La chasse sauvage

The Wild Hunt, according to legend, is a cavalcade of spectral hunters, horses and hounds that glides through the sky. Any unwary folk who are out and about and who happen to catch sight of this spectacle are likely to be swept up by the spirits and carried away.

Here at Le Château we have our own Wild Hunt going on, due to a Code Ambre situation: a fly in the living room. (American followers: I don’t think it was THAT fly, although I’m sure people make that mistake all the time and this one is sick of having to field questions about what Mike Pence’s hair felt like.)

Cat Daddy didn’t even know the fly was there until Louis Catorze started doing the psycho-eyed prowling and the bird-chatter, and he captured the whole saga in this short photo story:

Who hunteth so late through the night dark and drear?
The Sun King it is, brave and strong, without fear …
He hunteth the fly tightly lock’d in his sight …
He eateth it whole, then he biddeth good night.

Vieux chat fait bonne chasse

One big difference between me and Cat Daddy, in terms of our attitude and preferences regarding pets, is that he likes show-off animals who do lots of zany things, whereas I just want a quiet one who won’t give me any grief.

Blue the Smoke Bengal’s mamma told us last week that, since quarantine began, Blue had caught a blackbird, a squirrel and some other animal that I can’t remember (possibly a mouse), and Cat Daddy remarked that Louis Catorze was useless, having caught nothing this year. I, on the other hand, was very happy not having to clean up the remains of dead wildlife from my house, and I did not want Cat Daddy to tempt fate by wishing otherwise.

Over the weekend I had some restless nights, and Catorze didn’t help when his energy spike peaked at about 5am on Sunday resulting in abundant screaming and thundering loudly around the house. Later that morning I found a piece of silverware, i.e. a dead rat, in his trophy cabinet, i.e. the area at the bottom of the stairs, strangely the same area that his big brother Luther also used to use as HIS trophy cabinet in our old house. Whilst this is by no means a great place, especially as a sleep-deprived human doesn’t always spot brownish prey placed on the brownish floor and therefore risks stepping on it, Catorze’s previous trophy cabinet used to be our bedroom and, quite frankly, anything is better than that.

As ever, I followed the same standard ritual that I always follow in these circumstances. And I am sure most pet owners can relate:

1. Gasp and retch.

2. Admonish Catorze, who doesn’t understand a word I am saying (and, if he did, he still wouldn’t give a shite).

3. Shut Catorze away in sin bin in case he grabs rat and darts under our bed with it.

4. Find coin and slide it next to rat (very slowly and cautiously in case rat springs back to life and runs up my arm), then take photo for my friend Lizzi, who STILL hasn’t forgiven me for not photographing the curly-haired rat from 4 years ago: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/

5. Place Ocado bag inside another Ocado bag and gingerly scoop up rat with hand inside the double-bag barrier.

6. Knot double-bag very firmly, again in case rat springs back to life.

7. Place bag outside on doorstep so that Cat Daddy can dispose of it in park bin when he wakes up. (Since this is partly his fault for wishing it upon us, it’s only fair that he do his bit.)

8. Gently slide coin away from ratty floor area.

9. Clean both coin and ratty floor area.

10. Release horrid, screaming Catorze from sin bin.

11. Seethe with frustration as Cat Daddy undermines me by lavishing Catorze with praise and cuddles.

I really want this to have been a one-off. But the fact that Catorze has now begun Rodent Duty – sitting motionless for hours outside, eyes fixed on the gap between the Zone Occupé and the Zone Libre – doesn’t fill me with hope.

*EDIT: after I placed the bagged rat on our doorstep, we both forgot about it and didn’t remember until about 3pm, by which time it had sat cooking in the sun for 7 hours. Oh well. Cat Daddy’s problem, not mine.

He can still taste it.

L’épée tue beaucoup de monde, mais le chat tue d’avantage

Louis Catorze’s hours and hours spent outside, presumably on Rodent Duty, have finally paid off: the little sod delivered a mouse to me at 4:30 yesterday morning. I awoke to the sound of pitter-pattering and squeaking, then turned on the light just in time to see my sweet boy not only deliver the killer blow but also, erm, lick the dead mouse thoroughly and meticulously from head to tail. Then he flipped it over onto its back and licked the other side from head to tail, too.

I would never have believed this had I not seen it myself. The little sod’s prey is often wet and I have always assumed this to be because of the rain – and it happened to be raining on this occasion, too – but now I know that it’s MAINLY because he takes great pains to lick it thoroughly after killing it.

So … reasons for this peculiar behaviour?

1. All cats do it?

2. A last-ditch attempt to extract the tasty mousey flavour before the dead beast is confiscated?

3. Some sort of elaborate death ritual, like the Ancient Egyptians used to do? (Not that they used to lick their dead. You know what I mean.)

4. Some sort of creepy serial killer calling card?

Cat Daddy (who slept through the whole thing) when I told him: “He did what? Ewww! Just like a serial killer!”

Oh dear. Numéro 4 it is, then. And, yes, after Googling “Why does my cat lick its prey after killing?” (which yielded zero results) I also Googled “Serial killer calling cards”. It turns out that, whilst people do some highly disturbing things, no murderer in criminal history has ever done anything as freakish as licking their dead victim from head to toe, then flipping them over and licking the other side.

Cat Daddy: “Don’t worry, it’s not as if he’s going to do this to us. Mind you, that’s probably only because he’s not big enough or we’re not small enough.”

Le mal que les chats font

Yesterday I pinged my calf muscle whilst running across the road to catch the bus. (The urban legend is true, Mesdames: ultra-flat ballet pumps really are worse than heels due to their lack of support.) Cat Daddy has been showing his support by cooking for me and bringing me ice packs and cheer-up champagne. Louis Catorze showed his support by bringing me a dead bird at 4:45 this morning.

I was jolted awake by the sound of his screaming, in particular because it didn’t sound like his usual voice. I thought he might be hurt, especially as I had heard noises yesterday afternoon which sounded just like gunshots. (We don’t live in that kind of neighbourhood, but Cat Daddy said that he could very well imagine one of our neighbours finally snapping and losing it with Catorze.) However, it soon became apparent that the screaming was different because the little sod had something stuffed in his mouth. 

Our previous cat, Luther, was able to purr even with a mouse in his mouth, my hands around his throat and my knee digging into his back. But Catorze’s ability to scream through a mouthful of dead animal has shocked me to the core.

I bounded out of bed to wrestle whatever it was from him, forgetting completely about my calf muscle. As I toppled, winced and steadied myself, Catorze dropped his prey and I was able to lurch towards him and drag him away. I then saw that it was a tiny baby bird and, thanks to the bastard cat, I now know what baby bird ribs look like. This is not something I ever thought I would know, nor do I ever wish to see such a thing again. 

Cat Daddy rolled over sleepily and asked if he could help. I told him that I was fine but, in the time it took me to hobble to the bathroom for some tissue in which to wrap the bird, bad Catorze had picked it up again and chewed off the little remaining flesh. I then realised that I wouldn’t be able to manage this on my own, so Cat Daddy had to don his dressing gown and deposit the poor bird in the park bin opposite our house.

This bin has become the final resting place for many of Catorze’s victims, and I hope it’s not the same person who empties it each time and who wonders why someone is throwing away so much wildlife.

Cat Daddy was able to fall asleep not long after returning from the park. I, however, am still awake, and have written off all thoughts of sleep. Somehow it seems more productive to sit in front of the TV and document this tragic incident than to lie in bed, clock-watching and cursing this horrid cat.

And the little sod is curled up on my lap without a care in the world. 

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Longue vie et prosperité

Since Valentine’s Day there have been no further sightings of Le Rat. Nor have there been any sightings of its much larger parents, whom my mum has convinced me are out there somewhere.

For a bit of fun, and in the hope that our collective mind over matter might speed things along a little, I started a sweepstake among my fellow cat freaks, with a small prize going to the person who correctly predicted the day that Louis Catorze eventually caught Le Rat. But, unfortunately, it has backfired catastrophically: whilst Le Château remains a rodent-free zone, the cats of some of the sweepstake entrants have had a right old hunting hootenanny. And one or two of the humans aren’t very happy and hold me responsible.

This turn of events means one of two things has occurred:

1. The Mothership* has malfunctioned
2. The Mothership is functioning perfectly well, merci, and the universe is unfolding as it should

*You are all aware of The Mothership, oui? The mysterious alien craft responsible for beaming sinister commands to the feline population via their microchips? Yes, we’re all TOLD that microchipping is to track them if they get lost, et patati et patata, but we know better, don’t we?

Cat Daddy is highly amused by the nationwide rodent-killing spree. “They say that rodents are the only creatures which could survive an apocalypse,” he said, “but it sounds as if the cats belonging to the sweepstake people would be ok, too. Louis Catorze wouldn’t last a minute. In fact, if there were an apocalypse, the rodents would probably eat HIM.”

Let’s hope that the hunting hootenanny is just a temporary phase. Otherwise I fear that the apocalypse might happen sooner than we think.

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Lancer un pavé dans la mare

If you have never seen those “Photos taken seconds before disaster struck” picture gallery things, this interpretation should be self-explanatory:

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I took this photo mainly because I never imagined Louis Catorze would take on an enormous beast of a wood pigeon the same size as him. And, in the unlikely event of him trying, I thought he would be far too slow to actually succeed. C’était faux: not long afterwards, despite le pigeon distancing itself by settling on a different part of the furniture, le petit voyou charged down the garden path and managed to get his paws to it.

Cat Daddy raced outside and grabbed a broom to try and separate the pair of them. He managed to poke le pigeon out of evil Catorze’s grasp, but the poor, traumatised bird flapped its way into a corner from where there was no escape … and Catorze, despite being thicker than a concrete milkshake, knew this, and circled like a hungry shark. I then had to go out to try and catch him but he refused to be caught, forever dancing tantalisingly out of my reach, but luckily this gave Cat Daddy enough time to trap le pigeon in a cardboard box and place it in the safety of the park opposite.

My best friend, who was over for lunch at the time, hooted with laughter at the whole spectacle. (She is a dog person, and this confirmed why.)

Cat Daddy and I may need to be more consistent in our approach to dealing with the little sod. Our mixed messages are probably WHY he’s such a little sod.

Me: “Bad kitty. That poor bird.”
Cat Daddy: “Call yourself a hunter? That was the most pathetic effort ever.”

Psycho kitty, qu’est-ce que c’est?

A few days ago, Louis Catorze decided that he wanted to play a game of “J’ai Caché Un Otage Quelque Part Dans Le Château Et Maintenant C’est À Toi De Le Retrouver.” If you don’t know what this is, trust me, you’ve dodged a bullet here.

Like every twisted serial killer in history who has left a trail of clues to taunt the world-weary detective chasing him, Catorze taunted me. The first clue was staring at nothing, sniffing nothing and peering under furniture at nothing. I knew that something was up but I couldn’t prove it.

Next clue: lots of nocturnal pitter-pattering but, when the light was switched on, the little sod would be sitting perfectly still, eyes wide with innocence. Then, when the light went out again, the pitter-pattering would resume. (The written description of this doesn’t even come close to conveying how annoying it was in reality, ESPECIALLY as Cat Daddy slept through it all.)

Then, a couple of nights ago, the bar was raised. I awoke to far-off, yet clear, panting: short, regular bursts, as if someone were inflating an air mattress with one of those manual pump things. Not long after that came the sound of familiar pitter-pattering and, then, the killer’s final coup de poing: the dull-eyed corpse of a huge mouse or medium-sized rat (I hope beyond hope that it was the former but fear it may have been the latter), blood spilling in all directions, dumped in the bedroom.

I realised then that the panting must have been either the poor rodent’s dying breath, or evil Catorze’s laboured wheezing whilst trying to run with his grande gueule stuffed full of rat. Neither option fills me with joy.

I now know exactly how Scotland Yard felt when they received THAT letter, although things were much easier for them as Jack the Ripper was good enough to stop after five(ish) victims. What next for Catorze and his killing spree? Tortured hostages dragging themselves around, half-alive, under the bed? Body parts and innards dropped onto my face as I sleep?

Cat Daddy: “It’s what cats do.” I still wish they wouldn’t, though. Here he is, taking a brief bit of repos from his murderous rampage:

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L’infirmier

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A couple of weeks ago I had a cortisone injection in my right shoulder, and yesterday I had another one in the left. (The hospital actually sent me a further letter inviting me for a third one, then realised their mistake when I pointed out that I only have 2 shoulders.)

My sister: “This means that 2/3 of your household are on steroids!”

After the injection you are supposed to rest at home for 48 hours, which has meant I’ve had to cancel a few things that had been planned for ages, including my mum’s birthday lunch, my friend’s 30th and a concert which was my anniversary gift to Cat Daddy. So he went out for the night, taking his friend as his anniversary date, and I was stuck indoors with Catorze. (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme.)

Now, I realise that a cosy night in with a cat may sound like a pleasant way of passing the time, but this is Catorze we’re taking about. For a start, I am only his 14th favourite human in the world (after Cat Daddy, ex-Houseguest Matt, Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy, Cocoa the babysit cat’s brother, Oscar the dog’s daddy, Bert the dog’s daddy, our friend Steve, our friend Phil, our friend Daniel, Krzysztof driving the Lemon van from Ocado, the man who fixed the dishwasher and those two trick-or-treating youths who came wearing clown masks and brandishing machine guns), so I don’t suppose staying home with me is top of his list of fun things to do. Also, cats instinctively know when you are ill but only about 8% of them actually give a shit, and this makes the patient more miserable.

Quelle surprise, then, when the little sod remained cuddled up on my knees all evening! THIS NEVER HAPPENS! And, when my pain got too bad and I decided to take myself off to bed, I called him from upstairs and he came running to join me. (This is one of the dog-like qualities that I love in him but, very often, when he arrives and sees that it’s just me and my stupid shit again, he turns around and leaves. This time he stayed for a brief cuddle.)

At 1:15am I was woken by the familiar sound of indistinct scrabbling (the feline version of a text from DHL, indicating that a delivery had been made). Nothing says “Get well soon, maman!” quite like blood all over the bedroom floor and a dead rat, especially when only having one functioning arm with which to clean up the mess.

I intend to take it easy for the rest of the weekend. I really hope that Catorze does, too.

Sa Majesté des mouches

We have a Code Ambre situation at Le Château: A FLY IN THE LIVING ROOM. Not that I really need to tell you, as you can probably hear the unholy racket from wherever you are in the world.

If you have a cat, you will know what I mean by “that bird-chatter sound”. The best way of describing it is a succession of clipped, otherworldly “eck-eck-eck” notes, daintily sung when the cat sees a bird. (Or you could just YouTube it and hear it for yourself.)

It’s very common for cats to make this noise at birds; however, Louis Catorze also does it to BUGS. Usually this is quite handy: if I hear it from the next room, I know that a fly is at large and I’m prompted to check my food or my cup of tea to make sure that they’re covered. But, right now, we just want to sit and enjoy Movie Afternoon, and the little sod won’t shut up.

(He once did the bird-chatter sound at the pterodactyls from Jurassic World, too. This was nowhere near as useful as the bug alert, but it was much funnier.)

There are a few theories as to why cats make this sound: it’s rumoured to be a sign of frustration that kitty can’t catch said bird/bug/dinosaur, a result of an adrenaline rush as the cat imagines the chase, or, rather more sinisterly, an involuntary reflex sound that escapes from the throat as the cat mimics chomping its jaws around the prey and killing it. But I don’t think anybody really knows for sure. It’s one of those peculiar little cat quirks that can’t be properly explained, but it makes us love them even more simply because it sounds so cute and funny. Unless you want some peace to watch a film. Then it’s really annoying.

I suggested continuing Movie Afternoon in another room, but Cat Daddy said that would be “letting Louis Catorze win.” A win for us, on the other hand, involves being stuck here, struggling to follow the story due to all the buzzing and chattering, and thinking, “Surely victory should feel better than this?” And this will go on and on until the fly escapes or is eaten, or until Cat Daddy finally snaps and swats both the fly and Catorze.

Unlike the film, I can predict exactly how this tale will end.

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Il y a un rat dans ma chambre: qu’est-ce que je vais faire?

IMG_8653A couple of days ago, Oscar the dog’s mamma told me that she had seen a large brown rat in their garden. Ever-hopeful, I asked her if she were sure that it wasn’t a very big mouse, or an unusually skinny-tailed squirrel. She was sure.

I suggested to her that, if she ever saw it again, provided Oscar weren’t in the vicinity, I would happily flick Louis Catorze over Le Mur and let him have a bash at catching it. However, I hadn’t quite expected him to catch it of his own accord, so soon after our conversation. Nor had I expected him to bring the damp, stinky carcass up to our bedroom.

Worse yet, it was our easily-startled cleaning lady who found it. I came home to find her so traumatised that she could barely speak, and eventually I managed to get it out of her that there was a rat in our bedroom. (Once again I said, “Are you sure it’s not a mouse?” although, deep in my heart, I knew.)

As she and I stood staring at it and wondering what the heck to do, Louis Catorze picked that very moment to switch into psycho play mode and attack her feet. Because he ambushed her from behind, she felt him before she saw him and, thinking he was another rat, she screamed as if she had been shot.

I went to look for a bin bag and, naturellement, we didn’t have any, so I had to take the sturdiest plastic bag I could find, which was a Selfridges one. Once Ratty was safely entombed I dropped a 2p coin in with him, hoping it would land squarely on his body and give a sense of scale when I provided people with photographic proof of how big he was. But, unfortunately, it sort of wedged in at his side and, because it was the same colour as his body, it ended up looking more like some sort of cystic growth than a 2p coin, adding to the horror of the whole situation.

Whilst our cleaning lady sat in a corner and cried quietly, I headed for the park bin where so many of Catorze’s victims have been laid to rest, praying that nobody would see me. Although, if you don’t want to be seen, you should carry an unobtrusive, plain bag and leave the house whistling nonchalantly. Leaving the house holding a bright yellow Selfridges bag with your fingertips and at arm’s length, all the while shuddering and retching, probably isn’t the way. And, of course, I bumped into Bert the dog’s daddy, who was working on his car in the street right outside Le Château, and I was forced to explain the bag and the shuddering and retching.

So now I am confined to Le Château on account of being too ashamed to leave it, and Louis Catorze is banned from the bedrooms on account of being too disgusting. And our poor cleaning lady will probably never lead a normal life ever again. Cat Daddy, however, can’t help but admire his boy’s pest control efficiency, and this has been echoed by Dog Mamma, who is delighted that Catorze has done his civic duty. Another friend said, “Isn’t it reassuring to know that he’s such a good rat-catcher?”

I don’t know what makes a “good” rat-catcher. But I’m pretty certain that depositing smelly rat corpses in spotlessly-clean places where there were no rat corpses before, isn’t it.