L’Année du Chien

Chinese New Year officially begins today and it’s the Year of the Dog, which will be rather displeasing to many of our feline overlords. However, Louis Catorze, being quite cordial towards dogs even if the feeling isn’t mutual, has both accepted this with good grace AND chosen to make a peace offering to his sparring partner next door:

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Whilst I am not a great believer in the western zodiac, nor in the characteristics attributed according to one’s date of birth, Chinese New Year made me curious about Louis Catorze’s corresponding Chinese horoscope animal. And, being born in 2010, it turns out that he is likely to be … a Tiger. No joke. (Cat Daddy spat his tea all over his laptop when I told him.)

This is what l’internet says about those born in the Year of the Tiger:

– Brave [Catorze takes on larger animals of any kind, without hesitation, so OUI]
– Competitive [although this rather depends on the nature of the competition; if it’s “Who can be the biggest and most annoying crotte de merde in the land?” then OUI]
– Self-confident [OUI]
– Charming [OUI]
– Well-liked by others [provided we don’t count dogs or Ocado delivery drivers among the “others”, then OUI]
– Impetuous [see “Brave” above: OUI]
– Over-indulged [I suppose having a house built and furnished to his specifications, food flown in from Canada and a savings account for his healthcare could possibly, by some people’s interpretation, be seen as “over-indulged”, so OUI]

Louis Catorze wishes everyone, especially all dogs, a joyous and prosperous year ahead. And he would love to know all about your feline overlords’ Chinese horoscope animals and whether the characteristics are a good match!

Lancer un pavé dans la mare

If you have never seen those “Photos taken seconds before disaster struck” picture gallery things, this interpretation should be self-explanatory:

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I took this photo mainly because I never imagined Louis Catorze would take on an enormous beast of a wood pigeon the same size as him. And, in the unlikely event of him trying, I thought he would be far too slow to actually succeed. C’était faux: not long afterwards, despite le pigeon distancing itself by settling on a different part of the furniture, le petit voyou charged down the garden path and managed to get his paws to it.

Cat Daddy raced outside and grabbed a broom to try and separate the pair of them. He managed to poke le pigeon out of evil Catorze’s grasp, but the poor, traumatised bird flapped its way into a corner from where there was no escape … and Catorze, despite being thicker than a concrete milkshake, knew this, and circled like a hungry shark. I then had to go out to try and catch him but he refused to be caught, forever dancing tantalisingly out of my reach, but luckily this gave Cat Daddy enough time to trap le pigeon in a cardboard box and place it in the safety of the park opposite.

My best friend, who was over for lunch at the time, hooted with laughter at the whole spectacle. (She is a dog person, and this confirmed why.)

Cat Daddy and I may need to be more consistent in our approach to dealing with the little sod. Our mixed messages are probably WHY he’s such a little sod.

Me: “Bad kitty. That poor bird.”
Cat Daddy: “Call yourself a hunter? That was the most pathetic effort ever.”

Le coeur vaillant

It’s a full moon tonight, which means more idiocy from the feline population of the planet. And, because we’re approaching Halloween, black cats, in particular, will be more idiotic than ever.

I got chatting yesterday afternoon to Bert the dog’s mamma, as we were putting out the recycling at The Front.

Now, Louis Catorze’s interactions with Bert are pretty minimal, which is why you haven’t heard much about him so far. Bert’s garden has lots of trees and shrubs against the fence, making it harder for Catorze to access it, and it also helps tremendously that Bert is getting on a bit, so his eyesight and hearing aren’t what they used to be. Not that this stops Catorze from making trouble when he feels like it; a friend who visited us once said, “I can’t believe what I’ve just seen. First Louis went over that fence [pointing to Bert the dog’s side] and pissed off that dog, then he went over THAT fence [pointing to Oscar the dog’s side] and pissed off THAT dog. Now the 2 dogs won’t shut up. Your neighbours must hate him – and you.”

Anyway, during our chat, Bert was happily sniffling and snuffling around his mamma’s feet. Louis Catorze had been asleep on the sofa but woke up, heard Bert and decided to follow me outside and scream at him.

Yes, I realise that normal feline instinct should spur him to run in the opposite direction from a dog. But this is Le Roi we’re talking about.

Bert’s mamma didn’t appear the slightest bit surprised by the screaming. In fact, she revealed that she often opened her front door to find Catorze on the doorstep, screaming away (at times when we knew he was at The Front but thought he was having a nap under our wisteria plant). And, apparently, if Bert was in the vicinity, our little sod would scream even more and sometimes try to shimmy past Dog Mamma and into the house.

Yesterday’s incident could have ended badly, but Le Roi’s royal arse was saved by the fact that Bert, incredibly, didn’t see or hear him. (No, I don’t understand, either, how anyone could fail to hear this whiny, searing meow that scrapes away at your eardrums like fingernails on a blackboard.) Then Bert’s daddy came out and said hello, which distracted Bert even further, allowing Catorze to tire of the screaming and pitter-patter back indoors.

This isn’t good, is it? Whilst I am glad that Catorze is confident and not a nervous, hunger-striking, pooing-and-peeing wreck, running screaming towards dogs isn’t exactly where I want him to be. I have heard of strategies to make a nervous cat more confident, but … making a fearless/stupid cat rein it in a bit? Is this even a thing?

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Le silence du Roi

Louis Catorze has a swish, new transportation pod. One of the pictures below is of that very pod. The other shows a pod that is far more appropriate for him given his chequered history when it comes to being transported, but Pets at Home don’t appear to stock it. And I suspect that the armed guards would have cost extra.

Cat Daddy: “He doesn’t need a new transportation pod. The old pod is fine.”
Me: “But I find it hard to carry the old pod, the way he fights and flips.”
Cat Daddy: “He doesn’t fight and flip when I take him. He behaves perfectly well for me.”

Well, that’s delightful news. Thanks.

Anyway, the new pod is super-stylish and considerably more fitting for a Sun King than his old one. It’s not often that we encounter his comrades or adversaries in the vet’s waiting room but, when we do, we want to look the part, n’est-ce pas?

On Friday we decided that it would be a good idea to give Le Roi a preventative steroid shot before going on holiday, as he was starting to get a bit scratchy and we didn’t want his gouvernante française to have problems. The triangular – rather than square/rectangular – profile of the new pod makes it very easy to carry by my side, even with my neck and shoulder problems, so, for the first time ever, I was able to walk to the appointment.

Sadly, the ergonomic shape and Chanel-inspired quilting did nothing to alleviate the screaming. Catorze hollered his lungs out all the way there, and, because we were walking, the screams echoed through the neighbourhood as opposed to being confined to the car. Even the workmen, who were digging up the road, stopped what they were doing to look at us. And, upon arrival, le fichu salaud was so noisy in the waiting room that the two ladies who came in after us, with their nice, quiet cats, decided that they would rather sit in the Dog Area than in the Cat Area with us, completely messing up the vet’s new apartheid system.

We feel a bit bad for our French cat-sitter as the steroid shots usually turn our boy rather manic and psycho, but better that than to have him scratch himself to bleeding point and require a trip to the vet in our absence.

There won’t be any blog posts for a short while, unless we see any cute cats on holiday, or unless we hear that Louis Catorze has done something especially impressive or horrific. Please keep well until our return, and continue to obey your furry overlords at all times.

 

 

Protéger et servir

Cat Daddy and I are going on holiday in a few days’ time, and we have a friend coming all the way from Paris to look after Louis Catorze in our absence. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Le Roi is going to have an ACTUAL French person as his full-time, live-in majordome/esclave.

“Do you speak French to him all the time?” she asked us. “Because I intend to. So, by the time you come back, he won’t take any notice of anything you say.”

Louis Catorze, not following instructions? Whatever next?

Anyway, Cat Daddy and I are currently putting together a set of manuals for her reference. The Château manual was complete some time ago, and contains the following sections:

1. The Sonos multimedia system
2. The kitchen appliances
3. Local places of interest

The Roi manual, which is proving to be rather more of a lengthy task, contains the following sections so far:

1. Food
2. Drink
3. Play
4. Catnip (for medicinal purposes)
5. Nocturnal gadding about
6. Brushing
7. The vet
8. Dog warfare
9. Prey, dead
10. Prey, living
11. Prey, partially-living
12. Lockdown at The Front, and how to manage escapees
13. Health and safety drill for Ocado delivery drivers

“It’ll be fine,” said Cat Daddy. “What’s the worst that could happen …?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

He continued: ” … Apart from us returning home to find the place knee-deep in dead vermin like some post-apocalyptic horror film, and our poor friend crying in the corner?”

Right. Où est ma valise?

You will notice that there is no “Medication” section in the Roi manual, and that wasn’t an oversight: notre cher ami has officially been given the all-clear from his favourite vet, who is back from her travels for a short while. No more Gabapentin! He has had no relapses at all during his tapering-off detox programme and, whilst we will miss the little sod for the next couple of weeks, we know that he will be fine and that our friend will look after him wonderfully.

We just hope that he will be equally considerate in return.

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Il y a un rat dans ma chambre: qu’est-ce que je vais faire?

IMG_8653A couple of days ago, Oscar the dog’s mamma told me that she had seen a large brown rat in their garden. Ever-hopeful, I asked her if she were sure that it wasn’t a very big mouse, or an unusually skinny-tailed squirrel. She was sure.

I suggested to her that, if she ever saw it again, provided Oscar weren’t in the vicinity, I would happily flick Louis Catorze over Le Mur and let him have a bash at catching it. However, I hadn’t quite expected him to catch it of his own accord, so soon after our conversation. Nor had I expected him to bring the damp, stinky carcass up to our bedroom.

Worse yet, it was our easily-startled cleaning lady who found it. I came home to find her so traumatised that she could barely speak, and eventually I managed to get it out of her that there was a rat in our bedroom. (Once again I said, “Are you sure it’s not a mouse?” although, deep in my heart, I knew.)

As she and I stood staring at it and wondering what the heck to do, Louis Catorze picked that very moment to switch into psycho play mode and attack her feet. Because he ambushed her from behind, she felt him before she saw him and, thinking he was another rat, she screamed as if she had been shot.

I went to look for a bin bag and, naturellement, we didn’t have any, so I had to take the sturdiest plastic bag I could find, which was a Selfridges one. Once Ratty was safely entombed I dropped a 2p coin in with him, hoping it would land squarely on his body and give a sense of scale when I provided people with photographic proof of how big he was. But, unfortunately, it sort of wedged in at his side and, because it was the same colour as his body, it ended up looking more like some sort of cystic growth than a 2p coin, adding to the horror of the whole situation.

Whilst our cleaning lady sat in a corner and cried quietly, I headed for the park bin where so many of Catorze’s victims have been laid to rest, praying that nobody would see me. Although, if you don’t want to be seen, you should carry an unobtrusive, plain bag and leave the house whistling nonchalantly. Leaving the house holding a bright yellow Selfridges bag with your fingertips and at arm’s length, all the while shuddering and retching, probably isn’t the way. And, of course, I bumped into Bert the dog’s daddy, who was working on his car in the street right outside Le Château, and I was forced to explain the bag and the shuddering and retching.

So now I am confined to Le Château on account of being too ashamed to leave it, and Louis Catorze is banned from the bedrooms on account of being too disgusting. And our poor cleaning lady will probably never lead a normal life ever again. Cat Daddy, however, can’t help but admire his boy’s pest control efficiency, and this has been echoed by Dog Mamma, who is delighted that Catorze has done his civic duty. Another friend said, “Isn’t it reassuring to know that he’s such a good rat-catcher?”

I don’t know what makes a “good” rat-catcher. But I’m pretty certain that depositing smelly rat corpses in spotlessly-clean places where there were no rat corpses before, isn’t it.

Aucune solution, que des problèmes

It’s been almost 2 weeks since Le Mur was constructed on our western border but, unfortunately, it hasn’t turned out to be the peacekeeping tool for which we had hoped.

In terms of obscuring Oscar and Louis Catorze from one another when they are on ground level, it has done its job. However, as we all know, cats have the huge advantage of being able to jump. And, because Le Mur is able to fully support Catorze’s weight (whereas the previous fence wasn’t), it means that the little sod is able to do this:

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In actual fact this shows him chirping sweetly and running to me for cuddles, having heard me open the door to take the picture. However, the unfortunate camera angle doesn’t reflect this and, instead, he looks like a determined, steely killing machine with his eyes locked on his enemy. And I suppose that’s what Oscar sees every time.

Worse yet, we had a brick barbecue built a couple of days later (also pictured), and Le Roi has decided to make use of this as a handy step-up to Le Mur. And, on windy days, when Le Mur is a little shaky and he can’t risk being whipped off his perch and dropped into the danger zone, Louis Catorze balances on the barbecue with his back feet, lifts himself up with his front feet and pokes his head through the trellis, safe in the knowledge that he has a solid base but also ensuring that Oscar will still get maximum annoyance from the sight of his stupid little face.

One day I will get a photo of this, because it’s the funniest thing in the world. I don’t suppose Oscar would agree, though.

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Donald Trump would be so proud of Oscar the dog: not only has he built a wall, but he has managed to get the humans to pay for it.

Except that it’s actually a 5ft fence, not a wall. And its purpose is mainly to keep the Sun King out of sight from Oscar, because of ever-deteriorating relations between the two parties.

Our previous wooden picket fence really wasn’t up to the job of separating the warring factions. Oscar would catch sight of Catorze through the slats and bark like a lunatic; Catorze would run to the fence, stare at him and meow back; this would drive Oscar doubly mad and more barking would ensue; Catorze would meow back again … and the two of them would continue in this fashion like a noisy, furry, 2-part perpetual motion machine until one, the other or both were undignifiedly hauled indoors.

Oscar’s thirst for revenge was eventually such that he began to pummel at the fence, which weakened progressively over many months and eventually gave way. Dog Mamma and Dog Daddy placed a multitude of obstacles and barriers in his way but, having learned and memorised where the weak spot was, Oscar was an unstoppable force. He would choose to strike when his folks were busy doing other things and sometimes actually succeeded in getting through, so I would have to call the Dog Parents and escort their boy off our premises.

And so the opaque fence was born.

Louis Catorze had great fun flirting with the men who put up the fence – they commented that he had kept them company throughout the construction process – but was highly displeased to find that he could no longer survey enemy territory. However, as you can see, he found a solution. Here he is on his new viewing platform – Oscar’s summer house – and, if you zoom in, you can just about make out his cheeky little open mouth, mid-meow. (Oscar is below, out of shot, snapping and circling like a hungry saltwater crocodile.)

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So, as one war ends, another begins. Being the Sun King’s peacekeeping force isn’t easy.

Plus claire la lumière, plus sombre l’obscurité

What a week it’s been at Le Château. Events include a grovelling apology from me to Ocado on behalf of you-know-who (pretty sure it should be you-know-whom?), a reply from Ocado claiming the right to hazard pay for their traumatised drivers (I think they were only half-joking), and another somewhat unfortunate incident.

On Wednesday night there was a knock at the door at 10:30pm: Marius-Olivian driving the Lemon van, a whole week early?

However, when I checked my Ocado order again I realised that he was actually on time, and that I had messed up: I’d accidentally booked the delivery for this week instead of next week. So, not only was there no room in the fridge for the food because I hadn’t sufficiently run down supplies, but Cat Daddy was still away and there was a greater risk of Catorze-Ocado carnage.

Naturellement, as soon as I opened the door, notre ami shot out and began sniffing around the Ocado crates, getting in the way of Marius-Olivian as he was unloading. He called out, “Go back in, kitty!” Louis Catorze took no notice.

After Marius-Olivian left, waving Catorze a jaunty goodbye as he did so, I felt somewhat relieved; getting in the way of the unloading, whilst not very helpful, wasn’t nearly as bad as him sending yet another driver fleeing in fear. But, alas, the night was not over. It was at that point that the little sod discovered the motion-activated porch light at Bert the dog’s house next door, and the next few minutes went something like this:

1. Cat activates light
2. I reach to grab him
3. He scuttles off out of reach and refuses to be caught
4. I turn around to go indoors
5. Cat activates light again
(Repeat indefinitely, or until one party collapses from frustration and fatigue.)

I couldn’t just go to bed and leave him to annoy yet another set of neighbours – he’s already made us quite unpopular enough – so I was forced to wait until he had finished his game. And he only decided to stop after hearing the local fox’s mating/war cry (still not sure which) and having the uncharacteristically good sense to realise that, if he didn’t come in, he might be eaten.

I can’t cope with this monster on my own. Thank goodness there is only 1 more sleep until Cat Daddy comes home.

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Le personnel domestique est de retour

Cat Daddy and I have been away for a few days; this was our first mini-holiday in years, due in part to my inconsistent health but also to the fact that Louis Catorze used to require medication every other day, and we didn’t think it fair to make a neighbour or a cat sitter do battle with him. We returned home on Friday to a strikingly glossy, healthy-looking Roi who was delighted to see his daddy again. (Me, not so much.)

Oscar the dog’s folks looked after him magnificently well in our absence, and we are super-grateful to them. (They came here to feed him, obviously; he didn’t go and live with them, although part of me thinks it would have been funny to try it.) Not only were we able to go away with peace of mind, knowing that the little sod would be loved, but their kindness also meant I didn’t have to write the embarrassing advert: “Wanted: cat sitter for tiny black cat with annoying voice that could strip paint. Must be prepared to referee turf wars with dogs and dispose of rats, birds, slugs and other assorted wildlife, living, dead or somewhere between the two.”

As you can see, normal service has very much resumed, with both daddy-love and newspaper impingement in progress. And Cat Daddy has come up with a solution to the newspaper problem: take advantage of the lack of binding or staples in a newspaper and separate it as soon as you see the cat approaching. Just make sure you end up with the decent half, and that the cat sits on the boring property bit.

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J’adore le parc

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I’m now over halfway through my post-surgery recovery, and things been quite hard as the fog of the anaesthetic has worn off and the realisation has dawned of what lies ahead: in other words, at least another fortnight of not fully being able to what I want, and being mostly stuck at home with a cat who couldn’t care less whether I live or die.

I’ve had a few dark moments when I have wished Luther were still here, because he was the perfect nursemaid when I was ill: instinctively knowing, caring and not leaving my side. I’ve felt a little sad wondering how I could have gone from that to this, yet also resigned to the fact that there is nothing I can do about it because Luther isn’t here anymore, and Louis Catorze is.

Yesterday afternoon Cat Daddy took me for my daily, medically-prescribed walk to the park across the road from Le Château; we have often talked about how Luther would have claimed it within a few days had we moved here with him, whereas Catorze has shown zero interest during the whole year that we’ve been here. However, this time the little sod shocked us senseless by deciding to come with us.

Although he didn’t vanish off into the farthest corner, as Luther would have done, for a short while it was like having Luther back with us. Louis Catorze hung close to the bench where we sat, yelling and sniffing, retreating home only upon the arrival of a menacing gang (an elderly couple) and their status dog (a tiny but very angry bichon frisé). And, when we got back, he even spent some time on my lap, in my favourite pose: with his torso and paws on me, and the less desirable arse end well away from my body.

Luther very often gives his little brother a beyond-the-grave kick up the arse when appropriate, and I really did need this one. I hope Catorze continues to remember that he likes me, even though I will only ever be, at best, his second favourite human.

L’envahisseur

Apologies for the overload of Château news: it’s been more eventful than an omnibus episode of EastEnders lately, with one drama following another.

I had been expecting a peaceful and incident-free weekend and was quietly reading in the living room on Friday, with Louis Catorze fast asleep on a blanket next to me, when who should show his cheeky face but … Oscar the dog, unaccompanied, in our house.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, the perimeters of Le Château had been breached once more. And, puzzlingly, Louis Catorze completely failed to notice. I don’t think I will ever understand how he can be aware of Cat Daddy’s impending return home from work before the key is even in the door, yet not notice a dog a few feet from him, on his own territory.

Before the warring factions had a chance to lock eyes, I escorted Oscar out to The Back and informed Dog Daddy over the fence that we had an unexpected guest. He and Dog Sister were over like a shot and, luckily, the only casualty in this saga was a polystyrene tray that used to contain smoked haddock, which Oscar attacked when he jumped into, and rolled around in, our plastics recycling sack.

Louis Catorze woke up in time to see his sparring partner hauled back home but, apart from that, the whole désastre appeared to pass him by. Oscar, on the other hand, will be riding high on this for some time; when I asked the Dog Parents how the naughty boy was after his adventure, the reply was, “Triumphant.” (Thank you to Dog Daddy for the photo.)

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So, going forward, it seems as if we’re going to have to install one of those blaring, single-note klaxon alarms – you know, like the ones you get in science fiction movies when the alien escapes from confinement or when the deadly contagion leaks from the laboratory.

Or I guess we could just get a new fence.

La deuxième prise du château

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This was supposed to be a relaxed and peaceful bank holiday weekend. However, our furry overlords had other ideas: just after I left for work yesterday, Equipe Oscar dealt Equipe Catorze a blistering equaliser. It’s now officially 1-1 in the battle of whatever it is that they’re battling about.

It seems that Louis Catorze finally dépassed la limite and Oscar, having decided that enough was enough, shimmied past the plant pot blockade at the end of his garden and set paw on Roi-occupied domain. After chasing the Sun King into Le Château, Oscar enjoyed not one but several laps of honour around Le Jardin whilst his antagonist watched him through the patio doors.

Dog Daddy tried to retrieve him, but he wouldn’t have it. (Well, have YOU ever succeeded in interrupting a punch-proud dog in the middle of a victory parade, especially when there’s a fence between you?) The more he was called, the more he ignored – so, after some text discussion between a frantic Dog Mamma and myself, Dog Daddy eventually had to let himself into Le Château with their spare keys and haul Oscar’s arse back home.

Cat Daddy more or less slept through the whole thing.

Louis Catorze is utterly unbothered by yesterday’s events, and is continuing to enjoy Le Jardin as much as he ever did. And both we and Oscar’s folks have laughed – a lot – about this. But, just to avoid any possibility of réinvasion, we will be planting a prickly, fast-growing shrub in the area where the perimeter was breached. La sécurité d’abord.

Le dîner chez Oscar

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This weekend we were invited to dinner by Oscar the dog’s folks.

When we lived at Le Palais, Louis Catorze used to take a “Ta maison est ma maison” approach: if we were invited to dinner by neighbours he would hop over the fence and join us. (Yes, he would actually come INTO the house and have a good old explore as we dined.) We were curious to see what would happen if our hosts had a pet, and suspected it would go one way or the other. In this case it was the other.

This is how the first part of our evening panned out:

19:50 – Arrive
19:51 – Drinks in garden
19:52 – Oscar spots Louis Catorze through the fence and the barking starts
19:54 – Louis Catorze spots us, has a brief ” … the hell are you doing THERE?” moment, then continues to stare at Oscar, who continues to bark
19:55 – Dog Daddy hauls Oscar’s arse into the house
20:00 – Louis Catorze seizes his chance and crosses the border
20:01 to 20:15 – Lots of meowing, rolling and nuzzling as Louis Catorze can’t quite believe his luck: not only has he taken control of enemy territory and banished his foe, but he has succeeded in getting his foe’s humans to stroke him
20:16 – Louis Catorze climbs onto the roof of Oscar’s folks’ summer house
20:17 – With Catorze safely out of reach, Dog Mamma and Dog Daddy let Oscar back out again
20:18 to 20:23 – 5 minutes of Oscar frantically searching every inch of the garden like a truffling pig, utterly flummoxed as to how he could smell a cat yet not see it, whilst Louis Catorze observes him from his lofty perch (see photo)
20:24 – Idiot Catorze meows and gives away his hiding place
20:24 plus 1 second – Upon hearing the meow, Oscar’s head whips round like one of the velociraptors from Jurassic Park
20:24 plus 2 seconds – All hell breaks loose with Oscar, now white-hot with rage, bouncing up and down in an attempt to reach Le Roi
20:25 – Dog Daddy hauls Oscar’s arse back into the house and, at the same time, the mighty Sun King, ruler of nations and commander of armies, realises he can’t get down from the roof, so he is plucked to safety by Cat Daddy and tossed undignifiedly back over the fence to his rightful side of the border
20:26 – Peace

It did get better after the separation of the warring factions. But the jury is still out as to whether we will be invited back.