L’enfer, c’est les chats noirs

The good thing about having a black cat is that, when they raise hell, you can pretend it was some other cat and not yours. And the chances of anyone proving otherwise, beyond all reasonable doubt, are slim. If they raise hell at night it’s even better, because the darkness hides them and therefore there is zero proof.

However, Little Sods’ Law decrees that a black cat is most likely to raise hell as follows:

1. In broad daylight.

2. When the entire neighbourhood is at home to witness the carnage.

3. When the cat is sporting a unique piece of headgear making it impossible to mistake them for anyone else.

I turned my back for SECONDS to put the kettle on, then heard the most God-awful shrieking. When I went to investigate, I was met with this:

At least they’re 2 metres apart.

The screeching was coming from the green parakeet pictured on the wires, who was hollering at Louis Catorze with all its might. Yes, Catorze is on Oscar the dog’s territory. No, I have no idea how he got there. And, yes, he now has a new self-harm wound which means he will be Côned for EVEN LONGER until it heals.

He is now sleeping off the excitement in the living room, right where I can see him. I, in the meantime, am Googling animal cages (size: XS) and wondering if they can deliver within the hour.

La vie en quarantaine

This turbulent period of time seems to be bringing out the furthermost extremes of human behaviour.

The good: Everyone in our street is sharing provisions (responsibly) and looking out for each other. And, last weekend, we had a quarantine barbecue with Oscar the dog’s family – them in their garden, us in ours, separate food and drink – of which the highlight (for us, probably not for them) was Oscar stealing three stuffed vine leaves from their table when nobody was looking, and letting his innocent human sister get the blame.

The bad: Most of the population of TW8 don’t give a hoot about social distancing. They stride along in the middle of the pavement, expecting the rest of us to move out of their way and not noticing or caring whether we do or don’t. We have seen many walkers and sweaty, virus-propagating runners with zero regard for the two-metre rule, happily letting us step into oncoming traffic to avoid them whilst they remain steadfastly on course for their new personal best. We have also seen not one but TWO cyclists, on separate occasions, cycling along the pavement whilst looking their phones. I used to think the reason why people in TW9 and W4 look down on us is because our neighbourhood is less posh. Erm, it’s not that.

The ugly: Cat Daddy and his boozy pub mates have been regularly meeting for drinks via Skype/Zoom/whatever. I don’t join in – video calls are my idea of torture, even with people whom I like – but I eavesdrop for the comedy value. Because they are all, erm, blokes of a certain age, the first 15 minutes of their virtual meets usually sound like this: “Tim, turn your microphone on.” “Pete, do you know that you’re sideways?” “Why are some of us in circles and some of us in squares?”

Louis Catorze’s life, on the other hand, continues as normal. He has Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish aplenty – which, Cat Daddy remarks, will also serve us well if we run out of food and end up having to eat Catorze* – and we just about managed to squeeze in a jambon de Bayonne order before the curtain fell on Ocado. The only slight change for Catorze is that Le Jardin is now Le Fitness Suite with Cat Daddy’s stationary bike and my exercise step. Other than that, c’est la même chose. And, despite having been Côned for much longer than anyone ever thought possible, the little sod is happy and enjoying life.

We hope that you and your furry overlords are all managing to stay safe. If you are local and we can help you in any way, please let us know.

*Don’t worry, we would never actually eat Catorze. Mainly because there is barely any meat on him.

“Cat Daddy has prepared a dish of chat farci au poisson fabuleux.”

Se gratter sans ongles

Damn this horrid little sod. Anyone would think he didn’t want to get better.

Last week we found Louis Catorze with suspicious new sore patches on his face, indicating that he had found an inventive, secret way of scratching (again). For days we puzzled over how on earth he could possibly have done it, given that he is supervised 99% of the time due to his wicked and untrustworthy nature. Then we discovered that, during his sessions in the exercise yard, he had been darting out of sight behind the shed and scratching himself on a bunch of sticking-out bamboo canes.

We never bothered checking up on him when he went there because it’s only a tiny crawl space the same length and width as Catorze, and we knew that Le Cône prevented him from going far. The space is pictured below, and you can see the offending bamboo canes just above and to the right of him. Cat Daddy has now moved the canes but I’m pretty sure that, even if we put them on the moon, Catorze would find them.

Our vet practice closed last week to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. The W5 and TW3 branches are remaining open for emergencies only – and, no, the irreparable damage to both our sanity and our will to live still doesn’t deem this an emergency – so we really can’t afford to have this turn bad. It seems we are going to have to ramp up our surveillance even more intensely, and possibly even – gasp – reintroduce the full Cône when the inmate is out of sight.

Cat Daddy explained to his boy the other day that we all have to live with constraints during these difficult times, however much we dislike it.

Catorze replied with a “Mwah”. Sadly I don’t think it was the good kind.

Caught you, you little shite.

Les mains sales (Partie 2)

I am sure that you already knew this, Mesdames et Messieurs, but hand sanitising gel and cats don’t mix. In short, it’s because the former contains alcohol and/or tea tree and the latter are prolific lickers (especially of things that we don’t want them to lick).

If you’ve had to use hand sanitising gel during an unavoidable trip out, it might be a good idea to wash your hands normally with hot water and soap or hand wash – not with more gel – before you stroke your pets. Admittedly it’s unlikely that you would transfer enough gel for them to do themselves serious damage, but we have enough to deal with right now without having to add vet visits into the mix.

We use liquid soap from Scent Trail (see link below), who are kind enough to custom-make a fragrance-free version especially for Louis Catorze. They are a small U.K. business who are very mindful of animal welfare, and I am sure that they would appreciate any orders at this time.

https://www.scent-trail.co.uk/ourshop/cat_584899-Liquid-Soap.html

Ugly hands need washing, too.

Les petites pilules irrégulières

I don’t know whether collecting Louis Catorze’s medication from the vet is something that most would class as an “essential journey” but, yesterday – BEFORE the announcement from our esteemed leader, I might add – it was essential to us.

The little sod’s next steroid shot is due in the first week of April and, because we have no idea what state the world will be in by then, we contacted the vet to ask about a tablet version that we could administer at home. Catorze is quite hit and miss when it comes to pills – sometimes he will happily eat them in a Pill Pocket, sometimes he won’t – but we can’t risk injection time coming around and us not being allowed to leave the house.

We walked the seven minutes or so to the vet practice just before 6pm, when we knew the streets would be quieter, having paid for the pills over the phone beforehand. When we arrived, the nurse put down the bottle on the doorstep and I picked it up after she had closed the door. It’s all quite surreal and strange, like some post-apocalyptic horror film, and the ominous sense of dread increased in triplicate when I realised that it wasn’t just one or two pills but a course of two a day, for two weeks. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Here is Catorze, using his quarantine time to project some very artistic shadow shapes with Le Cône. Please stay safe, everyone.

And that’s why they call him the Sun King.

Le deuxième Cône

Louis Catorze has been Côned for almost three weeks – far longer than any of us expected or wanted – in which time he has managed to do the following:

– Escape over the fence into That Neighbour’s garden during supervised outdoor time, Cône and all, and get stuck coming back

– Escape over the fence into Oscar the dog’s territory, as above

– Escape out at The Front, after which he was promptly apprehended by Cat Daddy with the stern words: “The Front is no place for a Côned cat!”

We have also made the following discovery, Mesdames et Messieurs: Cônes get DIRTY.

Forget about washing my hands to avoid spreading Coronavirus: if I could amputate mine every time I touched Le Cône, I would. (And, unfortunately, touching is inevitable as we are constantly having to straighten it or detach the front part.)

Having seen the little sod scratch it with his gross back feet, lick it, dribble on it and even – shudder – rub it on his arse* when attempting to clean himself whilst wearing it, we decided that it would be a good idea to clean it.

Now, our problems with this were as follows:

1. The fabric edges would need time to dry out after cleaning.

2. Leaving Catorze sans Cône whilst waiting for it to dry was absolutely out of the question. (He is noticeably less itchy since the vet visit on Tuesday, but we don’t trust him quite yet.)

*Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, animal owners, but, if your pet is Côned for any period of time, you can be certain that they will have attempted to clean their lower portions at some stage, and therefore there will be ANIMAL ARSE ON LE CÔNE.

Cat Daddy’s ideas were:

1. Clean Le Cône, then put it back on Catorze immediately, whether or not it were fully dry (nope).

2. One of us could physically restrain him during the time it took to dry (HELL, nope).

The other option – and the worst of the lot – was, of course, to just leave it without cleaning, and there was no way I would allow that to happen, especially in the midst of an antibacterial product famine.

So I bought a second Cône. And Catorze wore it whilst the other was drying.

It was £10.80 very, very well spent indeed.

Enjoying some fully-Côned and chaperoned time in the exercise yard.

Les envahisseurs doivent mourir

Good news: Louis Catorze has something new to take his mind off his health woes.

Bad news: WE HAVE A MOUSE IN OUR LIVING ROOM.

The phrases “This is the last thing we need” and “You couldn’t make this shit up” were INVENTED for this household. And this is probably my punishment for laughing at Puppy Mamma that time when she was taking garden refuse to the tip and a mouse jumped out of the sack of wisteria trimmings and ran riot in her car.

Now, how on earth a Côned cat – who is only allowed outdoors under supervision – could possibly bring in a mouse is beyond me. I imagine it’s more likely that this mouse just randomly wandered in but, all the same, I wouldn’t put anything past Catorze.

Anyway, this is how the farcical events unfolded from around 7am on Monday:

1. I catch sight of the invader beast not long after Catorze’s morning feed.

2. I attempt to draw Catorze’s attention to the invader beast. Catorze, who is half-Côned and washing his arse, is utterly oblivious.

3. I debate whether to unCône Catorze or to wake Cat Daddy, and I finally decide upon the latter. Cat Daddy is highly displeased but comes to my aid armed with, erm, a beer tankard and a chopping board.

4. Cat Daddy pulls out furniture and boxes and lifts things (mainly cat toys) off the floor but, each time, the wily mouse darts elsewhere and evades capture.

5. Catorze finally stops washing his arse and spots the mouse. Cat Daddy suggests unCôning him to see if he will catch it. Cône comes off.

6. Catorze immediately starts scratching. Cône goes back on.

7. Cat Daddy eventually manages to corner the mouse among the wires under the television unit.

8. Catorze takes a flying leap across the floor and under the unit, Cône and all, and lands squarely on top of the wires, dislodging Cat Daddy’s hands and allowing the mouse to run free once again.

9. Cat Daddy declares that “it’s all too much: first Boris Johnson, then Coronavirus and now this” and goes back to bed.

Our living room remains in disarray, with furniture all over the place, and the mouse is still at large. And, despite not being very well, Catorze is dutifully keeping watch. You have to admire his tenacity, even though I can’t think of a less efficient rodent sentinel than a Côned cat.

This is going to be a long week.

“À gauche, Papa! Non, à droite!”