C’tait la veille de Noël

'Twas the night before Noël, and in Le Château
A creature was screaming; quite why, we don’t know.
No stocking was hung by this cat’s human slaves.
(Saint Nick only visits the ones who behave.)
The well-behaved pets were all snug in their beds,
While visions of summertime danced in their heads;
Cat Daddy with red wine and I, with my gin,
Had just settled down to watch “Holiday Inn”
When, out at The Front, there arose such a clatter.
We sprang from the room to see what was the matter.
Away through the hallway we flew to the door,
Our lightning-quick feet barely touching the floor.
When what to our wondering eyes did appear,
But an evil, horned demon with devilish sneer
And the foul, rotting odour of sulphur from hell.
We knew it was Krampus, the beast of Noël.
More rapid than eagles his goblins they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Beelzebub! now, Lilith! now Azazel and Adrian!
On, Pazuzu! on, Satan! on, Lucifer and Damian!
To the top of the porch!” we then heard Krampus shout.
“Let’s grab that bad kitty, then get the hell out!”
And then, in a twinkling, they heard small paws plod:
The soft pitter-patter of one little sod.
As they drew in their heads and were turning around,
Sa Maj down the hallway approached with a bound.
He was jet black in fur, from his toes to his head,
And he screamed bloody murder, which filled them with dread.
His razor-sharp fangs were both shining bright white. 
He looked like a vampire preparing to bite.
Sheer terror filled Krampus and his entourage
(Despite this loud kitty not being that large)
And the shrill, piercing screams made the goblins’ ears bleed;
First they froze still with shock, then retreated at speed.
And, putting his fingers inside of his ears,
With a terrified whimper, eyes filling with tears,
Poor Krampus sprang back, to his team gave a yell,
And away they all flew just like bats out of hell.
But we heard him exclaim, ere he flew out of sight:
“Even hell hath no demon like that little shite!”

La renaissance du soleil

Louis Catorze’s Cat Granny passed away last month, and Cat Daddy and I have been thinking about her during our traditional winter solstice reminiscing. She was the best mother-in-law imaginable and would always take my side in an argument with Cat Daddy. In fact, she would always take my side even if there had been no argument, and at Christmas she would give me better presents than the ones she gave him. Her words to me when we announced our engagement were: “Well, he’s always been a very nice son to me. I just HOPE he’ll be a nice husband to you.”

She left us on Remembrance Sunday, which was a very important day to Cat Grandpa, and I can imagine him hurrying her along on that morning and telling her she’d better get to him before 11 o’clock.

Cat Granny loved cats, although I don’t have any decent pictures of her with Louis Catorze as he preferred hanging out with Cat Grandpa at Boys’ Club. But they had a lovely relationship, and she was one of the few people who didn’t mind stroking him when he had just come in, cold and wet, from a thunderstorm. She would always be there with the cuddles, whilst Cat Daddy and I flinched and shuddered when Catorze came near us with his gross, drenched fur.

Cat Granny is pictured below with Brook, the enormously fat* cat who lives in her residential home and who is the same cat that ruined her 90th birthday party by catching a bird in front of horrified guests.

*I must add that the residential home staff do not overfeed him. As anyone with a greedy and determined cat will understand only too well, he goes out and manages to find food – and clearly rather a lot of it – from somewhere.

Moments after this photo was taken, the delightful scene was ruined because Brook dug his claws hard into poor Cat Granny. Cat Daddy and I had to delicately unpick the big sod and hoist his considerable bulk off her body, which was quite some challenge, demonstrating yet again – not that we really needed reminding – cats’ innate capacity for spoiling things that were perfectly lovely before.

I hope that Cat Granny and Cat Grandpa, wherever they may be, are surrounded by cats (but maybe better-behaved ones than naughty Brook). And Catorze, Cat Daddy and I wish you all a wonderful winter solstice.

Le calendrier de l’avent

I am usually quite a stickler for tradition when it comes to advent calendars: I don’t like chocolate, Santa, North Pole animals wearing clothes, excess glitter, mini bottles of alcohol (just give me one large bottle) and DEFINITELY not Disney characters (shudder).

I like plain, normal windows with no weird gimmicks and genuine midwinter symbols with pagan roots, such as mistletoe, holly and deer. I even once went through a phase of buying a special winter solstice advent calendar every year, despite the two notions not really being compatible, but I eventually stopped buying when it dawned on me that it was essentially fewer windows (it stopped at 21) for double or triple the price of a normal advent calendar.

These windows in my current calendar certainly defy tradition, as cats aren’t usually a Yuletide phenomenon (apart from this scary Icelandic one who eats naughty children: https://www.iizcat.com/post/4373/The-Christmas-Cat-of-Iceland-a-giant-terrifying-cat-that-gobbles-up-children-if-they-039-re-bad). Yet I am sure you will see why I found them very pleasing indeed:

Les lumières de Noël

What a surprise when I returned from work the other day to discover that Cat Daddy had set up a magical winter wonderland here at Le Château. This was especially cheering after our trip to Paris last weekend (yes, the same trip that was postponed in the summer when I injured myself trying to de-flea Louis Catorze: https://louiscatorze.com/2019/08/05/aucun-sejour-a-paris/ ) had to be cancelled because of train strikes in France. It seems that, one way or another, the French are determined not to let us go.

Anyway, we now have:

1. Cool white lights at The Front which Cat Daddy has fixed to “epilepsy” setting (possibly to stun Catorze when he tries to escape)

2. An outdoor tree with warm white lights at The Back

3. CATORZE’S TREE

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: despite all his protests against giving Sa Maj his own tree, Cat Daddy braved the Blood-Letting Needles of Death to decorate it and has lived to tell the tale.

Here is the tree in all its splendour. And here is Catorze showing his gratitude in the only way he knows how:

Le sapin de mort

We have the maman of all middle-class problems here at Le Château: the festive tree that we purchased for our cat is so spiky that we can’t decorate it.

Cat Daddy: “Well, you wanted a tree for him. It’s your fault.” To be fair, he has a point.

Here is a picture of the tree (below) and, as you can see, I can’t even take the packaging off the pot because the Blood-Letting Needles of Death slash me to smithereens whenever I go near.

Cat Daddy is concerned that Louis Catorze will come a cropper in the same way but, despite logic suggesting entirely the opposite, I actually trust the little sod on this one. After all, it was he who informed us that the sprawling tendrils of the butternut squash plant were riddled with killer spines when we noticed him leaping to clear them instead of just elbowing/headbutting his way through: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/09/10/attention-aux-courges-butternut/

Anyway, my options now are as follows:

1. Leave the evil tree as it is.

2. Invest in one of those telescopic picking-up devices and use it to hang the decorations from a distance.

Cat Daddy: “What about “Option 3: Leave someone else to fix the problem that YOU CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE”? That’s what’s going to end up happening, isn’t it?”

He has a point there, too.

Trop de choses à faire

The winter solstice is fast approaching and, whilst Louis Catorze is following his natural instincts and burying himself so deeply into his igloo that I fear he might become part of it, Cat Daddy and I are doing the opposite. We have so much to do, including the following:

⁃ Buying, putting up and decorating our main tree, which Cat Daddy put outdoors one year because he didn’t want to disturb his boy’s main sleeping spot (even though he has 849 other sleeping spots) and has remained an outdoor tree ever since: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/12/15/mon-beau-sapin/

⁃ Buying and decorating Catorze’s tree (yes, Sa Maj has his own tree, although I don’t suppose he will agree to be pictured next to it)

⁃ Choosing a charity to receive the donation that we make in lieu of sending cards

⁃ Sending cards to the awkward people who don’t know about or understand the charity donation thing, and who would probably never speak to us again if we didn’t send them a card (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE)

⁃ Organising the festive menu for the day (even though we still don’t exactly know who’s coming and for how long)

It’s all a bit manic and although, at times, we wish we could climb into that igloo with Sa Maj and just wait for it to all be over, we know how lucky we are that we are able to do these things. The people who can’t, for whatever reason, are very much on our minds at this time of year.

We hope that your festive planning is going well, and that it’s bringing you more joy than stress. In the meantime, Sa Maj is still in his igloo, and he won’t be budging anytime soon.

Nos compagnons à quatre pattes

Cat Daddy and I have just spent Christmas Day with Louis Catorze’s Cat Uncle and Cat-Cousin Alfie, and we also met up with Nala the dog and her mamma a few days previously. (Gosh, that was a lot of the word “cat” in one sentence.) Nala is lucky enough to live opposite a lovely dog park and, as a result of her time spent there, she has made more same-species friends in the last two months than Sa Maj has made in his entire life. On Sunday there was even a dogs’ Christmas party in the park, with one of the dog mammas distributing home-made, dog-shaped biscuits to all canine guests.  

“How was the party?” I asked Puppy Mamma. 

“Oh, y’know: much like an office Christmas party,” she replied. “Too much noise, a couple of fights, that kind of thing.”

Oh dear. 

This kind of event would NEVER have worked for cat owners. But I do wonder what it might be like if there were such things as cat parks and we were able to meet in the same way that dog people do.  

Imagine, if you will, rows of park benches filled with ladies, some with bandaged hands due to pilling incidents that turned bad, all discussing the latest device to remove cat hair from furniture and clothes. There would be empty cat carriers at their feet as all the cats happily gambolled about in the park, chasing bugs and chewing grass. Then, when it was time to go home, the ladies would call their cats back and the cats would ignore them. 

Puppy Mamma added that she finally understood what I meant when I talked about my cat friends, as she now has dog friends. She explained how dog owners chat in the park about how their dogs have been, vet visits, the most recent embarrassing escapade etc. and generally bond through their mutual love of dogs. I get it – after all, this is what cat owners do, the only difference being that the internet is our “park”. 

“I guess it must be easier to suss people out as you’re meeting them in person and not online,” I said to Puppy Mamma, “but how do you avoid the freaks?” 

There have to be SOME freaks in Dogsville, right? The whole world knows, of course, about the 60% or so of cat people who are total weirdos, not always in a good way, and I suppose that, as someone who tells people that my cat is French and has his own visitors’ book, I am one of their merry number.

“Easy,” Puppy Mamma told me. “You get to know what time the undesirable people or the undesirable dogs are going to be in the park, and you just avoid going at that time.”

If only it were that easy in the cat world; how wonderful to be able to avoid one particular attention-seeking, punctuation-dodging nutjob – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE – simply by refraining from logging on at certain times. That said, what a pity if the human were pleasant but one had to steer clear of them because they had an undesirable dog. This is utterly unheard of in cats. Whatever their issue, however naughty or stroppy or psycho they may be, undesirable cats are simply not a thing. 

Cat Daddy: “Really? I can think of one.”

If a genie were to grant me three wishes, I would wish for that cat park – yes, even before wishing for a lottery win, world peace or more wishes. And, should you ever see cats pitter-pattering about your local green space and a group of slightly harassed-looking ladies in jaunty scarves, helping themselves from a free Crémant fountain, you will KNOW.