J’adore harceler les chiens

Now that the Forbidden Greenhouse is no more, it is super-easy for Louis Catorze to shimmy out through the gap in the fence and hang out in the school playground at The Back. Previously he would have to pick his way delicately through the various piled-up bikes and gardening implements, but now he just slips through in an instant. And he loves it.

Unfortunately we have discovered that Catorze pitter-patters the length of the fence that separates the houses from the playground, and Oscar the dog can sense this. Oh yes: it seems that Oscar doesn’t need to see or hear Sa Maj to get angry with him, and that one whiff of his tantalising lime* scent on the other side of the fence is enough to send him into a frenzy. And, of course, he has no way of squeezing through himself to send the little sod packing. So he is left looking like an utter lunatic, appearing to bark at the fence/bugs/thin air, when we know that, yet again, it’s highly likely to be Catorze’s fault.

So now we can add that to the ever-expanding list of increased opportunities for Sa Maj to annoy poor Oscar. We could, of course, block up the hole in the fence, but there are numerous ways of getting through from other neighbours’ gardens. And, should Sa Maj have an unfortunate encounter in the playground with foxes or marauding teenagers, we would rather his route back to Le Château be straightforward. So there is nothing we can do about it. except keep apologising repeatedly to la famille Oscar.

I shall say it again: it’s a good thing we are such good friends with them.

*Yes, Le Roi smells of lime with a hint of flowers. Nobody knows why, but he does. No doubt you will have questions, so please see below (although don’t expect any answers):

Discovery of the lime scent: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/02/17/quelle-est-cette-odeur-agreable/

More lime: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/03/11/dou-vient-ce-citron-vert/

The citrus mystery continues: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/03/19/la-menthe-au-citron-vert/

The hilarity of the failed test: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/06/27/la-creme-de-menthe/

Attention aux courges butternut

Beware of butternut squash, Mesdames et Messieurs. No, not marauding street ones wearing hockey masks and carrying chain saws, but the innocent-looking seeds that you unsuspectingly toss into the compost heap.

Thanks to the amazing richness of the soil around our compost heap, Cat Daddy and I have managed to grow a butternut squash without even trying. This is good, right? Well, the bonus dinner ingredient is quite a result, but the plant is an absolute beast, sprawling everywhere like a flesh-eating triffid and suffocating everything in its path. And nobody seems to tell you this, but both the stems and the leaves expel tiny, invisible barbs.

I should have guessed that it was a nasty plant when, instead of stepping over it or brushing past it, Louis Catorze would clear it with a massive leap (which won’t be helping his knee one bit). I thought at the time that he was just being dramatic but, if an idiot like Catorze is prepared to take such pains to avoid this plant, there is obviously a reason. Even a cautious cat absentmindedly brushing past could find itself speared but, should your cat have a more gung-ho temperament and be inclined to frolic around in your vegetable patch, this could spell very bad news indeed.

Given all the health issues we already have with Catorze, we really didn’t want to be picking painful barbs out of his skin, too. So Cat Daddy got to work destroying the evil plant and sweeping the barbs off the path (which was quite some feat given that they are invisible), whilst I chopped up the monster tendrils into more manageable pieces for the garden waste bag. All that is left now is the main stem bearing the single fruit.

And Le Roi sat and slow-blinked at us throughout these measures intended for his protection, watching us get painfully skewered and disembowelled. It would appear that he is not as stupid as we thought.

Here he is, snuggling up to the butternut squash and continuing, inexplicably, to remain a barb-free zone. I’m prepared to bet Le Château on the fact that he won’t sit this nicely with the pumpkin I have bought for his official Halloween portrait.

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Quelle est cette odeur agréable?

Curious things are afoot once again at Le Château: last week, Louis Catorze trotted in through the cat flap, tail aloft, smelling from top to toe of lime essential oil, and he’s smelled of it ever since.

We pondered the following possible explanations:

1. He has been rubbing up against some sort of strange plant.
2. Someone who uses lime-scented body lotion or perfume has been snuggling him during the day, whilst we are at work.
3. He’s annoyed the crap out of some poor person, who has sprayed their surroundings with an anti-cat concoction after reading that cats hate citrus.

We like to think it’s option 2. But, knowing Louis Catorze, it’s far more likely to be option 3. We can understand someone being exasperated with him to the point of desperate measures; we know that feeling very well. And, judging by the lime dearth in the supermarket, it seems that Catorze is displeasing either all of the people some of the time, or some of the people all of the time:

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Not that any of this bothers him in the slightest; he’s kite-high on his steroid shot so, to be quite honest, we could dunk him in anything right now and he wouldn’t notice or care. And it’s made cuddling him in bed so much more pleasant.

A friend of mine asked me how I felt about someone else snuggling Louis Catorze when we’re not around. I guess some people may not feel at ease with this, but, as long as he’s happy and he’s not being given any food, I don’t mind. I even thought about Sellotaping his Atopica and syringe to his body, with a polite note asking the unknown snuggler, while they’re about it, if they’d kindly oblige. Deux oiseaux, and all that.

The same friend also asked how I felt about the idea of someone spraying citrus all over the place to keep Catorze out. Cat Daddy chimed in, “If he’s even HALF as annoying to them as he is to us, I’ll hand them the spray myself.” Right.

I don’t suppose Le Mystère du Citron Vert will ever be solved – Roi mysteries never are, #becauseRoi – but, for now, I shall take heart in the fact that he’s never smelled better. Lime with a hint of flowers certainly beats his usual aroma of overripe-Brie-meets-dead-sheep.