Les rillettes de thon blanc

I have settled into a rather pleasant summer holiday routine, as follows:

1. Wake up when I want.

2. Bid good morning to Louis Catorze who, more often than not, is lying at my feet.

3. Make a pot of green tea.

4. Fashion a Trojan Horse amuse-bouche consisting of tuna rillettes surrounding a steroid pill, and watch with pure joy as greedy Catorze gobbles it up.

5. Watch horror movies or read books with the little sod on my lap until Cat Daddy wakes up.

Regretfully, Reflets de France tuna rillettes contain three huge baddies: wheat, sugar and butter. I know. However, anyone who has ever tried to Greco a writhing, yowling, hostile shite of a cat will understand. We would happily feed the little sods molten lava and strychnine if it meant they would just eat the pill and not give us any grief.

What’s more, getting one over on Catorze and having him think I’m giving him a treat when, in fact, it’s a pill, brightens my day more than I ever thought possible. Every time he eats one, an angel gets his wings.

Bon appétit, mon Roi.

Maybe I’ll wrap the next pill in grass, for a Cornish Yarg effect.

Le cheval de Troie (Partie 2)

I had my second vaccine a couple of days ago and have been hovering between life and death ever since. (Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “Just think positive.”) Although the unpleasantness is less severe than that of my first vaccine, it is certainly longer-lasting. Louis Catorze’s response has been to mostly ignore me during the day but to be an utter pest at night, leaping all over me, screaming and whining. In fact, he is probably why the pain is so enduring, but that’s just what he does.

The disappointment continues: a week after tapering him off his pills, he was scratching again and the skin around his eyes started to swell and split. I cannot express how disheartening this is, given that the summer used to be his time of peak health. The one small positive in this situation is that, as ever, his mood is unaffected.

Having been through this many times, we know to deploy the pills as soon as we see the first signs. However, Catorze used to eat Pill Pockets with no problem, and now he doesn’t. We imagine that this is because he loves Orijen so much that he can no longer be bothered with the second best thing on his plate – and, to be fair, I understand where he’s coming from. Who wants moderately acceptable food when they can have great food?

So now we have had to resume our quest for a Trojan Horse-style pill conduit. This is our progress to date:

⁃ Jambon de Bayonne: has a very short shelf life and Catorze won’t eat it if it’s been frozen and thawed, so we are paying £3.99 per 70g for something of which he will only eat 10g

⁃ Organic aged Comté: can sometimes work if room temperature, but is rejected if straight from the fridge

⁃ Every other food known to humankind and catkind: rejected

I have had a few lucky strikes with the one weapon left in my arsenal – Reflets de France tuna rillettes – but, knowing Catorze, the moment that this goes live, he will have changed his mind about that, too.

Meanwhile, we are considering reverting back to the less-troublesome steroid injections. We are also slowly coming to terms with the fact that the little sod may have reached the point where he needs medication for life.

We can’t say they didn’t warn us.

Bit rough around the edges but still loving himself.

L’alpha et l’oméga (Partie 4)

My school holidays are here. (Yes, U.K. teachers, I break up much earlier than the rest of you.)

My holiday time so far has consisted of the following:

1. Writing a list of the books I want to read this summer.

2. Writing a list of the cocktails I want to make, and spending inordinate amounts of money on random, niche ingredients that I will most likely use just one time, for one drink. (Mezcal, anyone? A bit of Fernet-Branca?)

3. Watching football.

4. Reading the comments on Matt Hancock’s Instagram and laughing so much that I almost need to be sedated. (If you have not done this, please try it even if only for a few minutes. It will brighten your day more than you ever thought possible.)

So, in all, I have been pretty productive, even if I do say so myself.

In other news, we know that the Omega 3 oil wasn’t supposed to have so many Parties. However, we have hit upon a huge deal-breaker of a stumbling block: the supplements make Louis Catorze stink like a rotting corpse.

It’s very unfortunate because his dandruff is hugely improved, and we are sure that further use would have continued to show positive results. But, given the choice, I’m pretty sure most people would choose a cat who didn’t stink like a rotting corpse over one who did.

Honestly, it’s not a mild smell that can be disguised by room spray, scented candles or suchlike, not that we use any of that kind of thing anymore on account of our sensitive mutual friend. It’s a truly gut-wrenching stench, just awful.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “I’d actually rather have the dandruff.” (Regretfully, I am inclined to agree.)

Anyway, the vet has never heard of this side effect before – the fact that it’s only ever happened to Catorze will, of course, surprise nobody – but she has suggested some other brands to try, and I am hoping that one of them will make him smell better. They certainly can’t make him smell any worse.

When you don’t need to set an alarm, because the smell wakes you.

De l’Orijen des espèces

It’s official: Louis Catorze is no longer on the steroid pills. And thank goodness for that because, after I came home from hospital, he decided to be extra difficult about eating his Pill Pockets, meaning that every pill has had to be a Greco job. This was how I found his Pill Pocket yesterday, on the floor next to his empty bowl:

For goodness’ sake.

He has upped his Greco game, too, having learned (from where?) to do a fake-swallow, spitting out the pill when he’s released. Cat Daddy, incidentally, refuses to Greco, using this defence: “But he loves me! It should be you because he doesn’t like you as much.”

Luckily it’s all over and the little sod is on nothing but Orijen and beauty oil, which makes life much easier.

Orijen claims that their food “mimicks the diet your cat’s ancestors would have hunted and eaten in the wild”. Although there is no doubt that their ingredients read like the tasting menu of a Michelin-starred restaurant, I find it doubtful that most cats would have been able to source them of their own accord. Venison: nope. Wild boar: nope. Bison: HELL, nope.

SASKATOON berries?

Catorze is very much a fish gentleman and his food is called “Orijen Six Fish”. I imagine hell would freeze over long before he successfully caught even one fish, let alone six. I chatted a few months ago with one of Catorze’s lovely blog followers about the size of tuna, and the smallest species is twice his size at 7kg, with the largest weighing in at up to 250kg (!). So the more likely scenario would be him falling into the water and the fish grabbing him in its jaws, then promptly spitting him out again after realising that he wasn’t a worthwhile snack (being only just bigger than krill and nowhere near as nutritious).

A true ancestral diet would, surely, have been small birds and rodents, although the idea of buying them freeze-dried in foil somehow doesn’t appeal. I think what’s REALLY going on here is that the good folk at Orijen are just like us, i.e. complete suckers who want the little sods to have the best of everything. And they’ve made up all the stuff about ancestors to shut up those who accuse them of spoiling their pets. “But Alaskan cod, garnished with Saskatoon berries, is what cats have always eaten, ever since the dawn of time!”

Here is Catorze, with his eyes locked on the green parakeets. His chances of catching one are zéro, and the parakeets know this.

Dreaming of confit de perruche aux baies de Saskatoon …

We bought our first 1.8kg bag of Orijen from the manufacturer’s website but, since they don’t do a subscription service, we recommend this site: https://www.petscorner.co.uk/cats/orijen-six-fish-cat

They have a huge range of unusual brands and are carbon-neutral, packaging their deliveries in cardboard boxes with paper tape.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (La Fin)

Louis Catorze has now been eating Orijen Six Fish for a couple of weeks. I haven’t posted much about his daily progress because I haven’t dared to jinx it. But he’s eating it. And, luckily, despite disregarding all advice concerning gradually phasing in the new food, we don’t appear to have had any, erm, undesirable side effects of the digestive kind.

Since Le Grand Changement began, my conversations with Cat Daddy have consisted mainly of whether or not Louis Catorze has eaten and, if so, how much. Sometimes I have even asked Cat Daddy to send me photos of the little sod’s bowl during the day, so that I could compare them to the photos I’d taken earlier and see if he had eaten anything. I know. Truly living the dream.

Although he is happily eating, now that Catorze has acquired senior status he is becoming fussier and he no longer wishes to eat food that is even 0.001% stale (even though he’s the one who’s been leaving it to go stale in the first place). Refilling Catorze’s bowl little and often seems to resolve this and, since Cat Daddy is home all the time, he doesn’t mind doing it.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “I do mind. I f***ing resent it.”

However, it might pose a problem if we have to go away and leave a chat-sitteur in charge of Sa Maj. My sister suggested an automated dispenser which releases one pellet every hour, and Cat Daddy and I are currently discussing whether it would be cheaper to ask someone to stop by sixteen times a day and serve a teaspoonful of food per visit, or sixteen people to each visit once a day and serve a teaspoonful of food.

Anyway, I am going to take a huge chance and tempt fate now, by bringing Le Grand Changement to a close and concluding that Orijen is Le Roi’s food of choice. “Cat puts humans through arduous food changeover and eventually chooses most spendy option” is a headline that will surprise absolutely nobody.

“I’ll have the most expensive dish on le menu, s’il vous plaît.”

Où qu’on se trouve, on reste à jamais français à l’âme

Thank you to everyone who kindly sent birthday wishes to Louis Catorze. He had a marvellous day. I even broke my 3-month dryness to partake in a Louis XIV cocktail*, but I am now back to teetotal ways to see if I can manage another month.

*I’m not joking. The recipe is here if you’d like to try: https://ttliquor.co.uk/how-to/make-a-louis-xiv-cocktail-recipe/
An actual photograph of Le Roi on his special day. (Thank you, Cathie and Scott, for his card!)

In other, shocking news, the little sod has eaten a piece of the Reflets de France tuna rillettes that I dropped onto the floor, after spending several minutes going CRAZY wondering where the appetising smell was coming from. And, when I gave him another tiny scraping to see if the first time had been an accident/a fluke/a figment of my imagination, he ate that, too.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: the cat who doesn’t like food has consumed food. I wish it could have been his own food, rather than MY food, but tant pis. And I have offered Sa Maj actual tuna in the past, which has been promptly rejected, yet it seems he’s happy to eat it in Frenchified form, proving that you can take the Sun King out of France, but you can’t take France out of the Sun King.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “You shouldn’t have done that. Now he won’t eat ANY OTHER FOOD, EVER AGAIN.” Erm, I think that ship has very much left the port, but your comment has been noted.

Anyway, since tuna rillettes have been rarer than golden goose eggs since Brexit stuffed things up, i am down to my last few jars and I have no idea when I will be able to reorder. So I don’t especially want to share at the moment, especially not with this ungrateful, entitled little sod, not even on his birthday weekend.

Here is Sa Maj, hoping I might change my mind:

Get your own food.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan B Partie 4)

Oh dear. It was all going so well.

After successful completion of Phases 1 and 2, we had just started the third and final part – mainly new food alongside a tiny amount of old – when Louis Catorze decided to throw some last-minute bâtons in the roues by switching from BST (British Summer Time) to CST (Catorzian Summer Time).

If you have a cat, you will be aware that they have a Summer Time Mode: eating less, sleeping less, constantly being outside, and so on. This tends to start in late spring – although never at the same time every year, just to be extra unhelpful – and, usually, it’s not a problem.

However, I really could have done without it happening during Le Grand Changement; when I see food still in his plate, I have no idea whether this is because he no longer likes it, or it’s gone a little stale, or he has a touch of the Summer Unhungries, or he’s been having such a good time gadding about in the Zone Libre that he just forgot about eating. It could be any, or all, or none of the above.

Catorze usually eats his first meal of the day at 7am; however, now he isn’t hungry until 5pm or later. It’s impossible to second-guess how much he wants to eat and when; and, although it’s not the end of the world if his food sits around for ages before being eaten, it’s still quite annoying. (Do I count it as an uneaten/rejected portion, or not?) And, if he chooses to ignore his pills – as seems to be the case at the moment, right after I told one of his followers how lucky I am that he happily eats them – it then puts me under pressure to Greco him to even out the space between doses.

Cat Daddy has not been helping matters by keeping Catorze up late during gin-fuelled Boys’ Club sessions, stuffing up the little sod’s body clock even further. And I suspect there may be drunken midnight feeding going on, although I can’t prove it (and Cat Daddy says he can’t remember).

Anyway, Plan C – Orijen Six Fish – is on standby, just in case. At a heart-stopping £29.99 for 1.8kg it’s the priciest of the bunch, so I really don’t want to deploy this unless there’s some dire emergency (Canagan factory blowing up, Scotland gaining independence and no longer being able to export salmon to us, that kind of thing). Even my sister, who hardly ever swears, used an unrepeatable expletive when she saw how much Orijen costs.

Please keep your fingers crossed that Catorze doesn’t score a stoppage time winner by doing something else idiotic on the last day.

Don’t make us do this.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan B Partie 2)

It pains me to admit this after Sammypuss and Alex were kind enough to send TWO bowls, but double-bowling just isn’t working out for Louis Catorze.

He has no issue with the bowls themselves, but he is utterly flummoxed by the presence of two. Not only does this put him off eating the new food, but he is also unsure of his old, familiar food AND HIS PILLS. Anything that deters him from his pills has to be addressed, because we don’t want to have to add Grecoing to the list of Grand Changement problems.

More worryingly, there has been some bizarre behaviour in response to the two bowls. As well as sitting and staring at them with the level of suspicion usually reserved for unexploded bombs, Sa Maj has been approaching them at a strange angle and eating with his body contorted awkwardly through the legs of the stool* that sits around/above his feeding station. This is something that we have never seen before, and watching it has been quite uncomfortable.

*Incidentally, the stool is not the problem. He has always happily eaten underneath it – in fact, he has never NOT eaten underneath it.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “The PDSA are probably used to normal cats who do normal things. They won’t have come across one as weird as Louis.” Sadly, on this occasion, he may have a point.

We then decided to take a risky deviation from the PDSA’s guidance, offering Catorze both his old food and the Plan B food in one bowl. If mixing makes a cat think their familiar food has been poisoned, perhaps a distinct pile of each one in the same bowl would demonstrate that, although they look and smell different, they are both edible? Well, it made perfect sense to me. Which most likely meant it wouldn’t make any sense to Catorze, but it had to be worth a go.

I had some success with the first attempt, and he ate a small amount from each pile. Naturellement, after eating, there was some mixage between the two foods, so I pushed the pellets apart again to form two distinct piles. When I later refilled, once again he ate a little from each pile.

Although this is HUGE progress, we still have some way to go; the next phase involves the bigger deal of 50-50 servings of each food, so it would be premature to celebrate now. Or, as Cat Daddy put it, “There’s still time for him to f*** it up.”

The pubs are open again, as from today. I fear that, if I go into one, I may never come out again.

Before eating: Lily’s Kitchen at the top, Canagan at the bottom (garnished with a Pill Pocket).
After eating: Youpi!

Les jeux de faim

Since the vet gave Louis Catorze an appetite-stimulating pill, he has been perma-hungry and perma-screamy. But, because of Ocado Zoom’s dismal failure to deliver, he has no food. This is not an optimal combination.

So I have spent both the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 hand-sifting through dried cat food pellets and painstakingly separating the small golden ones from the large brown ones, like a downtrodden PA to the stars arranging the M&Ms into colour order for my OCD rock star boss. And it has been every bit as awful as it sounds, especially as I am going to run out very shortly and I don’t know what to do if my next plan doesn’t work.

Worse yet, Catorze has been pacing up and down as I sift, screaming at me to hurry the hell up. Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu: I thought his normal screaming was bad, but this new medication has turned him utterly demented. The only thing that stops him, of course, is me getting my phone out to video him. Then, when I put down my phone, he starts again, and obviously I can’t film and sift at the same time so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Luckily I have had my beloved husband, Cat Daddy, at my side throughout this grim process, supporting me with helpful comments such as “Well, he never asked for his food to be changed in the first place” and “He’s being like this because he’s picking up on the tension from YOU”.

After seriously considering making Catorze eat the New Year’s Eve Branston pickle (see previous post), we continued our search for LITERALLY ANY high-protein fish-only food which would arrive quickly, and this was not as straightforward as it may seem: even Amazon don’t have anything suitable that they can deliver before next week. Eventually we managed to order some Thrive (the same product that Ocado Zoom didn’t deliver) from Zooplus and it will arrive in 1-3 working days but, in the meantime, I shall be sifting.

I have discovered that singing whilst sifting serves the dual purpose of making the task about 0.1% less boring and helping to drown out Catorze’s infernal screaming. And, interestingly, there are many songs that work well if the lyrics are adapted. My personal favourite is “Sifting the night away” (Sam Cooke), apart from the line that goes “Everybody’s feeling great”, because obviously that’s not what’s happening here: Catorze is ravenous and also infuriated at what a slow and inefficient sifter I am, and Cat Daddy and I just want him to shut up.

I hope your 2021 is going better than ours.

Panning for gold.

Une nouvelle année, des nouvelles conneries

2021 is here. And, whilst most Londoners were sitting at home wondering what tier we might be in today, Cat Daddy and I were taking Louis Catorze to the vet. Yes, again.

Although Catorze’s skin is looking much better, so much so that we have reduced his steroid pills to one a day, his appetite has been down lately. I didn’t call this in sooner because nothing else suggested that he might be unwell: he has been alert, playful and full of energy. The day before the vet appointment, he even broke into the attic crawl space, thrashed around like a psychopath and, somehow, managed to switch on the light. Until then I’d had no idea that this space even had a light.

We have seen Catorze approach his feeding station only to stare at his bowl as if it were some alien life form, then stare at us. Because he’s so odd anyway, it’s hard to know whether something is wrong or whether he’s just being his usual stupid self but, as he’s lost weight, we thought it best to have him checked.

As bad luck would have it, instead of our usual vet, our appointment was with the vet who saw Catorze when I thought he had a tick and it turned out to be just a lump of crud stuck to his fur. He’s perfectly nice, but I was so embarrassed by that incident that I had hoped never to have to see him again. So how typical that the last dregs of accursed 2020 would find us face to face again, after more than two years of avoiding him (and doing a fine job, I might add).

In the waiting room, I chatted to the daddy of a black Labrador called Dexter. Apparently Dexter had been “trying to bark at all the cats coming in but, being just a puppy, he doesn’t have a voice yet” (his daddy’s exact words). One look at Catorze, however, and he found it. It was throaty, deep and deafening. And clearly Dexter’s daddy had seen enough horror movies to know that, if the dog is unhappy with someone or something, that’s a signal to get the hell out.

Anyway, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with Catorze, and his weight loss (from 3.71kg on 23rd November to 3.29kg now) is because he’s gone off his new food. Yes, he ate it happily at first, but this is Sa Maj we’re talking about; nobody knows why he does the stupid things he does. Cat Daddy and I are very disappointed as we love everything about the Cool Cat Club, and we so wanted this to work. Hopefully they will understand that this isn’t a reflection on their product, and that cats are just imbeciles.

By the time we got home, Catorze’s vet-administered appetite-stimulating pill had kicked in. But, once again, he went to his plate and just sniffed and stared. Then, when I sifted through his 30-70 mix of old and new food, giving him the pellets of old food only, he ate them.

So then we had a problem, because his old food has been discontinued.

After frantically panic-Googling high-protein cat food I discovered that Thrive have a dry food product, although none of the sellers were able to deliver anytime soon. The fastest and cheapest delivery was, unbelievably, on Ocado Zoom, a grocery delivery service for disorganised brats who want stuff within the hour. I remember once laughing at a friend for using this service, and no doubt she will giggle when she learns that I, too, joined the throng of disorganised brats.

Unfortunately the pack of Thrive was 50p below the minimum order quantity, so I asked Cat Daddy if we could add anything else to the order. Apparently we needed, erm, Branston pickle. (Non-Brits: ask your British friends.) I was concerned that the driver would wonder what special kind of disorganised brats we must be to need Branston pickle and to need it RIGHT NOW, and I was right to be worried because, when the delivery arrived, it contained Branston pickle and nothing else.

The evening was topped off by Catorze putting his best efforts into screaming his guts out whilst I was on the phone to Ocado Zoom asking what had gone wrong. The poor lady on the phone was saying, “Oh my God, your hungry cat! I can hear him! I feel so bad!”

Whilst the rest of the world reflects, dreams big and sets goals, all we want in 2021 is for our cat to eat the bloody food. Any food. NO, NOT THE OBSOLETE FOOD, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE.

Bonne Année from the little sod.