Il y a une souris dans ma cuisine; qu’est-ce que je vais faire?

1e5e7a40-1d74-4d44-aa3f-eaeb4c01e4e6The curious incident of the herbs in the kitchen has been solved. 

After a thorough search, Cat Daddy discovered that a bag of green lentils had been chewed right through – which we had failed to spot before as the hole was minuscule, perhaps the diameter of a pencil – and the discerning mouse had taken care to discard the unpalatable outer casings. And, whilst green lentils look nothing like dried herbs, their shredded outer casings happen to look EXACTLY like them. 

The mouse had also gnawed through two packets of Cat Daddy’s as-yet-unopened, mega-posh teff flour (nope, me neither; I had to Google it), which were promptly thrown away along with the lentils. We have now moved all the packet food up to the top shelves and the tins and jars to the bottom, and we are desperately hoping that the squeaky little sod can’t climb/jump.  

Technically, because Louis Catorze jumped off my lap and went to investigate before we knew there was a mouse, he did, indeed, solve the mystery before us. He is not, however, completely off the hook. “Well, who do you think brought the mouse in here?” asked Cat Daddy. “It’s all his fault.” 

C’est vrai. As we have said before, the definition of good mousing is not bringing mice to a place where there were none before and then turning them loose to run riot. 

Anyway, we have no idea where the mouse is, and I guess we have no option but to keep an eye on our food packets for unusual spillages, and, of course, to monitor Sa Maj for suspicious sniffing and prowling. And, as the little sod has the revolting habit of bringing dead and partially-dead prey up to our bedroom, no doubt it will be abundantly clear when Project Mini-Mouse concludes.

Don’t worry, I shall share this with you at the earliest opportunity.

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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Je bouffe, donc je suis

After several months of a carefully-orchestrated changeover and regular snippy comments from Cat Daddy about the slowness of it all, Louis Catorze has now fully transitioned from Acana Pacifica to Lily’s Kitchen. So he is well on his way to becoming a zero-waste kitty. (Cat Daddy: “Apart from the waste that comes out of his arse end.”) 

Better yet, he genuinely seems to like the Lily’s Kitchen better, which is quite the accomplishment for a cat who, generally speaking, doesn’t like food. He actually comes running when he hears the biscuits rattling and sometimes clears his plate, neither of which he used to do before, and I feel almost* guilty that we have subjected him to merely satisfactory food until now. 

*Almost, but not quite. Louis Catorze leads a life of luxury and certainly doesn’t need our sympathy. 

Whilst I am delighted that our boy is happy and that he has actively reduced his carbon pawprint, I hope we won’t lose the many advantages of a cat who doesn’t like food. It is an absolute joy to be able to leave human food on the kitchen worktop, knowing that it will be safe. It’s also great to be able to go out for a whole day, having put down 2 meals’ worth of food, and know that the little sod will make it last. His big brother Luther was very much a guzzler rather than a grazer; his inability to pace himself meant that, if we were going out, we would always have to make arrangements for someone to come and feed him. I recall my mum once witnessing his gluttony and saying, “That food was meant to last him until the evening. When you gave it to him, did you not EXPLAIN?” 

Here is Catorze’s custom-made feeding station (created by the builders upon Cat Daddy’s orders), which houses his black kitty feeding mat (gifted by my sister) and his vintage French bowl (gifted by one of his best-loved pilgrims). La vie est belle.

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C’est mieux dehors que dedans

*WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC REFERENCES TO CAT PUKE*

The puke switch has been activated. I should have known I had spoken too soon in my last post, and no doubt this is because Louis Catorze has been outside chewing grass and not because of the food change, but that doesn’t make it any less foul. And, sadly, the combination of cat puke the same colour as our floorboards plus a tiring day spelled disaster for me when I stepped into it with bare feet. 

Our floorboards are the original ones dating back to when Le Château was built and, when we had it renovated, the builders put some sort of magical expanding stuffing between the floorboards to plug up the gaps. However, this was almost 3 years ago and, over time, in some areas the stuffing has worn away. And, tragically, by stepping on the puke AND in trying to clean it up, I ended up accidentally pushing some of it between the gaps. 

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: THERE IS NOW CAT PUKE UNDER OUR FLOORBOARDS. AND I PUT IT THERE.

Cat Daddy is not pleased about this at all. But, as he’s partially-sighted, I can’t imagine he would have spotted it, either. Nor would his clean-up attempts have been much better. 

So now we’re playing a waiting game. And, rather like Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart but with its stomach-churning stench rather than an ominous drumming, the festering cat puke will slowly alert all comers to its horrifying presence beneath the floorboards. Sadly, as Cat Daddy has firmly vetoed taking up the floorboards (“They’ve been here for over a century and have remained intact through 2 World Wars, so we’re not pulling them up just because of HIM”) there isn’t much we can do, apart from hope that it soon passes.

Here is the little sod showing profound regret at the anguish he has caused: 

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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.