Minuit dans le jardin du bien et du mal*

*Yes, of course the “mal” is our mutual friend. Who else would it be?

Louis Catorze appears to have adopted Teenage Me’s body clock: sleeping all day and partying all night.

The little sod goes out at dusk and eventually rolls in between around 4am and 5am every morning. At night, The Back is transformed into a magical place. Because the garden faces north-west, and because we are not overlooked by anyone, we are blessed with everlasting summer sunsets that deliver an enchanting light display.

Le Roi is on high alert at this time, having slept throughout most of the day to power up for after-dark tomfoolery, and his creepy kitty sixth sense picks up all sorts of animal sounds inaudible to us. Cat Daddy swears he can hear the snails chomping away at the leaves, and he constantly berates Catorze for not doing enough to destroy them.

(Incidentally, Cat Daddy hates the snails as much as he hates the pigeons and the squirrels. “I found one on my chervil plant the other day. That’s my f***ing dinner he was eating! What a ****.”)

Catorze’s favourite thing to do is to sit and stare at the virginia creeper, as if absorbing the sounds inside, sometimes bird-chattering at the invisible prey, then launch himself into the leaves to pounce on thin air.

Seeing our old, haggard boy frolicking around with the life and vigour of a young kitten is a heartwarming sight. During their most recent Boys’ Club en plein air, Cat Daddy thought it might be cute to take some pictures.

It wasn’t.

Just look at the horror show that resulted from that photo session. NOW do you believe me when I say Catorze is the devil himself?

Good grief.
Oh. Doux. Jésus.
What the hell even IS this?

Journal d’une Chatière (Partie 6)

Good news: our new Sureflap has been installed. Bad news: I left Cat Daddy in charge of programming in Louis Catorze’s microchip, and it did not go well.

There was no real way of me monitoring the proceedings, with Raf the builder doing the job at 8am on a week day. But I didn’t think Cat Daddy would make QUITE the stuff-up of it that he did, manhandling a non-compliant and whiny Roi, stressing me out at work with messages telling me that the Sureflap still wasn’t letting him in, and so on. It’s just as well Sa Maj likes the garden, because he spent a hell of a lot of time in it that day.

Just as I was wondering whether we would have to take Catorze back to the vet to have his chip checked again, Cat Daddy confirmed that it had been “user error” and that he’d forgotten to press the memorising button before shoving Catorze through.

Anyway, Cat Daddy eventually managed to programme Catorze’s chip, and he did so without also programming those of Donnie, Blue the Smoke Bengal, beefy tabby Tigger and whoever else might feel like popping in, so Le Château‘s drawbridge is firmly up. And Catorze sought revenge on his papa for the whole sorry saga by squishing his newly-planted tarragon.

Cat Daddy: “He’s done this on purpose.” You think?

Tarragon hidden from view under Catorzian arse.

La guirlande lumineuse

The pesky squirrels have chewed, multiple times, through the wires of the pretty solar-powered garden lights that the Dog Family gave to Cat Daddy for his birthday. Of a string of around twenty lights, only four now work. And Cat Daddy is not happy about it.

After Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind and threats to obtain a firearm, Cat Daddy decided to … buy a new set of lights. Now, I don’t wish to victim-blame but this is asking for trouble, in the same way at that, if one’s Lexus were vandalised, it would not be advisable to buy an identical new Lexus and park it in the same spot the very next day.

Cat Daddy has also bought some new fruit trees for the garden, despite Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma telling us that the squirrels stole the figs and peaches from her trees last year. So, as well as parking a new Lexus in the same place where vandals targeted his old one, he’s also effectively bought several brand new Lexuses (Lexi?) and dotted them tantalisingly around a neighbourhood known for Lexus theft. Oh dear.

This is only going to fuel Cat Daddy’s already-raging hatred for the squirrels. But he’s done it now, so it’s too late.

The new string of lights looked lovely trailing around the honeysuckle trellis and across the fence and the shed roof … until Cat Daddy remembered that he had to paint the fence, so there was a second round of unrepeatable expletives when they all came down again.

This area also happens to be Louis Catorze’s route to Twiggy the greyhound’s place, so we may have to rethink when they go back up. Cats are supposed to be able to deftly pitter-patter through even the trickiest of obstacles – there’s a YouTube cat who can run across a floor covered in dominos without toppling a single one – but this is Catorze we’re talking about. I can well imagine going outside to find him flailing and screaming among the wires, like a fly caught on that sticky paper (not that flies scream, but you know what I mean).

The fence painting is going on right now as I write. But, when Cat Daddy has finished, I might ask him to nail the lights slightly lower, to facilitate the Catorzian exit route. And his painting supervisor (pictured below) agrees.

“You’ve missed a bit, papa.”

La gloire du chasseur

Because Louis Catorze has a patellar luxation in both back legs, exerting himself too much is bad for him. We know this. You know this. However, he doesn’t appear to know this. And, if he does know, he doesn’t care.

First of all, last week, I noticed that he was prowling suspiciously around the kitchen, and this culminated in him diving behind the kitchen bin and emerging with a mouse in his mouth. (And, before you say anything, he was probably the one who brought in the mouse in the first place, so he isn’t a hero by any means.)

Then Blue the Smoke Bengal popped by to say hello the other day. Catorze is friendly to every other cat who comes through our garden but he won’t tolerate Blue, so he shot after him down the garden path, all puff-tailed and offended. He was then up and over the fence and the shed rooftops, chasing poor Blue all the way home. Not content with seeing him off, Catorze then settled on top of Oscar the dog’s shed roof and stared creepily down into Blue’s garden, to intimidate him into staying put.

Cat Daddy went to the shops and, when he came back, Catorze was still in exactly the same spot. And, embarrassingly, Cat Daddy had bumped into Blue’s mamma on his way home and had told her that the two cats were “sort of playing”.

We had no idea what to do. So we, erm, went to the attic for a better look, and to try to take some photos.

By the time we got there, however, things had intensified: Catorze had chased Blue all the way into the Zone Libre and across the school playing field, right up to the houses neighbouring Twiggy the greyhound’s place. After being cornered for a short while underneath one of the outdoor tables, Blue raced back home, pursued by Catorze, except this time Catorze was WALKING. No doubt he was channelling Michael Myers from Halloween, who never fails to catch up with his victims even though they’re always running and he’s always walking.

We are flabbergasted, not only because Catorze is supposed to be ill/injured but also because Blue is considerably larger and could finish him in an instant, if he were so inclined. And we realise that we may have been naive to assume that Catorze would simply rest his ravaged body, instead of – as ever – doing exactly the opposite of what we want.

Here he is, photographed just before the chase moved to the Zone Libre. Is this the face of a sick animal?

Not a merde was giv’n on this fine day.

Le fief du Roi

Cat Daddy just called the patio “the catio” by accident. He claims that he yawned in the middle of saying the word, which caused it to come out the way it did. Whatever.

The thing is, I don’t think he knows what a catio is or is even aware that it’s an actual thing. (For others like him: a catio is a kind of wire mesh outdoor conservatory attached to one’s house, so that cats think they’re outside but remain secured and out of mischief.) My belief is that, rather than having this particular structure in mind, Cat Daddy’s subconscious intention was to rename our outside space as something that belongs, and has always belonged, to Louis Catorze.

I think his version is better.

Here is Catorze, relaxing in/on his catio, and he certainly looks as if he owns the place:

He loves his space almost as much as he loves himself.

Journal d’une chatière

LOUIS CATORZE EST SANS CÔNE. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: after 7.5 weeks of being Côned, he was freed a day or two ago (but we didn’t blog it immediately in case it all turned to merde and we had to reCône him again).

Had we not been in lockdown we probably would have unCôned him a little earlier, but we didn’t want to risk him scratching his delicate bald skin and developing an infection at a time when the vets are inundated and only taking emergency appointments. To be absolutely safe, we agreed to let a little more fur grow back around his eyes to form a protective layer against scratching or over-zealous washing and, although it took AGES, we are really, really glad we waited.

The good news is that he is now able to fit through the tiny gap that takes him from the Zone Occupé (Le Château) into the Zone Libre (the playground at The Back).

The bad news is that he has completely forgotten where/what the cat flap is, and how to use it. This is rather troubling as his initial cat flap training, when he first came to live with us, was quite arduous, with him taking around five and a half months to learn how to go out and another couple of weeks to learn how to come in again.

Curiously, he is more than able to scale huge fences and cross from garden to garden (see below). THAT part of his brain has somehow survived the Côning. But he no longer knows how to push his silly, empty head against a little door that he has used about 837 times a day for the last 5 years.

Cat Daddy: “Don’t tell me we’re going to have to retrain him?”

Me: “Erm …”

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable expletives]”

Oh well. The one thing we have right now is time.

2-metre fence? Aucun problème. Cat flap? NON.

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/

Sous le soleil

Quelle joie: the Forbidden Greenhouse is no more! As you may be aware, this was Louis Catorze’s go-to place during heatwaves, so we were just in time before he could cook himself during Saturday’s 33-degree scorcher. (And, yes, we know perfectly well that, if it’s hotter than the depths of hell and you’re a black animal covered in fur, basking in a greenhouse like one of those desert lizards isn’t a very good idea, but this is Catorze we’re talking about.) Anyway, what a relief to no longer have to worry about a potential “Cat dies in hot greenhouse” shocker, with me protesting, “But he CHOSE to go in there, and he kicked me in the face when I tried to pull him out!” as the baying mob come for me with their flaming torches and pitchforks.

The crumbling shed has also gone and Cat Daddy has treated himself to a whizzy new one with a sedum roof, despite the obvious risk of Catorze finding some way to ruin it. We are very pleased with it and we are now taking bets on which of the following scenarios we will see first:

  1. Sa Maj sunbathing up there
  2. Sa Maj and a friend (Cat Daddy: “He’s going to have to find one first …”) sunbathing up there together
  3. Sa Maj hunched creepily over a row of drying-out-in-the-sun mouse corpses, cackling to himself as he decides which one to lick first
  4. Some other bizarre and abnormal “You couldn’t make this up” type of incident that I haven’t thought of

All suggestions are most welcome, Mesdames et Messieurs.

Creuser sa propre tombe

We have a Code Rouge situation at Le Château: SOMEONE HAS BEEN DIGGING AROUND AMONG THE SEDUMS. Although we have no actual proof, a certain suspect ticks all the boxes in terms of past history (he did the same thing to Cat Daddy’s chilli and strawberry plants), motive (generally being a shite) and opportunity (multiple escapes at The Front since we installed the planter).

I suppose we should be trying to find a solution, but the truth is that we’re utterly defenceless against the little sod’s sorcery, i.e. Cloak of Invisibility, teleportation, astral projection or whatever the heck he does to get past us and breach the security perimeters of Le Château.

The one thing saving Louis Catorze’s royal arse at the moment is the fact that this is only a Code Rouge and not a Code Brun. (At least we hope not; we daren’t poke around in the soil to find out.)

Please see below for the evidence discovered by Cat Daddy. Any advice on how to deal with the Dark Lord and his forces of evil would be much appreciated.

L’apocalypse commence par Le Roi Soleil

Armageddon must be nigh: although Louis Catorze has escaped out at The Front about 78 times since we took delivery of our plant-topped recycling box thing, not once has he attempted to use it as a litter tray. Much as it pains and repulses me, I have been checking for signs of disturbed soil every time someone knocks at the door to return him to us, and there are none whatsoever.

Whilst we are delighted that Sa Maj is, for once, doing what we want him to do, something about it makes us rather uncomfortable and we can’t help waiting for the axe to fall at some random and inopportune moment. 

Here he is enjoying the new green surroundings of The Front, with the sedums now in place. Has he turned over a new leaf (metaphorically, I mean), or will his inherent evil triumph at some point?