Protéger et servir

Cat Daddy and I are going on holiday in a few days’ time, and we have a friend coming all the way from Paris to look after Louis Catorze in our absence. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: Le Roi is going to have an ACTUAL French person as his full-time, live-in majordome/esclave.

“Do you speak French to him all the time?” she asked us. “Because I intend to. So, by the time you come back, he won’t take any notice of anything you say.”

Louis Catorze, not following instructions? Whatever next?

Anyway, Cat Daddy and I are currently putting together a set of manuals for her reference. The Château manual was complete some time ago, and contains the following sections:

1. The Sonos multimedia system
2. The kitchen appliances
3. Local places of interest

The Roi manual, which is proving to be rather more of a lengthy task, contains the following sections so far:

1. Food
2. Drink
3. Play
4. Catnip (for medicinal purposes)
5. Nocturnal gadding about
6. Brushing
7. The vet
8. Dog warfare
9. Prey, dead
10. Prey, living
11. Prey, partially-living
12. Lockdown at The Front, and how to manage escapees
13. Health and safety drill for Ocado delivery drivers

“It’ll be fine,” said Cat Daddy. “What’s the worst that could happen …?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

He continued: ” … Apart from us returning home to find the place knee-deep in dead vermin like some post-apocalyptic horror film, and our poor friend crying in the corner?”

Right. Où est ma valise?

You will notice that there is no “Medication” section in the Roi manual, and that wasn’t an oversight: notre cher ami has officially been given the all-clear from his favourite vet, who is back from her travels for a short while. No more Gabapentin! He has had no relapses at all during his tapering-off detox programme and, whilst we will miss the little sod for the next couple of weeks, we know that he will be fine and that our friend will look after him wonderfully.

We just hope that he will be equally considerate in return.

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On a 7 ans!

Today is Louis Catorze’s birthday, according to his paperwork, although it’s actually the anniversary of the day that he first pitter-pattered into the rescue. The staff there probably tend to celebrate 20th July instead, which is the day that we took him off their hands and ended his reign of money-draining. (He was, and, as far as we know, still remains, their most expensive cat ever.)

At 7 years old he is now officially either Mature or Senior, depending on one’s source. Yet he is still the same tiny, kittenish little scrap of a thing that (we imagine) he was at a year old, which is quite impressive; how many humans could claim to look 1/7 of their actual age?

I had the idea of a huge neighbourhood birthday extravaganza with accordion music, Sun King bunting and party poppers that scatter Dreamies and party powder instead of shredded paper and glitter, but Cat Daddy vetoed it.

“We have had a whole house built and furnished to his specifications,” he sighed. “We have spent, and continue to spend, a fortune on anti-allergy paraphernalia. He has better food and health care than we do. So he can go whistle if he thinks he’s getting a party or presents.”

And that was that.

Don’t feel too bad for the little sod, though. He doesn’t know that it’s his birthday, for a start. And he will have a perfectly pleasant day here at Le Château with us, eating his usual ruinously expensive food imported from Canada and playing with the many lovely toys that pilgrims have kindly given him. And we will be raising a glass to him and thanking the universe for his good health. It will be no different from any other day in his life, but, trust me: this is good.

We hope you are having an equally lovely bank holiday weekend with your furry overlords, and that every day feels like their birthday.

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Vive les vacances

Cat Daddy and I have just returned from a few days away and, as you can see from this plaque on the cottage next door, we didn’t need to go looking for French cats: they found us. And we weren’t even holidaying in France!

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People often ask us how we manage holidays with all the attention that Louis Catorze needs. The short answer used to be: by not going away, ever. It simply wasn’t practical to do so during his tail-munching days, not only because we would have been worried about him but also because we couldn’t unleash a manic, yowling, self-harming kitty onto any of our friends or neighbours, nor any cattery.

It has, very occasionally, crossed our minds to take him away with us. But then we consult The Checklist – of which you really need a full house of affirmative answers before you can consider taking your cat on holiday – and we are reminded of what a stupid idea it would be:

– Is your cat good with long journeys?
– Is your cat good with new places?
– Can your cat be trusted to behave, stick close by and not pitter-patter off into oncoming traffic, dark forests or raging seas?
– If you’re going rural, is your cat large enough not to be picked off by a marauding bird of prey? (Cue hysterical laughter from Cat Daddy at the thought of a floppy Catorze dangling undignifiedly from the talons of a huge buzzard, his indignant meows ringing out through the skies.)

Anyway, c’est un grand NON DE PARTOUT for The Checklist. So no mini-breaks for Le Roi.

Because we have now found a fairly foolproof way of getting the Gabapentin into Louis Catorze, we can ask pretty much anyone to come in and feed him in our absence, knowing that no Greco-Romaning is required. And we are lucky enough to have heaps of kind and obliging neighbours, including Cocoa the babysit cat’s folks, Oscar the dog’s folks and, if we can ever muster up the courage to face her again, maybe even the lady who found Louis Catorze screaming in the street the other day.

We are also very lucky that Louis Catorze is happy to see us when we return, whether we’ve been away for a few hours or a few days. I frequently hear horror stories of cats expressing their displeasure at being left, with tactics ranging from passive-aggressive sulking to plain offensive peeing/pooing/puking on things, but we have never experienced anything of the sort from the Sun King. When we arrive home he happily greets us, all shouty and up-tailed and, within minutes, he is flat out on Cat Daddy’s lap. What an easy-going, accepting little boy he is.

Cat Daddy: “He’s not easy-going or accepting: he’s thick. He doesn’t even remember we’ve been away because his brain can only store 3 facts at a time. If you wanted him to remember we’d been away AND plan an act of revenge, you’d have to remove 2 facts first.”

KramPuss, le diable d’hiver

One of our much-loved blog followers very kindly sent Louis Catorze a soft collar as a get-well gift. Thank you, Tally! What a thoroughly sweet and and thoughtful gesture, for a spoilt little sod that probably doesn’t deserve it. The collar has been a godsend in terms of allowing him to get comfortable and sleep properly, but the naughty boy has found all sorts of ways of exploiting its, erm, versatility.

On Friday, when we came home from a meal out, he had shoved one arm through it and was wearing it as a sort of off-the-shoulder top/cape, and the next day it was a 50s-style prom skirt. Unfortunately he cannot be trusted without a collar properly in place, and doesn’t even last a second without going for his tail again. So, with deep regret, I decided to put his plastic collar back on again, reserving his soft collar for supervised sleep sessions only.

Could I get it back on? Mais non.

To be fair, Louis Catorze wasn’t THAT uncooperative, although he did yowl and complain all the way through. I was just too stupid to figure out the weird fastenings; after I had finished, there were rough seams rubbing against his ears and bits of plastic sticking up in all directions. So back to the vet I went.

Because both Cat Daddy and Houseguest Matt were out, I had to take Louis Catorze myself. He fought like an absolute fiend as I put him into his box, and continued to struggle and writhe throughout the car journey and as I carried him across the car park. The two ladies in the vet’s waiting room (with their nice, calm cats) looked quite alarmed as I fell through the door, breathless and sweating, hair stuck to my face, just about managing to cling onto a violently-shuddering cat box.

As I waited, with the box continuing to spasm and jerk at my feet and the ladies trying/pretending not to notice, I sent an SOS to Cat Daddy. His helpful reply: “I don’t understand. He’s always fine when I take him to the vet.” Right. Thanks.

The vet showed me how to put the collar on properly, and we’re booked in again on the 22nd so that she can check his tail. This nicely messes up our holiday plans … but, having looked back at my blog entries from this time last year, it seems that that’s Le Roi and that’s what he does.

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La chasse de trésor

Cat Daddy is back after his 2-week business trip to the States, and he came home laden with gifts including this fabulous cushion cover.

imageI had a feeling that his return would either calm Louis Catorze down a little or send him into an even more excitable and annoying frenzy. I was right about one of those.

The little sod won’t leave his papa alone and has been yelling, climbing all over him and staring at him with crazed, psycho eyes. And, as we all know, some cats are known to bring gifts to staff on such occasions as returning after an absence, but Le Roi has taken it a step further and has devised a sort of twisted treasure hunt.

On the morning of Cat Daddy’s return, I had to clean 2 perfectly round, 5p-sized drops of fresh blood from our bedroom floor. There were no other smears or trails, just 2 solitary drops. Yet a thorough inspection of Louis Catorze – well, as thorough an inspection as he would allow without slicing me up – revealed that he was neither hurt nor in distress.

This could only mean that the blood came from another entity. And there was every chance that this entity could be somewhere within the walls of Le Château.

My mistake was cleaning up the blood before Cat Daddy had seen it because, bien sûr, he didn’t believe me when I told him about it. His theory is that it could have been nail varnish (?), ignoring my protests of “But I only own 1 bottle of nail varnish and it’s glittery silver, not red” and the rather more pertinent “I think I know the difference between nail varnish and blood.”

So this thing, whatever it may be, remains unknown and unfound, despite our best efforts (or, rather, MY best efforts, as Cat Daddy refused to help me look for an imaginary corpse that had shed imaginary blood). And I know that, if we fail to find it by sight, in time it will deploy the next clue: the come-hither stench of death, to help us locate it by smell. Let’s hope Cat Daddy finds it before I do.

Le personnel domestique est de retour

Cat Daddy and I have been away for a few days; this was our first mini-holiday in years, due in part to my inconsistent health but also to the fact that Louis Catorze used to require medication every other day, and we didn’t think it fair to make a neighbour or a cat sitter do battle with him. We returned home on Friday to a strikingly glossy, healthy-looking Roi who was delighted to see his daddy again. (Me, not so much.)

Oscar the dog’s folks looked after him magnificently well in our absence, and we are super-grateful to them. (They came here to feed him, obviously; he didn’t go and live with them, although part of me thinks it would have been funny to try it.) Not only were we able to go away with peace of mind, knowing that the little sod would be loved, but their kindness also meant I didn’t have to write the embarrassing advert: “Wanted: cat sitter for tiny black cat with annoying voice that could strip paint. Must be prepared to referee turf wars with dogs and dispose of rats, birds, slugs and other assorted wildlife, living, dead or somewhere between the two.”

As you can see, normal service has very much resumed, with both daddy-love and newspaper impingement in progress. And Cat Daddy has come up with a solution to the newspaper problem: take advantage of the lack of binding or staples in a newspaper and separate it as soon as you see the cat approaching. Just make sure you end up with the decent half, and that the cat sits on the boring property bit.

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