Le plastique n’est pas fantastique

Cat Daddy and I have found it difficult to stick to our green routine during lockdown, for the following reasons:

1. Due to lack of availability, we have, at times, had to choose between food wrapped in plastic or no food at all.

2. We haven’t been able to get to the post office to send our plastic film to our friend who makes the speakers, nor our empty crisp packets to the lovely volunteers who magically transform them into donations to their local air ambulance. So we have had to bin some of it, as we don’t have the space to let it pile up.

3. Ocado are no longer taking back their carrier bags for recycling.

4. Sometimes we I have stuffed up and ordered the wrong thing online by accident.

Cat Daddy was very cross with me the other day when what I thought would be recyclable aluminium cans of John West Tuna in olive oil, ordered on Ocado, turned out to be plastic pots of John West tuna in olive oil. These are a new invention because, apparently, when people put a half-eaten can of tuna in the fridge, they don’t like the whole fridge smelling of tuna (and, apparently, decanting into a sealable container is too arduous and/or complicated). So the new pots come with a resealable lid to keep the tuna stench from tainting the fridge.

It’s somewhat annoying that both pot and lid are made of plastic, plus there is a peel-back film made of that weird plastic-foil hybrid stuff which isn’t recyclable anywhere on the planet. And it’s also annoying that the pots are smaller than the cans, so the chances are that most people would eat the lot and wouldn’t need to put any leftovers in the fridge. But what offended Cat Daddy about this purchase was that he had just written to John West to complain about the hideous ungreenness of their new plastic pots and I have now made a fool of him by buying that very product, even though it was a genuine mistake.

Anyway, in something of a departure from the norm, the only individual in our household maintaining their level of responsibility is Louis Catorze, who is still a loyal customer of Lily’s Kitchen in their compostable packaging (which, when empty, we use as food waste bags). And we sincerely hope that their acquisition by Nestlé will not lead to any changes in their packaging nor in their food formulations. I am half-tempted to shop around and change but Le Roi really, really likes Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish.

Here is Catorze, looking smug beyond belief in the knowledge that he is the greenest person in Le Château. And he would like to remind any tuna-loving furry comrades to boycott John West until they do something about their stupid plastic pots.

Like an evil warlord planning his next strike.

Le Jour de la Terre

We all knew, didn’t we, that, as soon as I posted about Louis Catorze being Cône-free, he would scratch himself and stuff everything up. To be honest I thought he would maybe give it a day or two. Eight hours after my post is quite some doing, even by his standards.

Anyway, enough about that little miscreant for now. Today is Earth Day, and I will not allow him to ruin it. I thought it a good time to talk about our plastics recycling box looking mightily impressive (i.e. empty), with a huge reduction in bottles and packaging. At least this was the case pre-quarantine; now, it seems, we can’t afford to be too fussy, and sometimes we have had to choose between food wrapped in plastic or no food at all. But we hope to resume our previous ways once life becomes normal again.

We are now the proud users of plastic-free sanitary ware from Natracare and Naty (me, obviously, not Cat Daddy), plastic-free toothpaste from Georganics and GENUINELY recycled/recyclable shampoo in the black tubs from Lush (which, when returned to Lush stores, are recycled forever and ever, as opposed to normal “recyclable” plastic of which only a tiny percentage is actually recycled).

One of the few plasticky things still lingering is Catorze’s Broadline and, even though it’s only once a month, it bugs me that I am using this single-use plastic – or ZERO-use plastic, if you count all the times the little sod has fought like a demon during application and the product has ended up on the floor or on me instead of on him.

But my extensive searches online for an alternative – yes, it’s astounding how many hours I can while away on stuff that is dull as shite, and I was quite skilled at this even before lockdown – have revealed nothing suitable. Everything I have found is either individually wrapped in plastic (nope) or, in one case, is a pill that requires Greco-Roman administering (HELL, nope).

Cat Daddy wondered if we could get away with just not flea-treating Catorze. If he were an indoor cat I might have been tempted; however, not only does he go outdoors, but he also rummages in the most disgusting places that don’t bear thinking about. Last week I had to try and haul his arse out of That Neighbour’s bin, Cône and all. And on THIS occasion (see link) we suspect that he crept into a fox hole and stole their dinner, for fun: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/

I have never had to deal with a flea infestation, but I have heard dreadful horror stories from fellow cat freaks who have. Fleas are stubborn little buggers and, if you’re very unlucky, you can end up having to treat the cat, carpets, curtains, clothes, furniture and bedding, multiple times. No, thank you.

So the best I can do at present to deal with the remnants of Broadline is to deconstruct the vial after use, so that the damage is minimal. Left to right, with their final resting places listed in brackets, are as follows:

1. Box and information leaflet (cardboard and paper recycling)

2. Vial container tray (plastics recycling)

3. Vial with plunge bit (plastics recycling)

4. Floppy film covering the tray (our friend whose company makes speakers – yes, as in sound system speakers – from recycled plastic film: https://www.gomi.design)

5. Very tiny thing on the far right: rubber stopper (landfill)

Louis Catorze may not quite be a 100% zero-waste kitty but, if the extent of his waste is just a rubber stopper every month, I guess that’s not bad for now. Manufacturers, you’re not off the hook, though. You still have work to do.

Le figuier royal

People who plant new trees are good. But people who are nice to existing trees are also pretty good, non?

As if to make up for delivering us the devil-plant that is deadly nightshade, Mother Nature has gifted us a fig tree (pictured below when it still had leaves; at the moment it’s just a sticking-up twig).

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: it quite literally just appeared one day, and I had no idea what it was until the delightful people on my social media tree group collectively Shazammed it. What a wonderful gift this is, and how very appropriate given that the human Louis XIV apparently grew figs at Versailles. That said, I am trying not to think too hard about the fact that the seed most likely fell out of a bird’s arse (and quite a middle-class bird at that).

Unfortunately it seems that the fig is toxic to cats. Not in a “sit downwind of it and you die” type of way, like the nightshade, but ingesting any part of it will cause vomiting and general malaise. And yet, in a world that is wiping out trees by the minute as if they are some sort of liability, I am determined to love this one and to find some way of enabling it and Louis Catorze to coexist happily. This is not going to be easy, given his penchant for doing exactly what we don’t want him to do, when we don’t want him to do it.

Anyway, as advised, we have moved the fig to a terracotta pot and are keeping it indoors until the spring. Can we trust Sa Maj to neither eat it nor turn the pot into les toilettes royales?

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.