La menthe des chats

So … cats and cat mint: who knew?

Well, ok, we all knew, but it’s still very funny to watch.

As you may be aware, Louis Catorze was a regular catnip user during his time at the rescue (for medicinal purposes) and, every now and again, we let him indulge in the dried stuff. In fact, when I cleared out his medicine cupboard – whose contents looked more like police-seized contraband than pet supplies – I discovered TWO containers that I had believed to be empty or near-empty, but which still contained enough gear for a couple of good sessions.

Honestly, Officer, that stuff isn’t mine.

However, I had never seen Catorze with the fresh herb until Cat Daddy, Puppy Mamma and I went to the local flower market and came home with heaps of lovely new plants. Puppy Mamma bought some cat mint as a gift for Sooty and Sweep, her babysit cats, but, when she stopped by at our place for a cup of tea before going home, someone got to the cat mint first.

Cat Daddy and I had also bought some cat mint for Catorze. When presented with his own stash, he chewed it, then rolled around on the patio – not the way you’d imagine a cute little cat roll, but more like the terrifying death roll of a crocodile drowning its prey – eventually returning to Puppy Mamma’s bag, all psycho-eyed and stoned, having decided that forbidden herbs intended for others were more fun than his own.

Below is a photo of said bag invasion, although I wish that I’d videoed it instead of taking a static picture. Catorze’s scrabbling, my laughter and Puppy Mamma’s cries of “Noooo! My Turkish delights are in there!” would have added a certain something to the whole viewing experience.

Not his bag, not his gear.

La fougère maléfique

We have a lot of bracken in the garden, and we have always rather liked the look of it.

However, when it started to grow out of control, Cat Daddy decided to research the best way of keeping it in check. That’s when he discovered that virtually every horticultural website in creation seems to regard bracken as a hideous toxic invader and best destroyed. Absolutely none of them suggest cultivating it or even controlling it; the advice is pretty much “Cut it down, burn it and also burn the tools that you used to cut it down”.

Naturellement, the moment that Cat Daddy discovered this was also the very moment that Louis Catorze decided that bracken was his favourite thing in the world. And, no, he has shown no interest in it until now. Absolutely zero.

He’s also been scratching himself on the sharp branches of the planted-out Yule tree with the Blood-Letting Needles of Death. And this may just be a coincidence, but his skin is looking ropey, even though he usually starts to look BETTER around this time of year, so we have had to increase his steroid pills to two a day again.

Cat Daddy has already dug up and rehomed our distinctive, frilly daffodils, after learning of their toxicity to cats. But now it looks as if he has more digging to do.

Here is Catorze, resting against the worst thing in the garden and lying in the shade of the second worst thing in the garden:

Just making himself comfortable amidst all the poison and death.

Un peu un phénomène

I couldn’t be more relieved (and grateful) that I did all my stupid stuff back in the 90s when there were no cameras on mobile phones. (Nor were there any mobile phones, come to think of it.)

No such luck for Louis Catorze, whose life is played out on social media for all to see. And, when Cat Daddy was going through old photos on his phone the other day, he discovered one or two of the little sod having an unguarded moment with some, erm, special herbs.

Although Catorze was a regular catnip user whilst at the rescue (for medicinal purposes, I might add) I haven’t given him much since he’s lived here with us, mainly because I don’t really know what to do with it. In this case I stuffed the dried herb into one of Cat Daddy’s socks, which greatly displeased him as they are apparently Special Cycling Socks (?), but it appeared to have the desired effect.

Anyway, here is the least flattering picture of the bunch, with the Special Sock in shot and with visible trails left by his drug-addled eye-shine and his fangs:

🎵 White lines … 🎶

L’herbe est plus verte ailleurs

cdb3257b-d34c-4791-9af0-bdc56d45ddb9Last weekend I opened one of our kitchen cupboards to find some sort of dried herb, oregano or suchlike, scattered at the bottom. I accused Cat Daddy of having spilled it, he accused me, and in the end we both cleaned it up together. But it was only after cleaning that it dawned on us that there was no such packet of herbs in that cupboard. In fact, we have no such packet of herbs in ANY cupboard: all our dried herbs are in screw-top jars and are unspillable unless someone were to make a conscious choice to open the jars and disperse the contents. 

Yesterday morning, during my usual Roi-cuddling session, the little sod first pricked up his ears, then sprang off my lap and headed straight for that cupboard. He remained in this position (see photo above) for a good 20 minutes and, when I opened the cupboard, there was more green herb scattered everywhere, as before. You can just make out the light dusting that had spilled out and onto the floor, in the area circled. 

My first thought was a rodent of some sort, most likely brought in and deposited by Louis Catorze. But rodents, being the opportunistic users that they are, tend to help themselves to anything we may have, as opposed to bringing in new matter and scattering it everywhere. And, since sniffing the herb, we have discovered that it is not, in fact, oregano. It is virtually scentless and we have not yet been able to identify it. 

So … is a mouse smuggling strange herbs into Le Château bit by bit, the way Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption tunnelled out but in reverse? Or did Catorze bring them in for some curious purpose that only he understands, and perhaps a mouse has discovered his stash and decided to tuck in? 

We have no idea what is going on, but Sa Maj is on it. Assuming he is not the one responsible for the mystery, I have a feeling he will solve it long before we do. 

Le petit coin, Partie 2: cette fois-ci c’est personnel

The vegetable patch is fighting back. Or, rather, Cat Daddy is, after catching Louis Catorze digging around yet again. The sweetcorn plants were eventually salvaged – you can spot the dug-up, flung-around ones straight away as they are much smaller than the other ones – but, this time, one of the passion flower vines has gone. And by “gone” I don’t simply mean “been uprooted”: I mean utterly vapourised without a trace, as if the plant never existed.

IMG_9060

As you can see, Cat Daddy has taken his role of Defence Minister very seriously indeed. And, yes, those are plastic forks. One of Le Blog’s lovely followers recommended them as a protective measure, so I passed the tip onto Cat Daddy; and whilst I had somehow imagined them being placed the other way up in the earth, handles pointing upwards, I can understand why Cat Daddy chose this way, for maximum pointy surface area to threaten la derrière royale.

Will it work? It’s not looking promising, I must say. Even during the impaling process Louis Catorze was ever-present, slaloming between the sticks and forks like a prize-winning Border Collie at one of those sheepdog competitions, not even deterred when Cat Daddy tried to jab him in the arse with a stick of bamboo. So his chances of staying away now that the sticks are static, are slim-to-zéro.

So now Cat Daddy and I need to agree on our next steps should the bamboo and forks not work. My idea: citrus peel and netting. Cat Daddy’s idea: inhumane bear traps and poison-tipped barbed wire.

La crème de menthe

Quelle semaine! Louis Catorze was correct in predicting that we’d vote Leave, was disastrously wrong in predicting the results of the France v Ireland game and, to top it all, is still limey and we’re no further forward in finding a reason why.

Every time I think the smell is about to fade, the little sod goes and tops up from somewhere. I have recently begun to believe that somebody’s lime mint plant could be responsible for the zesty aroma of his fur and, since catnip and mint belong to the same family, this is more or less equivalent to him going off and getting high on a neighbour’s gear. We don’t know whether to be impressed or ashamed (probably a bit of each).

The only way to know for sure, of course, was to test Catorze. So I ordered my own assortment of mint plants (including a lime mint), and the plan was to arrange them in a row and turn Catorze loose upon them. If he dived head-first into the lime mint and started snorting, we would have a winner.

Cat Daddy rolled his eyes when I told him of my plan. “There’s no mystery to solve,” he said. “Louis Catorze is healthy. His fur smells of a healthy cat. All cats smell like that.”

THEY DO NOT. My mum’s cat doesn’t. My sister’s cat doesn’t. Cocoa the babysit cat doesn’t. And you don’t even want to know what Luther smelled like.

Anyway, Cat Daddy’s objections were overruled and the test was conducted anyway. This was the pitiful sequence of events:

1. Plants are lined up (left to right: evening primrose control/decoy plant, chocolate mint, lime mint, strawberry mint – see photo 1)
2. Test subject approaches, ignores all plants and instead rolls on patio
3. Laughter from me, more rolling from test subject (see photo 2)
4. Wind blows lime mint plant over which, along with more laughter, startles test subject (see photo 3)
5. Test subject loses interest and wanders off
6. The end
7. Conclusion: inconclusive

Seriously, you couldn’t make this up if you tried. (And, yes, I’m aware that it sounds as if I have.)

Le nouveau jardin

Life is good at the moment. The bank holiday weekend is almost here, Oscar the dog’s folks are still talking to us, and Cultivate London have just about finished working on Le Jardin (“during” and “after” photos attached).

They are absolute perfectionists and have been doing it all properly, taking out every trace of cruddy old plants and putting fancy new stuff down. We now have a lovely selection of flowers and herbs for Louis Catorze to dig up and/or chew, and the little sod has already started on the mint: yesterday he regurgitated a whole, intact mint sprig, complete with leaves and flower buds.

Le Roi has been a constant companion/pest to the gardeners throughout their labours, inspecting everything, flirting and rolling at their feet.

I was initially concerned that they would get impatient with notre ami, and I could understand that maybe they wouldn’t want a stupid, annoying cat getting in their way. However, when I heard them greet him with “Hello again, mate!”, and when they proceeded to give me a detailed account of how much time he’d spent outside, which plants he’d sniffed and which spot he’d visited for les toilettes royales, I knew it was probably ok. (They didn’t call it “les toilettes royales” though.)

The fact that he’s so friendly is, no doubt, because people have been kind to him throughout his life. What a lucky little Roi he is.

La menthe au citron vert

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In an effort to solve LimeGate, my latest “thing” is to pick Louis Catorze up and thrust him into people’s faces so that they can try to identify the source of the scent. Whether they want to or not.

Here are some of the reactions so far:

Friend 1: “Ooh, yes! Lovely and citrusy!”
Friend 2: “He smells very clean and fresh. Do you bathe him?” [I reminded her of his tendency to fight like a grizzly bear when cleaned or examined. She retracted her question.]
My mum: “I’ve got a cold, so I can’t smell anything.”
Cat Daddy, without looking up from his laptop: “Go away. I’m trying to work.”

Conclusion: inconclusive.

The single helpful piece of advice came from a friend who discovered that there is a lime mint plant; now, although I had heard of chocolate mint and apple mint, lime mint is a new one to me. And the thought of Louis Catorze writhing about in this plant is considerably easier on my nerves than the prospect of a cross person subjecting him to what is basically an acid attack (kind of).

All I need to do now is find out which neighbour owns such a plant. And work out whether a photo of Catorze, plus the words “Do you have a lime mint plant? And has this cat been trashing it? If so, please call us so that we may apologise personally and replace your squashed plant”, would all fit onto an A4 poster without looking too cramped.