Le banquet du pêcheur

Lily’s Kitchen have renamed Fabulous Fish as Fisherman’s Feast. I know. I’ll just pause for a minute or two to let that bombshell sink in.

This is such a big deal that even Cat Daddy has an opinion on it.

Cat Daddy: “I like Fabulous Fish much better than Fisherman’s Feast.”

Me: “So do I.”

Him: “I mean, it’s not actually a fisherman’s feast at all, is it?”

Me: “It isn’t.”

Him: “No fisherman would want to eat that.”

Me: “They wouldn’t.”

According to Lily’s Kitchen the formulation remains unchanged, so Louis Catorze should be able to continue to enjoy it as normal. But we are mildly irked by the name change, especially as the dogs’ version of the same food is called Salmon Supper, which is far more accurate and dignified than Fisherman’s Feast.

Luckily Catorze remains unaffected by this life-changing news, plus we decant the food into a dispenser before it reaches him, anyway, so nobody need know. Here is the little sod’s assiette royale, on his spring-summer serving mat, waiting for him to tuck in:

“What a feast!” said no fisherman ever.

Pourtant on a le même vieux gruau

When we saw the vet last week and discussed changes in the home that could have triggered Louis Catorze’s problem, she suggested that we stop the Delicious Chicken food for a while.

Cat Daddy is rather cross about this as we only bought a brand new pack of Delicious Chicken two days before the vet appointment. But, because he is a huge advocate of cutting down on meat consumption to save the planet, he is also delighted that he and his boy can form a special little pescatarian club together.

Yes, I know: what’s missing in their lives is their own club.

I checked the ingredients lists of both the Fabulous Fish and the Delicious Chicken at the weekend, and virtually the only differences are, erm, the fish and the chicken. Even the minuscule trace ingredients are more or less consistent between the variants. But, according to the vet, cats can react to the protein in foods, and changing from fish to chicken or vice versa can be sufficient to trigger symptoms. The huge gauntlet of allergy testing that Catorze underwent at the rescue appeared to indicate that his issues were NOT food-related but, since it’s a change that we can deliver with zero effort, we have decided that it has to be worth a try.

So the little sod is back to just one type of food for the moment. But we may allow him a few slivers of jambon de Bayonne on 30th April as a birthday treat.

Picture taken last Tuesday; the more recent ones are not pretty.

La tête de mort

We have just discovered that the fall of the print pattern on the fabric of Louis Catorze’s igloo makes the hanging fish look like a sideways-on severed zombie head wearing some sort of scuba diving headgear. And, the more we stare at it, the more we wonder how on earth we could have failed to notice it before.

Cat Daddy winced and shuddered when I pointed it out. But I rather love it that, just as we thought Louis Catorze couldn’t be any creepier, he adds an extra layer, intentionally or otherwise. I’m pretty sure that, if he were human, hanging the heads of dead scuba divers at the entrance to his home would be just his kind of thing. Maybe he would even wear one of the heads as a hat, as that guy from Con Air did and as he is attempting to do in this picture. (Yes, he is actually sitting with the fish resting on his head.)

As they say on the internet: once seen, it cannot be unseen. You’re welcome.

Le chat aime le poisson, mais il n’aime pas se mouiller les pattes

Not long ago, Cat Daddy and I decided to have a Fish Week at Le Château, because we love fish – I always choose it in a restaurant – but don’t eat enough of it. Now, most cats would think this were the best thing on earth and would hover around at cooking time, yowling, sniffing and generally being a pest. However, because Louis Catorze can take or leave food, Fish Week passed him by completely unnoticed. 

His big brother Luther would never have let us get off so lightly; Luther loved seafood so much that it was actually listed on his rap sheet at the rescue. I recall wondering at the time why a food preference were important enough to pass onto potential adopters, but I later discovered that they were actually trying to warn us: “Likes prawns” was, in fact, code for “Will kill you to get to them.”

This was proven by The Fish Pie Incident aka HaddockGate, which my sister also witnessed, and about which she can now only talk in a hushed whisper. There were also further incidents, such as the time that I had to leave the house and eat my prawn salad in the car because Luther was harassing me so badly. He had never used a cat flap before but learned in about 0.3 seconds because I stood on the other side, waving a piece of sea bass.

Fish Week would have been all Luther’s dreams come true. No such luck with his petit frère: look at this, quite frankly, FREAKISH non-reaction to a salmon and gruyère fish cake. (The paw, incidentally, was NOT reaching out for the fish cake: Catorze was in this position anyway when I plonked the bowl down in front of him. I even left the room to fetch my cup of tea and, when I returned, both fish cake and cat were as I had left them.) Luther, on the other hand, would have swum through molten lava for this.

We’re not exactly short of evidence that the little sod isn’t normal (reason: #becauseRoi). But this just tops the lot. 

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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.

Le meilleur assaisonnement

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Phase Deux has begun, and I have decided to tip the Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish into the refillable dispenser along with the Acana Pacifica. I am hoping that, rather like putting a vanilla pod or lavender sprig into a pot of sugar, the Lily’s Kitchen will infuse the Acana Pacifica with its irresistible goodness, resulting in a certain fussy little sod eating both. And this would spell the end of my wearisome sessions with the John Lewis stone pestle and mortar. 

So far, it seems to be working.

Cat Daddy: “It’s nothing WHATSOEVER like infusing sugar with vanilla or lavender. What rubbish.”

Me: “Have you ever infused sugar with vanilla or lavender?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “Well, be quiet, then.”

(I didn’t tell him that I have never done it, either.)

Anyway, the ratio of food in the dispenser is probably about 9 parts Acana Pacifica to 1 part Lily’s Kitchen. After a couple of weeks on this, I will buy more Lily’s Kitchen to balance out the ratio a little more (but hopefully not enough to activate the puke switch). And, thereafter, every fortnight or so, I will continue to add more Lily’s Kitchen to ensure as seamless a transition as possible for Louis Catorze.

Cat Daddy again, in his nobody-gives-a-shit voice: “What will the next ratio be? 8 parts Acana Pacifica to 2 parts Lily’s Kitchen? Or will you go for the more gradual transition of 8.5 parts Acana Pacifica to 1.5 parts Lily’s Kitchen? I bet you’ll have the whole of the Cat Internet in suspense over that cliffhanger.”

I am not happy about the sarcasm. But I am glad he has established that there is a Cat Internet. 

La ténacité permet d’atteindre l’excellence

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This darned cat is going to be the death of me. Every morning and evening I am forced to crush up Lily’s Kitchen biscuits in my expensive John Lewis stone pestle and mortar and scatter the resulting gravelly, powdery mess over his Acana Pacifica. If I put them in whole, he cherry-picks only them and leaves the rest.

I should have waited a little longer before starting Phase Une. But the chances of Louis Catorze liking the new food better than his old one – given that he doesn’t really like any food at all, apart from the odd sliver of jambon de Bayonne or organic mountain Comté – were very slim indeed, so the odds really should have been in my favour. But the little sod went out of his way to make sure they weren’t. 

The time spent crushing is also starting to get to me. On Thursday morning, had I not stopped to do it, I would have caught the bus normally. Instead, I had to sprint undignifiedly for it like an idiot, coated in a fine dust of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish and probably smelling of it, too, falling over my own feet as I got on. This can never, ever happen again.

Cat Daddy: “For crying out loud. Just give him the new food! It’s not as if he’s coming off heroin.” 

No: food waste is food waste, whether it’s human food or cat food. Last week I even walked home from the pub with a little copper pot of coleslaw, because I was too full to eat it but didn’t want it thrown away. Cat Daddy ridiculed me beyond belief … then wanted to share some of the coleslaw for lunch the next day. (I agreed but charged him the pub price.)

I really, really want Le Roi to like the new food without wasting the old one. So I don’t suppose there’s much I can do, except quite literally keep my nose to the grindstone.

La nourriture des rois: Phase Une

Phase Une of Opération G-T-L-S-O-N-F-W-H-N – which involves giving Louis Catorze a serving of his old Acana Pacifica topped with a scant garnish of the new Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish – began on Sunday. It was most satisfying to tear the top strip from the packet of Lily’s Kitchen and put it straight into the compost. The excuse that others give for not using compostable packaging is that it’s not robust enough to protect the food but, let’s face it: cats are pretty gross. They happily chow down on maggot-infested road kill and suchlike, so I’d imagine that the possibility of their wholesome, natural biscuits becoming exposed to air/dirt/bugs is the least of their worries. 

The Lily’s Kitchen biscuits (the golden-coloured triangular bits) are different in shape and colour from the Acana Pacifica. This was not going to help in my mission to combine them invisibly. And, given Louis Catorze’s abysmal track record for doing what I want him to do when I want him to do it, I was nervous. 

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And I was right to be nervous, because, to my utter dismay, the little sod delicately picked off the Lily’s Kitchen garnish but left the Acana Pacifica. Quel fichu salaud.

Cat Daddy: “So he likes the new food? That’s good, isn’t it? Just give him that. No need to do this slow phasing.”

I told him that I would NOT be wasting the huge amount of Acana Pacifica that we still had left, nor would I be responsible for any, erm, digestive episodes that took place as a result of a too-rapid change in food. (We did this when Catorze first came to live with us, before we knew that slow phasing was a thing, and he was a prolific puker back then. Luckily, it was usually on the floor rather than on the carpet. And, on the only occasion that he projectile-vomited on our bed whilst we slept, it was all on Cat Daddy’s side.)

Cat Daddy again: “So now we’re going to have to force him to eat food that we want him to eventually stop eating?”

It would appear that way, yes.

Anyway, I tried hiding some of the Lily’s Kitchen under the Acana Pacifica, but, like a truffling pig, Catorze still managed to unearth it, leaving the rest untouched. Then I hit upon the idea of crushing up some of the Lily’s Kitchen and scattering it over so that everything tasted of it. A seasoning rather than a garnish, if you will. 

And … BINGO. 

I will not be outsmarted by a cat, and a stupid one at that.

(That wasn’t supposed to rhyme.)

Les poils d’enfer

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Forget about the Rio Olympics, and forget about chasing Pokemon(s). (Do you add an “s” or is there one noun for both singular and plural, like fish and sheep?)

Here at Le Château we have had our own challenge of physical and mental endeavour: daily brushing of a certain someone who had been looking a bit scruffy and ragged at the start of the summer. (Cat Daddy has just read this and said, “You’d better put that it’s Louis Catorze, in case everyone thinks it’s me.”)

We were spoilt with Luther because, being a Bombay, he didn’t shed. So we never had to brush him, ever. Not so with Le Roi; he moults like crazy, and brushing him is the second most miserable experience imaginable (the first being giving him pills).

Brushing Louis Catorze tests all these components in a way that no Olympic sport ever could:

– Speed, as I try to catch the little sod
– Strength, as I grab hold of the little sod
– Endurance, as I attempt to keep hold of the little sod whilst also trying to brush him
– Super-sharp reflexes, as I dodge the kicks and the Freddy Krueger slasher claws

Of course, when Cat Daddy brushes him, the scenario is rather different:

– One or two unremarkable squeaks
– Cuddles for daddy afterwards

It’s just not fair, is it?

“Maybe he just doesn’t like the way you brush him,” suggested Cat Daddy, helpfully. “He never misbehaves when I do it.”

Très bien pour lui. What does he want: a medal?

(He didn’t get one. But what he did get is the permanent role of Gardien de la Brosse Royale; if he’s so darned good, he can show the rest of us how it’s done.)