On est de retour!

We British “sit” everything, from pets to houses to plants. And, apparently, the only things that the French “sit” are babies. Yet this hasn’t stopped me from referring to Équipe Une and Équipe Deux as “les chat-sitteurs”, with “chat-sitteur”, rather like “professeur”, being an invariable noun, as “chat-sitteuse” sounds somewhat absurd despite both Équipes being female. (This was the basis of my conversation with Cat Daddy on the flight back from Belfast, until he put on his headphones a few minutes in and pretended to be asleep.)

We are back from holiday and, whilst it didn’t go entirely to plan, with both lost luggage and injuries preventing us from doing all that we wanted to do, it was a relief to escape the heatwave that has only just relinquished its hold on London. And it was nothing short of delightful to be able to sleep in without being jolted awake by screaming, rodent deliveries and suchlike.

That said, we did miss Louis Catorze, although he has had an absolute ball over the last couple of weeks and probably didn’t even notice/care that we had gone. Apart from bringing Équipe Une a rat* on their very first morning, he seems to have been the perfect host.

*Oui, Équipe Une: I may have given the impression that it was a mouse, but only because I didn’t want to scare you with the awful truth. When I saw the long, rangy limbs in your photo, I KNEW. Je suis désolée. Cat Daddy and I are still wondering how on earth Catorze managed to haul a beast half his body weight through the cat flap, and we are just grateful that it didn’t end up on your bed. Erm, see you again next summer? 

So life has resumed as normal. Cat Daddy and I are facing the mammoth task of undoing all the damage caused by eating our weight in potatoes for a fortnight (which will be a challenge, as my leg and his back are still done in). And Le Roi, no doubt, will go back to doing whatever it is that he does, although Cat Daddy’s too-rude-to-publish remark suggests that perhaps the little sod doesn’t contribute an enormous amount to the planet.

This image shows one of the places that we visited, whose name had a certain air of familiarity: 

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La princesse irlandaise

We returned from our holiday a few days ago to a still-standing Château and – thanks to the love and care of our French friend and Oscar the dog’s folks – a shiny, shouty Louis Catorze. It seems that he was a very good boy during our absence. Apart from an intermittent cramp/limping scare, which will need further investigation, and an uninvited wander into Dog Daddy’s man-cave – clearly if Boys’ Club cannot come to Catorze, then Catorze will seek out Boys’ Club – the two weeks passed without major incident.

Cat ladies are never off duty, not even when they are on holiday, and no holiday would be complete without a (potential) cat intervention. Meet Bri:

Her name sounds like the cheese but, in fact, we named her after Brigid, Ireland’s patron goddess. This sweet, ageless girl, with a meow like a squeaky bicycle wheel, was our companion during our 3 days at the eco-glampsite in County Mayo. I say “ageless” because she was very kittenish in size and demeanour, yet something tells me that such fur colouring – an all-black head with a mottled body – comes from black fur that has changed over time, rather than being true tortoiseshell.

After ascertaining that Bri didn’t have a family – our nearest neighbours were all farming people who tend to see stray cats as vermin – I contacted a local rescue and sent them a picture of her. Sadly we weren’t able to find a suitable transportation pod, catch her and deliver her to the rescue’s designated vet, all within limited bank holiday opening times, but plans are now in place for the rescue to set a trap soon. I have given them the contact details of the site owner and recommended the best place for laying the trap, and I hope beyond hope that we have good news soon.

I wish we could have done more for Bri during our stay, but one thing that I am really, really glad we did was to give her a spot-on flea treatment. (I am not in the habit of carrying flea treatment in my handbag, as my crazy catness has not quite elevated to such a level as yet, but I was lucky enough to find some in the one shop that was open on a bank holiday Sunday.) Dear little Bri sat perfectly still for me and purred all the way through, as if knowing I meant well – and, yes, I am aware of the irony of a feral cat behaving impeccably for flea treatment when my own little sod first tries to kill me, then rolls the liquid off onto all our soft furnishings and clean laundry. Minutes later, a visible cloud of fleas rose from her body, which was satisfying and horrifying in equal measure. Hopefully they will stay away and give her some relief.

I have been asked a few times whether we would have brought Bri back home with us. Believe me, we wanted to – although Cat Daddy’s condition was that we took her instead of Catorze, not as well as – but it’s not quite as simple as, “See a stray cat, put it in your bag and go home.” Cat Daddy and I tend to regard cats in the same way that we regard fruit and vegetables: best sourced locally. I have mixed feelings about subjecting Bri to a long journey to London when there must be plenty of people in Ireland who would be thrilled to have her. Also, I am not convinced that she would have made a good urban cat: as well as having zero fear of cars – she happily rolled around under ours, even with the engine running – she seemed very content in a rural environment. I think she needs somewhere just like her current place but with a regular person feeding, flea-treating and worming her and not leaving her to the mercy of the elements during the low season.

Nothing would give me more joy than to post here in a few weeks’ time, announcing that Bri has a new home. In the meantime, if you would like to help other cats like her, please support Mayo Animal Welfare, who have quite a task on their hands in terms of changing attitudes to neutering, microchipping and suchlike. You can donate to them here:

https://fundrazr.com/euyT0?fb_ref=share__c5K3Zd