La vie est, en quelque sorte, un pèlerinage

It’s been an action-packed few days here at Le Château, with visits galore from pilgrims coming to see Louis Catorze. One visitor was his favourite vet, who is back at the practice for a short while. We are so grateful to her and to her colleagues for all the care that he has received there, and it was lovely to see her under more pleasant circumstances – sitting outside, cuddling a happy, up-tailed Catorze and sipping tea – instead of the ungrateful little sod yelling at her and kicking her in the face.

Our dear friends from Switzerland have had their “furthest-travelled pilgrims” crowns toppled as Le Roi has now received guests from Las Vegas. Naturellement he decided, 20 minutes before their arrival, to roll about in all manner of foul garden waste, then greeted them lying on his back with one leg pointing east and the other west, and stringy plant matter hanging off his whiskers. Cat Daddy told our visitors, apologetically, “Yes. I’m afraid you travelled all the way from America for THIS.”

C’est vrai: our cat’s popularity eclipses our own by quite some margin.

I was once asked, “Do random strangers really contact you and ask if they can visit your cat?” Well, it’s not quite as simple as them inviting themselves and me replying with, “Here’s our address, and I will leave you a key outside.” But, if you are a member of an online pet forum, over time you familiarise yourself with people and all the intricacies of their pets’ lives. And, whilst most of us wouldn’t suggest a meet-up with someone online whom we had only just met, if you have been chatting over many months, or even years, then they’re no longer random strangers.

I have often had this conversation with family and flesh-and blood friends, too:

Them: “So … people off the internet come to your house?”
Me: “Yes.”
Them: “But … you don’t know what they’re going to do!”
Me: “What do you mean? What’s the worst they could do?”
Them [in absolute seriousness]: “They might steal Louis Catorze.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Me: [Hysterical, lung-splitting laughter]

I appreciate that people online can pretend to be someone else, but no more so that one’s neighbour, one’s work colleague or the man in the pub; the only “truth” one is guaranteed from a face-to-face meeting is the absence of the filtered selfie. And, let’s face it, we’re not arms dealers or drug barons: we’re cat freaks. The most dangerous exchanges taking place between us will be catnip and, for the hardcore among us, a few Dreamies. (And, yes, I realise now that “catnip” sounds like marijuana, and “Dreamies” sound like ecstasy.)

I have met some thoroughly lovely people through Louis Catorze and all the stupid things that he does, and I am looking forward to welcoming more pilgrims over the coming years.

Cat Daddy: “They’ll be sorry. You mark my words.”

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*Thank you, Elizabeth, for the wonderful picture of le petit voyou!

Le mur

Donald Trump would be so proud of Oscar the dog: not only has he built a wall, but he has managed to get the humans to pay for it.

Except that it’s actually a 5ft fence, not a wall. And its purpose is mainly to keep the Sun King out of sight from Oscar, because of ever-deteriorating relations between the two parties.

Our previous wooden picket fence really wasn’t up to the job of separating the warring factions. Oscar would catch sight of Catorze through the slats and bark like a lunatic; Catorze would run to the fence, stare at him and meow back; this would drive Oscar doubly mad and more barking would ensue; Catorze would meow back again … and the two of them would continue in this fashion like a noisy, furry, 2-part perpetual motion machine until one, the other or both were undignifiedly hauled indoors.

Oscar’s thirst for revenge was eventually such that he began to pummel at the fence, which weakened progressively over many months and eventually gave way. Dog Mamma and Dog Daddy placed a multitude of obstacles and barriers in his way but, having learned and memorised where the weak spot was, Oscar was an unstoppable force. He would choose to strike when his folks were busy doing other things and sometimes actually succeeded in getting through, so I would have to call the Dog Parents and escort their boy off our premises.

And so the opaque fence was born.

Louis Catorze had great fun flirting with the men who put up the fence – they commented that he had kept them company throughout the construction process – but was highly displeased to find that he could no longer survey enemy territory. However, as you can see, he found a solution. Here he is on his new viewing platform – Oscar’s summer house – and, if you zoom in, you can just about make out his cheeky little open mouth, mid-meow. (Oscar is below, out of shot, snapping and circling like a hungry saltwater crocodile.)

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So, as one war ends, another begins. Being the Sun King’s peacekeeping force isn’t easy.