Journal d’une chatière (Partie 4)

The vet confirmed on Monday that Louis Catorze’s chip remains correctly positioned and has not migrated into some strange part of his body. So the problem is definitely either in the Sureflap, in his brain or both.

The Sureflap has been in manual mode for a couple of weeks now. And, merci à Dieu, we have had no unwanted visitors, despite Cat Daddy spotting these chaps in the Zone Libre after first hearing Catorze growling and hissing at them:

These are just two of an army of around eight to ten.

Cat Daddy has wanted to put the Sureflap back into electronic mode for some time, but I wanted to be sure first of all that Catorze remembered how to come in. Any slight mishap is likely to wipe the remaining fragments of his memory and then we would have to start all over again.

Catorze is often outside when we go to bed and inside when we wake up, so clearly he is managing to find his way in. But we find it rather peculiar that he is coming and going undetected. Neither Cat Daddy nor I have seen him come in, not once, despite having seen him go out many times. Obviously being in the right place at the right time to ensure a completely equal balance would be unlikely, but you’d imagine SOME parity, as opposed to witnessing 842 of his exits and absolutely none of his entrances.

My friend Lizzi: “But he teleports. You know this. I don’t know why you’re even surprised.”

Anyway, sooner or later we will have to switch the Sureflap back to selective mode, which will, no doubt, be the trigger point for making everything go wrong again.

Please pray for all those affected by this crisis.

Rusé comme un renard

During my pre-Sureflap childhood, when any old random punter could – and did – wander into our home and wreak havoc, we would often find scraps of fur indicating that there had been an altercation between our cats and whoever.

Our lovely tuxedo boy, Rambo, had a neighbourhood nemesis (evil Jasper – a black cat, of course, with the most horror-movie cat snarl I have ever heard), and the two of them would have frequent bust-ups. One day Jasper’s mamma mentioned to my mum that Jasper had come home the other night with a wounded ear, and, by some curious coincidence, my mum had found blood on her back doorstep the same day.

That was the beginning of what has come to be our family mantra: “Oh dear, how awful. Must’ve been some other cat.”

Since we’ve had Louis Catorze, we have never seen any evidence of fights with other cats – apart from, erm, the time we took him to the vet with what turned out to be a fight wound, and the vet told Cat Daddy that its position indicated that Catorze was the one who started it.

However, a few days ago, Cat Daddy found this in the back garden:

Fox sake.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, this is fox fur (approximately 5cm long).

I really hope someone will be able to reassure me that fox fur can just randomly fall off in this way. Otherwise I shall be forced to consider the truly horrifying thought that … shudder … Catorze has been taking them on.

Cat Daddy: “He wouldn’t be THAT stupid.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Le renard est de retour

Oh. Mon. Dieu. We have a Code Roux situation at Le Château, and here is the evidence:

Foxy Loxy.

These are NOT Louis Catorze’s paw prints, nor are they even feline, as you can tell by their size (pound coin for scale). Mesdames et Messieurs: Monsieur Renard has been on the premises.

We have known for a long time that he frequents our streets and gardens, accompanied by his buddies, but gadding about on our outdoor furniture is a bit too close for comfort, not to mention bloody rude. Other London foxes have much nicer manners than the ones in TW8. Whereas ours left us mucky paw prints, this week the ones in CR0 delivered my mum some prawn crackers. I’m not joking. She quite literally went out in her garden and found a full bag of Chinese takeaway prawn crackers, knotted at the top (although I don’t suppose the foxes tied the knot).

Now, we don’t know whether our fox was the one Louis Catorze screamed at, the one whom he chased down the garden, the one whose dinner he stole for fun, or another fox entirely whom he hasn’t yet met/pissed off but who is next on the list. But this isn’t great. And, worse yet, the little sod is utterly unperturbed and was happy to roll around on the cushions/prints immediately afterwards. Most cats would be able to pick up the scent of another animal and would be upset or concerned by this (wouldn’t they?) but it seems that Catorze either can’t smell it or doesn’t care.

“On s’en fiche.”

It also doesn’t help that Catorze is on some sort of permanent adrenaline spike at the moment, screaming, thundering around the house at 5am waking me up, wanting to play constantly and so on. None of this suggests that, in the event of an encounter with Monsieur Renard and his colleagues, he would keep his head down and mind his own business. A calm, timid cat is likely to steer clear of foxes. A noisy, psycho cat who asks for trouble, not so much.

I don’t want to keep him in overnight, mainly because the screaming to be let out would send us over the edge. But, if there are too many near miss incidents like this, we might not have much choice …

La guerre de la planète des renards

Almost seven weeks into lockdown, and both our dishwasher and our car have packed up, the former no doubt through over-use and the latter through insufficient use. And Cat Daddy appears to be coming down with a severe case of FOSTD: Fear of Starving to Death. Every meal time, he snaps, “Don’t eat all the [insert name of whichever food is in the vicinity]”, and I swear there is chocolate in the house that he’s hiding from me, although I can’t prove it.

Louis Catorze, however, is fine and dandy. In fact, with the human race safely off the streets, all the animals are ranging from fine and dandy to running riot and having a ball. First we had those goats in Llandudno and now there are wild boar in Paris, lions on a golf course in South Africa, and, erm, some part-leopard, part-dinosaur mystery beast that absolutely nobody can identify, in Kozhikode, India: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LHBgvhD7pOE

Here in TW8, as well as the squirrels, the foxes are at it.

A few nights ago I glimpsed a baby fox on the roof of That Neighbour’s shed. Then, at 4 o’clock the next morning, I awoke to the sound of what seemed to be a vehicle being driven with a flat tyre, and I thought someone was trying to steal a car. I opened the shutters and saw two to three (I can’t be quite sure) adult foxes circling one of the neighbours’ cars, all the while punctuated with the flat tyre thumping noise.

I couldn’t figure out how they were making the racket, as they didn’t appear to be hitting the car; they just SOUNDED as if they were. I then realised that the sound was coming from their mouths. How a fox can possibly make a thumping noise with its VOICE is beyond me but, as I learned from the zombie fox that Catorze screamed at a couple of years ago, every time I think I know what they sound like, they surprise me: https://louiscatorze.com/2018/09/30/je-suis-une-legende/

I then realised that Catorze wasn’t with me, and my heart sank at the thought of him on the loose outside with foxes gadding about. I went downstairs and turned on the outside light at The Back but there was no sign of him. He eventually appeared, soaking wet and screaming, after I had gone back to bed, and he rolled his cold, drenched body all over me which spelled the end of any hope for sleep.

At the risk of sounding like one of those panicky people who calls the vet if their cat so much as farts (and we all know at least one of those), should we be concerned about our outdoor cats under these circumstances? Traditionally foxes are said to steer clear of cats because they know about those murderous slasher claws, but I wonder how desperate they would be if they weren’t receiving scraps from restaurants and bars? Not that Catorze would make a very satisfying meal – you’d barely get a couple of canapés from his mini-rump – but that’s not the point.

I also imagine that most cats would give a gang of thumping-voiced foxes a wide berth, but we all know that Catorze does exactly the opposite of whatever is expected (or wanted).

Here he is, on the lookout for foxy interlopers:

“Dégagez!”

Rendez-vous avec Le Prince Bleu

A few days ago I invited one of my neighbours – Cat Mamma of Blue, the Smoke Bengal – for Crémant and cheese. And, yes, I am fully aware of the middle-classness of every bit of that sentence.

If I’m honest, I did have an ulterior motive: Louis Catorze has no friends – Cat Daddy’s theory is that word has spread about how boring Catorze is, and so no cats want to stop by – and I had hoped that Blue’s Cat Mamma would put in a good word for him. Blue and Catorze would be the perfect match: similar in size despite Catorze being, erm, eight years older, similar in their puppy-like behaviour, similar in their goading of foxes (ok, maybe that’s not such a good shared trait), and they even have a common history of itchy skin problems. It’s a beautiful friendship waiting to happen, non?

It’s highly likely that Sa Maj and Blue have already met, not only because of the proximity of their respective gardens (yes, I actually typed “THEIR gardens” and somehow it seems to fit so I’m just going to leave it) but also because they both slip out into the school at The Back and hang out there. If you were a cat and there were one other cat in the huge expanse that is the playground, you’d greet them, wouldn’t you? Well, ok, I personally wouldn’t; as an introverted human person who can only deal with written interactions, the last thing I would do is approach a stranger from a distance just to say hello. Nevertheless I like to think I have raised my cat to be a little more convivial.

Cat Mamma lives just about close enough to be able to shout loudly from our garden and be heard from hers but, despite calling for Blue at regular intervals during the evening, he didn’t come over (although Catorze did, because the stupid doughnut thought she was calling HIM). So she went over to fetch him. Yes, she actually went home, picked him up and brought him to the front door. Blue was perfectly happy about this, incidentally, and he does know the way home from both The Back and The Front.

Sadly the fledgling friendship failed to take off as we had hoped (or even at all). Sa Maj, who was outside at The Back, obviously made use of his creepy kitty ESP and picked up on the fact that he had a caller at the front door. In his keenness to greet him, he came clattering loudly through the cat flap and the noise made Blue nervous, so Cat Mamma had to carry him back home. My parting words to her may or may not have been, “Please keep trying to persuade him. But don’t make Louis sound desperate …”

Please keep your fingers crossed for this friendship, and let’s hope that these two will embark upon lots of exciting adventures* together.

*Not too far from our houses, and without crossing any roads.

La nuit des morts-vivants

The zombie fox is back, and not only has he brought back-up in the form of three equally shouty buddies, but they have been raising absolute hell in our street at night with their part-reanimated corpse, part-Velociraptor shrieking. I have seen/heard them with my own eyes/ears and, a few mornings ago, I found paw prints on our car windscreen which were much too large and too muddy to belong to cats. It seems unlikely that the dog walkers of TW8 would suddenly decide to use parked cars as an obstacle course, so I can only assume that Monsieur Renard and his comrades are to blame. 

Needless to say, this has made our street quite an unnerving place after dark. And, naturellement, it has also made Louis Catorze more desperate than ever before to defy us and go outside at The Front.

As you are aware, he can hear the sound of the front door opening from wherever he is in the house or garden. However, he has recently figured out that putting out the recycling involves opening the front door and, as soon as he sees us gathering up cardboard, glass or tins, his silly little ears prick up and you can almost smell him mentally planning his bolt. Evidently the stupid act was just that: an act, to trick us into lowering our guard and give him licence to run riot. 

Last night I discovered that it is utterly impossible to gather up the recycling in silence. I tried, but the little sod’s head whipped around as soon as he heard the first clunk of aluminium against glass. He followed me to the front door and, when I came back indoors, I knew he was waiting on the other side of the door so I swung it open hard to startle him into retreating. He didn’t. He let out a squeak which sounded shockingly like a whoop of glory, shimmied between my ankles and pitter-pattered out, up-tailed and screaming. 

I was never comfortable with him being out at The Front at night, but I feel even more nervous knowing that the streets are being prowled by four predators who are, most likely, seeking the little upstart who insulted one of their number. And taking refuge on top of a car is evidently not going to work for Catorze, as the foxes will just follow him. Foxes are not known for attacking cats but, if the cat is the one who starts the fight, I don’t suppose I can blame them for retaliating. 

If Le Château was on high alert before, I don’t know what to call our current state. Is there a word for higher than high and redder than red? Anyway, here is Sa Majesté in his observation tower, waiting for nightfall so that his Army of Darkness (which consists of, erm, just himself) can attack: 

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Louis Catorze et la Cape d’Invisibilité

*Today’s entry of Le Blog would be greatly enhanced by listening to the Harry Potter theme music whilst reading*

After the recent altercation with the zombie fox, you’d be forgiven for thinking Louis Catorze had been put off going out at The Front. Mais non. He is now obsessed with it and, even if he is outside at The Back, he can hear the front door being opened and he hurtles in, screaming, to try and break out. 

And his Cloak of Invisibility appears to be growing in power as the Season of the Black Cat progresses, because he is managing to slip out unnoticed more than ever before. Last Tuesday night we found him outside on the window sill when we came home from the football, happily watching all the football fans make their way home, and on Thursday I came home from work to find a random passer-by stroking him on our front wall. On yet another occasion, a neighbour sent us this picture when we thought Catorze was asleep on our bed:

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Little sod is having a ball, but I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could spit. If he is out at The Front, I have the shutters open and am anxiously checking every few minutes to make sure he isn’t rolling around in the road, screaming at dogs/foxes or launching himself at some terrified man. And, although he has been ok so far, I daren’t let my guard down. 

Cat Daddy: “If we had children you’d be absolutely ridiculous with them, wrapping them in cotton wool.” Not true in the slightest. This is more of a civic duty to save the good people of TW8 some heartache, rather than for Le Roi’s benefit. Plus children come back when they’re called – or, if I had any, they’d bloody well BETTER come back when they’re called, or else. Louis Catorze couldn’t give less of a merde if he tried. 

So Le Château is now in a state of high alert, although we are pretty defenceless against a Cloak of Invisibility on account of it being invisible. A friend suggested we confiscate the Cloak, and we would, if we could find it …

Le renard

Seigneur Dieu: Cat Daddy and the Virgin Media man have just seen a fox jump over the 5ft fence between Le Château and Bert the dog’s place – yup, actually OVER the fence – and disappear through a gap in the fence that separates us from the school at The Back.

Louis Catorze was in the garden at the time and, luckily, Le Renard walked straight past him, clearly not thinking him a worthwhile snack. Catorze was left unharmed but all puffed up and affronted, as if to say, “Quoi? Excuse-moi?” He isn’t scared enough to come indoors and is perfectly happy to remain out there, but I daren’t leave him unsupervised in case Le Renard comes back. The poor boy wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight against any other creature or object, never mind one several times his size. He once had a fight with a leaf that was blowing in the wind, and still lost.

Fortunately, Louis Catorze isn’t the wandering sort and likes to be wherever we are, so I don’t think we need to keep him under house arrest at this point. But I might call him in at night – or get Cat Daddy to call him, since he ignores me when I do it – just to be sure. And I might also message Oscar the dog’s folks and warn them to check their lawn, because Oscar has been known to do things with fox poo that really defy belief …

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Le dimanche sanglant

Whilst last Sunday was officially Olympic Sensational Sunday to most British people, to Cat Daddy and me it will always be known as Le Jour du Rat.

This morning we were talking about the psychology behind cats’ offerings and why they bring them even if they’re well-fed. Some of the theories are as follows:

1. It’s part of an involuntary natural instinct
2. They are gifts borne out of love
3. Cats think we are rubbish hunters, so are attempting to show us how it ought to be done
4. Cats are little shits

What’s puzzling us about RatGate – apart from the rat’s curly hair, which appears to be bothering many Roi followers at the moment – is that the rat looked as if it had been dead for a little while. So … had Louis Catorze killed it ages ago, stored it in some unknown place and then artfully plated it up for his papa, like a Masterchef finalist presenting a piece of 21-day hung steak?

Or – and this is more likely – had the fox killed it and saved it for later, and was Catorze passing off the fox’s efforts as his own?

Either way, I remain traumatised by the whole event, replaying it in my mind over and over again. However, something tells me that Cat Daddy may have moved on:

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A bon chat, bon rat

Just like pre-baked jacket potatoes, cycling superhighways and selfie sticks, outdoor sofas are one of those things that seem like a good idea at the time. But, if you have a cat, you may need to rethink your plans to get one. Outdoor sofas can get covered in all sorts of undesirable matter: paw prints, cat hair, dead rats, that kind of thing. And guess which one of the three greeted Cat Daddy this morning, when he went outside to enjoy his first cup of tea of the day?

When he broke the happy news to me, for some reason I felt the need to go and look to make sure he was telling the truth. He was. There, on his favourite spot on the sofa, was a large, curly-haired (nope, neither have we), 3-legged rat.

(Don’t worry: Cat Daddy found the other leg later.)

There was also evidence that a fox had been in Le Jardin but, from what I have learned about foxes’ hunting habits during the 5+ solid hours that I have since spent Googling the subject, leaving prey behind on a raised rostrum isn’t their style. Although it’s quite possible that a fox killed the rat, the podium presentation has Louis Catorze written all over it.

Whilst I shrank into a corner, weeping quietly and rocking back and forth, Cat Daddy remained admirably stoical as he grabbed the gloves, spade and bin bags. I would dispute his theory that “if Louis Catorze had really done it, he would have brought the rat indoors.” No: he didn’t bring it indoors because he COULDN’T (although I bet he gave it his best shot). This thing was at least 30cm long from nose to tail, and probably a good 1/3 of the little sod’s own body weight. And it certainly explains why he was curiously absent for much of last night instead of snuggling up with us and watching the heptathlon and the long jump.

So the outdoor sofa cushion covers are drying outside and our bed linen is next, because we doubt that notre ami mutuel washed his paws this morning before tricking us into unsuspecting bed cuddles.

Here he is, looking very sorry for all the bother he has caused, with stuff on his face that I really hope are cobwebs but I expect they are some sort of nasty rat granules.

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