L’apocalypse commence par Le Roi Soleil

Armageddon must be nigh: although Louis Catorze has escaped out at The Front about 78 times since we took delivery of our plant-topped recycling box thing, not once has he attempted to use it as a litter tray. Much as it pains and repulses me, I have been checking for signs of disturbed soil every time someone knocks at the door to return him to us, and there are none whatsoever.

Whilst we are delighted that Sa Maj is, for once, doing what we want him to do, something about it makes us rather uncomfortable and we can’t help waiting for the axe to fall at some random and inopportune moment. 

Here he is enjoying the new green surroundings of The Front, with the sedums now in place. Has he turned over a new leaf (metaphorically, I mean), or will his inherent evil triumph at some point?

Maintenant lavez-vous les pattes

We have just treated ourselves to a fabulous green solution for storing our unsightly recycling boxes. However, once the top bit is filled with soil and plants, I am concerned that a certain someone may mistake it for the world’s fanciest litter tray. So … how to keep Louis Catorze from doing unwanted business here? 

Cat Daddy, rather naively, is insisting that Catorze will never use this as les toilettes royales “because he isn’t allowed out at The Front”. But we all know better, don’t we? 

We – well, I – thought about everything from cat-arse-activated sprinklers to filling the top with spiky cacti to deter la derrière royale, but then my mum suggested sedums. No, I had no idea what they were, either, until now. 

As far as I can gather, sedums are low-maintenance, semi-succulent plants which (my mum says) will spread quickly, leaving little-to-no soil exposed to tempt wayward cat behinds. And although they are not covered in spines like cacti, they can be quite pointy in places, so I can’t say I would especially want to sit on one.

So, now that we have a genius idea for Roi-proofing our new purchase, all we need to do is ramp up our efforts to keep The Front under lockdown. Player 1 (me) is ready. Player 2 (Cat Daddy), not so much.

If you also fancy treating your cat to a ruinously expensive outdoor litter tray, we got ours from bluum.co.uk. We even managed to assemble it without Cat Daddy losing his temper and without me stabbing either him or myself in the head with the screwdriver.

Sauver la planète

Cat Daddy and I have participated in Earth Hour for as long as we can remember. It involves turning off all lights between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on the last Saturday of March, to raise awareness of climate change:

https://www.earthhour.org

The best thing about Earth Hour is making a difference with relatively little personal sacrifice although, of course, these things have the best impact if lots of people make the effort. One of our favourite Earth Hour activities is talking a walk through our street and criticising all the neighbours who still have their lights on.

The downside of Earth Hour: having a black cat, because he will be accidentally kicked, elbowed and/or sat upon at least 638 times during those 60 minutes.

This is the same black cat who, in the early hours of the morning, will pitter-patter about the house, bounce around on our bed and scream bloody murder, giving us zero doubt about where he is and what he’s doing. It would be great if he were to do that during Earth Hour so that we knew his whereabouts, and if he were to sit still and shut up when we were trying to sleep. But he wouldn’t be quite so blogworthy if he did what we wanted him to do, when we wanted him to do it.

If you don’t usually participate in Earth Hour, we hope you will give it a try this Saturday night. This is one of our pictures from last year, and Louis Catorze is in the bottom left corner (we think):

Les caresses de chat donnent des puces

C584A943-212A-47E7-9B98-81566F8D670CMy plan to make Louis Catorze a zero-waste kitty has reached an obstacle: spot-on flea treatment. Not only is the market fairly limited in terms of products – with some well known to be utterly useless – but not a single one is plastic-free. So it won’t be quite as simple as swapping brands, as we did with the little sod’s food. 

Louis Catorze uses Broadline, which has the added benefit of also treating worms and therefore absolving us of the Greco-Roman death-wrestle when we try to get a worming pill into him. Each little vial comes individually wrapped in a plastic tray with a peel-off film cover. Whilst I can see why vets and pet shops would want such packaging for sterility, I wrote to the manufacturer to ask if there may be another option for at-home users.

The response – which, unbelievably, came from a lovely customer services lady named Cat – was that the packaging was needed to keep the product stable and to comply with some fancy-sounding European safety law. 

(When I told others about Cat, very worryingly a couple of friends told me that the name must just be a coincidence, as if I genuinely thought the company might only recruit people with animal names or, worse, that I thought they had an actual cat managing their customer service enquiries.)

I wrote back to Broadline Cat and asked if they were doing anything to find an alternative to plastic. I understood about the product stability – after all, we wouldn’t want rancid chemicals to cause Catorze to mutate and turn into the scary Monsieur Hyde version of himself – but, given the ticking time bomb that is single-use plastic, I hoped that there might be another way. (Cat Daddy remarked that Catorze already IS the scary, mutant Monsieur Hyde version, and that a cocktail of putrid chemicals couldn’t possibly make things worse in that respect.)

Broadline Cat replied as follows: 

“Please rest assured that Boehringer Ingelheim continuously look to make improvements where possible to improve our environmental impact. Whilst there is nothing more we can share currently on this particular area, we will ensure to raise this with global manufacturing and supply chain colleagues working on our environmental programmes.”

I don’t know what the solution is for packaging spot-on flea treatment. But I hope Broadline Cat will be true to her word and that they will continue to look for one. 

Rien ne sert de courir

And behold: Phase Trois is under way!

I never thought this day would come – mainly because I imagined I would have throttled the little sod long before we reached this point – but we have a carefully-calibrated* 6:4** ratio of Acana Pacifica to Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish. AND LOUIS CATORZE IS EATING IT. 

*(Too much Lily’s Kitchen accidentally tipped in)

**(Was meant to be 7:3 – see above)

When I began Phase Une I bought only the smallest pack of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish, for fear of Catorze rejecting it. But now I have been able to buy the largest and best-value size, safe in the knowledge that it won’t go to waste AND that I can just toss the packaging into our compost. What’s more, we were able to walk to Pets at Home and carry it home (on the hottest afternoon of the week, with poor Cat Daddy as the load-bearing packhorse) rather than ordering online and having it arrive in cardboard, bubble wrap or, worse, those awful polystyrene Wotsit things that won’t be recycled and that spread everywhere like an STD of the parcel world. 

(Cat Daddy wanted to know why I was writing about STDs in a cat blog but, as he hates the polystyrene Wotsits as much as I do, he will understand when he reads this.)

I was also about to say that we have successfully avoided activating the puke switch so far, due to the gradual transition, but things are already going unsettlingly well and I daren’t tempt fate. So I shall avoid any talk of the puke switch. NOBODY MENTION THE PUKE SWITCH.

Phew. I think I just about saved myself there.

Sois le changement que tu désires voir en ce monde

Cat Daddy and I are continuing in our efforts to reduce the use of plastic. Our household now boasts sustainable bamboo toilet paper (which used to come from Amazon wrapped in nasty plastic, until we snitched to the supplier and they put pressure on Amazon to stop), plastic-free ladies’ sanitary items made of cotton and other plant matter, and we have even ditched supermarket meat and started going to the pricey-but-worth-it butcher who doesn’t use those polystyrene tray things. 

This morning we said goodbye to the last thing that is really bugging us, which is Louis Catorze’s environmentally-unfriendly Acana Pacifica packaging. Unfortunately some other living thing somewhere will be forced to say hello to it, seeing as the darned thing isn’t recyclable, and I wish there were something we could do about that. But there isn’t.

So we have done the next best thing, which is to stop buying it and to buy something else instead. Lily’s Kitchen is officially our new partner in Opération Get-The-Little-Sod-Onto-New-Food-Without-Him-Noticing, which goes live later today. 

Phase Une will consist of normal servings of Acana Pacifica, with the lightest garnish of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish on top. Assuming it passes with neither refusal to eat nor freak vomiting/diarrhoea incident, we will move onto Phase Deux, which is, erm, the same thing but with a moderately heavier sprinkling of Lily’s Kitchen. 

Despite getting rid of the plastic packaging we still have a considerable supply of the Acana Pacifica food left, having decanted it into Catorze’s refillable airtight dispenser. And, actually, this suits us fine; we will need plenty of the base ingredient because Opération G-T-L-S-O-N-F-W-H-N is going to be a long and arduous project. But it will definitely be worth it for the positive impact of buying from a UK-based company with compostable packaging. And, better yet, our local Pets at Home stock Lily’s Kitchen, so I can go there to collect it rather than have it arrive in a cardboard carton and a layer of bubble wrap. (Cat Daddy: “It’ll be far too heavy for you to carry, with your bad neck and shoulder. Let’s face it: I’m the chump who’s going to end up being the packhorse.”)

I told Cat Daddy how proud I was that our boy was doing his bit to minimise his negative impact on the planet. His deadpan reply, without looking up from his laptop: “Great. Let me know the minute he starts making a positive impact.”

J’adore l’extérieur

 Is it possible for someone to be placed under house arrest even if they were never allowed out to begin with? If so, Louis Catorze is that someone. Last night we were about to go out for Cat Daddy’s birthday but couldn’t lock our front door because the builders had decided it would be a good idea to fill the lock with plaster; in the end Cat Daddy had to get a chisel to hack away at it, at which point Louis Catorze took the opportunity to scoot outside and dive into the hedge.

Had this taken place at The Back we wouldn’t have been too upset, as it’s so enclosed that there’s nowhere to go. But The Front, with The Park and The Road, is a firm NON. Calling him was no use whatsoever as he just ignored us and meowed, and grabbing him was impossible as he was buried deep in the shrubbery so, in the end, whilst I called the restaurant to say we’d be 30 minutes late, Cat Daddy and our French guest had to resort to scaring Louis Catorze from the other side of the hedge to make him bolt back indoors.  So he’s stuck indoors whether he likes it or not, and security has been ramped up the way it would be in a maximum security penitentiary following a hostage crisis. Luckily his interest in getting outside is only mild-to-moderate, as opposed to utter desperation, so another week isn’t going to be too horrendous. What’s a little more concerning, however, is that his eye area fur looks as if it’s thinning again, and he has a tiny scab on his chin. I don’t suppose it helps that we have an inordinate amount of dust in the house, which the workmen create faster than we can clean. Louis Catorze’s ex-rescue centre told me that he had a tendency to flare up with a change of environment, so let’s hope it’s just that and not a dust-triggered long-term descent to where he was 18 months ago.