Le rendez-vous d’affaires

Now that Louis Catorze is officially a teenager, he is doing what teenagers do and spending most of his time out. I barely see him these days; although he’s beside me when I wake up, as soon as he’s had his breakfast he’s off out again.

Nobody knows where he goes or what he does … or, at least, we didn’t know until Mamma Next Door sent me this photo:

Discussing the security implications of a protracted conflict in Sudan?

Catorze appears to be deeply involved in ICB* with Blue the Smoke Bengal. Relations between them have been, erm, somewhat mixed until now – and, naturellement, this was entirely Catorze’s fault for being a miserable sod – so I am delighted to see them getting along.

*Important Cat Business

I wish I knew what they were talking about. I like to think Catorze was giving Blue some fox-avoidance tips as poor Blue has been the victim of foxy bullying in the past, whereas foxes either ignore Catorze (not a worthwhile snack) or run away from him (no idea what he is).

However, it’s quite possible that Blue was the one passing on advice to Catorze. And, since Blue is a highly prolific hunter with some impressive kills on his rap sheet, this could have disastrous consequences …

Partager les tâches ménagères

We all know how much Louis Catorze enjoys Rodent Duty, but it seems that he has bountifully decided to share the joy with his comrades. Blue the Smoke Bengal – who hasn’t really visited us much since that time Catorze hissed at him in front of the whole street – has decided to join the party.

Catorze was enjoying Boys’ Club one night when he suddenly jumped off his papa’s lap and shot through the Sureflap. However, he didn’t rush fully out and, instead, remained in the wall tunnel in the wall for a few seconds, with his silly tail sticking out from under the Sureflap door, surveying the situation before deciding what to do. We then realised that Blue was in the garden, hovering curiously around the Rodent Duty site.

Catorze flew out of the Sureflap and, for an awful moment, we thought we would have to peel him off poor Blue and shamefacedly confess to his mamma that our little sod had attacked him. But, instead of launching himself upon Blue, he stopped just short of him and the pair of them stared at each other. They remained staring for a minute or two before Catorze obviously said something unpleasant, and poor Blue took off through the gap in the fence to the Zone Libre. (Yes, despite his, erm, superior poundage, Blue still fits through the gap.)

Could the Sun King’s icy heart be thawing in his old age? Or is he just seizing the opportunity to delegate one of his jobs to someone else and pass off their handiwork as his own?

“And, when you find it, bring it to moi so that I can claim la gloire.”

Une famille de rongeurs

It’s not often that we catch Louis Catorze doing sensible things but, every now and again, it happens. And luckily I have photographic proof, otherwise I don’t think anyone would believe me.

Cat Daddy spotted him the other day at a new Rodent Duty station: underneath the bird feeder, staring intently at the spot where the bits fall. This makes absolute sense as a place, and it has answered our questions about how on earth he is finding all these mice/voles/shrews/moles/whatever.

The day after taking this picture, we saw him leap headlong into the sage, with his tail thrashing furiously. He didn’t emerge with a prize on that occasion, but it’s only a matter of time, n’est-ce pas?

Is it cruel for us to (indirectly) lure creatures to their death like this? Or is Catorze performing a vital civic duty?

Softly softly, catchee mousey.

La limace (Partie 2)

Oh. Mon. Dieu. There is a huge orange slug on our garden path, all mangled and mashed with its innards leaking out. And Louis Catorze has licked it.

We have no idea how it came to be in such a state. Cat Daddy accused me of stepping on it, but I know I didn’t: the soles of my shoes are free from slug juice and, more importantly, there’s no way I would fail to see a huge orange slug. His shoes are also dry (Cat Daddy’s, I mean, not the slug’s). And, curiously, there are no juicy footprints leading away from the oozing corpse. But we can be certain that Catorze licked it. I saw him with my own eyes.

Yes, we have Googled “Is slug juice toxic to cats?” And, yes, we now wish we hadn’t. The worst thing is that we can’t trust Catorze not to do it again, since he has previous when it comes to undesirable encounters with slugs and a general propensity for doing exactly the opposite of what we want.

Meanwhile, the little sod is happily pitter-pattering around, appearing to be perfectly well. If he’s about to drop dead from slug juice poisoning, he doesn’t know (or care).

We know where that tongue has been.

La sirène d’alerte aérienne

One of the good things about having a black cat is that, if they’re raising hell in public, you can always pretend it must be some other cat. I have had to do this around 8,073 times (each) with Louis Catorze and his big brother, Luther, so I’m used to it by now.

However, it’s rather difficult to deny it in the following circumstances:

1. The hell is raised in broad daylight.

2. The hell is raised in an elevated area surrounded by multiple houses.

3. The hell is raised in the early hours of the morning, when everything is quiet, so people are likely to hear it and investigate.

5. Your cat is unusually small, so onlookers know instantly that he’s yours.

6. Another cat is with him, so the sense of scale makes it even more evident that the small black hellraiser is your cat.

7. Your cat still has the Eye of Sauron on his body from a bald patch that just won’t go away, again making identification very easy. (He’s fine, by the way. The vet says steroids can delay hair regrowth, although we’re to book another appointment if it’s not improved in a couple of weeks.)

Still staring creepily even when his back is turned.

A few days ago, we had each and every one of the above factors working against us.

When I was getting ready to go to work a couple of mornings ago, I heard the familiar sound of a parakeet shrieking. Somehow you can tell when it’s an altercation as opposed to just generic shrieking and this was, without a doubt, an altercation. I looked out, fully expecting Catorze but, to my surprise, he was accompanied by Beefy Tabby Tigger, a local unneutered male whom everyone hates but who, bizarrely, gets along very well with Catorze. The two of them were hanging out on top of our trellis and next door’s shed, and a parakeet, perched atop the telegraph wires above them, was hollering its lungs out.

Naturellement, as soon as he saw me, Catorze decided to flee from the scene of the crime. I wasn’t quick enough to photograph him on the trellis but here he is, absconding, with Tigger and the shrieking parakeet looking on:

What the actual HECK?

I imagine that the parakeet was either warning its buddies of not one but TWO predators below, of which one appeared to have a third eye. Or maybe it was shrieking at them to go away so that it could swoop down and steal some of the food that Cat Daddy puts out for the goldfinches. Either way, it was loud enough for me to go and look. And so, I imagine, did all our neighbours. (Sorry, if any of you are reading this.)

How does an ageing cat have the time or the inclination for any of this nonsense? I can’t figure it/him out, nor do I think I ever will.

Le pain à l’estragon

Cat Daddy is coping well with life under house arrest. Over the weekend he conducted numerous experiments to see whether wine eased the symptoms of Covid, but unfortunately he can’t remember any of the results so he says he’s going to have to repeat them.

In other news, Cat Daddy’s tarragon is starting to sprout again (not a euphemism; I do mean actual tarragon). And so, naturellement, Louis Catorze has felt compelled to sit his arse on top of it, having shown zero interest in the trough when it was just soil.

Luckily the tarragon has been dislodged/bent to one side by the royal rump, so none of the herb has actually come into contact with anywhere unmentionable. But this is still far from being an optimal situation.

Hark! Do you hear the sound of Unrepeatable Expletives ringing out through the springtime air?

Cat Daddy is absolutely livid, but there’s nothing he can do about it. He’s already busy enough devising inventive ways of getting one over on the squirrels and the pigeons, and he simply doesn’t have time to police another individual too (ironically, the very one whose responsibility it is to fend off the squirrels and the pigeons).

Will Cat Daddy succeed in deterring the royal rump? Stay tuned …

Le siège royal

Louis Catorze appears to be on some sort of hunger strike. He’s eaten pitifully little since we returned from holiday, and I imagine it’s either because of the warm weather, or because he’s just an idiot. I’m leaning more towards the latter.

Everything else about him is “normal” – in fact, the other day he escaped out at The Front and screamed at a French passer-by who cuddled him and spoke to him in French – so we are not too concerned. But, obviously, if his lack of appetite continues at length, we will have to take him to the vet again. As a last resort we still have an Ace of Spades up our sleeves: one of the appetite-enhancing pills that turned him into an eating, screaming, bug-eyed maniac at the end of last year. However, it’s not for the faint-hearted, and Cat Daddy and I need time to psych ourselves up before we deploy that.

Catorze is, however, very much enjoying his alfresco Boys’ Club sessions with Cat Daddy. And – merci à Dieu – he also appears to have stopped scratching the cushions, although no doubt that will change the minute this post goes live.

Because the back support cushions are so thick and sturdy – much more so than the old ones – he can sit on the top edges and survey his royaume. He can see all the way down the garden, right to where the Zone Occupée meets the Zone Libre, which means that Rodent Duty can be conducted with a comfortable, soft surface beneath la personne royale instead of having to sit on the ground. I am sure you will agree that this is far more fitting for a king.

Here he is, having outdoor fun with his papa:

In his happy place.
Watching the sunset.

Le canapé en plein air

Before we went on holiday, we took delivery of some new waterproof cushions for our outdoor sofa. (The previous ones were neither waterproof nor machine-washable, making them as unfit for purpose as can possibly be, although we did insist on washing them after the incident with the curly-haired rat: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/)

The collection consists of sitting-on cushions and back support cushions, plus two Roi-sized ones for the footstools/cat plinths. The plinths are Louis Catorze’s favourite place to sit, especially during thunderstorms, because he can remain dry whilst listening to the soothing sound of the rain around him.

Anyway, the cushions had been on the sofa for about 0.4 seconds when Catorze decided to investigate. And it took him a further 0.2 seconds to start scratching. So it seems we have not bought new cushions for our outdoor sofa; we have, in fact, spent a four-figure sum on an enormous, custom-made scratching post for our bastard cat.

I don’t recall ever seeing him scratching the old cushions, not once.

Here is the disaster as it unfolded. Or, rather, here is the first disaster of what will, no doubt, prove to be many:

The Incident.
Eyeballing Cat Daddy (and continuing to scratch) as we both yell at him.
Happy atop one of his plinths.
Smug in the knowledge that we’re going to have to leave the cushions unattended sooner or later.

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 Occupée (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.