L’Heure du Diable

Louis Catorze had an absolute cracker of a night on the 31st. Because we had quite the storm raging, he spent much of his time outside on ICB. But he did pop in occasionally to sit at the top of the stairs and creepy-stare at the trick or treaters. And, when they saw him, they decided that they would rather take their chances with the storm, and left quite hurriedly.

Hallowe’en may be over, but my love affair with creepy things on Discovery Plus is continuing.

One evening I couldn’t decide whether to watch murder or hauntings with Catorze, so we went for a combination of the two: Amityville Horror House. In short, it’s about a man who murders his family and then declares that ghosts in the house made him do it. The next family who move into the house then experience all manner of paranormal phenomena, although they rather asked for trouble by keeping all the murdered family’s furniture INCLUDING THE BEDS IN WHICH THEY WERE SHOT DEAD (!).

I quote the narrator of the documentary, word for word: “According to western Christian tradition, Devil’s Hour, 3am to 4am, is the time when demons and ghosts are at their most active. Paranormal investigators theorise that the veil between the spirit world and the physical plane is pierced during Devil’s Hour.”

It’s not just ghosts who are at their most active.

I knew that there had to be a reason why our mutual friend chose 3am to bounce around on the bed, whine, thunder around the house and, erm, pop bubble wrap. (Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: when we first moved into Le Château this actually happened.)

Since I took the decision to actively tackle my insomnia problem, I have stopped checking the time when I wake up in the middle of the night because, apparently, it can train your body to continue waking up at this time. But, if it’s because of Louis Catorze, I don’t need to check the time. I JUST KNOW.

I also know from other cat households that I am by no means the only person who experiences 3am shenanigans. The little sods are all at it. Until now I had imagined The Mothership – the mysterious, invisible vessel that beams messages to them via their microchips – to be of extraterrestrial origin, but now I know that it’s straight from hell. Satan’s control tower, if you will.

Chilling out to some goth rock.

Anyway, Catorze isn’t done with being creepy. So please think of us when you’re dismantling your Hallowe’en displays; your spookiness is over for another year, but we live with ours permanently.

This photo just screams “1st November”.

Les monstres qui rôdent autour de nous

Louis Catorze’s party month is always busy, but this October has been rammed full of things to do and people to see. Four of those people were Family Next Door, who still have Catorze’s picture hovering creepily on their knife block and haven’t (yet) reported strange noises at night and objects being moved.

Quieter than the real thing.

Daughter Next Door proudly showed me a magic 8 ball that she had received for her birthday, and urged me to ask it any question requiring a yes/no answer. So I said, “Is Louis the creepiest cat in the world?” And the ball malfunctioned. MALFUNCTIONED.

The message was just random white streaks on a background of darkness.

Daughter Next Door: “Oh. I’ve never seen it do this before.”

Neither of us knew quite what to say, but I am now more certain than ever that I won’t be trying out my new divination pendulum on Catorze, despite the giver daring me to do so. That thing will end up spinning like a rogue planchette during a séance with Satan.

Because of everything that we’ve had going on, and because our pumpkins are too heavy to lift, AND because of Louis Catorze’s unbelievably annoying habit of refusing to pose for my photos, somehow I just haven’t made much progress with his Official Hallowe’en Portrait.

Naturellement, when friends take pictures of him, he morphs into Compliant Supermodel Cat. When my friend Emily visited for our annual October spookathon weekend, she was able to capture this:

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam …

Although I love the classic cuteness of this photo, no way is he this sweet and obliging in real life. A picture may well paint a thousand words but, in this case, they’re all lies.

Then, with a few days to go until the big night, Cat Daddy managed to produce this:

Don’t ever invite a vampire into your house. It renders you powerless.

Ah yes. This is a far more accurate depiction. It’s like a deleted scene from Salem’s Lot which didn’t make the final cut on account of Stephen King finding it too scary, and it truly shows Catorze for the demonic hell-beast that he is.

So, Mesdames and Messieurs, take your pick. Are you like Emily, kidding yourself that Catorze is an adorable little Hallowe’en kitty (not that I can blame her because he always behaves for her)? Or are you living in the real world?

Whilst I leave you mulling over that tricky decision, may I wish you all a Joyeuse Fête.

Hallowe’en Boys’ Club.

Qu’ils mangent du gâteau (Partie 2)

Yesterday it was my birthday. I don’t usually have a birthday cake – the last one I had was ten years ago, and the one before that was probably as a child – but I wanted one this year. And, since I can’t bake, I decided to have one made for me.

You’d think this would be easy and that, in these difficult times, bakers would be more than happy for my business, non? Well … NON. One of the three local bakers whom I approached replied promptly and told me that she no longer made bespoke cakes (fair enough), another promised to contact me with costs but then didn’t despite me politely following up, and the third just didn’t reply at all. I messaged her on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, she read both messages (ah yes, the magic of modern technology and read receipts) but still didn’t reply.

Merci à Dieu, then, for Cat Daddy. He has never baked, nor has he decorated a cake, in his life. But, when he saw my predicament, he stepped in to be my dashing knight. And this magnificent masterpiece was the result of his efforts:

Saint Jésus et tous ses anges.

It may be 70% sugar and 30% food colouring, but it’s the best thing in the world. Bravo to Cat Daddy for stepping out of his comfort zone to save the day, and to my sister and nieces for making the fondant features. The cake tasted as good as it looked, and the only costs to us were the ingredients, the constant questions and Unrepeatable Expletives as Cat Daddy prepared it, and black tongues for several days.

Louis Catorze had plenty of attention over the weekend and is now recovering on his papa’s lap after all the over-stimulation. After all, he needs to conserve some mischief for the rest of the month.

Don’t overdo it! There’s still almost half of the party month left to go.
Take it easy, little sod.

La ferme des animaux

As the cooler weather continues, normal cats are beginning to spend time indoors. However, the more troublesome adventurous cats among us are still fixed in summer mode and are constantly out. And, unfortunately, this means that there are rather more encounters with Foxy Loxy and his relatives than one would want.

Some cats clearly take their guard duties very seriously. Boots, the usurper stepbrother of Louis Catorze’s frère d’âme, Antoine, happily shows the fox contingent who’s boss. And Larry the Downing Street cat, possibly the most famous cat in the United Kingdom, doesn’t hesitate to get stuck in. Although, being an employee of the Cabinet Office, it’s hard to know whether he is defending his territory (GOOD) or sharing his employers’ stance on seeing off anyone who may appear to be slightly different, even if they need help (BAD).

As for Catorze, referring to his encounters as “encounters” is probably a bit of a reach, since foxes either don’t notice him or run away from him before an altercation can even start. Obviously this is a positive thing, although we do worry that, one day, the foxes will get hungry enough, or just plain fed up with his nonsense, and finish the little sod once and for all.

Here are Boots and Larry in action (not together, obviously … although that would be very funny to watch):

“Gerroff my lawn!”
“And stay off!”
Seeking to rapidly remove those with no right to be here.

And here is Catorze, giving Foxy Loxy one of his trademark creepy stares and knowing that that’s enough:

Evil lives here. (Well, not HERE because this is on next door’s territory, but you know what I mean.)

EDIT: Don’t get too comfortable, Mesdames et Messieurs, because it appears that the foxes are fighting back. A family member’s chat-sitteur has a fox who regularly comes in through her non-Sureflap, and not long ago it left a dead rat on her bed.

Mahomet ira à la montagne

Cat Daddy’s friend Mike – one of the boys from the notorious Friday night Zoom call – has given us some home-grown pumpkins. Some are tiny ghost pumpkins that fit into the palm of my hand. The the others are the familiar, traditional orange ones, and so ridiculously heavy that I can’t lift them.

If I am to achieve the Herculean feat that is a faintly passable Official Hallowe’en Portrait for Louis Catorze, I am going to have to do one of the following:

⁃ Rely on him to come to wherever the big pumpkins may be, rather than carrying them to him when he happens to be in an appropriate place/pose.

⁃ Use the small ones (taking them to him), which will make the little sod look comically gigantic.

One of those is far more likely to yield results than the other. Although I use the word “results” somewhat loosely.

For the moment, the big pumpkins are sitting on the outdoor sofa until I figure out how on earth I can not only get Catorze to them, but make him pose beautifully. I’m going to need a little luck, and a LOT of time.

Like a hot stone massage, except … neither hot, nor a stone. Nor even a massage.
Oh dear God, no.

Le mannequin de haute-couture

After Louis Catorze’s success in modelling for the Christmas collection, Puppy Mamma decided to use him again as her photographic muse, for the launch of her 2022 autumn collection.

I did warn her that lightning didn’t strike twice where Catorze was concerned – unless, of course, it was the bad kind of lightning. But, having tried her luck once with him, with great results, Puppy Mamma couldn’t resist another go.

On the morning of the shoot, Cat Daddy decided to scatter stinky compost juice all over the garden. I know. I was doing my step workout outdoors at the time, so this wasn’t great timing. And, worse yet, I had the bifold doors open because I was listening out for the postman, and the gut-wrenching stink floated into the house and clung to every surface and every space.

When Puppy Mamma arrived, the whole house still reeked and Catorze, presumably unable to stand the stench, was asleep in the attic bedroom. I suggested that we take the props to him rather than vice versa, mainly because I knew that upstairs would smell better. However, Puppy Mamma had her heart set on photographing Catorze in the hearth and, after arranging the props in an artful fashion, she said, “It would be great if we could get Louis to sit right there, in the middle.”

Hmmm. This would have been impossible even if he were in a good mood. But after being rudely awoken from his slumber and dragged into a room stinking of rot? Non, non and thrice non.

Or so I thought.

Oh. Mon. Dieu. The little sod was flawless, and Puppy Mamma was able to take some of the best pictures I have ever seen of him. As a result I am feeling much more confident of achieving a passable Official 2022 Hallowe’en Portrait (although I may have to ask Puppy Mamma to do it). Cat Daddy is super-proud of his spooky boy, although he would punch himself in both eyes before he ever admitted it.

If you are anything like me and you start thinking about the next Hallowe’en before the pumpkins from the last one have even made it to the compost heap, you will have organised yourself a long time ago. However, if you are a normal person, please have a look here at Puppy Mamma’s handmade seasonal decorations. And below is Le Roi‘s best picture from the photo shoot.

Cat Daddy: “He never poses like this for you. In fact, your photos of him are always the worst.” Thanks for that.

Tip: to make the model more compliant, dust the props liberally with catnip. (I’m not joking. You can even see the bits on the floor.)

Le long monsieur aux longues jambes

*WARNING: SPIDER IMAGERY AND DISCUSSION*

Summer is over, and spider season is here. And there is a spider in the bathroom whom I have named, erm, Peter Crouch.

Hello, mate.

He lives behind the toilet and usually keeps to himself but, every now and again, he scuttles out when I flush, as if perturbed by the noise. I don’t really mind him being there but I wouldn’t want him hiding in a toilet roll and then being scooped up and shoved somewhere unmentionable.

Louis Catorze eats bugs, which is a wonderful thing. However, he is highly selective about the ones he eats. If it’s one that is far away and minding its own business and, in fact, you didn’t even know it was there, oui. If it’s right in his face, then it’s a firm NON.

I don’t know if this is a near/far-sightedness problem, or whether it’s just him being an arse. Most likely it’s a bit of each.

Last night I tried to encourage him into the bathroom to help me out with Peter. Naturellement he wasn’t playing ball, despite the fact that he has been happy to interrupt me in there at various inappropriate moments when I HAVEN’T wanted his company. Eventually I had to grab him and place him next to Peter, but he couldn’t see him and just randomly sniffed around, whining.

I placed him back there again, this time with his face close to Peter. Nope.

I placed him back there again, this time with his whiskers ACTUALLY TOUCHING ONE OF PETER’S LONG LEGS. Still a nope.

Me: “You’re just not going to do this, are you?”

Catorze: “Mwah!”

I am now going to have to ask Cat Daddy to rehome Peter, which he will do but he will resent it every step of the way as he sees this kind of thing as very much Catorze’s job. He is already piqued at the fact that he has to chase away the squirrels and the parakeets, so this request is not going to go down well.

EDIT: Cat Daddy dealt with Peter but, the next day, there was a startlingly similar spider in the bath. Did Peter come back, or have we cruelly separated a spider couple?

Pretending to be on Bug Watch but, in reality, doing absolutely nothing.

Une demeure d’or et de pluie

Cat Daddy: “Where’s that cat when we need him?”

Autumn is coming, and Le Roi is getting fat. Well, not FAT fat, and certainly not as fat as the squirrel above, but he has an especially meaty, furry look about him. He has never been a cat who chubbed up much during the colder months but, maybe, now that he’s a senior gentleman*, he has decided to start.

*Cat Daddy: “He’s a manky old man.” I refrained from mentioning that, if we convert human years to cat years, Catorze is only a year older than him.

Who ate all the Orijen?

The little sod seems not to realise it’s the day of the autumn equinox, and is still firmly in summer mode. He’s constantly out. And not only does he conduct ICB to the east of us, in the direction of where Twiggy the greyhound lives, but he has also been heading westwards to Blue the Smoke Bengal’s place. Sometimes Blue’s mamma chats to him, and he chats back.

As summer gives way to autumn, Catorze continues to live his best life. Here he is, enjoying one of the last few September sunsets from Blue’s shed roof:

Happy Roi.

La chance d’être un chat noir

Hallowe’en is over for another year. Louis Catorze had an absolute blast, and luckily we only had to manage one (1) escape out at The Front, just a minute or two after sunset.

The little sod was on top form for his big weekend. In fact, come to think of it, he has been on top form ever since autumn started. This is somewhat unusual for him; although we often refer to his rising psycho levels during La Saison du Chat Noir, his skin and fur are usually at their best in the summer. However, this June, July and August, he appeared to get worse, not better, forcing us to continue his steroid treatment through the summer for the first time. And, despite the drugs, he still managed to look like something that had just crawled out from under a bridge, to the point where we had to be VERY careful of escapes out at The Front in case some well-meaning citizen scooped him up and took him to an animal rescue.

At this point we resigned ourselves to the fact that age was catching up with him, and that autumn would, most likely, see him deteriorate further still. However, in actual fact the reverse happened and he smartened up. His gross dandruff, which had started to return since we stopped the beauty oil, has disappeared, he’s started to gain weight (3.27kg now), and his fur is thick and glossy.

It could be the Orijen, or the daily blastings with the purifying beeswax candles (yes, I’m still doing that). Most likely it’s the drugs. But Sa Maj has never spent an autumn looking this good. Whatever the reason, we will take it.

Hallowe’en may have come to an end, but let’s hope it’s not the end of this black kitty’s run of good luck.

Off to seek more mischief and bullshittery.

Les bisous du vampire

People who haven’t experienced the horror joy of meeting Louis Catorze often assume his photos to be fake, because his fangs don’t look as if they should belong on any actual cat (nor, indeed, on any animal known to zoological science).

I’m quite flattered at the assumption that I would be knowledgeable enough to doctor pictures so convincingly but, no, they aren’t altered; those teeth are the work of Mother Nature and her brief dalliance with Satan. The fangs stick out permanently whether his mouth is open or closed, but how much depends on a number of things: the camera angle, the direction in which Catorze is looking, and also his mood. Yes, his mood. If he’s in a psycho, playful mood, for reasons that we cannot fathom, his fangs are more prominent.

In a way this is a good thing, because gives us some warning that things are about to go awry. However, there is nothing we can do to stop it.

Here are some of the many faces of Le Roi, taken over the course of this year, showing how much the visibility of the fangs can vary. That last one may well be recycled as his Official Hallowe’en Portrait for this year, as I don’t imagine he will be remotely compliant when it comes to posing for that later this month.

Invisible fangs.
Just a hint of fangs.
HOLY HELL.

Le réveil-matin

I have ditched my stupid Lumie Bodyclock. As well as being painfully difficult to set and reset (and, to be fair, the reviewers warned me but I didn’t listen), it doesn’t keep very good time and loses five minutes every couple of months or so. For a clock, this is the most useless quality I can imagine. Nothing else could possibly make a clock more useless than this.

However, Louis Catorze is at hand to wake me up in the mornings. Regretfully he doesn’t do this at the hour that I want, nor the NUMBER of times that I want, but not doing what we want him to do is a recurring theme when it comes to life with him, and we are quite used to it by now. Cat Daddy talks about shutting him outdoors at night, but then he would just go on the rampage around the neighbourhood. And, in a “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer” kind of way, I would rather know where he is than have to wonder.

Incidentally, Catorze’s voice has now returned to “normal” after his surgery and he is back to sounding like a whiny child whose mummy has told him that he can’t have any ice cream. However, since October hit, his purr has become louder. Figure THAT one out. And, whereas he used to scream/whine outside the bedroom to wake Cat Daddy after I’d left for work, he now starts the racket BEFORE I HAVE EVEN LEFT, and also scratches at the door. Mon Dieu.

The little sod is absolutely feral at the moment, bouncing around, racing through corridors with his silly little feet skidding on the floorboards, screaming and with an all-consuming desire to escape out at The Front. It’s all too much. God only knows what he will be like on Hallowe’en.

The energy of the Saison du Chat Noir really has given Catorze a shot of adrenaline. He didn’t need one, but I guess that’s our problem, not his.

No rest.

Une heure de plus

October is here and, as you are no doubt aware by now, this month fills me with pure and absolute joy. However, any minute now, the black cats of the world will collectively lose their shit. That bit isn’t going to be quite so joyous.

Louis Catorze is glossy-furred, full of energy and READY.

This year we have been blessed with a long Hallowe’en. Thanks to Daylight Saving Time coming to an end and the clocks going back by an hour on Sunday 31st, we have an extra sixty minutes of the big day. Somehow this fits perfectly with the whole idea that, during these periods when the veil between the worlds is thin, time does not function as it should.

Unfortunately it also means we will have an extra hour of Catorze’s nonsense. Not only is he a natural conduit for all things evil, irrespective of the state of the veil, but merely being in his presence appears to make time malfunction; if he is doing something idiotic and we are willing him to stop, time can stand still.

Last year he surprised us all by actually NOT misbehaving, mainly because he was having so much fun attending to Important Full Moon Hallowe’en Cat Business in the Zone Libre that he just forgot.

Let’s hope he’s not planning to make up for it this year.

He’s so ready that he’s even dressed for the occasion with a cobweb bracelet.

La Cape d’Invisibilité est de retour

Cat Daddy and I returned home from the cinema not long ago, to be greeted at the door by Louis Catorze and his raspy screaming. Yes, his voice is different since his surgery; whereas he used to sound like a whiny child whose mummy had just told him that he couldn’t have any ice cream, now I would describe his sound as “chain-smoking drag queen”.

I even wonder whether the sounds he makes mean different things now, like those people who wake up after an operation or a head injury and are able to speak a new language. My friend Lizzi thinks Catorze is now Russian, and I can’t say I would be remotely surprised if this were true.

Anyway, after his initial bonjour/Привет, the little sod disappeared back upstairs and was gone for ages. It’s unusual for him to be absent at length at that time of the night, so eventually I went to look for him to make sure he hadn’t crawled under a bed and died of some horrific post-surgical complication.

He was nowhere to be found.

Cat Daddy: “He must be there somewhere.”

Me: “Trust me, I’ve looked everywhere. There’s nowhere left to look.”

Cat Daddy: “I suppose as a last resort you could try The Front, but I know he’s not there. I saw him run back upstairs.”

I opened the front door.

There he was. And, no, we have absolutely no idea how he is doing this.

Autumn is only just getting started. And I fear that the same may be said of Catorze.

Be afraid. We certainly are.

La saison de la citrouille

It’s autumn! And I swear I can actually feel Louis Catorze’s powers growing with the new season, quite possibly because it’s peak visiting time for pilgrims and his creepy kitty sixth sense knows this. He has one visitor coming all the way from the west coast of Ireland at the weekend, and two more, who have been before, are returning in October. (Cat Daddy: “Really? Most people who’ve seen him once don’t bother coming back.”)

Catorze is at peak energy at the moment, gallivanting all night, chasing squirrels, guzzling down Orijen, screaming (in his new, post-surgery voice – more about that another time) and I don’t suppose it helped that we gave him a steroid shot the night before the full moon, but it’s too late to do anything about that now. His fur is thick and shiny and, for an old boy, he seems in fine form. No doubt part of it is due to the drugs, but at least 83% of it is him being a bit unhinged anyway. I dread to think what he will be like on Hallowe’en.

Speaking of which, this year, against all the odds, our lone pumpkin plant survived. The flower that I photographed in early July was a largeish tennis ball by the time we came back from holiday. Cat Daddy was a little disappointed that it was green and not orange – neither of us realised that pumpkins changed colour – but, towards the end of August, it had begun to turn. I would have been grateful for any pumpkin at all, whatever the colour, but the fact that it’s an orange one makes me very happy indeed.

Now all we have to do between now and 31st October are to nurture it and pray for no unfortunate incidents (doable), and to get Catorze to pose beautifully next to it for this year’s Official Hallowe’en Portrait (somewhat more challenging).

Here are some pictures of its progress (with a 20p coin for scale, which was later removed when I realised it was leaving a mark), plus one of my warm-up photos with Catorze. The final masterpiece really won’t be much better.

Tennis ball.
Smallish football.
Just starting to turn.
Oranger.
Oranger still.
For goodness’ sake.
More orange than not.
Hallowe’en-ready.