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 Trust me, had you seen the worst photos from February and March (unpublished on here and unseen by all but a strong-stomached few), you would want to pill him too.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?

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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