Plus sucré que le sucre

With the grotesque sugar glutton-fest upon us (Easter, I mean, not The Great British Bake-Off), I thought it apt to mention that the sweetener xylitol is making an appearance in more and more foods. And, whilst it can be good for humans, it’s fatal to animals.

Now, dogs aren’t the most discerning diners, as I have found out from living next door to Oscar the dog. So, as a dog owner, one automatically adopts the practice of not leaving food lying around. With cats, it’s a little trickier. They’re not naturally drawn to foods containing xylitol but, because Louis Catorze, in particular, is a fastidious groomer, and because I use the raw powdered xylitol on a daily basis, I watch every stray granule.

A few weeks ago I spilled some xylitol on my head. (Long story, and so stupid that you wouldn’t believe me even if I told you.) Without thinking, I ruffled my hair to brush out all the bits and sent a fine mist of xylitol all over our mutual friend, who was on my lap. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Cat Daddy wasn’t home at the time (hence why Catorze was on my lap) so I plunged into a complete blind panic. Should I put Le Roi under the shower? What if the heat and the water somehow melted the grains into a sweet paste which glued itself to his fur? Should I brush it all out? What if I didn’t get all the bits out? How would I know the difference between the grains of xylitol and the absolutely identical grains of unknown crud in which Catorze is often covered after rolling around outside? Should I taste them to find out? (Eurgh. What was I thinking? The panic was making me lose my mind. And, in any case, once the suspect granule was off his body, it no longer mattered what it was. NO TASTING.)

As you know, Sa Maj does not like being brushed, so it was no surprise to discover that he also doesn’t like being pinned down by my knee and having bits picked off him. But it was worth the lateness to work, the bleeding eardrums and the psychological trauma to know that my boy didn’t have a single grain of anything potentially toxic about his person by the time I had finished.

So all is now well with the world: Catorze survived me sprinkling his body with fatally toxic grains and I managed to make his body a xylitol-free zone without resorting to picking bits off his fur and eating them. I also wrote to the plastic-free company from whom I bought the product to tell them to put a clearer warning on their packaging in case others spilled it when decanting (although I didn’t tell them that I spilled it on my head) and didn’t know the dangers. And they replied within minutes and said that they would.

Below is a picture of Sa Maj’s fur after the unfortunate incident. Xylitol, outdoor crud or gross skin flakes? Luckily I picked off every last bit so that we wouldn’t have to find out. 

*Obviously if your pet has consumed xylitol, or even if you think they may have done so but you aren’t sure, get them to a vet très rapidement. 

L’amour et le parfum se trahissent toujours

12F41EF7-DBE7-449D-9C72-537F4D0B6A98

It had to happen sooner or later, Mesdames et Messieurs, and today is the day: Louis Catorze has pitter-pattered in smelling of man-perfume. And it’s not Cat Daddy’s, because he only wears man-perfume very rarely. LITTLE SOD HAS BEEN SNUGGLING ANOTHER MAN.

Cat Daddy: “You mean he’s been snuggling at least one other man, as far as we are aware. It’s like serial killers. There are always more victims than it would initially seem.” Merci.

Whilst this discovery is, in itself, not wholly surprising, what’s bizarre is that Catorze smells of man-perfume RIGHT TO THE TIP OF HIS TAIL. So it seems that Le Snuggleur Mystérieux has been getting quite intense with Catorze, leaving no inch of his fur, erm, unloved.

There is also the possibility that Catorze broke into someone’s house, knocked the bottle of man-perfume to the floor and had a good old roll around in it. So, at some point today, one of our neighbours will, at best, discover a ruined bottle of man-perfume and be quite cross, or, at worst, step in the broken bits of glass and slowly bleed to death.

So, once again, we have that awkward dilemma of whether to ‘fess up or shut up. Do we casually enquire among our neighbours with a view to offloading our guilt quickly? Or do we wait until someone mentions spending their Easter Sunday having their feet stitched up in Accident and Emergency, and then sheepishly offer our apologies?

I don’t think even 40 days of prayer and penance are going to fix this one for us.

 

Le plastique défigure le monde

Cat Daddy is waging a war on plastic, after finding out just how much of it ends up in seas and landfill. He doesn’t have quite such a problem with the hard plastic that can be recycled, such as bottles, although he is pretty cross with Easter eggs for all their unnecessary packaging and relative lack of chocolate. The main target of his rage is the floppy, filmy plastic that our local council used to recycle but now won’t.

I have been clobbered by Cat Daddy for buying from mail-order companies whose goods arrive in bubble wrap. I have also been clobbered for my use of ladies’ sanitary items because of their plastic content, although Cat Daddy has helpfully reminded me that I “probably won’t need them for much longer”. Even Louis Catorze didn’t escape a clobbering for his Acana Pacifica, which comes in one of those non-recyclable foil-plastic hybrid things.

“Can’t we just give him canned cat food?” asked Cat Daddy. Given that at least 50% of last year’s Le Blog was about trying to make Catorze consume things that he didn’t want to consume, I’d say that were a firm NON. Cat food tins seem to be the most environmentally-friendly option by far but, if your selfish, awkward crotte of a cat won’t eat wet food, there’s not much you can do … apart from put pressure on the supplier to find alternative packaging. Or find a supplier who is doing it properly and just hope and pray that the aforementioned selfish, awkward crotte will eat their food instead.

The makers of Acana Pacifica say this about their packaging:

“At present, our packaging is not recyclable in most areas. While there are lots of recycled bags, none of them are appropriate for our products. This is due to the fact that we do not use chemical preservatives, so our bags need to form a complete barrier to protect your pet’s food from the outside environment.

We would prefer to reduce our impact on the environment, but the technology just doesn’t yet exist for a product like ours. That will change as more and more pressure is placed on packaging producers, and we will continue to explore these opportunities.”

This doesn’t really help us much, but at least they replied promptly. I have sent similar enquiries to many other companies and have discovered that they fall into one of two camps: those who are happy to answer your questions and those who really don’t want to at all.

Lily’s Kitchen, par contre, claim that their dry pet food packaging is fully compostable. (And, yes, I wish I had found that out BEFORE I reordered the massive sack of Acana Pacifica which will last the little sod a good 6+ months.) In terms of quality of ingredients Lily’s Kitchen seems to tick the same boxes as Acana Pacifica, so I am going to give it a try when his existing food runs down.

Changing the food of a cat who doesn’t like food is a bigger pain in the derrière than one can possibly imagine. But worth a shot, oui?

48C5A637-9D69-4844-BCE0-4B6D48081B4D

L’ascension du Roi

Easter weekend at Le Château? Oh, y’know: eating too much chocolate, drinking too much wine, the Sun King going out and then returning home smelling of recreational drugs, that kind of thing …

We could tell that he smelled different as soon as he jumped onto the sofa with us – not lime, nor (thank goodness) that awful catty stench, but a sweetish, herby aroma that we couldn’t quite place. Then, when we finally realised, neither of us wanted to be the one to say it first.

So it seems that either Louis Catorze roams further than we thought … or one of our closer neighbours is naughtier than we realised.

Although I cannot stop myself from eyeing everyone’s houses suspiciously as I walk down the street and wondering if it could be them, I can’t say I’m that bothered about what people do in their own homes. My only concern is that the little sod has been entering people’s houses uninvited, which is rather rude and not how we have raised him to be. And, judging by the smell of his fur, he has definitely been sitting downwind of the smoke at length, so surely the smokers would notice his presence and kick his arse out of their house? Or perhaps they do notice him but each person thinks they are hallucinating, and so nobody mentions the cannabis cat? With his glassy eyes and protruding fangs, Louis Catorze could EASILY be mistaken for the product of someone’s drug-altered mind, rather like a creepier version of the Absinthe fairy.

Anyway, short of actually asking neighbours outright (“Hello! You look like the sort of person who enjoys a smoke …”), I don’t suppose there is anything we can do to find out who the mystery herb user is, nor can we stop mannerless Catorze from breaking and entering. So I guess we can add this to the forever-expanding list of unsolvable Roi mysteries.

Here he is, during his glory days of party powder use. It’s an old photo yet somehow very appropriate …

IMG_8744

Je suis la résurrection

For a number of reasons but, in particular, because of Le Miracle de Pâques 4 days ago, I feel incredibly lucky to still have my boy with me when I thought I would never see him again. I can’t stop scooping him up in my arms and squeezing him, and he returns my love by looking thoroughly bored, as if to say, “You loser. Laisse-moi tranquille!” Then he wriggles to get free.

My joy, however, is tinged with huge embarrassment at the fact that we interrupted Oscar the dog’s folks’ peaceful Saturday to make them go out in the rain and search in their shed and summer house for a stupid cat that was indoors the whole time. Cat Daddy and I have since talked about how much time to allow before we start to panic, should Louis Catorze decide to fake his own death again, and we have agreed that 3-4 days seems reasonable.

In other news, his infamy seems to have spread as far as Canada Water in East London. A friend sent me this photo showing what appears to be some sort of tribute mural, lovingly created by one of Le Roi’s subjects in honour of his resurrection and the anguish he caused when he disappeared. We are humbled. And, yes, we concur.

image

Ce n’est pas Le Messie: c’est un très vilain garçon

Our Easter weekend was supposed to be a time of joy, but Cat Daddy and I spent Saturday in a state of severe anxiety. After being last seen – or rather, felt and heard – at 6am, Louis Catorze vanished and wasn’t seen again.

We looked EVERYWHERE and called his name, searching in all the usual and unusual places in the house and garden, even texting Oscar the dog’s folks to see if he’d wandered into their shed. But there was no sign of him.

I resisted the temptation to turn to social media at the time, partly because I didn’t want to ruin Easter weekend for everyone, but also because a truly honest announcement would have sounded idiotic: “Le Roi is missing. This is absolutely typical of him and he has done it about 758 times before …” and so on. That said, disappearing is quite normal behaviour when he’s unwell … but definitely not when he’s fine. So, as time passed, we became more and more concerned, especially when we went out for the afternoon and he didn’t greet us when we arrived home.

We had no idea what could have happened to him. There are no hazards whatsoever at The Back, so Cat Daddy’s money was on him slipping unseen into someone’s shed or outhouse. I was rather more worried that he might have wandered into the school behind Le Château and hopped into a workman’s van; given that strange men are Louis Catorze’s favourite people, and places where he shouldn’t be are his favourite places, it was more than possible that a workman could have befriended him and driven off, not realising he had a stowaway.

Then, as we were watching a programme about extreme weather conditions and wondering if he’d been picked off by a tornado like Toto from The Wizard of Oz, the little sod pitter-pattered in, tail high. He had been in the house the whole time, although we still don’t know where.

I scooped him up and gave him a huge cuddle. Cat Daddy called him the same rude name that he used when Catorze brought La Souris into our bedroom.

“It’s as if he’s risen from the dead – or from what we believed to be the dead,” Cat Daddy said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “It’s an Easter miracle!”

But the real miracle was that neither of us kicked Catorze’s arse for ruining our day.

image

Des souris et des hommes

I now have 17 glorious days off work, and this entry of Le Blog was supposed to be full of the joys of the Easter weekend, one of my favourite times of the year. But, instead, I’m piecing together the splintered shards of my life after discovering that my placid, loving little boy is a murderer. I’m also literally piecing together physical things that the little sod smashed up in the all-night battle with La Souris, including a brand new powder compact and a glass jar of body cream.

Actually, perhaps “both a murderer AND an attempted (serial) murderer” would be more apt; on Wednesday night I was awoken by squeaking, and found that he had dragged another victim to his lair:

image

This time Cat Daddy managed to trap Souris Deux in my watch box and set it free in the park. It seems he was right when he told me the other day that La Souris Originale would be “the first of many”. This is not good. And it was most definitely not in the small print when we adopted Louis Catorze (unlike his big brother Luther: “Will bring mice and birds” couldn’t really be any clearer).

I don’t really want to lock Louis Catorze in at night. Nor do I want to shut him out of our bedroom, as he has slept with us on our bed ever since the very first night. But the thought of gross mousey feet on our stuff, not to mention gross mousey bodies expelling gross mousey excretory substances, is awful. Years ago, when we had no money, we lived in a rat-infested hovel with our elderly cat, who was too old to hunt and would just sit and watch the rats run past her; our days of having rodent housemates are over, and we don’t want to go back there again.

My one small hope is that this influx of mice is a temporary spring thing and that, once they’re bigger and older – the ones that Louis Catorze caught were TINY – they will be able to outrun him. Please, please let this be the case.