La ténacité permet d’atteindre l’excellence

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This darned cat is going to be the death of me. Every morning and evening I am forced to crush up Lily’s Kitchen biscuits in my expensive John Lewis stone pestle and mortar and scatter the resulting gravelly, powdery mess over his Acana Pacifica. If I put them in whole, he cherry-picks only them and leaves the rest.

I should have waited a little longer before starting Phase Une. But the chances of Louis Catorze liking the new food better than his old one – given that he doesn’t really like any food at all, apart from the odd sliver of jambon de Bayonne or organic mountain Comté – were very slim indeed, so the odds really should have been in my favour. But the little sod went out of his way to make sure they weren’t. 

The time spent crushing is also starting to get to me. On Thursday morning, had I not stopped to do it, I would have caught the bus normally. Instead, I had to sprint undignifiedly for it like an idiot, coated in a fine dust of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish and probably smelling of it, too, falling over my own feet as I got on. This can never, ever happen again.

Cat Daddy: “For crying out loud. Just give him the new food! It’s not as if he’s coming off heroin.” 

No: food waste is food waste, whether it’s human food or cat food. Last week I even walked home from the pub with a little copper pot of coleslaw, because I was too full to eat it but didn’t want it thrown away. Cat Daddy ridiculed me beyond belief … then wanted to share some of the coleslaw for lunch the next day. (I agreed but charged him the pub price.)

I really, really want Le Roi to like the new food without wasting the old one. So I don’t suppose there’s much I can do, except quite literally keep my nose to the grindstone.

Le soir des rois, ou Ce que vous voudrez

Someone once told me, “Never eat anything bigger than your head” and, given that I have a head so fat that I can’t wear paper party hats without splitting them, I have been able to abide by this for most of my life without feeling that I am missing out.

Imagine, then, eating something bigger than your entire body. Considerably bigger, in fact. Louis Catorze had the opportunity to do exactly this when Cat Daddy bought a whole leg of jamón serrano for a ham and cheese night with friends. As you know, Catorze doesn’t really like food, but he won’t say non to some cured ham and, if it’s several times his own bodyweight, tant mieux.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: nothing says “good hosting” quite like serving guests the same food that you gave to your cat to make him take his meds.

Cat Daddy: “It isn’t the same food that we gave to our cat to make him take his meds. We gave him the much higher-quality jambon de Bayonne.”

You’re welcome, les invités.

Anyway, unlike most cats, who hide from party guests or have to be shut away to minimise their own stress levels, Louis Catorze attended our gathering, even though he wasn’t invited. And, bien sûr, he conspicuously chose the boys’ corner of the room and mingled like a true socialite. It was like watching Hugh Hefner in the Playboy Mansion: spoilt for choice and not knowing what to do with himself.

And, yes, the little sod did get a few slivers of jamón, too.

Bonne année à tous!

L’état d’urgence

We have a Code Noir at Le Château: Louis Catorze has started refusing his ham-wrapped Trojan Horse pills. Either he has cottoned onto our trick or he is bored of cured ham and, either way, we are well and truly dans la merde because it means that every single dose is now a Greco-Roman one.

Whilst our Greco-Roman technique is improving greatly with all the practice we’re having, it’s still not very nice to have to do it. And, upsettingly, we can see the effect that the increased Greco-Romans are having on Catorze’s demeanour: he is skittish and nervous around us, and yesterday he didn’t even come and greet us when we came home from work, which he usually does without fail. He has also taken to hiding when we get up in the morning and missing that first dose of the day. This means that we sometimes have to give him TWO doses after work – one when we get home and one before bed – and that makes us all even more anxious and stressed.

Well-meaning fellow cat freaks often ask us, “Have you tried hiding the pills in tuna / anchovies / chicken / prawns / cheese / Dreamies / Pill Pockets / [insert name of other irresistible, pill-disguising treat]?” YES, to all of the above. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a cat who doesn’t like food and therefore cannot be incentivised by it; if we never fed him again, EVER, he wouldn’t really care.

I really, really hope he gets past this, otherwise we will have to deploy the big guns: the £21-per-100g Brindisa jamón ibérico de bellota. Qu’est-ce qu’on va devenir? Or, should I say: ¿Qué va y ser de nos?

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Le bouillon de dinde

Cat Granny gave me a cheese-making kit for Christmas, and this weekend I finally got around to using it. You wouldn’t believe how much milk is needed – 4.5 litres for a paltry 1kg of cheese – and the only vessel that was up to the job was our massive stock pot. Of course we couldn’t find it.

Cat Daddy and I hunted EVERYWHERE, with each of us accusing the other of having lent it to someone and not got it back. However, just as I was about to go out and buy another one, the realisation dawned that we had used it to boil up the turkey carcass after Christmas and had put it in the greenhouse as it wouldn’t fit in the fridge.

It was still in the greenhouse.

We trudged outside, fearful of what horrific life forms we would find inside the stock pot after 3 whole months of festering away, although, luckily, it was dark so we couldn’t see much. The idea was to drain off the liquid and then dispose of the solids in the food waste bin but, as Cat Daddy was draining it, the stock pot somehow slipped and the entire grim contents splurged all over the flower bed.

Naturellement, Louis Catorze – who had followed us, unseen, into the garden – decided to leap straight into the midst of the oily, mouldy, turkey-y mess and have a good old cavort around in it. Then, when we tried to grab him and fish him out, he pitter-pattered into the greenhouse where we couldn’t reach him, but where we were sure that the oily, mouldy, turkey-y mess would act as a glue to stick dirt, cobwebs and dead spiders to his fur.

“We can’t let him back into the house like that,” said Cat Daddy. “His fur is going to be disgusting, and that greasy muck will never come out of the floorboards or furniture. We’re just going to have to leave him outside until he washes, or until the rain rinses it off, whichever comes first.”

One day we will let him back in again, but today isn’t going to be that day. Tomorrow probably won’t be, either.

We’ll let you know if and when it happens.

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Le plateau royal

Nigel driving the Apple van came bearing all sorts of goodies on Tuesday night, including fresh prosciutto di Parma and jambon de Bayonne, seafood and a variety of soft and hard cheeses. (Yes, I know that cats are said to be lactose-intolerant, but the pills are so minuscule that we really wouldn’t need much cheese to disguise one. Plus Louis Catorze is so full of drugs at the moment that a bit of lactose is the least of his worries.)

Anyway, these were the results of our experiment to ascertain whether Sa Majesté would approve of other pill wrappings:

Sheep’s Wensleydale: non
Roquefort: non
Devon curd cheese: non (well, he licked off the cheese and left the pill, but I’m still counting that as a “non”)
Smoked salmon: non
Prawns: non
Prosciutto di Parma: OUI
Jambon de Bayonne: OUI

Conclusion: it seems that the issue was, indeed, the freshness of the ham. So Louis Catorze, who happily wraps his chops around the rotting carcasses of rats, will not eat cured ham unless it’s a newly-opened pack.

I think we’re going to need a bigger fridge.

Le repas de Noël

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One of the best parts of the Yuletide season has been reading online about other pets’ attempts to steal their humans’ festive fare, smug in the knowledge that I never have to worry about this. Firstly, as you know, Louis Catorze doesn’t like food (pictured above, showing conspicuous indifference to the Christmas Day cheese board). And, secondly, he wore himself out so much with his Christmas morning madness that he spent the whole of the afternoon and evening sleeping it off. So Cat Daddy was left to prepare our dinner utterly unbothered and in peace, and, whilst we didn’t leave the turkey to defrost on the floor, we could have done so had we wanted to. JUST BECAUSE WE COULD.

My first childhood cat, Misha, a gigantic pinstripe tuxedo cat the size of a tank, was one of my favourite and most memorable cats. No food was safe from him; everything had to be locked away because he just couldn’t be trusted. One Christmas we let our guard down, and my aunt caught him on the kitchen counter with his face in a huge bowl of her home-made brandy butter. Had this happened recently it would have been an emergency vet situation, but, back then, things were different and I’m not sure whether the out-of-hours vet even existed. My mum carried Misha back to his cat bed, with his limbs flopping drunkenly in all directions, and, after a short nap, he was fine.

My brother-in-law’s family dog, Rufus, once managed to swallow a duck whole, in the time it took for his dad to leave the kitchen and sign for a parcel at the door. When he returned there were no bones, no mess, no sign of Rufus having struggled with the fresh-from-the-oven heat. In fact, there was nothing to say that the duck had even existed, and, had the dog’s face not been covered in sauce, he may well have concluded that he’d dreamed the whole cooking process.

Louis Catorze’s sparring partner, Oscar the dog from next door, is the supplier of yet another incident of food thievery, and made me the funniest person of all my friends when I repeated it. His folks once saw him flash past them with what appeared to be a white frisbee in his mouth, and it turned out that Oscar had stolen the Camembert that they’d taken out of the fridge 2 hours beforehand to bring it to room temperature. One can, of course, always pop to the shops and buy another Camembert, but nothing can erase that fruitless – or rather, cheeseless – 2-hour wait.

The one problem with a pet who doesn’t like food is, of course, what to do with Yuletide leftovers when they’re past their best but too good to throw away; Luther was the perfect food dustbin, but his little brother is useless. Cat Daddy is away at his parents’ place until tomorrow and he’s convinced that the turkey will still be fine upon his return. If in doubt, however, I might just deliver it to Oscar the dog as a peace offering from his cher ami.