Le pouvoir du vampire

This week I asked some of my students whether they liked dogs or cats. They said cats. This is the correct answer.

The conversation then led to our own cats, past and present, including, of course, Louis Catorze, and at the end of the lesson I showed them a photo of him. They were utterly spellbound and speechless at the sight of his magnificent vampire fangs.

“Miss, he’s REALLY beautiful!” they exclaimed. “Can we see more pictures? Can we just look at cat pictures next lesson instead of doing work?” They will never know how much I wanted to say yes to this. French pluperfect tense grammar rules or cat photos? It’s a no-brainier, oui?

Anyway, the students now appear to be under the impression that people would pay a fortune for a black vampire cat, and they are devising a Dragons’ Den-worthy scheme to get rich by breeding Le Roi and having his hypothetical Reine birth lots of fanged babies. Cat Daddy spat his tea all over his newspaper when I told him this, and said, “Bad, bad idea. One: he has freakish physical and mental abnormalities that are best not passed on. Two: females aren’t his thing. Three: he has no balls and can’t reproduce anyway.”

Good points, well made. But, as the little sod’s big day approaches, I’m with my students on this one. I think that we have been blessed with a very special gift indeed, because who DOESN’T want a vampire cat at Hallowe’en? And it is my civic duty to share this gift with the world.

Cat Daddy again: “No. It’s really not.”

Que Dieu ait son âme

I am taking a break from Le Château this weekend, leaving Boys’ Club to itself – Cat Daddy has assured me that he will “try to remember” to feed and water Louis Catorze – and I have escaped to the south coast for my annual Halloweekend celebration with my sister and her family.

It’s a tradition that we started some years ago and still continue to this day, and this time I am lucky enough to be a guest in their lovely town house overlooking the sea. My sister doesn’t have any cats but she does have a homicidal Hitchcock-esque seagull, easily big enough to carry off Catorze should it feel so inclined, who lives on her roof and who dive-bombs passers-by every now and again. So I haven’t entirely escaped from unhinged animals who want to kill me.

To help us decide what to do this weekend, we have been taking inspiration from Tina Brown’s book “Haunted Experiences in Hastings and Beyond”. The last chapter is entitled “Ghostly Animals” and, would you believe, it turns out that they’re all cats. Every. Last. One.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: it seems that, whilst other animals have got the hang of the whole resting in peace thing, cats haven’t (or don’t want to). Even death is not enough to stop the little sods from driving us round the bend. I am shocked but not the slightest bit surprised.

Do you have any scary cat stories? Have you encountered any ghost cats, or have your living cats ever freaked you out with their kitty ESP, their spirit-spotting capabilities or their general creepiness? If so, I would love to hear all about it.

Le voyage des pèlerins

Hallowe’en is over for another year, which makes me a little sad, although living all year round with a black vampire kitty means that every day is Hallowe’en here at Le Château. And, yes, we succeeded in keeping Louis Catorze under lockdown on the night of the 31st, with the little sod only managing to escape once. 

Best moment of the Hallowe’en season? Catorze’s conspicuous indifference to the severed zombie hand. And, having transferred Le Blog to the new domain louiscatorze.com*, I can now post videos, so see below for some splendid non-giving of a merde from Le Roi: 

*Cat Daddy: “Louiscatorze.com? Why have you done this? You only need to do this if you’re going to sell Louis Catorze merchandise. Are you going to sell Louis Catorze merchandise? Please don’t sell Louis Catorze merchandise.”

This time of year is traditionally for remembering loved ones who have passed on. We have certainly been doing that, but I have also resolved to spend some time looking back at the Sun King’s visitors’ book and remembering the pilgrims who have come to pay homage to him. 

I have been pretty rubbish at printing out the pilgrims’ photos and, until now, they have remained pointlessly trapped in my camera roll. But, thanks to a friend kicking me into action, they are now all in the book alongside the pilgrims’ lovely little notes. Having a picture of Catorze with each visitor really does make the book and, better yet, we have a VERY special visit due later this month. The details shall be revealed nearer the time, but I am excited beyond belief and I know that Catorze is, too. 

Thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to visit Sa Maj and bring him gifts. He really does appreciate it, although he needs to work on showing it. 

Le meilleur ami de l’homme

One of my cat-loving friends has just got a DOG. If you are following Le Blog it’s likely that you are a cat person, so you will understand what an apocalyptically big deal it is for someone to leave our ranks and defect to the Dark Side. That said, given that dogs are loyal and loving and cats are psychopaths who don’t care if we live or die, it’s possible that our side IS the Dark Side and that my friend had to save herself by whatever means possible. 

I knew that she was thinking about getting a dog, because we spent a whole afternoon together Googling “Dogs that smell” and “Dogs that don’t smell” to help her to choose her breed accordingly. (Dog owners: sorry, but your houses can smell doggy. You don’t notice because you have become accustomed to it, and people don’t tell you because they are trying to be polite, but I’m afraid it’s true.) However, I didn’t know she’d actually got the dog until I went round to her place and her partner answered the door holding a trembling, honey-coloured ball of fur half the size of Louis Catorze. 

“Surprise!” my friend trilled. “This is Nala! I didn’t tell you about her because I wasn’t sure you’d want to come round if you knew she was here.”

“Erm, you’re right. I probably wouldn’t,” I replied. 

“I know you’re not a dog person,” she continued, “but she’s about the same size as a small cat, isn’t she? So, erm, maybe you could just PRETEND she’s a cat?” Right. 

Anyway, I spent the afternoon with little Nala and, apart from one pooing incident – fortunately nowhere near my person nor near my possessions – all went well. And, when I returned home, far from being repulsed by me (as he usually is), Catorze sniffed and nuzzled me, rolled all over me and purred like an aeroplane taking off. 

So does this mean that our cat is … part-dog? He certainly has some dog-like qualities (following people around, wagging his tail when happy, being irresistibly drawn to dogs even if they are displaying all the signs of wanting to kill him, etc.). The one area where they differ is their compliance with humiliating Hallowe’en outfits and, luckily, Nala has been able to compensate for Sa Maj’s shortcomings. 

As you can see, she was very obliging and happily dressed up whereas Catorze, despite usually being a lover and not a fighter, would tear my skin to shreds and watch me bleed to death if I attempted to put clothing on him. (Don’t ask me how I know this.) However, he and I did manage to produce a passable official Hallowe’en portrait this year, unlike last year when there was just one moderately decent shot out of about a hundred attempts, produced two months too late for the event.

Happy Hallowe’en from all of us (including Nala), and may your furry overlords of whatever species behave themselves tonight. 

Le lion a suffisamment de dents pour se sentir bien dehors

Have you ever seen one of those 1980s movies where the small-town neighbourhood bad boy is undignifiedly hauled home to his parents by the local sheriff? (I haven’t, but I am sure that it must have happened in some 1980s movie at some time.) 

Well, Louis Catorze’s troublemaking-about-town has reached such a level that neighbours have started knocking at our door to return him to us. Cat Daddy is BEYOND mortified about this although, curiously, he fails to see that it wouldn’t be a problem if we* were more vigilant about keeping The Front under lockdown.

*HE

The first time that this happened, Catorze had slipped out unnoticed at The Front and his screaming could be heard from the living room of one neighbour, disturbing his TV viewing. A couple of weeks ago, he had slipped out unnoticed again and had tried to get into the same neighbour’s house as their dinner guests were leaving. And the most recent incident involved him slipping out unnoticed YET AGAIN (I think I may detect a pattern here) and ambushing Oscar the dog’s mamma and sister, screaming, as they left the house. They politely knocked at the door a few nights ago and said, “Louis is outside at The Front, and we just wanted to check that you knew?” Erm … no. 

I never know what to say when the little sod is returned to us. I can’t even lie and say, “He’s never behaved like this before” because it tends to be the same people who keep bringing him back, and they all know what he’s like. 

I am trying EXTREMELY hard to be careful at The Front, but Cat Daddy is somewhat more, erm, relaxed when he puts out the recycling. With Hallowe’en – which I am spelling authentically for the first time ever – around the corner, and the very real danger of Catorze being mistaken for a novelty vampire cat toy and scooped up into some kid’s treat bag, we need to up our game. (Yes, most cats would probably loudly and violently object to being carried off by a gang of sugar-high youngsters, but this is Sa Maj we’re talking about.)

And I have just checked my calendar and realised that it’s a full moon tonight which, let’s face it, adds another complication into the mix that we really don’t need. Someone needs to intercept The Mothership’s transmissions très rapidement. 

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Thank you to Emily for this amazing photo of the little sod who is, most unusually, moving AWAY from the front door

Les feux d’artifice

So now we know why The Day of the Dead is so called: in the days after our Halloween festivities, none of us were fit for anything. Including Louis Catorze:

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Sadly we never managed to get the little sod to pose with a pumpkin for his official Halloween portrait. However, Cat Daddy had a chat with his boy before the merriment started, reminding him that it was his time to shine, and it would appear that some of this actually registered in the dim recesses of the royal non-brain. Seemingly oblivious to Marilyn Manson blasting out behind him through enormous speakers, Louis Catorze relaxed on his chaise longue all evening, purring and slow-blinking away, happily let Cat Daddy scoop him up and present our vampire-fanged Halloween kitty to each group of visitors, then pitter-pattered back to his chaise to wait for the next group. We can’t think of many cats who would have gone along with this.

Bonfire Night will be upon us this weekend, which means more chaos and disruption and a flurry of warnings posted on social media by animal behaviourists and veterinary practices. Louis Catorze has already been put to the test by fireworks on all sides of Le Château, every evening since the weekend before Halloween, and his response has been … to tip his head to one side, listen intently, then go about his regular cat business as if nothing were amiss. Sometimes he even goes out to investigate (at The Back, of course: The Front is still on lockdown as I don’t consider the season to be fully stupid-cat-safe yet).

I know: we are INCREDIBLY lucky that he is so accepting of fireworks, and this is one of those moments when a lack of fear/brains has its benefits.

If your cat is the stressy sort, I genuinely feel for you. Easier said than done, I know, but even the stupid ones pick up on our worry, so try as much as you can not to stress on their behalf. I hope that creating a relaxed atmosphere at home – Feliway, catnip for kitty and a hefty glass of bourbon for yourself – will help to ease things.

Le chat (un poème spécial pour la fête d’Halloween)

B9116EC7-7EFA-4767-9947-6514114EB0AFOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I slumbered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, sweetly dreaming, suddenly I was blaspheming,
As of some one loudly screaming, screaming at my chamber door —
“’Tis some little sod,” I muttered, “screaming at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I was sober, for I know it was October;
And each waft of limey odour chilled me to my very core.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
For my eyes, no sleep, just sorrow – sorrow at the screaming jaws —
Of the loud and rude shitweasel whom the demons name Catorze —
Bugging me for evermore.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Votre Majesté” said I, “truly some silence I implore.
But the fact is I was dreaming, and you caused my wild blaspheming.
And so loudly you came screaming, screaming at my chamber door;
That I know full well I heard you” — here I opened wide the door —
Darkness there and nothing more.

Back into the chamber, learning that my ears were still a-burning,
All at once I heard paws turning, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is how the Sun King pitter-patters;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, this vile din I can’t ignore —
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore —
’Tis Le Roi and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
Pitter-pattered a small Sun King, tail aloft with odious roar;
“Though thy fur be foul and gritty, thou,” I said, “‘tis quite a pity,
Ghastly, grim and noisy kitty, wandering fresh from canine war —
Tell me what the heck you want now, for thy screaming’s quite a bore!” —
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

“Salaud!” said I, “thing of evil! – little sod, if cat or devil!
He’s a fiend that walks among us, fangèd demon with four paws –
Tell my face with mouth a-yawning if, before the new year’s dawning,
I shall see a peaceful morning sans disturbance from Catorze.
Take away this hellish racket, now; begone, thy screaming jaws!”
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, cat or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting.
“Get thee back into le salon, sur la chaise that you adore!
Leave no cat hair as a token of that scream thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my cursèd sleep unbroken! Quit my chamber, out the door! —
Take thy face from out my sight, and take thine arse from off my floor!” —
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

And the Sun King, fangs a-gleaming, still is screaming, still is screaming
By the basking bust of Bastet just beside my chamber door;
And my eyes have not stopped weeping: thanks to him, I am not sleeping,
And the lamp-light o’er him creeping throws his shadow on the floor —
And my peace, ‘cause of that crotte de merde who’s screaming at my door —
Shall be granted — nevermore!