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.

Le piège à souris

Another day, another darned mouse, this time delivered to our bedroom, undead and twitching. But, fortunately for me, by the time I had gone to fetch a plastic bag and come back again, Le Bon Dieu had had the grace to take its poor soul to mouse heaven.

Because we had to dash straight out to the eye hospital for Cat Daddy’s painfully early appointment, I didn’t have a chance to dispose of La Pauvre Souris in the park bin across the road. I certainly wasn’t putting it in any of our household bins in case Catorze broke in and caused further havoc, so, on our way out, I just dumped it temporarily on the Roi-inaccessible doorstep at The Front, with the intention of getting rid of it as soon as we returned. We would only be gone for a couple of hours and nobody was due to visit us, so nothing could possibly go wrong. Or so we thought.

As we headed off to the hospital in the car, we caught sight of the postman walking into our street. Merde.

There was no time to return home and dispose of the plastic bag before the postman saw it, although Cat Daddy said it was highly unlikely that any postman would untie a plastic bag that was sitting on a doorstep and peer inside.

That was when I realised that I hadn’t tied it up.

We were at the hospital for quite a lot longer than expected and, whilst I should have been worrying about Cat Daddy, all I could think about was whether the postman would tell all our neighbours that we keep a dead mouse in a John Lewis bag sitting on our front doorstep. (Postmen are PERFECTLY placed to spread gossip, aren’t they, given that they go to every house in the neighbourhood and probably know everyone?)

Our only hope was that maybe we wouldn’t have any letters today, so perhaps the postman would have had no need to come to our door. When we got home, however, we found not only that we had had more post than ever before in our lives, but also that the wind had somehow blown the bag open and its grim contents could be seen from the street.

Then one of the neighbours, who was passing by, stopped for a chat on the doorstep, and Cat Daddy was forced to maintain cheerful conversation whilst, at the same time, striking a bizarre pose to obscure La Pauvre Souris with his foot. (He later reported that it was VERY difficult to get that fine balance of hiding the body without stepping on it and having it burst underfoot.)

Now … would you forgive this contrite face?

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La lune est le rêve du Roi Soleil

Please, someone, save us from this psycho nutjob. (No, not the new President Elect, but Le Roi.)

For the past few days he has been screaming, racing around the house, attacking us as we sleep and generally driving us round the bend. I can only assume this is due to the approaching full moon, because he was relatively normal* before.

*”Normal” refers to the Roi scale, not to most people’s reasonable interpretation of the word.

Yesterday he threw all his efforts into pummelling what looked like a shiny black worm, biting it, flicking it around, holding it in his front paws and doing the bicycle kick with his back ones, and, of course, picking it up in his mouth and fleeing if anyone tried to intervene. I later discovered that it wasn’t a worm at all but the suspender attachment from a basque but, even so, that’s time I will never get back again.

We have also had two mice in the last few days and, because Cat Daddy is recovering from quite a severe eye operation, the rodent-catching mantle has been passed to me. There’s nothing more disconcerting than glimpsing a mouse as it runs into the bathroom whilst you are having a shower, hotly pursued by Louis Catorze, then hearing them trash the place whilst you remain powerless to step in until you have washed the shampoo out of your eyes.

Only 2 more days until this nonsense hits its zenith, then hopefully the purging energy of the waning moon will calm the little sod down.

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La patrouille de France

Ever since Le Jour du Rat, rather than snuggling up with us all evening, Louis Catorze has been spending increasing amounts of time outdoors. We initially didn’t pay too much attention to this, assuming he was relaxing on one/both of his outdoor cat thrones. However, a few days ago we discovered that he is not sleeping, nor even horizontal, but upright and wide awake. And he sits staring for hours at the same spot (a gap under the fence that separates Le Château from the school at the back).

I know that stance; I recognise it from the Luther administration. It turns out that Louis Catorze is not being lazy, antisocial or whatever: in actual fact, the little sod is on Rodent Duty. Although I have not (yet) seen him haul any (more) rodents through the gap, I know that this is what’s going on.

Oh Seigneur.

His big brother Luther once brought in a mouse and it lived happily in our kitchen for months; this meant many, many nights of duty, with Luther sitting patiently, eyes glued the spot under the kitchen unit. Friends eventually started placing bets on when he would catch Mousey – yes, actual bets with actual money – with one person believing he wouldn’t do so for THREE YEARS. Luckily it wasn’t quite as long as that (although it felt like it).

The only thing that distracts Louis Catorze from his sentry post is me getting my phone out to photograph him; as soon as he sees it he runs towards me, chirping and trilling. So the photos that you see are actually of Luther, cool and resolute, thinking, “You’re going to have to come out sooner or later, Mousey. I’ve got time.”

And, eventually, Mousey did come out and was caught. I hope Catorze will not have the same success.

Des souris et des hommes

I now have 17 glorious days off work, and this entry of Le Blog was supposed to be full of the joys of the Easter weekend, one of my favourite times of the year. But, instead, I’m piecing together the splintered shards of my life after discovering that my placid, loving little boy is a murderer. I’m also literally piecing together physical things that the little sod smashed up in the all-night battle with La Souris, including a brand new powder compact and a glass jar of body cream.

Actually, perhaps “both a murderer AND an attempted (serial) murderer” would be more apt; on Wednesday night I was awoken by squeaking, and found that he had dragged another victim to his lair:

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This time Cat Daddy managed to trap Souris Deux in my watch box and set it free in the park. It seems he was right when he told me the other day that La Souris Originale would be “the first of many”. This is not good. And it was most definitely not in the small print when we adopted Louis Catorze (unlike his big brother Luther: “Will bring mice and birds” couldn’t really be any clearer).

I don’t really want to lock Louis Catorze in at night. Nor do I want to shut him out of our bedroom, as he has slept with us on our bed ever since the very first night. But the thought of gross mousey feet on our stuff, not to mention gross mousey bodies expelling gross mousey excretory substances, is awful. Years ago, when we had no money, we lived in a rat-infested hovel with our elderly cat, who was too old to hunt and would just sit and watch the rats run past her; our days of having rodent housemates are over, and we don’t want to go back there again.

My one small hope is that this influx of mice is a temporary spring thing and that, once they’re bigger and older – the ones that Louis Catorze caught were TINY – they will be able to outrun him. Please, please let this be the case.

Le chasseur

Our days of being able to trip gaily about Le Château barefoot or in the dark – or both, had we wished to do so – are over. At just after midnight last night, for the first time ever, Louis Catorze brought a live mouse into our bedroom and set it free under the bed.

We thought it a little odd that he was so active when he came in, pitter-pattering about far more than usual, but we assumed it was just full moon madness and that he was having an extended play with one of his many toys. Then Cat Daddy said, “Put the light on. He’s caught something.”

I refused to believe it – after all, this is my sweet, gentle little soul who is too lazy, slow and stupid to hunt – but I did as I was asked. And I glimpsed the unmistakable sight of a little teardrop-shaped lump of grey fur with a poker-straight stub of a tail, just before it disappeared under the bed.

Cat Daddy got up, called Catorze a very rude name indeed, and set about finding a suitable receptacle in which to trap poor La Souris, eventually settling upon the box that my new watch came in (which displeased me immensely, but there was nothing else to hand). Alas, a quick glance under the bed revealed absolutely thousands of things, from boxes to bags to shoes to unidentifiable stuff that we haven’t even unpacked since the move; if we were going to take each piece out to corner La Souris, it would take us until sunrise and we were already exhausted after a long day at work.

“What shall we do?” he asked.

“I think we should just leave him in here to catch it,” I said. So we both went to sleep in a different bedroom and hoped for the best. We did wonder how we would know whether La Souris had escaped, whether it had been caught or whether it was still hiding under the bed, but we needn’t have worried because it turned out that Catorze had Un Grand Plan.

Whilst Cat Daddy fell asleep immediately and slept through everything, I was kept awake for the next FIVE HOURS by the sounds of scampering, meowing and things falling to the floor. And Louis Catorze’s Grand Plan to alert us of La Souris’ status was to deposit its carcass outside our door and yowl until we opened up.

After that there was no getting back to sleep for me – although Cat Daddy, annoyingly, again had no problem – so I thought I may as well stay up and write this. The prospect of getting through a full day at work after not managing to sleep AT ALL, makes me want to hurt others and myself. Catorze, however, remains unfazed by his new-found bloodlust. Here he is, at the scene where he dumped the body, and I swear there’s an ungiven shit in the picture:

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