I even had to cancel a pre-booked and much-needed physio appointment, although I sounded so pathetic on the phone that they took pity on me and only charged me half the cancellation fee.

Mum, if you’re reading this, no, I hadn’t got around to organising my flu vaccine. And, yes, I have learned my lesson.

Just to make things extra merdique, my flu started on the day of the winter solstice. So my party plans fell by the wayside somewhat and, instead, I spent the day TUC in the living room and drinking tea.

Louis Catorze has not left my side since I fell ill. However, he has somehow learned to emotionally blackmail me into giving him play upon demand, and he is making the most of my illness to wear me down and get what he wants.

I only found this out through a process of elimination, when I offered all the other things in response to his creepy stare – food, water, a different room, The Front, the moon on a stick, whatever – and the little sod didn’t budge, remaining statue-still and glassy-eyed throughout. I then reached for his manly pink butterfly on a string, not quite knowing what else to do, and he lost his shit, leaping a good metre in the air, baring his fangs and snarling at the toy.

Wait for it …
“Rawrrr!”
“RAWRRR!”

We play like this for about twenty minutes every day and, at the end of each session, I am more worn out than he is. And he knows full well that I will always give in, not only because the creepy staring makes me feel so uncomfortable, but also because – and this is where the blackmail part comes in – if I ignore him, he starts to play with his tail.

If you weren’t a follower of Le Blog six years ago and you have time on your hands, have a look through the archives from around November 2016 onwards, to find out why this is such bad news. Be warned, it’s not pretty reading. We want to draw attention away from Catorze’s tail at all costs.

It looks as if Catorze will have a very merry Yuletide season indeed. However, I don’t suppose we will have a single silent night.

“Papa! Play with moi.”

Toute cette immensité baignée de lumière

I love the winter solstice. Not quite as much as I love Hallowe’en, but I’m all for an occasion which is about a turning of tides. A Ctrl-Alt-Delete of the mind and soul, if you will.

Garden baubles which, astonishingly, will be left untouched by Catorzian paws.

At this time of year, I often say that I’m very lucky to have everything that I want. And this is still true. Our only real worry in life (Cat Daddy: “And our only real expenditure …”) is Louis Catorze.

As Catorze grows older, I mentally prepare myself for the fact that time will soon start chipping away at his [insert appropriate number; we’re pretty sure he has more than nine] lives, eventually whittling them down to nothing. But the little sod is showing no signs of this. He’s still as rambunctious as a kitten who has just hoovered down a cocktail of catnip and amphetamines; in fact, it’s almost as if the normal conventions of time simply don’t apply to him.

I took this picture of Catorze a couple of weeks ago, in the run-up to the full moon (during which he was more, erm, exuberant than ever before):

“Everything the light touches – including The Front where I’m not allowed – belongs to MOI.”

He looks serene and pensive but, in actual fact, he is just taking a break from an especially manic race around the house, all fangs, skidding feet and saucer eyes. Cat Daddy even had to have a serious word with him about his behaviour – and, no, it didn’t make any difference. A couple of days ago, Catorze brought us a jet-black mouse.

(No, we had no idea, either, that you could get jet-black mice. And, no, we didn’t realise that Catorze still hunted. We were hoping he’d decided to retire.)

He may be an old boy, but he is still the one true Sun King.

Joyeux Solstice à vous tous.

Le chat qui meugle

Louis Catorze has a new sound. He already has an impressive catalogue of sounds in addition to his default scream – I have started to call it “default” rather than “normal” for obvious reasons – and we thought he was too old to be coming up with new ones. As ever, he has done something other than what was expected.

I have only heard this sound once, and it came completely by surprise so I was unable to capture it on audio. The best way of describing it is, erm … a moo.

I know. I KNOW.

The moo came at the end of a long succession of screams, delivered to try and bully Cat Daddy into cuddling him, but Cat Daddy was busy doing other things. The more he ignored, the more Catorze persisted until, eventually, he resorted to the moo, which stopped us all in our tracks.

Cat Daddy: “What kind of sound was THAT?”

Me: “…”

Catorze: “…” (Yes, the noise even surprised him.)

The default screaming then resumed.

I know that the chances of even hearing the moo again, let alone collecting evidence, are more remote than the dark side of Pluto. But maybe one day I will be lucky, no doubt when I am trying to record something else and really don’t want his interference at all.

Me: [Starts recording]. Him: [Le silence total].

Préparer Noël, Préparer Noël

You know that part in Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” when the kids’ presents turn into hideous, nightmarish monsters?

Yeah, well:

“Boys and men of ever-y age, do you want to see something strange?”

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Louis Catorze has claimed, as his new bed, my nieces’ and nephews’ presents bag. Luckily each item is individually bagged, keeping them safe from the horrors of cat hair, flea poo and whatever else (I daren’t even think too hard about it). But that’s not the point. He has 9,062 other beds. He doesn’t need more beds. And he certainly doesn’t need something that was never designed to be a bed, as his bed.

Part of me has a good mind to wrap him up and send him along with the other parcels. But that would be too cruel, even to the ones who have been naughty (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).

It’s a good thing we are happy to have him as our gift this festive season. I guess someone has to.

La nouvelle recrue

Football tournaments are usually a big thing in this household, but I haven’t felt inclined to throw myself into the Qatar World Cup in quite the same way that I have for other tournaments.

However, I have just found out that England defenders Kyle Walker and John Stones have decided to adopt the stray cat who appeared at the England training ground in Qatar. The cat has been named Dave and, at the time of writing this, he is undergoing his medical in preparation for his transfer to Manchester City (read more about it here).

Initially, the players had pledged to take Dave home if England won the World Cup. As you are aware – in fact, if you live in England, you’ll be hearing about very little else for the next four years – that wasn’t to be, but it turns out that they couldn’t bear to be parted from their new feline friend and decided to take him anyway.

Photo from independent.co.uk.

How is it that the sun can’t shine on the whole world at once, yet The Mothership manages to beam messages to every cat simultaneously? Clearly, whilst telling our U.K. cats to do whatever stupid shit they were doing at 3am, she was also giving step-by-step instructions to Dave to help him impinge his way into the lives of his target humans. Talk about multi-tasking.

“Let them stroke you … that’s good … now look a bit pathetic, as if you haven’t been fed for weeks. Come on, Dave, these dudes are rich. If you can pull this off convincingly, you’ll be set for the rest of your life!”

Photo from talkSPORT.com.

Obviously it’s going to take time and money before Dave’s transfer is complete. And, no doubt, there will be people complaining about wealthy footballers throwing their resources at one overseas cat when there are plenty in the U.K. who need help. But when young, privileged men show kindness to an animal and set an example to the millions of kids who follow them, that’s surely a good thing, non?

Kurt Zouma, are you reading this? THIS is how it’s done, mon coco.

Good luck to Dave in his new life with whichever of his new cat daddies eventually takes him in. Louis Catorze can’t wait to teleport to the housewarming party, especially if lots of men will be invited.

Peace on earth: non. Goodwill to all men: OUAIS.

La vague de froid

London is in the grip of a cold snap*. And – merci à Jésus, à Marie, à Joseph et au petit âne – Louis Catorze’s bald patch appears to be growing back slowly. The timing is great; no more will he step outside and leak heat into the atmosphere like a runaway steam engine.

About 1% better than it was.

*Non-Brits: a cold snap, by definition, is a short period of exceptionally cold weather, but we just like saying “cold snap” and would still say it even if it lasted for months or years. Somehow, saying “We’re having a bit of a cold snap” seems less whiney than just saying, “God, it’s bloody freezing”.

Frosty leaves, soon to be squatted upon by the Catorzian rear.

Whilst most of us are shivering under blankets in our living rooms, not daring to crank up the heating for fear of being slapped with a massive bill, Catorze is out. I had hoped to take some photos of him gadding about in the snow, but this has proven impossible because he tends to favour all-night excursions, going out after I’ve gone to bed, then clattering in at 5am, freezing cold and screaming.

Why he didn’t walk in the snow-free channel on the left, is beyond me.

And, far from his nocturnal shenanigans wearing him out, they are like a shot of adrenaline. We are exhausted by his attention-seeking, screaming and constant demands for play, and Cat Daddy is quick to remind me that at least I get to escape to work, whereas he’s stuck with him all day long.

I know. It’s a sad day when rowdy teenagers are regarded as an escape.

One of my friends: “It’s probably because of his steroid shot. Didn’t he only have it last week?”

Me: “Erm, no. It was a month ago.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

Me: “In fact, he’s due to have another one next week.”

[Stonier silence, more tumbleweed, chirpier crickets.]

At least the little sod is having fun. I’m not sure I’ll be saying the same of myself, after two weeks of being stuck at home with a ‘roid-high Roi.

On the lookout for mischief and mayhem. If he can’t find any, he’ll create some.

Appelle autant que tu veux mais il n’y a personne à la maison

Louis Catorze just sat on Cat Daddy’s lap, right on top of his phone. So we did the only sensible thing we could under the circumstances: call Cat Daddy’s phone from my phone, to see what would happen.

Naturellement this led to various inappropriate comments from Cat Daddy regarding, erm, the vibration of the phone underneath Catorze’s rear end. None of these comments are repeatable here (or anywhere, come to think of it).

The things we learned from this very funny experiment were as follows:

1. You can’t make a phone call and record a video at the same time, however much you may want to.

2. Catorze is weirder than we thought: his eyes widened, and his tail swished around (not good when normal cats do it, but a sign of happiness for him), yet he DID NOT MOVE.

In an ideal world I would be posting a video of this, but sadly this won’t be possible unless, next time, we were to convince a third party to come along with their phone. So you will just have to take our word for it when we say that this is the face that Catorze gave us:

An old photo of unspecified Catorzian outrage.

Louis, il fait froid dehors

Louis Catorze is ready for the festive season. Now, you wouldn’t expect this of a black cat with vampire fangs, but we know it to be true because, when we invited Family Next Door over for a pre-Noël lunch at the weekend, the little sod pitter-pattered into the dining room and let out the maman of all screams.

Baby Next Door: [Lots of delighted shrieking, bouncing and arm-waving in her high chair when she caught sight of Sa Maj]

Daughter Next Door: “Louis!”

Cat Daddy: “Oh, was that him? I thought it was part of the music.”

Yup, Andy Williams or Dean Martin or whoever it was whose Christmas song we were listening to at the time, really missed a trick by not having screaming felines as backing vocalists.

In other news, it’s very cold now. I, of course, love this, because it feels like proper winter rather than our country’s usual tepid, damp-weather greyness, but I’m worried about Catorze and the heat escaping from his bald patch. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, it’s still here.

A few nights ago, when it was especially cold, Cat Daddy opened the front door to put some recycling out and, whereas Catorze’s usual trick is to bolt out, this time he bolted IN. Yes, he had been out there for a good couple of hours, with heat gushing from that spot like steam from a pie funnel (younger followers: ask your grandparents). No, we had no idea he was out at The Front.

Temperatures are set to drop even further this week, so it’s not a great time to be a cat with a hole in his fur. Let’s hope that it grows back soon, before we have to start considering a (very small) Christmas jumper for him.

Holey shit.

L’iglou est de retour

I have been bouncing around the house singing “The Heat Is On” by Glen Frey (younger followers: ask your parents) because Cat Daddy has finally relented and erm, turned the heating on. I am trying not to think about how much it’s costing, but at least I don’t have to keep picking frost off my eyelashes.

And, as if by magic, Louis Catorze has rediscovered his igloo. The fact that it’s right next to the radiator is purely a coincidence.

Selfishly, I miss the little sod; I enjoy our morning routine of sitting in the living room, reading a book, with him sleeping on my lap. But Cat Daddy is delighted because it gives him some peace. And it means we will know where Catorze is when it’s time to take him to the vet on the 19th (yes, I have booked him a precautionary festive appointment, because something is bound to go wrong).

Anyway, Catorze’s igloo residency has officially begun. And this is where he will be for the next few weeks months:

He won’t be moving. Not even if the place is on fire.