Une demeure d’or et de pluie

Cat Daddy: “Where’s that cat when we need him?”

Autumn is coming, and Le Roi is getting fat. Well, not FAT fat, and certainly not as fat as the squirrel above, but he has an especially meaty, furry look about him. He has never been a cat who chubbed up much during the colder months but, maybe, now that he’s a senior gentleman*, he has decided to start.

*Cat Daddy: “He’s a manky old man.” I refrained from mentioning that, if we convert human years to cat years, Catorze is only a year older than him.

Who ate all the Orijen?

The little sod seems not to realise it’s the day of the autumn equinox, and is still firmly in summer mode. He’s constantly out. And not only does he conduct ICB to the east of us, in the direction of where Twiggy the greyhound lives, but he has also been heading westwards to Blue the Smoke Bengal’s place. Sometimes Blue’s mamma chats to him, and he chats back.

As summer gives way to autumn, Catorze continues to live his best life. Here he is, enjoying one of the last few September sunsets from Blue’s shed roof:

Happy Roi.

La chance d’être un chat noir

Hallowe’en is over for another year. Louis Catorze had an absolute blast, and luckily we only had to manage one (1) escape out at The Front, just a minute or two after sunset.

The little sod was on top form for his big weekend. In fact, come to think of it, he has been on top form ever since autumn started. This is somewhat unusual for him; although we often refer to his rising psycho levels during La Saison du Chat Noir, his skin and fur are usually at their best in the summer. However, this June, July and August, he appeared to get worse, not better, forcing us to continue his steroid treatment through the summer for the first time. And, despite the drugs, he still managed to look like something that had just crawled out from under a bridge, to the point where we had to be VERY careful of escapes out at The Front in case some well-meaning citizen scooped him up and took him to an animal rescue.

At this point we resigned ourselves to the fact that age was catching up with him, and that autumn would, most likely, see him deteriorate further still. However, in actual fact the reverse happened and he smartened up. His gross dandruff, which had started to return since we stopped the beauty oil, has disappeared, he’s started to gain weight (3.27kg now), and his fur is thick and glossy.

It could be the Orijen, or the daily blastings with the purifying beeswax candles (yes, I’m still doing that). Most likely it’s the drugs. But Sa Maj has never spent an autumn looking this good. Whatever the reason, we will take it.

Hallowe’en may have come to an end, but let’s hope it’s not the end of this black kitty’s run of good luck.

Off to seek more mischief and bullshittery.

Les bisous du vampire

People who haven’t experienced the horror joy of meeting Louis Catorze often assume his photos to be fake, because his fangs don’t look as if they should belong on any actual cat (nor, indeed, on any animal known to zoological science).

I’m quite flattered at the assumption that I would be knowledgeable enough to doctor pictures so convincingly but, no, they aren’t altered; those teeth are the work of Mother Nature and her brief dalliance with Satan. The fangs stick out permanently whether his mouth is open or closed, but how much depends on a number of things: the camera angle, the direction in which Catorze is looking, and also his mood. Yes, his mood. If he’s in a psycho, playful mood, for reasons that we cannot fathom, his fangs are more prominent.

In a way this is a good thing, because gives us some warning that things are about to go awry. However, there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Here are some of the many faces of Le Roi, taken over the course of this year, showing how much the visibility of the fangs can vary. That last one may well be recycled as his Official Hallowe’en Portrait for this year, as I don’t imagine he will be remotely compliant when it comes to posing for that later this month.

Invisible fangs.
Just a hint of fangs.
HOLY HELL.

Le réveil-matin

I have ditched my stupid Lumie Bodyclock. As well as being painfully difficult to set and reset (and, to be fair, the reviewers warned me but I didn’t listen), it doesn’t keep very good time and loses five minutes every couple of months or so. For a clock, this is the most useless quality I can imagine. Nothing else could possibly make a clock more useless than this.

However, Louis Catorze is at hand to wake me up in the mornings. Regretfully he doesn’t do this at the hour that I want, nor the NUMBER of times that I want, but not doing what we want him to do is a recurring theme when it comes to life with him, and we are quite used to it by now. Cat Daddy talks about shutting him outdoors at night, but then he would just go on the rampage around the neighbourhood. And, in a “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer” kind of way, I would rather know where he is than have to wonder.

Incidentally, Catorze’s voice has now returned to “normal” after his surgery and he is back to sounding like a whiny child whose mummy has told him that he can’t have any ice cream. However, since October hit, his purr has become louder. Figure THAT one out. And, whereas he used to scream/whine outside the bedroom to wake Cat Daddy after I’d left for work, he now starts the racket BEFORE I HAVE EVEN LEFT, and also scratches at the door. Mon Dieu.

The little sod is absolutely feral at the moment, bouncing around, racing through corridors with his silly little feet skidding on the floorboards, screaming and with an all-consuming desire to escape out at The Front. It’s all too much. God only knows what he will be like on Hallowe’en.

The energy of the Saison du Chat Noir really has given Catorze a shot of adrenaline. He didn’t need one, but I guess that’s our problem, not his.

No rest.

Une heure de plus

October is here and, as you are no doubt aware by now, this month fills me with pure and absolute joy. However, any minute now, the black cats of the world will collectively lose their shit. That bit isn’t going to be quite so joyous.

Louis Catorze is glossy-furred, full of energy and READY.

This year we have been blessed with a long Hallowe’en. Thanks to Daylight Saving Time coming to an end and the clocks going back by an hour on Sunday 31st, we have an extra sixty minutes of the big day. Somehow this fits perfectly with the whole idea that, during these periods when the veil between the worlds is thin, time does not function as it should.

Unfortunately it also means we will have an extra hour of Catorze’s nonsense. Not only is he a natural conduit for all things evil, irrespective of the state of the veil, but merely being in his presence appears to make time malfunction; if he is doing something idiotic and we are willing him to stop, time can stand still.

Last year he surprised us all by actually NOT misbehaving, mainly because he was having so much fun attending to Important Full Moon Hallowe’en Cat Business in the Zone Libre that he just forgot.

Let’s hope he’s not planning to make up for it this year.

He’s so ready that he’s even dressed for the occasion with a cobweb bracelet.

La Cape d’Invisibilité est de retour

Cat Daddy and I returned home from the cinema not long ago, to be greeted at the door by Louis Catorze and his raspy screaming. Yes, his voice is different since his surgery; whereas he used to sound like a whiny child whose mummy had just told him that he couldn’t have any ice cream, now I would describe his sound as “chain-smoking drag queen”.

I even wonder whether the sounds he makes mean different things now, like those people who wake up after an operation or a head injury and are able to speak a new language. My friend Lizzi thinks Catorze is now Russian, and I can’t say I would be remotely surprised if this were true.

Anyway, after his initial bonjour/Привет, the little sod disappeared back upstairs and was gone for ages. It’s unusual for him to be absent at length at that time of the night, so eventually I went to look for him to make sure he hadn’t crawled under a bed and died of some horrific post-surgical complication.

He was nowhere to be found.

Cat Daddy: “He must be there somewhere.”

Me: “Trust me, I’ve looked everywhere. There’s nowhere left to look.”

Cat Daddy: “I suppose as a last resort you could try The Front, but I know he’s not there. I saw him run back upstairs.”

I opened the front door.

There he was. And, no, we have absolutely no idea how he is doing this.

Autumn is only just getting started. And I fear that the same may be said of Catorze.

Be afraid. We certainly are.

La saison de la citrouille

It’s autumn! And I swear I can actually feel Louis Catorze’s powers growing with the new season, quite possibly because it’s peak visiting time for pilgrims and his creepy kitty sixth sense knows this. He has one visitor coming all the way from the west coast of Ireland at the weekend, and two more, who have been before, are returning in October. (Cat Daddy: “Really? Most people who’ve seen him once don’t bother coming back.”)

Catorze is at peak energy at the moment, gallivanting all night, chasing squirrels, guzzling down Orijen, screaming (in his new, post-surgery voice – more about that another time) and I don’t suppose it helped that we gave him a steroid shot the night before the full moon, but it’s too late to do anything about that now. His fur is thick and shiny and, for an old boy, he seems in fine form. No doubt part of it is due to the drugs, but at least 83% of it is him being a bit unhinged anyway. I dread to think what he will be like on Hallowe’en.

Speaking of which, this year, against all the odds, our lone pumpkin plant survived. The flower that I photographed in early July was a largeish tennis ball by the time we came back from holiday. Cat Daddy was a little disappointed that it was green and not orange – neither of us realised that pumpkins changed colour – but, towards the end of August, it had begun to turn. I would have been grateful for any pumpkin at all, whatever the colour, but the fact that it’s an orange one makes me very happy indeed.

Now all we have to do between now and 31st October are to nurture it and pray for no unfortunate incidents (doable), and to get Catorze to pose beautifully next to it for this year’s Official Hallowe’en Portrait (somewhat more challenging).

Here are some pictures of its progress (with a 20p coin for scale, which was later removed when I realised it was leaving a mark), plus one of my warm-up photos with Catorze. The final masterpiece really won’t be much better.

Tennis ball.
Smallish football.
Just starting to turn.
Oranger.
Oranger still.
For goodness’ sake.
More orange than not.
Hallowe’en-ready.

Le bal masqué

Cat Daddy: “What were you ordering from Amazon at 7:30 this morning?”

MERDE. I keep forgetting that the order notifications go through to his phone and not mine.

Me: “Erm …”

Him: “???”

Me: “Erm … ahem … Hallowe’en costumes for [Puppy Mamma]’s dogs.”

Him: “[Unrepeatable expletives]”

Me: “…”

Him: “Does she know that you’re buying them?”

Me: “Yes. She was going to buy some anyway.”

Him: “So why couldn’t you just let her be stupid on her own? Why did you have to be stupid as well?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Anyway, when he saw the photos he laughed. And, as we all know, once laughter takes place it automatically invalidates the right to criticise.

Here are the Nala the dog and Gizzy the [insert name of species] trying out their costumes. Louis Catorze, of course, is smug in the knowledge that he doesn’t need a costume because he’s scary enough as he is.

Photo created by Puppy Mamma – and she couldn’t resist including an evil-looking, fanged Catorze.

La vengeance de l’écureuil

Merde, merde and thrice merde: it really is kicking off at Le Château right now.

Earlier this week, Cat Daddy found this object (below, with a 5p coin for scale) whilst sweeping up the leaves at The Front. He thought it was a piece of faux fur from someone’s coat, but a few enquiries among my cat freak friends seem to suggest that it’s … a squirrel’s tail.

It’s all going a bit Godfather here in TW8.

Now, although squirrels can apparently lose their tails during combat, I highly doubt that Louis Catorze could ever be fast enough to catch one. But what a coincidence that we found the tail 24 hours after we glimpsed him howling, growling and swishing his puffy tail at an unknown adversary at The Front.

And, on the day of our grim discovery, we noticed that his left eye was looking sore and scratched. Our theories are as follows:

1. He is allergic to the merino wool scarf that I made recently (unlikely as I finished it and gave it to the recipient three weeks ago, plus Catorze was barely even in the HOUSE when I was knitting it, let alone in the room)

2. He has come into contact with some noxious matter outside which has irritated him (highly likely for the reason given above, i .e. he is constantly outdoors)

3. Cat Daddy’s theory: a squirrel took offence at having its tail lopped off by Catorze and punched him in the face (also highly likely, not to mention shameful on many levels)

I gave Sa Maj a steroid pill (left over from his course in the spring) the day we discovered the problem, just in case it was option 1 or option 2, and it seems to be preventing things from deteriorating. I would never normally advocate giving medication without consulting the vet first, of course, but the soonest available appointment is on Monday morning and I know from bitter experience how Catorze’s condition can turn from concerning to utterly catastrophic in an instant. Trust me, had you seen the worst photos from February and March (unpublished on here and unseen by all but a strong-stomached few), you would want to pill him too.

Worse yet, this afternoon I am heading over to the south coast for my annual Halloweekend celebration with my sister, so I won’t be around if things turn bad. I am aghast at Catorze’s timing yet, at the same time, he has previous in this department so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had planned it all just to spite me and to get extra love from Cat Daddy during their lads’ weekend together.

Please keep your fingers crossed that we won’t have to deploy Le dreaded Cône. Not now. Not in the run-up to Full Moon Hallowe’en.

Le décor de la saison

Now that October is well under way, I can officially start filling Le Château with Hallowe’en paraphernalia without looking like a complete freak.

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable expletives.]”

I have just discovered a website of fabulous seasonal decorations, and I am having to sit on my hands to stop myself from ordering because I can see it escalating dangerously. The merchandise itself is quite pricey, and the fact that it’s an American site means that the postage will also be ruinously expensive, so, rather like smoking or doing drugs, it’s probably better not to start at all than to start and then try – and fail – to moderate.

If you like Hallowe’en decorations and you have more self-restraint than I do, have a look here: https://www.grandinroad.com/halloween-haven/#1

My friend Lizzi has been shopping a little closer to home – TK Maxx, to be precise – and here is one of her purchases from earlier this year, in preparation for the spooky season:

Reminds me of someone …

I know. I didn’t know what to say, either.

Whoever designed this object has clearly either met Louis Catorze or been astral-visited by him during a nightmare, because this is exactly what he looks like when he screams. I guess at least Lizzi won’t require any kind of protective amulet to ward off demons on full moon Hallowe’en night. Because not even Satan himself would set hoof on a property containing this monstrosity.

Lizzi’s cat Boots also doesn’t know quite what to make of his mamma’s purchase. Just look at his “… the hell is THIS?” expression:

“Put down the debit card and step away from the shop.”

What do your cats think of your seasonal decorations? I know that the answer is likely to be either “Couldn’t give a hoot” or “Ripped them to shreds” but I’d love to hear anyway.

Les araignées de la nuit

*WARNING: CONTAINS POTENTIALLY TRIGGERING SPIDER REFERENCES AND A (PRETTY RUBBISH) DRAWING OF ONE*

The autumn equinox is here, and this time of year always fills me with deep, deep joy. The one thing I don’t like about it, however, is the fact that it’s spider season.

I know, I know, they help us out by catching flies. But still … *shudder* …

Despite living opposite a park, we don’t seem to have encountered too many of the little critters as yet. I can’t help hoping that the summer heatwave dried them all to a crisp but, in reality, it’s probably because it’s uncharacteristically warm. So they must still think it’s summer and just haven’t thought to creep into our houses as yet.

Although I spent much of my childhood and early adulthood with crippling arachnophobia, these days I don’t mind sharing my space with a spider. Given the choice, I would obviously rather not. But I can cope, as long as it’s small and it stays the hell away from me. Plus we have a cat who kills and eats creepy crawlies. So, all is good, oui?

Not quite.

Of course this is Louis Catorze we’re talking about, so there’s a little twist to the tale.

Catorze is the Happy Gilmore of spider hunters. In case you haven’t seen the film, it’s about a baseball-player-turned-golfer who can manage a hole in one from miles away, but not a short, easy putt of a few centimetres. This is the perfect analogy for Catorze and spiders. He is great at spotting faraway spiders who are just minding their own business at the other end of the room, and he will happily leap off laps to eat said beasties straight off the wall or the floor, even in the dark. But a spider that is right in front of him: nope. If I place him next to a spider he just looks straight through it, then looks gormlessly at me and pitter-patters off.

I hope that the spider population will keep a respectable distance this autumn. And, if not, I hope that I will have some success with my arachno-tutelage of Catorze. The picture below shows my ingenious scientific spider-eating training in action, and naturellement it takes into account the cat’s innate predisposition towards doing the opposite of whatever is expected or wanted:

Yes, those big spider eyes are cat biscuits.

*EDIT: I’ve just been told that Happy Gilmore played baseball, not golf. Serves me right for getting drunk during the film!

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?