La vie est, en quelque sorte, un pèlerinage

It’s been an action-packed few days here at Le Château, with visits galore from pilgrims coming to see Louis Catorze. One visitor was his favourite vet, who is back at the practice for a short while. We are so grateful to her and to her colleagues for all the care that he has received there, and it was lovely to see her under more pleasant circumstances – sitting outside, cuddling a happy, up-tailed Catorze and sipping tea – instead of the ungrateful little sod yelling at her and kicking her in the face.

Our dear friends from Switzerland have had their “furthest-travelled pilgrims” crowns toppled as Le Roi has now received guests from Las Vegas. Naturellement he decided, 20 minutes before their arrival, to roll about in all manner of foul garden waste, then greeted them lying on his back with one leg pointing east and the other west, and stringy plant matter hanging off his whiskers. Cat Daddy told our visitors, apologetically, “Yes. I’m afraid you travelled all the way from America for THIS.”

C’est vrai: our cat’s popularity eclipses our own by quite some margin.

I was once asked, “Do random strangers really contact you and ask if they can visit your cat?” Well, it’s not quite as simple as them inviting themselves and me replying with, “Here’s our address, and I will leave you a key outside.” But, if you are a member of an online pet forum, over time you familiarise yourself with people and all the intricacies of their pets’ lives. And, whilst most of us wouldn’t suggest a meet-up with someone online whom we had only just met, if you have been chatting over many months, or even years, then they’re no longer random strangers.

I have often had this conversation with family and flesh-and blood friends, too:

Them: “So … people off the internet come to your house?”
Me: “Yes.”
Them: “But … you don’t know what they’re going to do!”
Me: “What do you mean? What’s the worst they could do?”
Them [in absolute seriousness]: “They might steal Louis Catorze.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Me: [Hysterical, lung-splitting laughter]

I appreciate that people online can pretend to be someone else, but no more so that one’s neighbour, one’s work colleague or the man in the pub; the only “truth” one is guaranteed from a face-to-face meeting is the absence of the filtered selfie. And, let’s face it, we’re not arms dealers or drug barons: we’re cat freaks. The most dangerous exchanges taking place between us will be catnip and, for the hardcore among us, a few Dreamies. (And, yes, I realise now that “catnip” sounds like marijuana, and “Dreamies” sound like ecstasy.)

I have met some thoroughly lovely people through Louis Catorze and all the stupid things that he does, and I am looking forward to welcoming more pilgrims over the coming years.

Cat Daddy: “They’ll be sorry. You mark my words.”

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*Thank you, Elizabeth, for the wonderful picture of le petit voyou!

Le Roi progresse: vive Le Roi!

Louis Catorze had his follow-up with the vet on Friday, and she was pleased to see that he has stopped attacking his tail. The tenderness and scabs have gone, and the tail is only looking moderately freakish now.

We are to keep up with the Gabapentin for at least a couple more months – he’s been on 5 pills a day for a week or so, as 4 didn’t quite seem to be keeping the tail-chasing under control – and part of the “aggressive treatment” stipulated by the specialist includes continuing the steroid shots alongside the pills, so Louis Catorze had one of those, too. It seems that a “more is more” approach is preferable and that, if in doubt, we’re to be heavy-handed with the treatment; if symptoms creep back, there is apparently a chance that the sensitivity could spread to other parts of the tail and even up the spine. And we definitely don’t want that.

Because Le Roi has been such a good boy without Le Cône – we even got away with it one day when he gave us both the slip and was unCôned and on the rampage for 12 whole hours – he is now allowed to be without it when we’re with him. But, the minute he’s unsupervised, it’s back on. I have been chided by people in the past for Côning him, on the grounds that it stresses him out, but … Cône stress or a chewed, bleeding tail? Had you seen the latter (photo too ugly to post here) or heard his pitiful cries of pain, believe me, you would choose Le Cône, too.

Although the appointment went well, we came away with one piece of sad news: the vet is leaving the practice to do voluntary work (probably with nicer and more grateful animals) in the Caribbean and to travel around Central America. She has lots of great colleagues who have been wonderful to Louis Catorze, but she knows him best and was our favourite. We have a couple of weeks to plan a leaving present for her; Cat Daddy suggested slipping Catorze into her backpack as a surprise (“There will barely be any extra weight”), but I was thinking more along the lines of some Sun King merchandise. Nothing says “Au revoir et bonne chance” quite like a t-shirt or sweatshirt bearing his face, as a reminder of the yowls, hisses and kicks that the poor vet has endured at the paws of her patient préféré.

The only question now is which of my 1,423 Roi photos to choose. I rather like this one:

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Rendre l’Amérique à nouveau grande

On this historic day, Louis Catorze is thinking of his American subjects. (Don’t ask me how but, yes, it is possible to be a U.S. citizen and also the subject of a French feline king.)

However, having studied the credentials of the two presidential candidates, he cannot help but find them lacking in certain areas, and feels that only one individual could take them on and do better.

Naturellement, that one individual is himself.

Here are Le Roi’s policies for his kitty comrades the world over:

Racial justice – vous shalt be nice to other cats of all colours, but especially to black ones
Trade – vous shalt be nice to humans provided there is something in it for vous
Workforce skills and job training – if vos humans do something undesirable, vous shalt vomit, urinate and defecate in the most inconvenient places possible, until they work out what their mistake is and correct it
Climate change – vous shalt snuggle vos humans when it turns cold outside, but treat them like utter merde at all other times
Health care – vous shalt be rushed immediately to the vet at the slightest sniff or lethargy, whereas vos humans shalt wait 10 days for a medical appointment even if their eyeballs are hanging out on visceral strings
Energy – vous shalt conserve as much as possible by doing nothing all day, then expend it by flinging votre self around at 3 o’clock in the morning like an exorcism gone wrong

Based on the above, even I’m starting to feel that America might be better off under Le Roi. Le Roi for president! Or, rather, given that his first constitutional change would be to make America a monarchy, Le Roi for roi!

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La chasse de trésor

Cat Daddy is back after his 2-week business trip to the States, and he came home laden with gifts including this fabulous cushion cover.

imageI had a feeling that his return would either calm Louis Catorze down a little or send him into an even more excitable and annoying frenzy. I was right about one of those.

The little sod won’t leave his papa alone and has been yelling, climbing all over him and staring at him with crazed, psycho eyes. And, as we all know, some cats are known to bring gifts to staff on such occasions as returning after an absence, but Le Roi has taken it a step further and has devised a sort of twisted treasure hunt.

On the morning of Cat Daddy’s return, I had to clean 2 perfectly round, 5p-sized drops of fresh blood from our bedroom floor. There were no other smears or trails, just 2 solitary drops. Yet a thorough inspection of Louis Catorze – well, as thorough an inspection as he would allow without slicing me up – revealed that he was neither hurt nor in distress.

This could only mean that the blood came from another entity. And there was every chance that this entity could be somewhere within the walls of Le Château.

My mistake was cleaning up the blood before Cat Daddy had seen it because, bien sûr, he didn’t believe me when I told him about it. His theory is that it could have been nail varnish (?), ignoring my protests of “But I only own 1 bottle of nail varnish and it’s glittery silver, not red” and the rather more pertinent “I think I know the difference between nail varnish and blood.”

So this thing, whatever it may be, remains unknown and unfound, despite our best efforts (or, rather, MY best efforts, as Cat Daddy refused to help me look for an imaginary corpse that had shed imaginary blood). And I know that, if we fail to find it by sight, in time it will deploy the next clue: the come-hither stench of death, to help us locate it by smell. Let’s hope Cat Daddy finds it before I do.