La chasse aux baies

Poor old Louis Catorze. Here he is, dutifully fixed to his post at the virginia creeper and utterly unaware that the tantalising sounds within are, in fact … falling berries.

Oui, mes amis: there are no birds, no mice and no bugs, nor has he discovered an opening to The Underworld. It’s just berries. Cat Daddy made this discovery during an alfresco session of Boys’ Club, and it perfectly explains not only why Catorze assigned himself to a spot too high for mice and too low for birds, but also why he hasn’t caught anything yet (not that we are complaining about this).

Anyway, he has spent most of the week still in the same place. No doubt he will be there today, tomorrow, the day after that, and the day after that. It would be tragic if it weren’t so utterly hilarious.

Le pouvoir du vampire

This week I asked some of my students whether they liked dogs or cats. They said cats. This is the correct answer.

The conversation then led to our own cats, past and present, including, of course, Louis Catorze, and at the end of the lesson I showed them a photo of him. They were utterly spellbound and speechless at the sight of his magnificent vampire fangs.

“Miss, he’s REALLY beautiful!” they exclaimed. “Can we see more pictures? Can we just look at cat pictures next lesson instead of doing work?” They will never know how much I wanted to say yes to this. French pluperfect tense grammar rules or cat photos? It’s a no-brainier, oui?

Anyway, the students now appear to be under the impression that people would pay a fortune for a black vampire cat, and they are devising a Dragons’ Den-worthy scheme to get rich by breeding Le Roi and having his hypothetical Reine birth lots of fanged babies. Cat Daddy spat his tea all over his newspaper when I told him this, and said, “Bad, bad idea. One: he has freakish physical and mental abnormalities that are best not passed on. Two: females aren’t his thing. Three: he has no balls and can’t reproduce anyway.”

Good points, well made. But, as the little sod’s big day approaches, I’m with my students on this one. I think that we have been blessed with a very special gift indeed, because who DOESN’T want a vampire cat at Hallowe’en? And it is my civic duty to share this gift with the world.

Cat Daddy again: “No. It’s really not.”

Toujours autant de pluie chez moi

Autumn is here! And that, invariably, means rain, but it doesn’t stop it from being my favourite time of the year.

Now, we all know that Louis Catorze doesn’t respond to anything in the way that a normal cat would, but his love of the rain is something that I find especially freakish. He loves it so much that he doesn’t simply linger outside if caught in a downpour: he will actually run FROM INDOORS TO OUTDOORS when he hears it. Imagine Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump when he’s on the boat, and that will give you a startlingly accurate image of what Catorze is like during a storm. Normal pets are usually hiding under the bed and praying for it to be over. Catorze, erm, isn’t.

If he’s not hunting – which he often is, as there is something about the rain that either flushes animals out of their hiding places, or flips Catorze’s “Urge To Kill” switch, or both – he will just shelter under our outdoor table and watch the rain, like this. (See video below, at the end of which you can just about catch Cat Daddy’s “Ugh!”) Sometimes Catorze will sit like this for hours.

Do any of your cats do this?

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Anyone?

Je suis une légende

Colder weather usually brings cuddling kitties, although they’re clearly just using us for our warmth and haven’t suddenly decided that they really like us. Louis Catorze, however, is still spending as much time outside as he did during the summer months, and his Short Man Syndrome has been getting him into trouble with foxes. This is not good. 

Last Tuesday a fox ran through our garden and he thought it would be a good idea to run after it, screaming. He chased as far as the gap under the fence at The Back, all puff-tailed and indignant, watching the intruder disappear into the distance and not budging until he was certain that it had gone. 

And, on Friday night, he had another stand-off with another fox, this time at The Front. As you know, he isn’t allowed out at The Front unsupervised because he can’t be trusted but, when he bolts out unexpectedly when we get back from an evening out and refuses to be caught, we can’t do much apart from keep the window open, watch nervously and hope he will decide to come in. 

We thought Catorze’s screaming was bad, but he has nothing on Monsieur Renard. Everything we thought we knew about fox sounds was blown right out of the water after experiencing this hellish din. Imagine, if you will, a modern horror movie in which the lead zombie – of chillingly superior intelligence compared to the others – throws back his head and emits a piercing war-cry, the signal for his comrades to destroy the last few pathetic humans. THAT is what Monsieur Renard sounded like. And, terrifyingly, not only was he glaring straight through the bars of the park fence at Catorze as he made this unforgettably dreadful sound, but CATORZE WAS GLARING AND SCREAMING BACK. 

“Aw, they want to be friends!” cooed Cat Daddy. “That’s so cute. Let’s leave them to it.”

I really didn’t want to do that, yet Catorze was NOT coming in and repeatedly darted out of my way when I tried to grab him. I have no idea what the neighbours must have thought but, unfortunately, they all know the little sod well enough by now.

Eventually, after more gut-wrenching zombie-hollering from Monsieur Renard, Sa Maj did come in through the window, and a punch-proud Cat Daddy rough-cuddled his boy and commended him for “showing the fox who was in charge at Le Château”. I would far rather he retreat and mind his own business, but nobody in this household seems that concerned with what I think. 

October – and therefore the Season of the Black Cat – started today. And I fear that this means things are only going to get worse. 

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La joie de l’automne

Today is the autumn equinox, which signifies the start of my favourite time of the year. Normally I would mark this by lighting a scented candle but, because of a certain sneezing little sod, this is now off limits. (He actually hasn’t sneezed in a while, but we are being cautious as we really don’t want another trip to the vet.)

And, if my memory serves me correctly, this time last year I had also hoped to treat myself to a relaxing spa bath but the same little sod ruined it by battering at the bathroom door and screaming himself senseless. So I guess that is also off limits … unless, of course, I invite him in to make use of the steam to clear les narines royales.

Instead, Cat Daddy and I will be celebrating with Louis Catorze cuddles – which, despite everything, are always a treat – and fillet steak when we get home from our autumn walk. And, yes, Catorze will be getting a little sliver of steak with his dinner. (His preference is medium-rare. Thank you for asking.) 

Happy autumn to you all. Here is Sa Maj, resplendent among the Japanese anemones, heralding the new season in the only way he knows how: 

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La première pluie de l’automne

I adore the autumn equinox: a deeply mystical, spiritual time of year during which we reflect upon the year to date and give thanks for our blessings. As I had the day off work today, my plan was to relax and immerse myself in the magic of this beautiful season; however, the reality was this petite crotte de merde battering at the bathroom door and screaming like an air raid siren, destroying my dreams of a de-stressing spa morning.

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The battering and screaming started as soon as I got into the bath, and I thought, “I plan to stay in here for at least half an hour. He can’t possibly keep this up for THAT long.”

He did. And, naturellement, when I finally opened the door to leave the bathroom after 30 minutes of eardrum assault, he no longer wanted to come in.

Part of the essence of the autumn equinox is deciding what to relinquish in order to grow and prosper. Right now, the only thing on my list is 3.46kg of noisy black fur.

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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Le Roi brûlé

Oh my goodness: Louis Catorze has burnt himself.

I have no idea where – I checked him over to the best of my ability, dodging the kicks like an Olympic Tae Kwon Do champion, to find no singed fur or skin – but he came indoors a couple of nights ago in a cloud of that unmistakable, gut-wrenching, burnt hair stench. He wasn’t the slightest bit bothered – in fact, he didn’t even seem to be aware of it – but, unsurprisingly, the thought of him rolling about in flames doesn’t fill me with joy.

So, one word: how? Autumn, the season of garden bonfires, may well be here, but only just. Most gardens are still clinging onto the last remains of summer; we even have tomatoes in ours, and you can’t get summerier than that. None of our neighbours have had bonfires lately, and it’s definitely not from cigarette ash because he doesn’t smell smoky, just burnt. So I can only imagine he has sneaked into someone’s house and pitter-pattered headlong into a candle flame. This is not good.

I asked some of our neighbours whether Louis Catorze had ever tried to get into their houses, and 3 of our 4 closest ones confirmed that he had, on more than one occasion. (And the only reason why the 4th neighbour didn’t give the same response is because they weren’t home when I went to ask.) Bert the dog’s folks, rather alarmingly, informed me that they regularly had to fight to keep Catorze out, and that he would persist in trying to get past their door even with Bert growling away on the other side. Oh dear.

Now … do I let them know that at least one of their barricades has failed? Or is this yet another of those moments where an anonymous neighbourhood poster would be more appropriate? “Warning: combustible French cat on the rampage. Watch out when lighting hobs, bonfires and candles.” That should work, oui?

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La fraternité noire

Today is a rather bittersweet day. I look forward to 1st October all year as it signifies the start of the Halloween countdown and the Season of the Black Cat, but this year it also marks the fact that we have now had Louis Catorze for longer than we ever had his big brother, Luther. That makes me a little sad because, when we adopted Luther, we expected to have much more time with him. Nobody adopts a cat and plans to only keep them for 2 years, 2 months and 10 days.

That said, if Luther were still with us, Louis Catorze certainly wouldn’t be. When we discovered him, he’d already been waiting for a home for 15 months; had we not come along at that point, who knows how long he would have continued to wait? (Cat Daddy just read that bit, rolled his eyes and said, “Some other stupid suckers would’ve come along eventually.”)

We were initially drawn to Louis Catorze because, subconsciously, we wanted another Luther. But, in fact they couldn’t be more different: Luther’s face was chiselled and angular whereas Catorze’s is spherical (see pictures); Luther was sleek whereas Catorze is plushy; Luther wandered for miles and we’d often spot him in parts of the neighbourhood where he had no business going, whereas Catorze tends to stay close by; Luther was a healthy, intelligent thoroughbred whereas Catorze, erm, isn’t. But, over the last 2 years, 2 months and 11 days we have really enjoyed discovering these differences, and now we’re rather glad of them.

So, whilst we won’t exactly be celebrating this day, we will be giving Sa Majesté lots of love, thanking the universe for flinging him our way despite the heavy price we paid, and looking forward to the Season of the Black Cat. We hope you have an equally lovely day with your furry overlords of whatever colour.

 

Je lutte, donc je suis

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Happy autumn equinox to all pagans and pagan-sympathisers! This is usually one of my favourite days of the year because it means that the whole of the glorious season of autumn, and the countdown to Halloween – the ultimate celebration of the black cat – are ahead of me and still to be enjoyed. However, on this occasion I’m a bit ticked off because a certain little sod has an infected wound and has had to go to the vet.

Cat Daddy was working from home today and noticed that Louis Catorze wouldn’t stop licking and scratching the top of his head. Then, when he sent me a photo (too disgusting to feature here, hence why I’ve used a pretty autumnal flower instead), I knew he would need an antibiotic shot, so off to the vet they went. To his shock, Cat Daddy was told that the shape and position of the wound made it very likely to be a fight injury.

I almost fell over when he broke the news to me. Fighting is just so … well … VULGAIRE. I thought I’d raised my boy better than this. What’s more concerning is that, although our neighbours have reported seeing Louis Catorze in their garden “having a stand-off with a very pretty tabby”, we’ve only ever seen one other cat in our garden on one occasion during our first couple of weeks at Le Château, and not a single cat since. With whom is he fighting? Where? And how on earth can I do anything about it if I don’t see it?

Luckily Louis Catorze remains utterly unbothered both by the vet visit and the wound (and, presumably, the fight) but I’m going to have to keep an eye on him. Clearly my theory about him being too stupid to get into trouble is wildly inaccurate.