La mort rampante

It’s a football day again! Well, most days are football days at the moment, but we are perfectly happy with that. And Louis Catorze is riding high on the success of his last prediction. The only thing is, having told my friends that he was rubbish and that they should put money on the opposite of whatever he did, a couple of them followed that advice and now aren’t too happy. Oh dear.

Anyway, today’s opponents: le Danemark. Today’s food: Danish bacon (and there was a LONG discussion about whether or not the sample should be cooked or raw, but I ended up keeping it raw to maintain consistency and keep it a fair contest). And today’s Danish representative: Lars Ulrich of Metallica, who is quite an apt choice as Louis Catorze happily spends many late night Boys’ Club hours listening to rock music with his daddy. 

Catorze was brushed to smarten him up for the prediction, and this was the outcome of his most recent Assiette de Prophétie: 

  1. Sa Majesté sniffed first the bacon, then the jambon de Bayonne, then screamed as if alarmed and ran away
  2. I went after him to try one more time, he continued to run, screaming, then he hid in the tiny gap between the shed and the Forbidden Greenhouse, which is impenetrable to humans
  3. I gave up 

Me: “What does this mean?”

Cat Daddy: “It means he doesn’t like raw bacon. Or maybe it means the apocalypse.”

We repeated the experiment again with cooked bacon, just in case a few minutes under the grill was all that stood between us and doomsday. Le Roi sniffed both meats and pitter-pattered off, screaming. 

Conclusion: inconclusive. The end of the world? France and Denmark to draw? A protest against the Putin regime? Any ideas, Mesdames et Messieurs? 

Si on donne du jambon à un roi, il mangera toujours

I had only made one New Year resolution this year, which was to try a wider variety of vodkas instead of just having Absolut Vanilla all the time. But I have now made a second resolution, which is never to get a leg of jamón serrano again.

If you have a dog, or a normal cat, the clearing up from a leg of jamón pretty much does itself. But, if you have a tiny cat who doesn’t really like food, you’re stuck with a ton of meat and a greasy, hammy film all over your house for days afterwards. Louis Catorze is partial to cured ham, but he couldn’t possibly eat it as fast as we could slice it. Come to think of it, neither could we. Hoping for zero remnants from a piece of meat several times the size of our pet was, perhaps, a little optimistic.

So, having gifted some of our neighbours with several months’ supply of jamón each, we were still left with the huge hoofy bone and the gross fatty bits. Quoi faire avec? There is no real way of getting rid of such a thing in the garden without attracting rats, and it wouldn’t fit into the tiny food waste bin supplied by Hounslow Council.

Eventually Cat Daddy took it to work and left it in the area of overgrown scrubland behind his office, which is inhabited by all manner of beasties. The wildlife of TW8 would have had a fine old feast that night. But, unfortunately, this has done nothing to stop Le Château from smelling all hammy.

Cat Daddy, after opening the dining room door and being hit with the smell of jamón once more: “Never again. Next time we’re giving everyone sliced ham from a packet. If we give them enough champagne beforehand they won’t know, and the ones that know won’t care.”

Once again, les invités, you’re welcome.

“Or maybe,” Cat Daddy continued, “we’ll just get a normal cat who actually eats food. New Year, new cat.”

Luckily he said this in English, so Louis Catorze didn’t understand him. Here he is, assuming the “Je ne comprends pas” position.

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Le soir des rois, ou Ce que vous voudrez

Someone once told me, “Never eat anything bigger than your head” and, given that I have a head so fat that I can’t wear paper party hats without splitting them, I have been able to abide by this for most of my life without feeling that I am missing out.

Imagine, then, eating something bigger than your entire body. Considerably bigger, in fact. Louis Catorze had the opportunity to do exactly this when Cat Daddy bought a whole leg of jamón serrano for a ham and cheese night with friends. As you know, Catorze doesn’t really like food, but he won’t say non to some cured ham and, if it’s several times his own bodyweight, tant mieux.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: nothing says “good hosting” quite like serving guests the same food that you gave to your cat to make him take his meds.

Cat Daddy: “It isn’t the same food that we gave to our cat to make him take his meds. We gave him the much higher-quality jambon de Bayonne.”

You’re welcome, les invités.

Anyway, unlike most cats, who hide from party guests or have to be shut away to minimise their own stress levels, Louis Catorze attended our gathering, even though he wasn’t invited. And, bien sûr, he conspicuously chose the boys’ corner of the room and mingled like a true socialite. It was like watching Hugh Hefner in the Playboy Mansion: spoilt for choice and not knowing what to do with himself.

And, yes, the little sod did get a few slivers of jamón, too.

Bonne année à tous!

Une image vaut mieux que mille mots

If you have a black cat, creating their official Halloween portrait is easy: you just place a pumpkin next to them, take a photo and that’s it, non?

Not so with Louis Catorze. Firstly, he’s not the most photogenic of cats. And, secondly, he doesn’t do as he’s told. The über-cool factor of a black vampire kitty with protruding fangs is utterly lost if we cannot capture this on camera for Halloween. And, alas, it seems that we cannot.

“Oh well,” said my sister, who visited this weekend for our annual Halloweekend tradition. “Maybe you can post those hilarious outtake photos instead?” Erm, those aren’t hilarious outtakes. Those are my best shots to date:

Friends have suggested the following strategies:

1. Place strips of jambon de Bayonne on the pumpkin to get Catorze to linger for longer.
2. Download a photo of a nicely-posed internet cat, paint the fangs on and pass him off as Sa Majesté.
3. Place the pumpkin on the floor and tell him that under no circumstances is he to go near it.

With 31st October gaining on us more quickly than I can say, “Dis ouistiti!” and still no official Halloween portrait in sight, I am starting to feel the pressure …

Je pue, donc je suis

IMG_8739Louis Catorze, who used to smell of fresh, zingy lime with a hint of blossom, now smells like a dead sheep that’s been left out in the rain.

I think I preferred him before.

Even Cat Daddy commented, “He’s been smelling really catty lately. Had you noticed?” Yes. It’s pretty hard not to.

It’s not a hygiene problem; Louis Catorze has always been scrupulously clean and, even during his maximum security Côning period, we were usually able to release him for long enough to groom himself properly. It seems to be more of a physiological issue, with the horrible smell emanating from his pores rather than being trapped on the surface of his fur. The only new things that we’ve introduced into his routine in the last few months are, erm, the salty cured meat and the copious amounts of prescription drugs. So it’s probably both of those things.

Whilst perfumed products for cats are generally a no-no, for those suffering from feline hyperesthesia it’s even more important that their environment is kept toxin-free, so there’s no hope of dousing him in something fragrant to get rid of the smell. And, of course, we can’t stop the pills, nor can we stop the red meat as it’s our only hope of him taking the pills, so it looks as if we’re stuck with the stench.

Cat Daddy’s final word on the matter: “He doesn’t know from one day to the next whether he’s going to get prosciutto di Parma, jambon de Bayonne or jamón Serrano. Maybe his digestive system is confused and just doesn’t know what to do with itself anymore.”

The struggle is real, Mesdames et Messieurs.

 

Le Roi nous ignore

Quelle performance going to see the vet today.

10 minutes before the appointment time, when we should have been on our way there, we were chasing Louis Catorze around the house, Benny Hill style (younger followers: ask your parents), as he darted under furniture and refused to be caught.

We cornered him eventually but he screamed all the way there and whilst we sat in the waiting room. Cat Daddy then told me that he’d had a horrendous – and only partially-successful – Greco-Roman session this morning, which was probably why the little sod had been such a nightmare.

After greeting us with, “Louis is famous here – we’ve all been talking about him!” the vet told us that we could reduce his Gabapentin from 5 to 4 pills a day, but that we were to remain on 4 for a month. If all goes well, we may be able to reduce to 3 per day in early-to-mid April.

To be honest, we really had hoped he would be off the pills by then, because he has started to refuse Trojan Horses if the cured ham is 2 days old. (Yes, the previous cut-off point was 3 days. But that was before.)

He is also becoming fussier about the type of ham used, and the vet was in hysterics when Cat Daddy uttered the words, “He likes prosciutto di Parma and jambon de Bayonne, but not the jamón Serrano that I bought this week.”

Anyway, we’re now home and he’s still not talking to us. This is going to be a l-o-n-g evening.

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La part des serviteurs

Good news: we now have Gabapentin pills!

Bad news: Sa Majesté has started to refuse jambon de Bayonne that has been frozen and thawed.

And, if I’m honest, it’s not really working for me, either, because, once it’s been defrosted, it’s almost impossible to get it to stick around the pill. So bulk-buying and storing in the freezer is now no longer an option; it really is either fresh packs, newly-opened, or Greco-Roman pill delivery.

This means that we have been buying a LOT of cured ham, of which Le Roi only eats a small amount per pack before turning his nose up at its unacceptable lack of freshness. Fortunately we like cured ham, so we have been eating the leftovers ourselves. That’s right, Mesdames et Messieurs: WE EAT OUR CAT’S REJECTED FOOD.

The little sod has also got to recognise the sound of the pills rattling in the jar, and he runs when he hears it. So I have had to start turning the taps on every time I dispense the pills but, as a friend pointed out, pretty soon he will get wise to the sound of the taps and I will need another sound to drown that out, then another sound to drown THAT out, and so on. Taps today, but what tomorrow? A marching band and low-flying aircraft were just two of my friend’s suggestions (and she was only half-joking).

It’s becoming more and more clear who wears the crown in Le Château.

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Le plateau royal

Nigel driving the Apple van came bearing all sorts of goodies on Tuesday night, including fresh prosciutto di Parma and jambon de Bayonne, seafood and a variety of soft and hard cheeses. (Yes, I know that cats are said to be lactose-intolerant, but the pills are so minuscule that we really wouldn’t need much cheese to disguise one. Plus Louis Catorze is so full of drugs at the moment that a bit of lactose is the least of his worries.)

Anyway, these were the results of our experiment to ascertain whether Sa Majesté would approve of other pill wrappings:

Sheep’s Wensleydale: non
Roquefort: non
Devon curd cheese: non (well, he licked off the cheese and left the pill, but I’m still counting that as a “non”)
Smoked salmon: non
Prawns: non
Prosciutto di Parma: OUI
Jambon de Bayonne: OUI

Conclusion: it seems that the issue was, indeed, the freshness of the ham. So Louis Catorze, who happily wraps his chops around the rotting carcasses of rats, will not eat cured ham unless it’s a newly-opened pack.

I think we’re going to need a bigger fridge.

La variété, c’est la vie

We thank our lucky stars every single day for the clever souls that invented cured ham. Louis Catorze is generally pretty good at taking his Trojan Horse canapés and, without prosciutto di Parma and jambon de Bayonne, we don’t know where we would be.

That said, there are the odd times when he won’t take the bait. Last night was one of those times.

If it’s a daytime pill, and it’s a weekend, we know that we have plenty of time to try again if an attempt is unsuccessful. But, if it’s a week day, we’re about to go to bed and we know that the next dose won’t be for another 6 hours, we have no choice but to keep persisting, all the while getting more and more stressed. And, if the Trojan Horse fails, we have to resort to the Greco-Roman method.

Last night Le Roi took no prisoners: he yowled, kicked, struggled, foamed at the mouth and finally deployed the claws, something that he rarely ever does. After the battle we were able to ascertain that he had maybe consumed 3 pills. Or possibly zero. We had no idea.

Cat Daddy’s first theory for this lack of cooperation: “Maybe he starts refusing when the pack has been open for too long. I don’t think he likes it when the ham is too dry.”

Well, excuse-moi whilst I open a fresh pack every day for Sa Majesté.

Cat Daddy’s second theory: “Maybe he’s bored of ham. Maybe we should try experimenting with different things, like smoked salmon or cheese.”

Well, excuse-moi whilst I prepare a more varied platter for Sa Majesté.

Mind you, either of those options would be better than the Greco-Roman torture. So I guess I’d better get Ocado-ing.

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Le cheval de Troie

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On Saturday I was caught unpacking the 2 packs of jambon de Bayonne that I’d secretly ordered from Ocado to give Louis Catorze a bit of variety in his Trojan Horse canapés. Cat Daddy busted me before I could stuff them into the back of the fridge, and said, “You’d better not tell me those are for HIM.” So I remained silent and didn’t tell him.

We are still in disbelief that the torturous days of the Greco-Roman pilling are behind us. We feel so much more relaxed, not just about the dosing itself but about the prospect of not being around for a dose or two and leaving someone else temporarily in charge. Much as Houseguest Matt and Oscar the dog’s folks love Catorze, it just wouldn’t be fair asking them to experience the brute force method. Whereas absolutely anyone could administer the pills via the Trojan Horse method – yes, it’s THAT easy.

“The only minor awkwardness,” said Cat Daddy, “is going to be telling potential cat sitters that we have a preference for using jambon de Bayonne over prosciutto di Parma because our cat is French. But you can tell them that bit.”

There is, however, a technique to it. Firstly, Catorze has to be a little bit hungry in order to guarantee success, so we can no longer leave his biscuits out for him to graze all day. The wrapped-up pill parcels have to be as small as possible. And the meat has to be pressed tightly around the pill – rather like hand-made ravioli – to prevent it from unrolling as he eats. It also helps to know the consistency of different cured meats: supermarket prosciutto sticks together better but it’s stringier, whereas jambon de Bayonne needs firmer pressing to make it stick but it’s easier to peel off a nice, neat piece that gives decent coverage.

Once these elements are mastered, you will literally have the little sod eating out of your hand.

I haven’t yet experimented with jamón Ibérico to ascertain its suitability for the Trojan Horse method, but I will do so soon. Nothing is too good for a sickly Sun King – not even acorn-fed, free-range, organic piggies at £21 per 100g.