Le petit coin, Partie 2: cette fois-ci c'est personnel

The vegetable patch is fighting back. Or, rather, Cat Daddy is, after catching Louis Catorze digging around yet again. The sweetcorn plants were eventually salvaged – you can spot the dug-up, flung-around ones straight away as they are much smaller than the other ones – but, this time, one of the passion flower vines has gone. And by “gone” I don’t simply mean “been uprooted”: I mean utterly vapourised without a trace, as if the plant never existed.

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As you can see, Cat Daddy has taken his role of Defence Minister very seriously indeed. And, yes, those are plastic forks. One of Le Blog’s lovely followers recommended them as a protective measure, so I passed the tip onto Cat Daddy; and whilst I had somehow imagined them being placed the other way up in the earth, handles pointing upwards, I can understand why Cat Daddy chose this way, for maximum pointy surface area to threaten la derrière royale.

Will it work? It’s not looking promising, I must say. Even during the impaling process Louis Catorze was ever-present, slaloming between the sticks and forks like a prize-winning Border Collie at one of those sheepdog competitions, not even deterred when Cat Daddy tried to jab him in the arse with a stick of bamboo. So his chances of staying away now that the sticks are static, are slim-to-zéro.

So now Cat Daddy and I need to agree on our next steps should the bamboo and forks not work. My idea: citrus peel and netting. Cat Daddy’s idea: inhumane bear traps and poison-tipped barbed wire.

Le chat vit pour manger

Someone appears to have stolen Louis Catorze – quite why anyone would do this is beyond me – and replaced him with a similar-looking changeling cat who actually likes food.

For the first time EVER, this morning he pulled the Second Breakfast trick on Cat Daddy, who fell for it completely. When I got home I was berated for “forgetting” to feed Catorze before going to work when I knew full well that I had done it, and it was then that the little sod was rumbled.

This has never happened before. Quite the opposite, in fact: Le Roi’s plate is usually never empty.

His big brother, Luther, was different. When it came to the Second Dinner trick, he would have beaten Leonardo di Caprio to that Best Actor Oscar, without a doubt; too often I would be scrabbling through bins, accompanied by the sound of Luther’s “I’m starving to death” song, counting the empty food cans to work out whether I’d fed him 20 minutes previously or whether I’d dreamt the whole episode. And he once did such a number on Cat Daddy that he said, in all seriousness, “Maybe we didn’t feed him after all. Maybe we just THINK we did.”

Luther’s pièce de résistance was this:

1. Luther refuses the food that Cat Daddy puts down
2. Cat Daddy puts down another variant on the same plate (the single action that proved to be his undoing)
3. Luther eats Variant 2
4. After Cat Daddy leaves for work, Luther also eats Variant 1
5. Cat Daddy returns home, sees the empty plate and assumes I must have thrown away the uneaten food

We have no idea how many times he did this. It could have been hundreds.

I can’t see Louis Catorze suddenly sprouting a brain and being as wily as his brother, but, to be honest, given that November is usually the month that his health hits the skids, we’re delighted that he’s eating firsts, never mind seconds.

And the lime scent is back with a vengeance, affirming Cat Daddy’s belief that it’s “just a healthy cat smell”. Again, it could be so much worse, so we’re just going to enjoy it.

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La menthe au citron vert

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In an effort to solve LimeGate, my latest “thing” is to pick Louis Catorze up and thrust him into people’s faces so that they can try to identify the source of the scent. Whether they want to or not.

Here are some of the reactions so far:

Friend 1: “Ooh, yes! Lovely and citrusy!”
Friend 2: “He smells very clean and fresh. Do you bathe him?” [I reminded her of his tendency to fight like a grizzly bear when cleaned or examined. She retracted her question.]
My mum: “I’ve got a cold, so I can’t smell anything.”
Cat Daddy, without looking up from his laptop: “Go away. I’m trying to work.”

Conclusion: inconclusive.

The single helpful piece of advice came from a friend who discovered that there is a lime mint plant; now, although I had heard of chocolate mint and apple mint, lime mint is a new one to me. And the thought of Louis Catorze writhing about in this plant is considerably easier on my nerves than the prospect of a cross person subjecting him to what is basically an acid attack (kind of).

All I need to do now is find out which neighbour owns such a plant. And work out whether a photo of Catorze, plus the words “Do you have a lime mint plant? And has this cat been trashing it? If so, please call us so that we may apologise personally and replace your squashed plant”, would all fit onto an A4 poster without looking too cramped.

D’où vient ce citron vert?

Louis Catorze still smells of lime, and has done so ever since the day I first noticed it.

Whilst the smell has faded, re-intensified and faded again over time, it has never really gone away … suggesting that Le Roi keeps returning to the source. On some days it has been so strong that I haven’t bothered with the scented candles and have just let him pitter-patter about the house, with the sweet scent of lime wafting through the air.

I don’t mind this at all as I find it very pleasant, but it must be really annoying for the mysterious citrus parfumier. (My gut instinct still tells me that it’s a vexed neighbour who is trying, and failing, to keep the little sod away with lime-scented spray.)

Someone I know suggested attaching a mini camera to Louis Catorze, but those things are quite cumbersome even for normal-sized cats; with a CatCam around his neck I think our teeny-tiny boy would struggle even to lift his head, let alone rampage through TW8 angering neighbours. I also thought about plastering trees and lamp posts with “Has this cat been annoying you? If so, please call us so that we can apologise personally” posters, but Cat Daddy said he’d move out if I did.

Even Siri is at a loss (see photos).

So it seems we have no choice but to live with the lime, and to be grateful for the fact that Louis Catorze could be coming home covered in much, much worse; lime isn’t so bad, given the alternatives (i.e. blood, chemicals or anything brown).

Quelle est cette odeur agréable?

Curious things are afoot once again at Le Château: last week, Louis Catorze trotted in through the cat flap, tail aloft, smelling from top to toe of lime essential oil, and he’s smelled of it ever since.

We pondered the following possible explanations:

1. He has been rubbing up against some sort of strange plant.
2. Someone who uses lime-scented body lotion or perfume has been snuggling him during the day, whilst we are at work.
3. He’s annoyed the crap out of some poor person, who has sprayed their surroundings with an anti-cat concoction after reading that cats hate citrus.

We like to think it’s option 2. But, knowing Louis Catorze, it’s far more likely to be option 3. We can understand someone being exasperated with him to the point of desperate measures; we know that feeling very well. And, judging by the lime dearth in the supermarket, it seems that Catorze is displeasing either all of the people some of the time, or some of the people all of the time:

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Not that any of this bothers him in the slightest; he’s kite-high on his steroid shot so, to be quite honest, we could dunk him in anything right now and he wouldn’t notice or care. And it’s made cuddling him in bed so much more pleasant.

A friend of mine asked me how I felt about someone else snuggling Louis Catorze when we’re not around. I guess some people may not feel at ease with this, but, as long as he’s happy and he’s not being given any food, I don’t mind. I even thought about Sellotaping his Atopica and syringe to his body, with a polite note asking the unknown snuggler, while they’re about it, if they’d kindly oblige. Deux oiseaux, and all that.

The same friend also asked how I felt about the idea of someone spraying citrus all over the place to keep Catorze out. Cat Daddy chimed in, “If he’s even HALF as annoying to them as he is to us, I’ll hand them the spray myself.” Right.

I don’t suppose Le Mystère du Citron Vert will ever be solved – Roi mysteries never are, #becauseRoi – but, for now, I shall take heart in the fact that he’s never smelled better. Lime with a hint of flowers certainly beats his usual aroma of overripe-Brie-meets-dead-sheep.