Le meilleur ami de l’homme

One of my cat-loving friends has just got a DOG. If you are following Le Blog it’s likely that you are a cat person, so you will understand what an apocalyptically big deal it is for someone to leave our ranks and defect to the Dark Side. That said, given that dogs are loyal and loving and cats are psychopaths who don’t care if we live or die, it’s possible that our side IS the Dark Side and that my friend had to save herself by whatever means possible. 

I knew that she was thinking about getting a dog, because we spent a whole afternoon together Googling “Dogs that smell” and “Dogs that don’t smell” to help her to choose her breed accordingly. (Dog owners: sorry, but your houses can smell doggy. You don’t notice because you have become accustomed to it, and people don’t tell you because they are trying to be polite, but I’m afraid it’s true.) However, I didn’t know she’d actually got the dog until I went round to her place and her partner answered the door holding a trembling, honey-coloured ball of fur half the size of Louis Catorze. 

“Surprise!” my friend trilled. “This is Nala! I didn’t tell you about her because I wasn’t sure you’d want to come round if you knew she was here.”

“Erm, you’re right. I probably wouldn’t,” I replied. 

“I know you’re not a dog person,” she continued, “but she’s about the same size as a small cat, isn’t she? So, erm, maybe you could just PRETEND she’s a cat?” Right. 

Anyway, I spent the afternoon with little Nala and, apart from one pooing incident – fortunately nowhere near my person nor near my possessions – all went well. And, when I returned home, far from being repulsed by me (as he usually is), Catorze sniffed and nuzzled me, rolled all over me and purred like an aeroplane taking off. 

So does this mean that our cat is … part-dog? He certainly has some dog-like qualities (following people around, wagging his tail when happy, being irresistibly drawn to dogs even if they are displaying all the signs of wanting to kill him, etc.). The one area where they differ is their compliance with humiliating Hallowe’en outfits and, luckily, Nala has been able to compensate for Sa Maj’s shortcomings. 

As you can see, she was very obliging and happily dressed up whereas Catorze, despite usually being a lover and not a fighter, would tear my skin to shreds and watch me bleed to death if I attempted to put clothing on him. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) However, he and I did manage to produce a passable official Hallowe’en portrait this year, unlike last year when there was just one moderately decent shot out of about a hundred attempts, produced two months too late for the event.

Happy Hallowe’en from all of us (including Nala), and may your furry overlords of whatever species behave themselves tonight. 

Le chat (un poème spécial pour la fête d’Halloween)

B9116EC7-7EFA-4767-9947-6514114EB0AFOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I slumbered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, sweetly dreaming, suddenly I was blaspheming,
As of some one loudly screaming, screaming at my chamber door —
“’Tis some little sod,” I muttered, “screaming at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I was sober, for I know it was October;
And each waft of limey odour chilled me to my very core.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
For my eyes, no sleep, just sorrow – sorrow at the screaming jaws —
Of the loud and rude shitweasel whom the demons name Catorze —
Bugging me for evermore.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Votre Majesté” said I, “truly some silence I implore.
But the fact is I was dreaming, and you caused my wild blaspheming.
And so loudly you came screaming, screaming at my chamber door;
That I know full well I heard you” — here I opened wide the door —
Darkness there and nothing more.

Back into the chamber, learning that my ears were still a-burning,
All at once I heard paws turning, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is how the Sun King pitter-patters;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, this vile din I can’t ignore —
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore —
’Tis Le Roi and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
Pitter-pattered a small Sun King, tail aloft with odious roar;
“Though thy fur be foul and gritty, thou,” I said, “‘tis quite a pity,
Ghastly, grim and noisy kitty, wandering fresh from canine war —
Tell me what the heck you want now, for thy screaming’s quite a bore!” —
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

“Salaud!” said I, “thing of evil! – little sod, if cat or devil!
He’s a fiend that walks among us, fangèd demon with four paws –
Tell my face with mouth a-yawning if, before the new year’s dawning,
I shall see a peaceful morning sans disturbance from Catorze.
Take away this hellish racket, now; begone, thy screaming jaws!”
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, cat or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting.
“Get thee back into le salon, sur la chaise that you adore!
Leave no cat hair as a token of that scream thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my cursèd sleep unbroken! Quit my chamber, out the door! —
Take thy face from out my sight, and take thine arse from off my floor!” —
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

And the Sun King, fangs a-gleaming, still is screaming, still is screaming
By the basking bust of Bastet just beside my chamber door;
And my eyes have not stopped weeping: thanks to him, I am not sleeping,
And the lamp-light o’er him creeping throws his shadow on the floor —
And my peace, ‘cause of that crotte de merde who’s screaming at my door —
Shall be granted — nevermore!

Le portrait officiel du Roi

Our Gothic dining room which, of all the rooms in Le Château, does the most justice to a Halloween kitty with vampire fangs, is taking a little while to decorate fully.

Other rooms have somehow just worked, with us finding the perfect colours and furnishings through sheer good fortune (and the help of a fabulous project manager), but the dining room has, until now, remained with just table and chairs and very little else. I had an idea of what I wanted in terms of wall art – “rock and roll meets creepy Victorian Gothic” was about the best that I managed to articulate myself – but, unsurprisingly, this fabled work never appeared.

And then Cat Daddy found this:

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I kneel humbly at his awe-inspiring art-finding ability; this picture is sinister, humorous, unnerving, quirky … and absolutely perfect.

It may not actually be a picture of Louis Catorze but I am pretty certain it’s what he sees when he looks in the mirror, so, as far as his official Halloween portrait goes, it will have to do. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the portrait were to slowly deteriorate whilst Catorze, despite a hedonistic lifestyle of steroids and party powder, retained his kittenish looks. Oscar Wilde would be très proud.

La salle à manger is now officially open to the Sun King’s pilgrims.

Attention aux courges butternut

Beware of butternut squash, Mesdames et Messieurs. No, not marauding street ones wearing hockey masks and carrying chain saws, but the innocent-looking seeds that you unsuspectingly toss into the compost heap.

Thanks to the amazing richness of the soil around our compost heap, Cat Daddy and I have managed to grow a butternut squash without even trying. This is good, right? Well, the bonus dinner ingredient is quite a result, but the plant is an absolute beast, sprawling everywhere like a flesh-eating triffid and suffocating everything in its path. And nobody seems to tell you this, but both the stems and the leaves expel tiny, invisible barbs.

I should have guessed that it was a nasty plant when, instead of stepping over it or brushing past it, Louis Catorze would clear it with a massive leap (which won’t be helping his knee one bit). I thought at the time that he was just being dramatic but, if an idiot like Catorze is prepared to take such pains to avoid this plant, there is obviously a reason. Even a cautious cat absentmindedly brushing past could find itself speared but, should your cat have a more gung-ho temperament and be inclined to frolic around in your vegetable patch, this could spell very bad news indeed.

Given all the health issues we already have with Catorze, we really didn’t want to be picking painful barbs out of his skin, too. So Cat Daddy got to work destroying the evil plant and sweeping the barbs off the path (which was quite some feat given that they are invisible), whilst I chopped up the monster tendrils into more manageable pieces for the garden waste bag. All that is left now is the main stem bearing the single fruit.

And Le Roi sat and slow-blinked at us throughout these measures intended for his protection, watching us get painfully skewered and disembowelled. It would appear that he is not as stupid as we thought.

Here he is, snuggling up to the butternut squash and continuing, inexplicably, to remain a barb-free zone. I’m prepared to bet Le Château on the fact that he won’t sit this nicely with the pumpkin I have bought for his official Halloween portrait.

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La sortie d’Halloween

As Halloween approaches, cat freaks the world over debate that all-important question: should we keep our usually-outdoor cats under house arrest on the night of the 31st?

My responses are as follows: do you trust your neighbourhood and its residents? And do you trust your cat? We are lucky enough to be able to give a yes to the former but, sadly, it’s a “Hell, no” to the latter; Louis Catorze ignores the rules, goes rogue when he feels like it and, quite simply, is way too much of a liability.

His big brother Luther, although quite the adventurer, fortunately hated kids. So, when sugared-up hordes of them came a-knocking, we could rely on him to run in the opposite direction.

Louis Catorze is different, and risks life and limb to escape into the jaws of danger at moments when we really aren’t expecting it. On Thursday night, for instance, when Cat Daddy opened the front door to put out some rubbish, Catorze shot out and headed straight for the fireworks in the park opposite Le Château. His wayward arse was eventually hauled to safety, but not before the indignity of being poked out from under a bush with a mop.

And, because Sa Majesté LOVES strange men, he can’t be trusted to steer clear of psychos in the unlikely event of them turning up in our neighbourhood. If he were to happen upon a gang of youths dressed in clown masks and carrying spades and bin bags, he would probably roll at their feet and then happily follow them into the woods, slow-blinking sweetly as they buried the bodies.

So, whilst the little sod will be allowed to come and go freely at The (safe and enclosed) Back, on Halloween night The Front will be as airtight and impenetrable as Kim Kardashian’s new jewellery box. I hope your furry overlords manage whatever containment procedures are imposed upon them, and that you all have a safe and happy Halloween.

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