Le coeur vaillant

It’s a full moon tonight, which means more idiocy from the feline population of the planet. And, because we’re approaching Halloween, black cats, in particular, will be more idiotic than ever.

I got chatting yesterday afternoon to Bert the dog’s mamma, as we were putting out the recycling at The Front.

Now, Louis Catorze’s interactions with Bert are pretty minimal, which is why you haven’t heard much about him so far. Bert’s garden has lots of trees and shrubs against the fence, making it harder for Catorze to access it, and it also helps tremendously that Bert is getting on a bit, so his eyesight and hearing aren’t what they used to be. Not that this stops Catorze from making trouble when he feels like it; a friend who visited us once said, “I can’t believe what I’ve just seen. First Louis went over that fence [pointing to Bert the dog’s side] and pissed off that dog, then he went over THAT fence [pointing to Oscar the dog’s side] and pissed off THAT dog. Now the 2 dogs won’t shut up. Your neighbours must hate him – and you.”

Anyway, during our chat, Bert was happily sniffling and snuffling around his mamma’s feet. Louis Catorze had been asleep on the sofa but woke up, heard Bert and decided to follow me outside and scream at him.

Yes, I realise that normal feline instinct should spur him to run in the opposite direction from a dog. But this is Le Roi we’re talking about.

Bert’s mamma didn’t appear the slightest bit surprised by the screaming. In fact, she revealed that she often opened her front door to find Catorze on the doorstep, screaming away (at times when we knew he was at The Front but thought he was having a nap under our wisteria plant). And, apparently, if Bert was in the vicinity, our little sod would scream even more and sometimes try to shimmy past Dog Mamma and into the house.

Yesterday’s incident could have ended badly, but Le Roi’s royal arse was saved by the fact that Bert, incredibly, didn’t see or hear him. (No, I don’t understand, either, how anyone could fail to hear this whiny, searing meow that scrapes away at your eardrums like fingernails on a blackboard.) Then Bert’s daddy came out and said hello, which distracted Bert even further, allowing Catorze to tire of the screaming and pitter-patter back indoors.

This isn’t good, is it? Whilst I am glad that Catorze is confident and not a nervous, hunger-striking, pooing-and-peeing wreck, running screaming towards dogs isn’t exactly where I want him to be. I have heard of strategies to make a nervous cat more confident, but … making a fearless/stupid cat rein it in a bit? Is this even a thing?

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Protéger et servir

Cat Daddy and I are going on holiday in a few days’ time, and we have a friend coming all the way from Paris to look after Louis Catorze in our absence. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Le Roi is going to have an ACTUAL French person as his full-time, live-in majordome/esclave.

“Do you speak French to him all the time?” she asked us. “Because I intend to. So, by the time you come back, he won’t take any notice of anything you say.”

Louis Catorze, not following instructions? Whatever next?

Anyway, Cat Daddy and I are currently putting together a set of manuals for her reference. The Château manual was complete some time ago, and contains the following sections:

1. The Sonos multimedia system
2. The kitchen appliances
3. Local places of interest

The Roi manual, which is proving to be rather more of a lengthy task, contains the following sections so far:

1. Food
2. Drink
3. Play
4. Catnip (for medicinal purposes)
5. Nocturnal gadding about
6. Brushing
7. The vet
8. Dog warfare
9. Prey, dead
10. Prey, living
11. Prey, partially-living
12. Lockdown at The Front, and how to manage escapees
13. Health and safety drill for Ocado delivery drivers

“It’ll be fine,” said Cat Daddy. “What’s the worst that could happen …?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

He continued: ” … Apart from us returning home to find the place knee-deep in dead vermin like some post-apocalyptic horror film, and our poor friend crying in the corner?”

Right. Où est ma valise?

You will notice that there is no “Medication” section in the Roi manual, and that wasn’t an oversight: notre cher ami has officially been given the all-clear from his favourite vet, who is back from her travels for a short while. No more Gabapentin! He has had no relapses at all during his tapering-off detox programme and, whilst we will miss the little sod for the next couple of weeks, we know that he will be fine and that our friend will look after him wonderfully.

We just hope that he will be equally considerate in return.

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Aucune solution, que des problèmes

It’s been almost 2 weeks since Le Mur was constructed on our western border but, unfortunately, it hasn’t turned out to be the peacekeeping tool for which we had hoped.

In terms of obscuring Oscar and Louis Catorze from one another when they are on ground level, it has done its job. However, as we all know, cats have the huge advantage of being able to jump. And, because Le Mur is able to fully support Catorze’s weight (whereas the previous fence wasn’t), it means that the little sod is able to do this:

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In actual fact this shows him chirping sweetly and running to me for cuddles, having heard me open the door to take the picture. However, the unfortunate camera angle doesn’t reflect this and, instead, he looks like a determined, steely killing machine with his eyes locked on his enemy. And I suppose that’s what Oscar sees every time.

Worse yet, we had a brick barbecue built a couple of days later (also pictured), and Le Roi has decided to make use of this as a handy step-up to Le Mur. And, on windy days, when Le Mur is a little shaky and he can’t risk being whipped off his perch and dropped into the danger zone, Louis Catorze balances on the barbecue with his back feet, lifts himself up with his front feet and pokes his head through the trellis, safe in the knowledge that he has a solid base but also ensuring that Oscar will still get maximum annoyance from the sight of his stupid little face.

One day I will get a photo of this, because it’s the funniest thing in the world. I don’t suppose Oscar would agree, though.

Le mur

Donald Trump would be so proud of Oscar the dog: not only has he built a wall, but he has managed to get the humans to pay for it.

Except that it’s actually a 5ft fence, not a wall. And its purpose is mainly to keep the Sun King out of sight from Oscar, because of ever-deteriorating relations between the two parties.

Our previous wooden picket fence really wasn’t up to the job of separating the warring factions. Oscar would catch sight of Catorze through the slats and bark like a lunatic; Catorze would run to the fence, stare at him and meow back; this would drive Oscar doubly mad and more barking would ensue; Catorze would meow back again … and the two of them would continue in this fashion like a noisy, furry, 2-part perpetual motion machine until one, the other or both were undignifiedly hauled indoors.

Oscar’s thirst for revenge was eventually such that he began to pummel at the fence, which weakened progressively over many months and eventually gave way. Dog Mamma and Dog Daddy placed a multitude of obstacles and barriers in his way but, having learned and memorised where the weak spot was, Oscar was an unstoppable force. He would choose to strike when his folks were busy doing other things and sometimes actually succeeded in getting through, so I would have to call the Dog Parents and escort their boy off our premises.

And so the opaque fence was born.

Louis Catorze had great fun flirting with the men who put up the fence – they commented that he had kept them company throughout the construction process – but was highly displeased to find that he could no longer survey enemy territory. However, as you can see, he found a solution. Here he is on his new viewing platform – Oscar’s summer house – and, if you zoom in, you can just about make out his cheeky little open mouth, mid-meow. (Oscar is below, out of shot, snapping and circling like a hungry saltwater crocodile.)

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So, as one war ends, another begins. Being the Sun King’s peacekeeping force isn’t easy.

Le samedi soir est bien pour se battre

Louis Catorze has decided that one nemesis isn’t enough and so, now, he has a second.

In addition to his well-documented war on Oscar the dog next door, relations with Kiki the bichon frisé* have somehow gone from non-existent to merde totale.

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Kiki lives several doors down the street from us and Louis Catorze wouldn’t ordinarily have any contact whatsoever with her, were it not for the fact that he has started to bolt out of the front door whenever we open it. Last night he did this after dark, which meant that supervising him was impossible and therefore we had no option but to leave him and wait until he decided to come in. And, whilst he was out there, Kiki happened to be walking by and they had a huge altercation.

I opened the front door just in time to hear a voice say, “Come on, Kiki!” and to catch sight of this tiny white cloud of rage being dragged undignifiedly away. I had to hand it to her, though: she put up a darned good fight. And I don’t know what made her so mad with Catorze, but I suspect he asked for it.

Le Roi was startled enough to come pitter-pattering straight in after that. But the stubborn little sod refused to budge from the front door and sat firmly on the doormat, waiting to be released for Round 2.

Oh my.

I reported the incident to Cat Daddy and, when I told him the dog’s name, his eyes widened. “Ah, the Elton John dog!”

Excuse-moi?

“I’ve met that dog before, in the park,” he continued. “Her owners told me her name but I knew I’d forget, so I thought of Elton John to help me remember. But then, when I got home, I couldn’t remember why I’d picked Elton John to help me remember a small white dog, so I’ve just been calling her the Elton John dog.”

Right.

(If you were born in the 80s or later, ask your parents.)

So it seems we are now twice as unpopular as we were before, when Louis Catorze only had one nemesis.

The other problem arising from having two canine nemeses is that it doesn’t sound right to say “Oscar the dog” and “Kiki the bichon frisé”; one is generic and the other is more breed-specific. So now we’re going to have to call Oscar “Oscar the Yorkshire terrier”, which is double the number of syllables.

Le Roi is hard work. I shall say it again: it’s a good thing we love him.

*Picture posed by Max, and not actually by Kiki; somehow I didn’t quite feel up to knocking at Kiki’s door and saying, “Hello. Your dog hates my cat. Please may I have a photo?” Thank you to Max’s mamma Jill for letting me use this picture.

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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L’envahisseur

Apologies for the overload of Château news: it’s been more eventful than an omnibus episode of EastEnders lately, with one drama following another.

I had been expecting a peaceful and incident-free weekend and was quietly reading in the living room on Friday, with Louis Catorze fast asleep on a blanket next to me, when who should show his cheeky face but … Oscar the dog, unaccompanied, in our house.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, the perimeters of Le Château had been breached once more. And, puzzlingly, Louis Catorze completely failed to notice. I don’t think I will ever understand how he can be aware of Cat Daddy’s impending return home from work before the key is even in the door, yet not notice a dog a few feet from him, on his own territory.

Before the warring factions had a chance to lock eyes, I escorted Oscar out to The Back and informed Dog Daddy over the fence that we had an unexpected guest. He and Dog Sister were over like a shot and, luckily, the only casualty in this saga was a polystyrene tray that used to contain smoked haddock, which Oscar attacked when he jumped into, and rolled around in, our plastics recycling sack.

Louis Catorze woke up in time to see his sparring partner hauled back home but, apart from that, the whole désastre appeared to pass him by. Oscar, on the other hand, will be riding high on this for some time; when I asked the Dog Parents how the naughty boy was after his adventure, the reply was, “Triumphant.” (Thank you to Dog Daddy for the photo.)

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So, going forward, it seems as if we’re going to have to install one of those blaring, single-note klaxon alarms – you know, like the ones you get in science fiction movies when the alien escapes from confinement or when the deadly contagion leaks from the laboratory.

Or I guess we could just get a new fence.