Le livre d’or

IMG_9957Thanks to our lovely new friend from Mexico, Louis Catorze now has a visitors’ book.

Cat Daddy: “Visitors’ book? Not even we have a visitors’ book!”
Me: “Yeah, but, to have a visitors’ book, you need visitors. Who’s coming to see us in the next couple of weeks?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

The magnificent book is a work of art like no other, with textured letters on the front cover, spiral binding, stylish ribbon closure and photos of the little sod. There are also thick, onyx-black pages for pilgrims to write declarations of devotion to the Sun King, using special white and metallic pens also gifted by our generous guest.

The only problem was how to backdate entries from the throngs of pilgrims who have already been? Luckily, upon learning of the visitors’ book, they have taken matters into their own hands by vowing to return to Le Château to see Catorze again and write messages to him. We already have a provisional booking for 2 people for late September, and I suspect that October will be insane as everyone starts to crave their Halloween vampire kitty fix.

I thought about ending this blog entry with: ‘Book soon to avoid disappointment’. However, Cat Daddy says he would prefer to go with, ‘A small, black portion of disappointment will be served on arrival’.

 

Les pèlerins du Roi Soleil

IMG_8830I can’t think of the last time one of my friends was organised enough to make plans with me several months ahead of time. However, not only does a certain little sod have people who are, but they happily come from all over the place to see him.

The Sun King had a lovely day yesterday with one of his beloved and generous pilgrims (see above for the fabulous gift that he received) and he has further pilgrimages arranged for as far ahead as September, from as far away as Mexico.

Prior to receiving his pilgrims, Cat Daddy and I often have a conversation like this:

“So, who’s coming today?”
“[Insert name of pilgrim].”
“Where are they coming from?”
“Somewhere north of, erm … the equator.” [I usually mumble the words “the equator” to try and make it sound like an actual place.]
“What do they do for a living?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are they single or married?”
“I don’t know.”
“How old are they?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how old do they look in their Facebook profile photo?”
“I don’t know, because their Facebook profile photo is of a cat.”
“So you haven’t asked our guest ANYTHING about themselves?”
“Erm, well, I know about their cats.”
“Of course you do.”
“There’s Buddy, who’s black with 3 white feet and a white chest, who weighs 4.2kg. He’s going to be 2 on 7th November and he once brought a mouse and put it into [Pilgrim]’s laptop bag. And there’s Princess, a seal point Siamese weighing 5.1kg, who celebrated her 8th birthday last week and who is scared of the vacuum cleaner but fine with the hairdryer.”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

I know this must sound as if I’m not interested in people. I am. But, quite often, I’m more interested in cats. And, luckily, I know that not a single one of Louis Catorze’s pilgrims will be insulted by this, because they all feel the same way.

They are, after all, coming to see him, not me.

 

Tremblez, tyrans!

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Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Louis Catorze has finally encountered another feline visitor to Le Château.

We saw the pair of them narrowing their eyes at each other, not quite sure which way things were going to go and feeling anxious as this dude was larger than Le Roi. Then Cat Daddy yelled, “Shit! Louis has gone for him!”

We don’t know whether Louis Catorze lunging at the interloper was an attack or a “Youpi! Let’s play!” But the photo was (hurriedly) taken just as he had chased Ginger Impinger into the greenhouse, and GI was desperately seeking an escape route. He suddenly knew that he was cornered, and Louis Catorze (possibly) realised then that his nouvel ami didn’t want to play. It may also have dawned on Catorze that he was at a major disadvantage, not only in age and size but also in height, with GI having taken an elevated spot high up on a shelf. Neither of them quite knew what to do with themselves, and that was when we decided to intervene and escort the newcomer off the premises.

Whilst this wasn’t the most successful of meetings, we were relieved that our boy had chosen to play/defend instead of scurrying indoors, terrified. In fact, after coming indoors briefly to refuel, he was straight back out there within minutes, demonstrating that he’s either very brave or just plain forgetful.

So Le Château is still the solid royal stronghold that it always was, the monarchy remains intact, and pesky challengers to the crown have been well and truly dealt with. Tout est bien qui finit bien.

La chatière

There has been a cat flap malfunction here at Le Château. Whilst it still permits Louis Catorze to come and go as he pleases, it now makes a buzzing sound as he passes through. I had intended to contact Sureflap to ask them how to stop it, but I’ve had so much to do that I’ve not had a chance. That said, it doesn’t seem to be bothering him in the slightest; in fact, it’s quite funny hearing it and imagining Louis Catorze swiping his security pass and buzzing himself in.

Hearing it throughout the night doesn’t amuse us quite so much, though. It’s not especially loud – certainly not loud enough to permanently disturb our sleep – but it’s certainly made us aware of how many times Louis Catorze goes in and out whilst we’re asleep. He used to spend the whole night in our bed with us, but recently he’s become more adventurous and he’s started to go gadding about outside between 11pm and 6am. Occasionally he’s on our bed when we wake up but, more often than not, he’s still outside. Then, after I leave for work, he returns to bed, clambers all over Cat Daddy and hollers in his ear, and I receive a flurry of annoyed texts calling Louis Catorze some very rude names and threatening to lock him out all night.

There was something reassuring about knowing that our boy was with us all night, and I feel distinctly less comfortable at the prospect of him gallivanting around the neighbourhood. But, short of locking him in overnight (which I know he would hate), there’s not much I can do about it. The fact that The Back is very enclosed, far from cars and dogs, comforts me a little. As does the fact that Louis Catorze is too stupid to get into any proper trouble.

So, unless he comes home shredded to smithereens or otherwise traumatised, I think I shall just leave him to it. I can’t say I see the appeal of the cold autumn outdoes versus a cosy, warm anti-allergy bed with eye-wateringly expensive John Lewis duvet cover, but then I don’t suppose this will be the last time Louis Carorze does stupid shit that nobody can understand.

Le Roi se sauve: vive Le Roi!

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This summer holiday hasn’t quite been as I’d expected. I was so looking forward to 6 glorious weeks at Le Château with Louis Catorze, drinking cocktails in the garden with him at my feet, listening to “Just The Two Of Us” by Bill Withers, that kind of thing. For a very short while, that’s how it was. But as soon as Louis Catorze’s allergy kicked in, I lost my sweet, affectionate little boy to the evil clutches of the Forbidden Greenhouse and Le Rouleau Suisse. (The picture is a month old, taken before his Mega-Sulk started, because his allergy is too unpleasant to photograph.)

I made the decision to close the door to the Forbidden Bedroom containing Le Rouleau, which was tricky as it’s impossible to check whether or not he’s actually in Le Rouleau first. I had many failed attempts whereby I would spy him in the corridor and race him to the Forbidden Bedroom to shut the door, but he would always sense when I was on my marks and beat me to it, bouncing deftly over the boxes and into Le Rouleau before I could even clutch the door handle. Luckily, I’m just as stubborn as he, so I just kept up my attempts until, eventually, I succeeded. And, fortunately, it hasn’t driven him into the Forbidden Greenhouse, as I had feared: his New Sulking Spot of Choice is now under our bed, but I’m happier about this as it’s cleaner and has had a dust mite controller fizzing away for well over a month.

What also hasn’t helped his sulkiness is the fact that I’ve had to increase the frequency of his meds; not only does he déteste being medicated (and what cat doesn’t, apart from that white YouTube cat who happily laps up medicine from the end of the syringe as if it were liquid Dreamies?) but he knows when I’m even THINKING about it and makes himself scarce. He’s also learned to grit his teeth when I administer it, so that it looks set to be a successful session but in fact the liquid rebounds off his teeth and goes all over the floor. If you imagine that prank we all pretend we played as children (but in fact we weren’t clever enough to think of it) – the one where you cover the toilet bowl with taut cling film and wait for some unsuspecting person to pee – that’s EXACTLY what it’s like.

Repeat after me: “This cannot go on indefinitely … This cannot go on indefinitely …”

La poussière 

What a week it’s been at Le Château. We’ve been up every morning for work, and at 7:30 on Saturday mornings before the decorators arrive at 7:45 (although Louis Catorze tends to alert us to their arrival with his indignant “Invaders dans mon château!” meow).

The dust is really starting to get to us, with clouds of it rising from our clothes when we get dressed, and we’re suffering with itchy eyes and sore throats living in it all. Trying to wipe it away only seems to whip up swirling twisters of it and, even if we manage to clean it away one day, it’s back the next.

Louis Catorze, on the other hand, has taken it all in his stride and has got into a steady routine: he sleeps with us every night, then happily (or at least I hope it’s happily, as opposed to with the resignation of a condemned man going to the guillotine) pitter-patters upstairs with me, where I feed him, sort out his litter and water and then shut him in for the day. Then, when the decorators have gone, we release him and he joins us on the sofa. Given what we’ve done to him in the space of 9 days, it’s surprising he hasn’t gone crazy and eaten us whilst we sleep, feet first:

  • Change of environment: check
  • Change of cat litter brand without warning (not that it would have made a difference had we said, “Nous allons changer ta litière”): check
  • Erratic feeding times, due to being unable to locate food: check
  • Change of position of food bowl, pint glass and litter tray (many times each): check
  • Erratic medication times: check
  • Rooms creepily morphing and changing the way they do in horror movies, looking empty one minute then being full and smelling completely different the next: check
  • Strangers invading early in the morning, being noisy and moving stuff around all day long: check (although Louis Catorze appears to quite like the company of strange men – not that we’re judging)

The least awful of all the rooms is the attic bedroom, so that’s where we shut him whilst we’re at work, with the windows open a tiny bit and his litter tray in the en suite bathroom (well, he is a king). We keep a dust mite controller whirring away in that room, and I’d also have beeswax candles burning if I didn’t know that the stupid twit would knock them over and burn the place down. The bed in the attic room contains brand new anti-allergy pillows, duvet and mattress cover, so not a pesky feather in sight (see picture above). So far, so good: he’s deteriorated very slightly but he’s not looking TOO bad. I did briefly consider not letting him out of that room at all until the renovations are done, but he loves time with us and enjoys gadding about Le Château looking at things.

I can only put his positive temperament down to the fact that we’re with him, whereas in the past a new home has also meant new people. Let’s hope he’s still as chirpy when training for Le Tunnel starts next week.

J’adore mon château


They say that moving house is the most stressful experience the human body can endure without actually losing consciousness, or something like that, but they – whoever “they” are – have clearly never moved with Louis Catorze. After The Vet Incident, of which the poor veterinary staff now only speak in hushed whispers, I had expected nothing short of Armageddon for something as drastic as a house move: skies darkening, ravens circling, the lot. However, on the morning of the move, Louis Catorze was perfectly relaxed and happy, treating the cardboard boxes as his new gym rather than something to be feared. And, when the removal men turned out to be Crazy Cat Men, that was just about the glaçage on the gâteau.

They couldn’t have been nicer to Louis Catorze, cuddling him and having him purr and nuzzle them, after which he seemed to think, “Now that we’re friends, I don’t mind what you do in ma maison.” So they were able to stomp and make noise with reckless abandon, and he was absolutely fine with it all: no upset, no yowling, nothing. These guys don’t advertise themselves as a cat-friendly service – although they probably should – but, if you’re moving to or from the TW8 area and you want to make sure your cat is ok, look up Goddard’s of Brentford and ask for Dave and Matt to move you.

My no.1 piece of advice to anyone moving a cat would be to move them into a house that’s finished. Le Château-sur-Tamise isn’t even close to being ready so there was a lot of shunting Louis Catorze from room to room to create access for builders and, whilst he didn’t mind the builders themselves nor their noise, I think he could have done without the shunting around. His demeanour changed considerably at this point and out came the sad meows, the mega-sulks and the refusal to move from La Cage. Luckily he cheered up immensely by the evening and, after spending the night snuggled up at our feet and then waking us at 7am by puking on the floor, normal service had very much resumed.

Unfortunately the work will be going on for a good couple of weeks, so we’re going to have to shut Louis Catorze in one room when we go to work and release him when the builders have packed up for the day. Not ideal, but there’s nothing whatsoever we can do about it – and it beats the alternative, which is Louis Catorze absconding through an opening somewhere and heading across the park and towards the main road.

As a cat who has had a few different homes, I’m not sure whether Louis Catorze will respond to all this by thinking, “Oh merde, not this again,” or “I’ve done this before, and it was fine” (assuming he remembers, of course). I really hope it will be the latter, and that he will settle into his new Château quickly.