Hotel Diablo

Cat Daddy and I are in Iceland at the moment, so we spent the last couple of days preparing for the arrival of Louis Catorze’s chat-sitteurs.

We systematically have to remind all visitors that Catorze has a naughty habit of entering bedrooms and raising merry hell as people sleep, and this occasion was no exception. However, despite our advice to keep doors shut, it seems that some bizarre and twisted part of our guests finds his nocturnal visits entertaining. So they ignore us and, naturellement, Catorze takes advantage.

Guests have been known to wake up to find their suitcases open and their stuff strewn all over the floor. And what makes it especially creepy is that Catorze does this utterly silently, slipping undetected into and out of the room, like a ghost. Imagine Paranormal Activity, The Sixth Sense and Poltergeist combined and you will have an idea of what it’s like. Sometimes he remains there, presiding arrogantly over his handiwork, as we discovered below.

My mum carefully constructed a sort of Jenga-style tower using a cardboard box and her suitcase, with her next-day clothes neatly folded on top. This was how she found the smug little sod the next morning:

For goodness’ sake.

Another guest made the mistake of leaving her case open on the bed whilst we had dinner. This was the result:

The Covid testing kits weren’t quite ready for THIS particular contagion.

Guests who place towels on the bed are also not safe:

A cat-hairy towel. Lovely.

En conclusion: if you stay here, your stuff will be messed with. And, since Catorze is a trans-dimensional being who can teleport, we are all powerless to stop it.

Come at your own risk.

Apprivoiser la faune sauvage

Joyeux Lendemain de Noël à tous!

Cat Daddy and I were lucky enough to make it to Christmas-by-the-sea, but hasn’t quite turned out quite as planned. I fell ill the day my last post went live, and I’m on monster antibiotics which are knocking me dead. (Mum, if you’re reading this, don’t worry; everything is under control.) So no drinks for me this festive period, and the drowsiness from the antibiotics means that I am even duller company than usual.

Although it’s been stressful, at least I don’t have Covid (again). And I would far rather be doing the pre-Christmas doctor and pharmacy relay for myself than for Louis Catorze.

The little sod is in fine form and having the time of his life with his chat-sitteur. He has been all over her ever since she arrived, following her around like a puppy, and there have been no rodents and no nocturnal misbehaviour. Apart from headbutting her laptop whilst she worked, and one minor incident when he jumped into a parcel that she was about to send and stomped around on the tissue paper, he has behaved impeccably.

Here he is (using stills from a video, since actual videos don’t seem to post properly here), excitedly opening his present from Disco the dog with the help of his chat-sitteur. No doubt he is saving up his psycho for when we get back.

“C’est pour moi?”
“Dépêche-toi!”

Les vacances de Noël

Last week Louis Catorze’s vet practice had to close suddenly due to staff shortages as a result of self-isolating, and they won’t be open again until the New Year. Thank goodness we organised the little sod’s medication and vaccinations beforehand, and thank goodness he is doing well at the moment, otherwise we would be well and truly dans la merde.

Catorze, Cat Daddy and I are double-, triple- and quadruple-jabbed respectively, as follows:

– Catorze: annual booster (eventually) and steroid

– Cat Daddy: double-Covid vaccine and booster (Original Trailblazing Pfizer for all)

– Me: double-Covid vaccine (Blood Clots ‘n’ Death AstraZeneca), booster (Cool ‘n’ Trendy Moderna) and flu jab

Now all we have to do is stay out of mischief until we head to the south coast for Christmas-by-the-sea. Surely not even I could be unlucky enough to test positive at Christmas AGAIN?

During our couple of days away, a friend will be coming to live with Catorze. Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that, perhaps, we haven’t told her the full truth about him. But she knows everything – yes, even about feeding him one teaspoon of boiling-watered Orijen 98 times a day – and, inexplicably, she wants to come anyway. There was once a time when we would have been very nervous about leaving anyone alone with Catorze. However, we have come to realise that, in actual fact, he behaves perfectly well for others. Apart from, erm, the rat he brought to one chat-sitteur, and the time he screamed at another through the skylight, leaving her turning the house upside-down trying to find the source of the sound.

Anyway, having let our gifts pile up in the dining room over a number of weeks, we are now sorting through it all so that I can wrap things properly. And, at one point, I really did hear Cat Daddy utter the words “No, don’t put the scented candles there! They might contaminate the chicken feet!” To Catorze, gift-wrapping is hugely exciting because it means COMMOTION and BOXES, two of his favourite things in the world.

Here he is, taking a brief break before the next round of pitter-pattering, screaming and attacking the packing tape:

Little sod.

Il y a plus de bonheur à donner qu’à recevoir

The best thing about the school holidays is turning off the weekday alarm. Regretfully, Louis Catorze has not adjusted his. He still bounces around on top of me from 5am onwards, whining, wanting attention/food/a friendly chat/whatever. And, if I ignore him, he pushes things off the bedside table, one by one.

In much better news, after the second weirdest year ever (with the first, of course, being 2020), we are all looking forward to the shift in energy that the winter solstice will bring.

Catorze is making his list and checking it twice. However, he’s not bothering to find out who’s naughty or nice because it’s abundantly clear. I’m pretty sure you already know, too. That said, since he was a very good boy for not one but TWO photo shoots for Puppy Mamma (details of the second one will follow another time), we have bought him a couple of new toys and a bottle of catnip spray this year.

Thanks to making new animal-loving human friends and reconnecting with old ones, we have some new additions to Catorze’s Yuletide list this year:

1. Cat-Cousin King Ghidorah

2. Cat-Auntie Zelva

3. Cocoa the babysit cat

4. Chanel, Cocoa’s little sister

5. Blue the Smoke Bengal

6. Theo aka Donnie

7. Nala the dog

8. Gizzy the [insert name of species]

9. Disco the dog

10. Barney the dog, whose humans we will be visiting over the festive period (although, at this rate, it looks as if we’ll be meeting in their garden wearing masks)

11. Bandit the dog, Barney’s brother

Cat Daddy has no idea that we buy for so many pets and I don’t suppose he will be overjoyed but, by the time he finds out, I will already have bought everything (and given most of it to the recipients). Worryingly, when one delivery arrived and I said “Oh, that’ll be my chickens’ feet”, he didn’t seem that surprised.

(Yes, I do mean actual chickens’ actual feet. Apparently they are Barney and Bandit’s favourite.)

As well as giving small gifts to his animal friends, Catorze will be giving his usual winter solstice donations to Lilly’s Legacy (PayPal: lillyslegacy@hotmail.com) and All Cats Rescue. Despite being a selfish little sod at times, deep down he wants to help his less fortunate comrades. Especially at this time of year.

Joyeux Solstice from all of us.

Satan’s little helper.

Un sapin de Noël digne d’un Roi

Our Yule tree has arrived, and I couldn’t be happier. There is something about decorating a festive tree that’s wonderful for the soul.

This year we decided to try out a tree rental service (the kind of thing that we had hoped to do last year, but it all went wrong). It’s exactly as it sounds: they lend you a tree in a pot, and you return it at the end of the festive season. I arranged the delivery some weeks ago, making sure that I added it to my Google calendar as an event AND added Cat Daddy as an invitee. However, when I reminded him to wait in that day, not only did he respond with surprise as if I had never mentioned it before, but he moaned and griped as if it were the worst thing in the world.

Cat Daddy: “So I’ve got to wait in ALL DAY? It’s like being a prisoner!”

Is it ACTUALLY, though? Prisons don’t have the cheering company of a screaming vampire cat, for a start. (Although, if they did, people would try harder to stay out of them.)

Anyway, because the tree can only be indoors for 3.5 weeks, it has been waiting outside since its arrival and we have only just brought it in. Tree rental is not the cheapest option, but it means the tree won’t end up discarded on the roadside on 5th January. It also means that, unlike cut trees which some people put in a bowl of water, naughty cats can’t drink the toxic sappy water.

Usually Louis Catorze gets his own tree alongside our main one (I’m not joking; look here if you don’t believe me) but the one we gave him last year, which has been living in the garden in a pot, hasn’t survived well. Rather than buying or renting a second one for him, we decided to make our main one his. And we can do so without worry because, astoundingly, Louis Catorze has never trashed a festive tree in all his life (although he did chew one of the tags which we are supposed to attach to the tree before returning it).

Well, come on. We surely deserve to have SOMETHING go right when it comes to him?

Loving his tree.

Le plateau à fromages

Cat Daddy and I placed an order for our festive cheese board this week.

When making our selection, I was dangerously close to choosing some Comté because Louis Catorze likes it, but then I slapped myself around the chops and told myself not to be so stupid. I then recalled the wearisome time when we were still pilling Catorze, and I had to start making his Trojan Horses from Comté because he had begun to tire of Reflets de France tuna rillettes.

I often berate parents who raise fussy eater kids and yet there I was, waiting for the Comté to come to room temperature so that I could pill my cat. If you have never used Comté for this purpose – and, let’s face it, who has? – it’s not easy. Its waxy texture makes it quite hard to mould and, rather like damp sand, the more you work it, the more crumbly it becomes. Something like Brie would have much easier, but of course the little sod won’t eat that.

Eventually I took the Trojan Horse up to our bed, where Catorze was sleeping, and I presented it to him. After a couple of licks the whole thing disintegrated completely, sending bits of cheese rolling into the folds of the duvet, so I had to Greco him.

Me, to Cat Daddy, immediately after the event: “I’ve just had to pick bits of Comté out of the duvet.”

Him, without looking up from his phone: “No wonder you can’t sleep at night if you’re eating cheese in bed.”

Me: “What? Nooo. It wasn’t for me, it was for his pill. I just had to Greco him because he wouldn’t eat it.”

[Catorze enters the room and goes straight to his daddy to snitch.]

Cat Daddy, actually looking up from his phone to cuddle his boy: “Aww. I know, Louis. I don’t like Comté much, either.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

A week or so later, after further refusals, my Trojan Horse was finally eaten very happily when I bought a new slab of Comté. I then realised that the little sod had been refusing the earlier ones because I had used Marks and Spencer Comté and not the organic aged stuff from the deli.

Anyway, our order is pictured below, penned in the hand of the delightful Dom from the deli (alliteration entirely accidental), and we will be collecting it on the 23rd. I already know that Catorze won’t eat any of these, but tant pis pour lui.

Yes, that does say 750g (seven hundred and fifty grams) of Gouda with cumin. Please don’t judge us.
“Où est mon Comté?”

Ce n’est pas seulement un lit

After coming back from Louis Catorze’s vet appointment on Tuesday, Cat Daddy and I debated how and when to Gabapentin him.

Cat Daddy: “You could do it in the morning.”

Me: “But that’s when he and I have our morning cuddles. Plus it means my day starts with a stress.”

Him: “How about when you come home?”

Me: “…”

Him: “…”

Me: “Can’t you do it?”

Him: “But then he’ll hate me. He needs to have one of us that he can trust.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

Anyway, I drew the short straw and I’m the bad guy. It’s not fun. But if I do it in the morning, because the little sod has the Post-Steroid Hungries, it seems I’m forgiven quite quickly.

In other news 9,083 sleeping spots aren’t enough, and you simply have to look for one more. Preferably one that isn’t anywhere near as nice as the others.

This is one of those times.

For reasons that we cannot fathom – and, quite frankly, nor do we want to – Catorze decided that, today, he wanted to sleep on the Marks and Spencer bag containing my nieces’ and nephews’ presents.

Cats: why? And, please, don’t bother saying “Because cat”. That excuse just doesn’t wash anymore.

I’m not even going to ask.

Le dernier mois

It’s December and, whilst we haven’t had any snow in London, it’s cold.

Louis Catorze is firmly back in his autumn-winter igloo. He has been known to spend all day in there, even foregoing food and drink (I am not overjoyed about this) and eventually crawling out at 9pm, all dishevelled and blinking at the light like a little cave gremlin, to sit on his daddy’s lap. For a while we were quite worried about him and almost whisked him off to the vet, but now normal service has resumed and he’s back to screaming and being a shite.

Cat Daddy: “Maybe he wasn’t ill. Maybe he’s so thick that he just forgot to wake up” (?).

The igloo, which was gifted by one of his beloved pilgrims, has been in the living room for a couple of months but he didn’t set paw in it throughout that time, no doubt because the weather was so mild. However, the Arctic blast brought by Storm Arwen was obviously too much to bear, and he has now retreated so deep inside that there’s no budging him. (Catorze is notoriously difficult to shift from his igloo once bedded in; if we need to get him out, for a vet visit or a pill, for instance, Cat Daddy has been known to pick up the entire igloo and shake it, like shaking vinegar over chips*. Catorze clings on for dear life and eventually exits the igloo with all the urgency of a very viscous, gloopy, screaming sauce.)

*Non-Brits: ask your British friends.

Cat Daddy and I are both quite happy that Catorze has rediscovered his igloo. As well as giving us some peace at night, it also keeps him out of mischief somewhat (Catorze, I mean, not Cat Daddy).

Here is the little sod, enjoying his cosy bed:

He’s in there somewhere.

Il est top-model et il est beau

Puppy Mamma has a craft business selling all manner of delightful things, and she has just gone live on Not On The High Street. If you live in the U.K. (we do) and know any pets who have been good this year (we don’t), I highly recommend her personalised, handmade pet decorations.

For reasons that I cannot comprehend, Puppy Mamma wanted Louis Catorze to model for her page. I know. We didn’t get it, either. I did warn her that he was the worst photographic model on the planet, but she didn’t listen. She came over one afternoon to photograph Sa Maj with his decoration … and, naturellement, the little sod posed beautifully for her. I was both very proud and sick to my stomach.

Here is Puppy Mamma’s page on Not On The High Street, featuring Gizzy the [insert name of species], Sooty (Puppy Mamma’s next-door babysit cat) and Sa Maj. Cat Daddy now can’t stop humming a certain Kraftwerk* song, and is deciding what his boy’s fee should be.

*Younger followers: ask your grandparents.

This is how he poses for me.

La flamme qui ne s’éteint jamais

Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges: WE ARE ALLOWED OUT. Thank you to everyone who has asked after me, and special thanks to the pub, who delivered our takeaway Christmas dinner when we couldn’t collect, and to Oscar the dog’s folks, who braved the Herculean labour of collecting my meds from the pharmacy.

Being under house arrest in Le Château hasn’t been too much of a hardship, apart from Louis Catorze’s attempts to kill me, of course. We have, however, been missing our scented candles. Usually, during the Yuletide season, the place is filled with the heavenly scent of orange and cinnamon, or a Scandinavian pine forest. This year, of course, we can’t have scented candles because of our mutual friend.

Whilst it’s highly doubtful that they contribute to Catorze’s allergy problem, we don’t want to take any chances during a time when everywhere is shut. We have, however, resumed his daily sessions with an unscented beeswax candle, which are said to have air-purifying, anti-allergenic properties. I don’t have absolute proof that this works – although Catorze’s buddy Tau, a glamorous Bengal who also suffers from skin allergies, has had astonishingly good results with them – but it certainly can’t do any harm, and it makes me feel that I am doing something positive. And, because practice has made me better at candle-making, I am now able to turn out some half-decent ones and they no longer look like a snake that’s swallowed a cow whole.

Until now, Catorze has been pretty trustworthy around candles. I wouldn’t appoint him Fire Safety Warden or anything like that but, generally, if I leave the room to make a quick cup of tea, I can rely on everything to remain exactly as I left them.

However, with this being 2020 an’ all, the little sod decided to throw a little curveball into the mix. You see the burning candle at the bottom left of the photo? And you see the blue blanket atop the sofa on the right? You would imagine they were far enough apart to be safe, right?

The calm before the cat.

Well …

Just add one psycho vampire kitty high on steroids and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. Cat Daddy and I watched, frozen in shock, as the little sod burrowed into the folds of the blanket and rolled BOTH IT AND HIMSELF off the top of the sofa and towards the candle.

Q: How do you make a sausage roll? A: Push it.

Luckily he didn’t burn down the house (this time), but we consider ourselves well and truly warned.

Here he is having another go, although this time he decided not to make himself part of the incendiary sausage roll (non-Brits, ask your British friends) and, instead, just pushed the flammable object in the direction of the naked flame:

“Ça a l’air rigolo!”
“Ce n’était pas moi.”

Cats, candles and flammable objects: just be careful out there, everyone. 2020 isn’t quite over, and it could yet have a sting in its tail.

Le trésor enfui

It seems I must have been on the Naughty List, because Santa’s gift to me was a positive Covid test result. To add insult to injury, the text message came through in the early afternoon of Christmas Day, when I was in the middle of opening my presents. I suppose it’s sort of funny now.

Cat Daddy is not remotely amused; in fact, he’s livid that he’s now stuck indoors with me for the next few days and can’t go on any walks or bike rides. The isolation time is ten days from when symptoms started so we don’t have THAT long left although, bizarrely, I had none of the classic symptoms: no temperature, no continuous cough, no loss of sense of taste or smell, just what I believed to be an especially brutal teacher-cold. I only bothered to take the test because a family member had also tested positive in mid-December, with cold-like rather than text-book Covid symptoms.

In short, Louis Catorze is the only one of us who is allowed out. And he is making the most of this by, erm, burrowing deep into his winter igloo.

In other, equally rubbish news, our glorious outdoor winter wonderland has been vandalised by the depraved squirrels, so we can’t even enjoy that during our period of house arrest. They’ve chewed through our solar-powered outdoor lights, and the other day we caught one red-handed/pawed/clawed (no idea what one would call whatever squirrels have on the ends of their creepy little arms, and I daren’t Google to find out) trying to make off with one of our baubles:

Not really in the festive spirit.

Some of the baubles have been fully unhooked from the virginia creeper; in fact, we watched in horror as this chunksome thug did exactly that, before flinging it into That Neighbour’s garden. Other baubles have been snapped off, leaving the gold wires and the little clasp things dangling pointlessly on the bare twigs. It’s hard to say how many we’ve lost but it’s four that we can prove, and no doubt countless others that we can’t prove … at least, not until our neighbours do their springtime planting, when they will wonder what the heck’s been going on when they dig through the soil and unearth thousands of buried baubles.

Now, are the squirrels so dozy that they think the baubles are food? Or perhaps they are just feeling the magic of the season and want to make their dreys look pretty? Either way, Cat Daddy refuses to dismantle our display because he’s “not giving into bloody vermin”. He has installed a Squirrel Stick by the bifold doors at The Back, to pick up and poke threateningly in the direction of the thieving varmints when they come by.

Luckily there is a cat who has noted the problem and who is doing something about it. Sadly it’s Blue the Smoke Bengal and not Catorze.

Here is Blue (below), doing his civic duty. Catorze, meanwhile, has been in his igloo, doing sod all.

Blue on Squirrel Watch.

Bien fourni en stéroïdes

My teacher-cold is taking no prisoners. The last time I had a cold of such severity was in 2015, when I remember trying to soldier on at school and the poor kids looking at my face and visibly flinching.

Louis Catorze is usually a terrible nursemaid with a very low tolerance for sick people; if he hears a sneeze, he meows disdainfully and pitter-patters off, chattering* away. But, on this occasion, most unusually, he has been glued to my lap throughout my illness. I imagine that to mean one of the following:

1. The positive energy of the strengthening sun is finally filtering through to the Sun King, filling every fibre of his being with love and joy.

2. The apocalypse is nigh.

*Yes, he does the bird-chatter sound in response to sneezes. You don’t need to tell me how bloody weird this is, because I know. However, this is Catorze, so anything goes.

He, however, is doing very slightly better. I know, I know, “better” is relative, and he still looks shite compared to most cats, and his recovery seems to be very slow this time around (probably because he’s an old boy now), but I can see that his eyes are looking a little less raw. Something seems to have clicked into place, most likely the copious amounts of drugs.

I received this email (below) a few days ago. Cat Daddy didn’t understand why I found it so funny. However, I thought it was the most hilarious thing in the whole world and, likewise, anyone who went partying in the 1990s will KNOW:

Younger followers: ask your parents. Older followers: ask your kids.

This message prompted me to check Catorze’s supply of gear and, as it happens, he WASN’T sorted for Christmas. I counted his remaining steroid pills and he only had enough to last him until that strange, time-forsaken period between Christmas and New Year, when nobody knows what day it is and when things ordered, and arrangements made, just vanish into the ether. So I thought it prudent to order a further supply, especially as it needs to be tapered down gradually and you can’t just stop dead. Not unlike heroin, in fact.

Anyway, Cat Daddy collected Catorze’s stash from the vet the other day, so we can breathe a sigh of relief. And Sa Maj remains “not very well” yet well enough to annoy the heck out of me. I lost count of the number of times he woke me up the other night, bouncing around and screaming, but I estimate it to be between 742 and 766.

My wake-up view. You don’t want to hear the sound.

L’or, l’encens et la myrrhe

The winter solstice is here, but I’m not really feeling the Yuletide joy. Firstly, my teacher-cold – the same one that had been threatening to hit since September but stayed simmering below the surface, enough to annoy me but not enough to warrant time off – finally broke through on the last day of term, just in time for the holidays. And, secondly, we were put into Tier 4 a couple of days ago. If you didn’t even know there was a Tier 4 you’re in good company, because neither did we. In fact, none of us Londoners did until a few hours before it was announced. In short, this means that the Five-Day Festive Free-For-All is cancelled, so we will all be spending the celebratory season like Kevin McCallister: home alone. (Younger followers, ask your parents.)

In better news, someone has sent Louis Catorze a Yuletide gift, but I have no idea who it is.

The card bears the words “From one crazy cat lady to another” which, frankly, doesn’t narrow it down in the slightest. And I know that the sender also has cats (although this doesn’t narrow it down, either) because there were puncture marks in the Dreamies packet. I am lucky enough to know several people who would be this thoughtful, yet most of the prime suspects have denied all knowledge.

If you were responsible and I have not yet accused you, I would have got to you at some point, I’m sure. There is the small matter of a certain someone having to be good in order to deserve presents, but nevertheless I am very grateful to you for thinking of the little sod. Thank you so much!

Incidentally, I still have the Black Cats calendar that I found on my doorstep in 2016, and my quest to find the mystery giver was unsuccessful. So, whilst we’re on the subject of owning up, it would be nice to know who left that, too, so that I may say thank you.

Wishing you a magical winter solstice. Brighter days are coming.

“They knelt before the king and offered precious gifts.”

Ça commence à beaucoup ressembler au solstice d’hiver

2020 really is the year that keeps on giving, right to the bitter end: our tree was supposed to have been delivered last week but, the day before the scheduled delivery, the supplier called to let us know that their shipment of trees wasn’t up to standard and therefore they were very sorry but they wouldn’t be delivering.

Now, compared to what we’ve already experienced of this cirque de merde of a year, no tree is hardly the end of the world – at least, not for us. But, for the poor tree man, this is just the worst thing ever; as well as his business being royally shafted, he was having to call every customer to let them know that Christmas was ruined, and I can imagine one or two of them being quite bratty and princessy about it.

He sounded so upset and frustrated, and we felt so bad for him, that we told him not to worry about refunding us. And, instead of our usual outdoor tree, we have decorated our bare virginia creeper skeleton with baubles and lights. If you followed Le Blog last year you will know that one of our household traditions is for Louis Catorze to have his own indoor tree, so we have brought in our potted bay tree from The Front for him, just in case you were concerned about him being treeless this year.

Cat Daddy: “Literally nobody was concerned about that.”

So we have our outdoor winter wonderland at The Back, Catorze’s bay tree in the living room, and a stunning wreath made for us by Puppy Mamma at The Front. And, whilst we were putting it all up, somehow the Yuletide spirit seemed to give Sa Maj a much-needed burst of energy after a day or two of slumpy inactivity (most likely powering up for his next bit of mischief) and, throughout the whole process, he pitter-pattered around us, bug-eyed and screaming.

We are so looking forward to the winter solstice and to the lighter days which will, we hope, bring a happier year.

Catorze’s special tree, with bespoke decorations.
Puppy Mamma’s super-stylish handmade wreath. She managed to keep the dogs’ chops away from it this time.