Des chats et des hommes

It’s the coldest night of the month so far and, naturellement, Louis Catorze has picked now to escape out at The Front.

It’s too cold for me to go out looking for him. In fact, it’s too cold even for me to stand at the door for a few minutes and call for him (not that he comes when he’s called). But the thing is that Laurence driving the Plum Van is due to arrive any minute. And, when Catorze and Ocado drivers meet, it’s never pretty.

This evening will end in one of the following ways:

1. Catorze will come in the next time I call him, forever remaining unaware of Laurence’s impending arrival (unlikely).

2. Catorze will sit quietly on the window sill, observe Laurence from afar and allow him to deliver in peace (not a chance in hell).

3. Laurence have to slalom* around a screaming cat whilst he delivers our groceries, before eventually scrambling to safety and screeching off in the Plum Van at top speed (BINGO).

*Yes, I know that slaloming usually involves weaving in and out of many stationary objects, not one moving one. But anyone who has ever met a cat will understand.

Anyway, the little sod is still out there – we don’t know exactly where – and the clock is ticking for Laurence. The only thing that could make this worse would be That Neighbour putting his bins out at the very moment that the carnage kicks off.

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Où t’es, Louis où t’es?

Heyyy macadamia!

Cat Daddy and I went to the bulk store the other day to stock up on a few bits. The bulk store is one of my favourite places in the world but it’s very dangerous; it SOUNDS healthy and wholesome but, if you want to buy 934kg of sugary junk, you can. Nobody says anything or tries to stop you. Puppy Mamma and I once bought our weight in Turkish delights and chocolate-coated coconut things, then congratulated ourselves for being so earth-motherly and disciplined.

One of the things that I bought this time was a kilo of roasted macadamias, and part of the ritual of shopping at the bulk store is decanting our goods into jars when we get home. It’s messy but very satisfying. However, during the decanting process, I spilled macadamias all over the kitchen worktop and some of them rolled onto the floor.

Louis Catorze, who was hovering nearby when the incident took place, gave chase to one stray macadamia and sniffed it quizzically. Then he ran for the hills as if he’d just been poked in the eye with a sharp stick.

I can’t imagine what narrative must have been going on his head to make him think, “Sight of a macadamia: interesting and worthy of further investigation. Smell of a macadamia: MERDE, GET ME OUT OF HERE.” Or perhaps The Mothership beamed him a message to say, “Sniff it and run away, just to see what she does. Go on, it’ll be funny!”

For the non-believers among you, here is the little sod fleeing from the offending macadamia. And, yes, I needed a little help from my good friend the black markup pen, on Catorze’s rear view:

Running away up-tailed makes the whole thing even more weird.

Aux idiots l’argent brûle les doigts

When Cat Daddy noticed the ferocity with which Louis Catorze pounced upon a newly-opened pack of Orijen, he suggested that we start buying the small packs instead of the fractionally less expensive medium-sized ones. I may have mentioned this previously on Le Blog, but I’m mentioning it again as I’m sure Cat Daddy will deny that it was his idea and start complaining about the cost again. (The smaller packs are 9p per kg more expensive than the medium-sized ones.)

Last week it was time to re-order as Louis Catorze was on his last pack of Orijen. We had stopped our medium pack subscription with Petscorner.co.uk with the intention of restarting on the small pack but, when I tried to resume the subscription, I discovered that they were out of stock.

Orijen’s main website was also all out although, annoyingly, they had supplies of the Orijen Six Fish for dogs. (Yes, I did compare the ingredients lists to see if there was a difference. And, yes, I did consider trying it to see if Catorze would notice, but I had grotesque visions of each pellet being the size of a brick and the silly sod overstretching his tiny jaws to eat them, like a snake swallowing a whole cow.)

Merde.

Eventually I managed to find the last five packs in the world at Mypetwarehouse.co.uk, so I ordered all five. Since then I have found a few more places that stock the small pack, and I think the Orijen site may have replenished its stocks now, but my hopes of finding a reliable subscription service are dwindling. I want to be able to subscribe and then forget about it. I don’t want to have to order from a different place every time and pay delivery costs because they don’t have enough stock to enable me to meet the free delivery threshold. Yet this still beats the horror of leaving Catorze foodless and screaming.

When I told Cat Daddy about this, he muttered something about Brexit, supply chains and some other thing that I don’t remember. He doesn’t stockpile – in fact, he thinks people who do stockpile are scaremongering idiots – yet even he was encouraging me to buy every single pack of Orijen Six Fish Cat (and Dog, if I had to) that I could lay my hands on.

More Orijen than he can handle.

It shouldn’t be this complicated, should it? But then “complicated” is what Catorze is and does.

Cat Daddy took these pictures during an especially rambunctious Boys’ Club and, throughout the session, he was telling Catorze what an emotional and financial drain he is and how unhelpful this is when the country is gripped by what we keep calling a Cost of Living Crisis (but, in fact, is really a Cost of Voting for the Wrong Party and Having Them Do Us Over Crisis). Luckily Catorze didn’t understand and, even if he did, he wouldn’t have given a merde.

One of the last alfresco Boys’ Clubs of the summer.
It was quite the session.

Il est Bleu, da-ba-dee-da-ba-dai …

At the weekend I was chat-sitting Blue the Smoke Bengal whilst his mamma was away.

I am very lucky that I was trusted to look after him, after what happened last time. During the Easter holidays I was supposed to feed him from Sunday evening to Thursday morning, and I forgot. I don’t know how I could have possibly done such a thing, but I did.

Cat Daddy and I were out walking on the Monday morning when I remembered. We had just reached the point in our walk where we could choose between the long route and the short route and, naturellement, after realising my grave oversight, we chose the latter and powered round as quickly as possible so that we could get home for Blue. As we walked we debated whether or not I should tell Blue’s mamma, and I was leaning more towards not saying anything if he were fine when I arrived.

I felt awful about it, and I told Cat Daddy that I’d be livid if someone had done this to Louis Catorze.

Cat Daddy: “Would you really, though?”

Me: “Actually … maybe not. If it were just one day, then no.”

Cat Daddy: “But if they didn’t say anything, and I found out afterwards, I’d be pissed off.”

Merde.

When I went to Maison Blue, I discovered that his mamma had had a Ring doorbell fitted since the last time I went over. Those things send you a notification if you have so much as an leaf blowing past, so she would know perfectly well that I hadn’t been over on the Sunday evening.

MERDE.

Luckily Blue was perfectly ok, and he purred and rolled when I walked into the house. As I cuddled him, I said, “I’m so sorry, boy. I let you down yesterday evening, didn’t I?” I then realised that there was another camera-type device plugged into the hallway, which had probably recorded what I’d said.

MERDE MERDE MERDE.

In terms of evidence against me, it doesn’t get much worse than video surveillance and a taped confession. If this were a criminal investigation, Blue’s mamma’s legal team would be pressing for the death penalty.

Anyway, when she gave me some lovely chilli goat’s cheese to say thank you for looking after Blue, I decided that I couldn’t accept it with a clear conscience and so I confessed. Blue’s mamma was absolutely fine about it, and clearly didn’t think my offence was cheese-withholdingly bad because she insisted that I take the gift anyway. She added that Blue was a bit of a chubber and so one delayed meal wouldn’t have done him any harm. This is true. Plus he is an adept hunter, AND he is clearly visiting at least one household for their all-you-can-eat self-service buffet, so he certainly wouldn’t have starved to death.

Here is the big sod, telling me to hurry the hell up with his food:

“Come on, chop chop!”

Le petit déjeuner au lit

Three days after our friends’ visit, Louis Catorze’s dandruff miraculously vanished. His fur is now glossy and beautiful, without a single pesky white flake in sight. Although I cannot prove it, I know he has done this on purpose.

My friend Lizzi: “I told you he’d do this! But he’s pulled it off even sooner than I thought.”

Whatever. You’re not helping.

In other, equally odd news, it seems Catorze is enjoying his Orijen so much that he’s been bringing it up to bed. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs. When changing the sheets the other day, I found this underneath the covers, at the pillow end:

Right. I see.

I was actually relieved to discover that it was Orijen and not some other heinous substance. But how did it get there?

Theory 1: It was caught on Catorze’s paw. But how did it stick? How did it not fall off on the way upstairs?

Theory 2: It was caught on my clothing. Again, how did it stick?

Theory 3: Catorze brought it in his mouth to save for later. Frankly this is the weirdest idea of them all, as it takes far more effort to bring one piece all the way upstairs than to just eat it from his bowl, but I wouldn’t put it past him. After all, this is the same individual who thought to drop a slug onto my pillow in the middle of the night.

Are there other treasures being squirrelled away in there? (And do I want to know what they are?)

Une chasse de trésor.

La farine d’avoine

Louis Catorze’s dandruff has been deteriorating, and I noticed that it looked especially bad just before a friend was due to visit. We couldn’t have him looking scaly and gross in front of visitors so I tried to brush it out, but each brush stroke seemed to just dredge up more crud. I then decided to deploy the colloidal oatmeal powder.

This was probably the right idea. However, I should have executed it a lot better.

Rather than tipping out the powder and letting him roll around in it or his own accord, for whatever stupid reason I decided, instead, to tip it straight from the pack onto his body whilst he lay on my lap. Instead of the light dusting for which I had hoped, huge lumps of oatmeal fell out, each one breaking into a zillion pieces when it hit la personne royale. Each one of those zillion pieces then hit me, breaking into a further zillion pieces as they did so.

Extracting the oatmeal most certainly was not a piece of cake.

The next twenty minutes or so were spent chasing a white cat around the living room and attempting to brush/beat the oatmeal out of him. It only half-worked. When my friend arrived, rather than being dandruff-free, Catorze was still grey in some areas and peppered with both dandruff AND oatmeal, and I was worried that his attempts to groom it off would leave him with stomach cramps or constipation. Luckily this turned out not to be the case, and, because our friend knows the little sod very well, she didn’t bat an eyelid when we said there had been “an oatmeal incident”.

Post-groom mess.

We can’t think of any reason why Catorze’s skin would suddenly deteriorate and, as with the mats, we will check with the vet just in case. Happily, Le Roi is utterly unfazed by it and is continuing to live his best life.

L’épice effrayante

A few nights ago I prepared some fish with a potent herb, spice and salt rub, then I washed my hands and went to cuddle Louis Catorze.

With hindsight, I should probably have done those tasks the other way around – maintaining the hand wash in between, naturellement – because my hands clearly still smelled of the rub and Catorze was confused by this.

His actions and facial expressions were as follows:

1. “Je voudrais des cuddles!”

2. “Merde, it’s her. I didn’t want her. I wanted mon papa.”

3. [Sniffs hand] “What the absolute merde is this?”

4. [Glares] “Does the rest of her smell like this, too?” [Sniffs whole arm]

5. “What even WAS that?” [Goes back to hand again]

7. [Accepts cuddles in an insincere and resentful fashion, in the same way that I do when small children offer me pretend food from their pretend café and I’m secretly wishing it were real food]

This wasn’t quite as bad as the time I decided to make my own green curry paste, and the bashing of the pestle and mortar outraged him beyond belief. But it still serves him right; after those torturous months of having to water his Orijen, throwing away countless portions which didn’t meet the required standard, it’s about time the tables were turned and that HE was inconvenienced by the preparation of OUR food.

“Have you SMELLED yourself lately, salope? Also: feed moi.”

Fixer le regard

A couple of days ago, Cat Daddy and I spent the afternoon in separate rooms watching different television programmes; I didn’t want to watch whatever dull sports thing he was watching and he didn’t want to watch gruesome documentaries about serial killers.

Naturellement Louis Catorze chose to sit in the kitchen with his papa but, after a short while, he came into the living room, where I was, to creepy-stare at me for food. It wasn’t long before I felt so uncomfortable that I succumbed to his sinister mind control, like a brainwashed cult devotee.

Me, to Cat Daddy, as I opened the Orijen tin: “I can’t believe you’re sitting in the same room as the food, yet he came to creepy-stare at ME. Why didn’t he creepy-stare at you?”

Him: “He did.”

Me: “What? And you didn’t feed him?”

Him: “No. I just ignored him. That’s why he went to you.”

Me: “For goodness’ sake. It would have been so much less effort for you to do it. I’ve just had to get up and move rooms.”

Him: “Well, that’s your own fault. You give into him too easily.”

Me: “…”

I have friends who get up at 5am to feed their cats because they can’t stand the physical bullying and intimidation, and I used to think they were pathetic. Yet here I am, being given the runaround just because this tiny, toothy little despot LOOKS at me in a certain way. He doesn’t make a sound. Mainly because he doesn’t need to.

What a look, though. I challenge anyone to remain in the same room with this (see below, with bonus tongue on this particular occasion) and not be desperate to make it stop:

“Feed moi.”

Le poids du Roi

Louis Catorze is an eating, screaming machine, and we can see and feel him chubbing up. Cat Daddy even saw him in the garden the other day and thought he was another cat.

To mark this auspicious occasion Catorze has done the Chubbing Up Dance, which involves Cat Daddy bouncing him on his lap whilst singing “You, are, chub-bing up, say you are chub-bing up!” to the tune of Oops Upside Your Head. (Younger followers: ask your grandparents.)*

*About the song, I mean, not about the Chubbing Up Dance. They will probably look at you very strangely if you ask them about the Chubbing Up Dance.

Gone are the days of minuscule portions of Orijen sprinkled with exactly the right amount of boiling water. These days Catorze is guzzling down generous scoops of dry food and loving it. He still prefers freshly-served Orijen to food that’s been sitting around for a while, naturellement, but, at a push, he will eat slightly stale food eventually. Whereas if his food had absorbed too much water, he would quite literally starve himself rather than consume a single pellet.

Assuming the little sod doesn’t randomly change his mind again, this could be an absolute game changer for chat-sitting here at Le Château. And, in equally magnificent news, it’s exactly a month since his last steroid shot and, astonishingly, he has shown no sign of needing the next one as yet. Usually, after three weeks, we are counting down the days to that calendar month marker but, right now, he’s looking and feeling good.

Could his birthday at the end of the month be his happiest and healthiest yet?

Who ate all the Orijen?

Le miracle du printemps

Oh. Mon. Dieu. A spring equinox miracle has taken place at Le Château.

I was somewhat reluctant to mention it for fear of jinxing it, but I’m going to take a chance. What’s the worst that could happen (apart from plunging back into the unending purgatory that had become our existence prior to this day)?

As you know, since Louis Catorze’s first dental surgery in September, we have been adding water to his Orijen to soften it. This was only supposed to be temporary whilst he healed, but the little sod decided that this was how he wanted it forever. Then he didn’t. Then he did again. Then he wanted water heated to 70 degrees. Then he wanted boiling water. You get the idea.

Now that he has had his second dental surgery, I was about to devise a complicated plan for gradually reducing the water by 0.001 millilitre/degree increments when Cat Daddy cheerfully informed me that he had already served Catorze a couple of portions of completely dry food. And, apparently, Catorze had eaten them.

This sounded far too good to be true. But, when I tried it myself, Saint Jésus et tous ses anges: I had the same result.

No more will we have to throw away untold quantities of rejected Orijen when our serving skills haven’t been up to scratch. No more will we have to boil the kettle multiple times a day, only to use a minuscule amount of the water each time. No more will we have to tell non-resident chat-sitteurs to visit 78 times a day and to give him 0.4 teaspoonfuls of food per visit, sprinkled with 4.73ml water heated to 100 degrees. And no more will the silly sod starve himself rather than consume one pellet of unsatisfactorily-watered food. This is all très big news indeed.

As well as feeling elated beyond belief, I also feel guilty because, despite everything, my gut tells me that Catorze was doing this because he was in discomfort. If he were only doing it to be a contrary shite, I’m sure he would have strung it out for a lot longer.

Feeding Sa Maj is now a delight. We dish up the dry food, and he eats it. And, because he’s no longer suffering, he’s eating more.

Cat Daddy: “So we’ve spent £1,000 on surgery so that he can eat more of the most expensive food on the planet. Great. That’s money well spent.”

A spring in his step. And in his appetite.

Les dents du Roi (Partie 2)

We have survived Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin and emerged on the other side, triumphant and victorious. Our only casualty was part of the fence separating us from That Neighbour, which means Louis Catorze will now find it easier than ever to pitter-patter over there and annoy him.

Meanwhile, Catorze’s food weirdness remains as it was after his last dental surgery.

Every time we feed him, we are forced to choose between letting the tap run for long enough to heat the water to his satisfaction, or boiling a kettle in order to use just 15ml of the water. Cat Daddy tends to choose the former whereas I choose the latter. And, if someone else is feeding Sa Maj, we say, “Do you prefer wasting water or wasting electricity? Feel free to choose how you want to destroy the planet on his account.” In fact, when we go away and leave others in charge of him, this is exactly, word for word, what we tell our chat-sitteurs.

The Gabapentin, which was supposed to indicate whether Catorze was in pain, hasn’t really told us much, so his dental surgery is booked for tomorrow. Ideally I would have done it much sooner in the year, but there was zero availability in January (despite me enquiring in late December), and we needed to time it to land away from his steroid shot.

Luckily for us all, the little sod isn’t acting like a cat in pain or distress: he’s playful, noisy and loving life. Let’s hope he keeps up his high spirits through this second dental procedure, and that he won’t need any further treatment.

Bon courage, little sod.

L’ambroisie du Roi

Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges: after a few months of being out of stock, Louis Catorze’s Orijen is back.

Cat Daddy opened a new pack the other day and, for the first time in ages, the little sod wolfed down a whole scoop, without leaving a single crumb. Cat Daddy, assuming I hadn’t fed him that morning (I had), served two more scoops, which were promptly eaten. Later that evening Cat Daddy put down an extra generous scoop to keep Catorze going whilst we were out for dinner, and he wolfed that down, too.

Cat Daddy: “I think he likes it better when it’s a freshly-opened pack. Maybe we should buy smaller packs more often? This one is designed for people who have, like, ten cats.”

This probably makes sense; anything that results in fewer Catorzian rejections, and therefore less food waste, is fine by me. However – and you knew that there would be a “however”, didn’t you? – the smaller pack isn’t such good value for money. At a nose-bleeding £20.55 per kg, the 340g pack costs almost £4 per kg more than our already-expensive regular 1.8kg pack.

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind]”

I once said that the only thing more expensive than Orijen was more Orijen. I was wrong: the only thing more expensive than Orijen is LESS Orijen. But as long as the Dark King is happy, we should be able to hold off the apocalypse for a short while longer.

“Feed moi.”

Le dernier repas

It’s all kicking off here in the U.K. and we Brits are the laughing stock of the world. Again.

During lockdown, when we weren’t supposed to be seeing more than one person outdoors, parties took place at the Prime Minister’s residence. The person hosting the parties initially denied that there were parties, and has now admitted it but claims that he thought they were work events. The person originally investigating whether or not there were parties, attended one of the parties. The person who wrote the Covid rules and who decides whether or not they were broken, also attended one of the parties. The newly-appointed person investigating whether or not there were parties, works under the person who hosted the parties.

I know. It couldn’t be more absurd if it tried, although it certainly explains why Louis Catorze behaved so badly during my online lessons and meetings: clearly he thought he was at a party. And, to be fair, there were a couple of occasions when things were completely chaotic and/or I was drinking neat Absolut Vanilla from a tea mug at 3pm, so I can’t really blame him.

Meanwhile, Catorze’s war against mealtimes is waging on. Cat Daddy has weighed Catorze’s food on our new set of precision scales, and it turns out that we are only supposed to be giving him three scoops per day. In actual fact we have been giving him around 978 scoops per day.

Now, I wouldn’t normally advocate overfeeding a cat but, since the vet told us that the little sod needed to chub up, we aren’t in a rush to change the overall quantity of food. We have, however, been reconsidering his feeding times and, instead of feeding Catorze whenever he asks, we decided that would give him set mealtimes, just like normal cats.

Catorze came downstairs from his nap one afternoon at around 4pm, then began to creepy-stare for food.

Cat Daddy: “Look at him, trying to bully us.”

Catorze continued to creepy-stare.

Cat Daddy: “Ignore him.”

Catorze continued to creepy-stare.

Cat Daddy: “In fact, let’s take his bowl away.”

I put Catorze’s empty bowl into his food cupboard.

Then the screaming started.

Mon Dieu: I know I have said this numerous times before, but you really could strip paint with his voice.

Our new tough love regime lasted a whole minute and a half before we reverted back to our previous system, because I just couldn’t stand the screaming. So here we are – again – at the mercy of this shouty, toothy little dictator.

He really is the worst. And we are pathetic beyond belief for allowing it.

“Feed moi.”

Bouillir, servir, manger, recommencer

Bonne Année! Hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve.

The dawn of 2021 saw us messing about with Louis Catorze’s food, hand-sifting the golden pellets from the brown ones like sweat shop workers. We are starting 2022 in a similar way but, this time, instead of sifting, we are pouring boiling water over minuscule portions of the little sod’s Orijen. No doubt we will start next year doing something equally stupid with his food, and the year after that, and so on, forever more.

Catorze is a grazer rather than someone with set mealtimes, so he likes to be able to revisit his bowl multiple times throughout the day. Obviously this works perfectly well if dry food is your thing. But if you insist on boiling water poured over your food and will only eat it if it’s freshly-served and piping hot, the whole grazing thing doesn’t really work. Unless you have a set of serving wenches at hand to dish up a new portion every time you stare creepily at them.

Sa Maj has never liked wet food. In fact, his dislike of it was such that it was even mentioned on his notes from the rescue. I was quite keen for him to have it, as I thought it would be a good way of getting enough water into him, but I failed in my efforts to make him eat it. That, however, was seven and a half years ago. Could it be that the little sod’s tastes have changed and that, after a lifetime of refusing wet food, he now wants it?

We hadn’t planned on changing his food anytime soon; we have plenty of Orijen, despite it still being out of stock at Petscorner, plus after all the Yuletide festivities we aren’t quite in the frame of mind to manage a(nother) Grand Changement right now. But it’s hovering ominously in the background like a Dickensian ghost, and I have an awful feeling that we might have to try it out sometime. Not yet, though. He has to have his dental surgery first, plus we need to mentally prepare ourselves and order in plenty of alcohol and Valium.

Wishing you a marvellous 2022, with lots of love from all of us at Le Château.

Bonne Année. Now feed moi.