Les amis pour toujours

A few days ago my friend Laura, whom I hadn’t seen since before lockdown and who also has a French cat, came by for a doorstep chat.

Louis Catorze was asleep in his box when she arrived (yes, the one labelled “Cats are not permitted to sit inside this box”) but he came out to greet her. He purred, flirted, nuzzled and rolled as if welcoming a long-lost friend, and I was so proud to have such a well-mannered boy.

My pride didn’t last long.

Shortly afterwards, Blue the Smoke Bengal and his mamma also came out to say hello and, whilst Laura was delighted to have double the cat value for her visit, Catorze let the side down rather badly by cornering Blue in That Neighbour’s garden and meowing in his face. Then the pair of them just sat there, and I had absolutely no idea what to do about it.

I had dreadful visions of trying to retrieve one or other little sod and That Neighbour coming out of his house at precisely that moment, wanting to know why I was scrambling undignifiedly among his plant pots. And I didn’t dare leave them unsupervised in case a fight broke out and That Neighbour ended up having to escort TWO miscreant cats off his premises instead of just one. (Yes, he does know both cats by sight. And, yes, he also knows where they live.)

So I just stood by uselessly and did nothing at all.

Luckily both cats decided to end their deadlock and return home, and That Neighbour is none the wiser. But I am, once again, mystified as to why Catorze would be disagreeable towards a cat who appears to want to be friends with him. This must be exactly what it’s like to have the awful kid whom nobody likes, and who is only invited to parties because the other parents are trying to be polite. If he were our human kid we’d be making him write a letter of apology right now, denying him his supper until he wrote it like he meant it.

Laura took this photo during the stand-off, and you can just about make out Blue’s rear end among the plant pots behind him.

Laura thinks the little sod looks cute. I think he looks creepy as hell and not remotely like someone I’d want as a friend.

I blame the parents.

La boîte de délices

Cat Daddy and I recently started ordering our fruit and vegetables from Oddbox, who rescue surplus produce: https://www.oddbox.co.uk

It’s not necessarily local, organic produce, nor can you choose the contents – apart from the weekly specials which you can chuck in as add-ons – but we don’t really care about any of that. We rather like the element of surprise and planning our meals around whatever we receive, and we feel good about the fact that we are making use of perfectly good fruit and vegetables that would otherwise have been thrown away.

Our favourite things are the bendy cucumbers, rejected for their bendiness. We also love reading all the ridiculous reasons why items end up being surplus e.g. who knew that pineapples could be rejected if the spiky leaf topping isn’t straight?

Cat Daddy’s most recent email from Oddbox featured photos of customers’ cats sitting in the empty delivery boxes, and I thought it might be nice to send them a picture of Louis Catorze doing the same thing.

Cat Daddy, scrolling through the photos: “Oh. All the other cats are really pretty.”

Me: “Meaning what?”

Him: “Well … you know.” [Long pause.] We can’t very well send them a photo of HIM, can we?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Anyway, the box sat in our living room for ages and, naturellement, the little sod wasn’t interested. I eventually had to deploy the old Reverse Psychology Trap (see writing on box) and BINGO: Catorze fell straight into it.

We will let you know if Oddbox decide to use his photo.

Cat Daddy: “[Indiscernible muttering]”

Can he resist forbidden (surplus) fruit?
GOT YOU ON TOAST, YOU LITTLE SHITE.
Comfortable?

Au clair de la lune

Cats and full moons, Mesdames et Messieurs: whatever you’ve heard, it’s all true.

A few nights ago, during the full moon, Louis Catorze’s behaviour was utterly out of control, with relentless hours of racing around, whining, screaming and so on. As usual, Cat Daddy slept through it and he didn’t believe me when I told him how dreadful it was.

Cat Daddy: “I might have heard maybe one meow, but that was it. Wasn’t it?”

No. Not by a long way.

Anyway, the next night we experienced similar chaos, no doubt because the moon remains full for a day or two before waning and therefore the psycho behaviour doesn’t just switch off. This time Cat Daddy DID witness it.

The next morning he said, “He was absolutely manic after you went to bed. Wouldn’t stop screaming. We went outside together and the screaming got worse. In fact, I followed him to the end of the garden, and I swear he was trying to lead me to something.”

Oh. Holy. Hell. At this point I actually felt my soul leave my body.

Just when we all thought Catorze couldn’t get any creepier, THIS?

Cat Daddy’s theories as to what it could have been:

1. Foxes

2. Another cat

3. Some sort of dead prey too bulky to drag through the gap in the fence

My thoughts:

1. Werewolves

2. Demons

3. A vortex leading to a parallel dimension, most likely the one from where Catorze originated in the first place

There is nothing visible at the end of the garden, nor on the other side of the fence, which could have been the source of Catorze’s animated mood. But, frankly, this makes it – and him – all the more terrifying, and I am now scared to be alone with the little sod.

Worse yet, it’s only July. What on earth is he going to be like in October, when his sinister Chat Noir power peaks and when we are set to have not one but TWO full moons?

Follow the black cat.

Une créature de la nuit, comme celles dans les BD

Now that summer is properly here, Louis Catorze is permanently out. And by that I don’t simply mean he is spending more time outdoors than he used to. I mean we never see him, EVER. Sometimes Cat Daddy has even had to cancel Boys’ Club meetings due to low attendance, which is unheard of.

Occasionally, when I go to bed, Catorze comes up with me and cuddles me until I fall asleep. But this is not a loving gesture; this is more like a teenager making sure his parents are properly asleep before sneaking out for some illicit partying. Once I’m asleep, Catorze is back downstairs bidding his papa a friendly “Bonsoir” and then he’s out.

As for what he does when he’s out, that rather depends on whether or not we can see him. If he’s in our garden, it’s not hard to monitor his activities which are usually as follows:

1. Rodent Duty (see below for a photo of him surveying the gap in the fence that separates the Zone Occupé from the Zone Libre)

2. Arguing with the local wildlife (see below for a photo of him taken just after I intervened in a scream-off with an absolutely furious parakeet)

Rather more worrying is what the little sod gets up to when we CAN’T see him. Quite often he disappears eastwards across the shed roofs and we hear mid-distance barking, which most likely means he has got as far as Twiggy the greyhound’s place about ten houses away. And I really don’t fancy his chances of outrunning her.

Most cats start to slow down when they reach double figures, but Catorze appears to have taken his lead from The Lost Boys* instead. He has mastered both sleeping all day and partying all night and, due to his diminutive kittenish stature, he ticks the “never grow old” box, too.

It’s fun to be a vampire.

*Younger followers: ask your parents.

Playing Whack-a-Rat.
He says the parakeet started it.

Les rats de ville

Our pubs are officially open from today.

However, Cat Daddy and his boozing buddies have decided that they won’t be heading back to the Cock and Bull* quite yet, and that they will continue their virtual drinking meets for the time being. This is great news for Louis Catorze, who loves the Friday night Zoom sessions with the boys, and even better news for me as I get to listen to their captivating chats and tell you all about them.

*I haven’t made this up. This is the actual name of the pub where they used to meet pre-lockdown. I KNOW.

Anyway, for those who are interested, their most recent meeting of minds consisted of the following topics:

1. Eric Clapton

2. Playing whole albums on Spotify/Deezer/Apple Music/whatever, versus only playing selected tracks

3. Who has the biggest car (Tim, Mike and Simon fought it out between them and couldn’t agree, so the conclusion remains inconclusive)

4. Plastering, and the fact that you can (apparently) now get paint which is the same colour as plasterboard

5. Lawn bowls

6. Sutton Beer Festival 1975, when (apparently) a naked lady climbed to the top of a marquee and a naked man chased after her

7. Pete’s summer house/shed, and whether it should be called a summer house or a shed

8. How much salt everyone adds when they’re cooking

In other news, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, CANNIBAL RATS. Oh yes. 2020 has already given us blazing infernos (Australia), raging floods (UK), a plague of locusts (Somalia) and a killer virus (erm, everywhere) but, if you drew “cannibal rats” in your workplace sweepstake as the next thing to go wrong in the world, you may well be in the money. On the positive side, the reopening of pubs may draw the little critters away from residential areas. But that’s about the only good news that there is.

Be warned, this link is a darkly comedic yet horrifying read:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/29/summer-of-the-cannibal-rats-hungry-aggressive-highly-fertile-and-coming-to-our-homes?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Thank goodness for Catorze and his relentless hours of Rodent Duty. Ok, so it’s not great that he brings them into the house, but I guess a dead rat in the house is somewhat preferable to a live one running freely and making little ratty babies. (There were many, many things in the above link that made me shudder, but “highly fertile” was by far the worst.)

Here is the little sod, having adopted an elevated position for a better view and continuing to take his civic duty very seriously indeed. So, good citizens of TW8, we can sleep soundly in our beds this summer.

All along the watchtower.

Le velours noir

Louis Catorze’s ears are now almost completely bald, and they look more like pigs’ ears than ever before.

Cat Daddy is convinced that the sunblock somehow “killed the hair follicles” so, even though this is highly unlikely, I stopped applying it just to see what would happen. But I think he has continued to lose fur even without the block, and now he looks like this:

“Où sont les poils?”

Although it looks highly unattractive, Catorze’s skin is not sore or inflamed and, in fact, he doesn’t even seem to know or care that the fur has gone. It’s certainly not bad enough to require a vet visit now but, if he’s still bald in September, I will be sure to mention it when I take him in for his booster jabs. Not that I really need to mention it, as it’s plain for all to see.

Fingers crossed that this is just a temporary blip, and that the little sod will be fully-furred soon.

Gémir comme un chien

Louis Catorze has a new sound.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, his repertoire of sounds is no longer limited to the ones mentioned here: https://louiscatorze.com/2018/11/11/je-gueule-donc-je-suis/. We can now add Le Chien Blessé to the list, and this sound is exactly as one would imagine.

If you have a dog, and your dog has ever been shut in a place that they really, really don’t want to be in, THIS IS THAT SOUND. It’s not far off Le Miaulement à la Bouche Fermée (no.1 on the above link) and I would probably place it in that same family, but there is something altogether more tragic about Le Chien Blessé. This horrendous whining scrapes at one’s eardrums and can be heard from anywhere in the house, irrespective of how quietly Catorze may do it and how far one may be from him.

I often go to bed long before Cat Daddy, who stays up watching television or listening to music. Catorze usually comes to bed with me and lies with me for a while, but then goes back downstairs for Boys’ Club. Occasionally he finds the living room door shut so, unable to access Le Club, he utters that sound to alert Cat Daddy to his predicament.

Unfortunately Cat Daddy is often engrossed in some film or programme, or he has his headphones on or some such thing, so he fails to hear Catorze. So Catorze whines again. And again. And again. At this point the sound wakes me from my deep sleep, and I have to send Cat Daddy a text message saying, “LET HIM IN.”

This sound is the second most annoying thing that there is. The only thing more annoying is the fact that I don’t have it on video. Here is Catorze, smug in the knowledge that I have no proof:

“Who whined? Pas moi.”

La masque de la mort noire

Good news: Brentford beat West Bromwich Albion on Friday night.

Bad news: although we desperately scoured the television for a glimpse of earless Louis Catorze on the giant banner, we weren’t able to spot him.

Even worse news: Brentford happened to score just as Cat Daddy was having an intimate papa-fils moment with his boy and, in his euphoria, Cat Daddy screamed in Catorze’s face and sent the poor little sod scuttling outside.

Cat Daddy felt absolutely terrible about it afterwards and was worried about having caused permanent damage to Boys’ Club and to their special bond. But, luckily, Catorze is as thick as mince and promptly forgot about the incident within seconds.

Brentford’s next home game is on 4th July. This also happens to be the day that social distancing rules will relax, and we will be allowed to maintain a distance of “1 metre plus” should 2 metres not be possible. Nobody quite knows what this means, but any system that relies on “the common sense of the British public” must be pretty foolproof, I guess. Ahem.

Pubs will also be open from 4th July, and people are saying, “Imagine how drunk everyone will be!” Erm, they know about drinking at home, right? Or is that just us?

Anyway, although Cat Daddy and I are planning to avoid shops, public transport and people for a little longer, we have bought some new masks just in case we are unavoidably forced to deal with any of the above.

Here is mine. No further words are needed:

Fangtastic.

Sous la chaleur du soleil

It is unbelievably, painfully, brain-vaporisingly hot. And Louis Catorze wants lap cuddles.

But, when he settles on me, it makes him/us even hotter. So he meows disdainfully as if it were all my fault and steps off.

But then he wants lap cuddles again. So he steps onto me and settles down once more. As before, this makes him/us too hot, so he meows disdainfully as if it were all my fault and steps off again.

The little sod has invented possibly the most annoying perpetual motion machine on earth: himself. And it will keep motoring along until one or other of us snaps and loses our shit.

My money is on me being first.

🎵 The heat is on. On my lap … 🎶

À l’intérieur, à l’extérieur

A couple of evenings ago, when Cat Daddy was putting out the recycling, Louis Catorze escaped out at The Front. Then he came to the window as we were watching television and stared in unflinchingly and creepily.

We ignored him and carried on watching television. He continued to stare.

Cat Daddy: “I’m going to have to let him in. I can’t stand to look at his eyes any longer.”

He opened the window. Catorze didn’t move.

Cat Daddy: “I’m going to count down from ten. If you’re not in by one, I’m shutting the window and you’re going to have to stay out there.”

Cat Daddy counted down. Catorze stood statue-still. The window was closed and Cat Daddy sat down.

Then the screaming started.

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable expletives, then] I’m not letting him in now. He can wait.”

The screaming continued.

Cat Daddy: “I’m still not doing it.”

The screaming continued.

Me: “The neighbours are going to be really annoyed by this.”

I was thinking, in particular, of That Neighbour, who got his nickname not because we don’t like him – we do – but because he is always the one who ends up escorting Catorze home when he causes mayhem at The Front. When I tell stories of his escapades and I ask friends to guess who brought him back, they always reply, “Oh God, not that neighbour AGAIN?”

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable expletives, then] Fine.”

This time the little sod came in as soon as the window was opened, only to go out at The Back immediately.

Cat Daddy: “If he wanted to be outside so badly, why didn’t he just stay out at The Front?”

Trying to figure out cat logic? Waste of time. Trying to figure out Roi logic? Seriously, don’t bother.

Let the right one in. This is the wrong one.