Not long ago, we spotted this fine gentleman in the Zone Libre:
The fox stared at us, motionless. And, in the time it took us to debate whether or not to supervise Louis Catorze in his outdoor jaunts that evening, the little sod had slipped through the hole in the fence and out into the Zone Libre.
For a few seconds, Cat Daddy and I stopped breathing.
Catorze and the fox locked eyes, then Catorze decided he was … bored. Yes, bored. He yawned a little, then looked around at the scenery and had a little wash.
After seeing that neither party intended to move, and that Catorze was neither traumatised nor looking for a fight, we left them to it (but kept the bifold doors wide open, just in case). Catorze remained there until darkness fell, then casually strolled in, ate a few pellets of Orijen and went back out again. He didn’t even give the square root of a merde that the Zone Libre contained one visible predator plus any number of concealed ones.
What on earth is he thinking? Why isn’t he scared? Should we be concerned about the fact that he isn’t scared? We have many questions although we suspect that, even if he were able to answer them, he still wouldn’t.
Meanwhile, he is just going about his business as usual and living his best life.
Cat Daddy and I are on the last part of our holiday, which is a week in a secluded eco-croft in Durness. And, whilst London sizzles in a heatwave that looks set to hit 37°C on Monday, we are luxuriating in the joy that is 23°C and below. It’s absolutely blissful, although I do miss the company of Louis Catorze. (Cat Daddy, however, says he doesn’t.)
I have brought my Great British Map of Folklore and Superstition on holiday with me, and the north coast of Scotland is packed with spooky creatures of interest. These include ghosts, mermaids and even witches who shapeshift into cats, the latter of which made me think Catorze would probably feel quite at home here:
I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: Catorze has the weirdest cat tail I have ever seen. Although the tail itself is still nowhere near as weird as the fact that, when making him, God/Mother Nature/Satan/whoever decided that he wasn’t quite weird enough in his personality, so a weird tail was also necessary:
We have various theories in terms of what could have inspired this crocodilian creation. Here are some suggestions:
Are there any other Catorzian tailalikes out there? Please let me know, if so.
Merci à Dieu: it’s the school holidays. And my long summer break started off in true Catorzian style: when I came home I trod in some cat puke and, because I was three double vodkas under, I didn’t notice and ended up treading it all around the place.
My conversation with Cat Daddy went something like this:
Him: “What’s all this mess?”
Me: “Nothing to do with me.”
[I check under my feet.]
Me: “Oh my God.”
My flip flops have since been jet-washed, but nothing will jet-wash the images from my soul. Especially the bit when I borrowed Cat Daddy’s flip flops whilst I jet-washed mine and, somehow, in the jet-washing process, I managed to transfer some cat puke to his flip flops via my bare toes.
Other than going away with Cat Daddy next week, my plans involve mainly watching horror with a cup of tea in my hand and Louis Catorze on my lap. Well, there’s no point spending my holiday doing things I don’t like, is there?
In other news, one of our neighbours, who is a plumber, popped round the other day to look at our bathroom sink because, somehow, the plug has dropped down the plug hole and is stuck. (Yes, I know that being small enough to actually fit DOWN the hole is the least useful quality for any sink plug.)
Upon his arrival I was TUC, so I called hello to him and he came into the living room for a chat. When he saw Catorze on my lap, I could tell by his face that they already knew each other.
Plumber Neighbour: “Ah, it’s him!”
Me: “Oh God, I’m sorry.” [It’s become a routine thing to apologise for Sa Maj before I even know what’s happened.]
Him: “Oh no, he hasn’t done anything wrong. I often see him in my garden, looking very pantheresque.”
Me: “Oh, right!”
Him: “And Heather says she’s seen him in her garden, too.”
Me, with no idea of who Heather is or where she lives: “Oh, right!”
Merde, I should have thought this through and hidden Catorze as soon as I knew that Plumber Neighbour was coming. Now that he has seen him at our house, not only can I no longer give him the “Oh, it must have been some other cat” line if there’s any trouble, but he is also able to tell the mysterious Heather that he knows who the black cat is and where he lives.
Worse yet, Plumber Neighbour’s house backs onto a prime parakeet stronghold and, when there’s a cat in the Zone Libre, they all gather here to shriek at it. This is what their symposiums look like:
And this is how they sound:
So Plumber Neighbour is perfectly placed to be ear-assaulted by the hideous noise AND to see who is causing it. On the occasion captured above it was actually Beefy Tabby Tigger (just visible in the video) who was responsible for the unrest, but we know that Catorze is capable of it, too, because we’ve seen him do it. Having Catorze on Plumber Neighbour’s radar, and having that connection back to us, isn’t a good thing at all.
Note to all owners of troublesome cats: hide the cats when neighbours come round. Or, at the very least, kick them outside and, if the visitors happen to see them through the window, act as if they’re someone else’s cats. It’s considerably more difficult to lie when you’re TUC and the offender is the very C that you’re TU.
Cat Daddy’s Avian Apartheid is working: the larger birds have given up trying to eat from the bird feeder, and he could not be more delighted about this. His favourite visitors are two pairs of pretty goldfinches who come every day, multiple times.
During his Friday night Zoom call with his boozy pub mates (yes, they’re still doing it, even though they’re allowed to go to the actual pub now), one of the lads told him that you can buy finch-specific bird feed. I know. So Cat Daddy then bought a huge 863kg sack of it.
Now, of course, he is complaining that the goldfinches like the food too much, because he is having to refill the feeder more often than before. It’s quite surprising that four such tiny birds manage to chomp through so much food in such a short time but, if he makes the choice to cater for particular birds’ dietary requirements, he surely can’t be too shocked that they, erm, eat the food?
Anyway, the good news is that, despite the fact that the finches have caught Louis Catorze’s eye, he appears to make no attempt to catch them. He sits and stares intently from a distance, and that’s as far as it goes. And we are glad about this.
Catorze definitely sees himself as the apex predator. But he also knows that he can’t be arsed to do anything about it.
According to the creepy old magpie rhyme, seven indicates “a secret never to be told”. In this case, it’s not much of a secret: Louis Catorze is on the other side of the fence, winding them up, and they’re all cackling at him. If you zoom in, you can even see the bottom right one with its beak open, mid-caw:
Cat Daddy was so concerned that he actually went to look over the fence to check that his boy was all right. Not only was he perfectly fine, but he didn’t even appear to care about the apocalypse unfolding around him. The skies were darkening, the avian army was gathering, and all the while Sa Maj was happily slow-blinking away in the Zone Libre, enjoying the last few remaining rays of sun.
The same kitty sixth sense which informs him of when I am about to give him medication, somehow failed to alert him to this. In fact, WE were alerted long before Catorze was. I don’t think I will ever understand this.
Worse yet, I have just discovered that the French version of the creepy magpie rhyme says “Sept pies: enterrement”, which isn’t especially reassuring.
I really don’t want any trouble … yet I fear that is exactly what I will get.
Louis Catorze’s friend Donnie now visits on a daily basis, often stopping by multiple times a day.
Cat Daddy and I are ok with this as long as Catorze remains happy to see his friend. We hope it won’t turn into something oppressive or threatening, and that Donnie won’t become that pleasant-but-too-needy friend who pops round unannounced and who doesn’t seem to know when to leave. (If you’ve ever had that friend, you will know how difficult it is to tell someone to get lost when they’re just being friendly and their only crime is no awareness of boundaries.)
It’s always the same routine when Donnie comes over: he sits outside the cat flap and screams, Catorze goes out to join him, then they either sit and stare at each other in our garden or they pitter-patter off into the Zone Libre. If Catorze isn’t available when he arrives, Donnie will sit outside and wait.
The route from Donnie’s place to ours takes him through many gardens, over many fences and through the Zone Libre, which is Foxy Loxy’s domain. For the moment Catorze is always the one to host Donnie at Le Château but, should Donnie ever decide to return the gesture, I don’t like the thought of Catorze crossing the Zone Libre to get there. The foxes are becoming braver and more aggressive; Dog Mamma caught one cornering Blue the Smoke Bengal in her garden recently, and she had to intervene. I wouldn’t want Catorze or Donnie squaring up to a whole foxy gang in the inaccessible Zone Libre.
Sa Maj is an old boy and we imagined he would be taking it easy in his twilight years, not gallivanting around town with young whippersnappers like Donnie. But we’re glad he’s enjoying himself.
The pesky squirrels have chewed, multiple times, through the wires of the pretty solar-powered garden lights that the Dog Family gave to Cat Daddy for his birthday. Of a string of around twenty lights, only four now work. And Cat Daddy is not happy about it.
After Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind and threats to obtain a firearm, Cat Daddy decided to … buy a new set of lights. Now, I don’t wish to victim-blame but this is asking for trouble, in the same way at that, if one’s Lexus were vandalised, it would not be advisable to buy an identical new Lexus and park it in the same spot the very next day.
Cat Daddy has also bought some new fruit trees for the garden, despite Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma telling us that the squirrels stole the figs and peaches from her trees last year. So, as well as parking a new Lexus in the same place where vandals targeted his old one, he’s also effectively bought several brand new Lexuses (Lexi?) and dotted them tantalisingly around a neighbourhood known for Lexus theft. Oh dear.
This is only going to fuel Cat Daddy’s already-raging hatred for the squirrels. But he’s done it now, so it’s too late.
The new string of lights looked lovely trailing around the honeysuckle trellis and across the fence and the shed roof … until Cat Daddy remembered that he had to paint the fence, so there was a second round of unrepeatable expletives when they all came down again.
This area also happens to be Louis Catorze’s route to Twiggy the greyhound’s place, so we may have to rethink when they go back up. Cats are supposed to be able to deftly pitter-patter through even the trickiest of obstacles – there’s a YouTube cat who can run across a floor covered in dominos without toppling a single one – but this is Catorze we’re talking about. I can well imagine going outside to find him flailing and screaming among the wires, like a fly caught on that sticky paper (not that flies scream, but you know what I mean).
The fence painting is going on right now as I write. But, when Cat Daddy has finished, I might ask him to nail the lights slightly lower, to facilitate the Catorzian exit route. And his painting supervisor (pictured below) agrees.
Most people would have dismantled their festive decorations on Twelfth Night, but we barely needed to bother because the squirrels were kind enough to do much of the job for us. We can’t be sure of exact numbers but we imagine we are about ten baubles down, thanks to those pesky, thieving little sods.
However, this is by no means the end of Cat Daddy’s war against them. His latest piece of weaponry is the feeder pictured below, which allows birds to access the tasty treats but somehow doesn’t permit “pests”. Nothing is quite as passive-aggressive as a feeder that says “Here’s food for everyone else, BUT NOT YOU.”
Our favourite visitors are a pair of robins, who are so friendly that they even come to feed whilst we are doing our noisy outdoor workouts.
We love them, and we look forward to seeing them every time we look or go outside. But we are also very nervous on their behalf, because of this individual:
Now, the last time that Louis Catorze caught a bird was a long time ago (full story featured here: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/07/16/loiseau/ ) and, as far as we know, he hasn’t caught one since. So logic would deem it unlikely that things would go awry. However, this is Catorze, he who pretty much INVENTED the dark art of doing exactly the opposite of whatever is expected or wanted. This is why we are nervous.
I returned home from Halloweekend-by-the-sea on Sunday afternoon and, apart from Cat Daddy accidentally double-pilling Louis Catorze on Friday (and then wondering why he was so bouncy and show-offy during the Zoom call with his pub mates), the weekend passed sans incident in TW8.
Yesterday I took Catorze to the vet. Unusually, there was total silence from the patient on the walk over to the surgery. Then, when we arrived at the door, he shifted to demonic possession mode: thrashing around inside his transportation pod, Exorcist-style growling, the works.
This time I was allowed into the waiting room (avec masque, of course). But, regretfully, this meant enduring the embarrassment of looking them in the face and telling them that my cat might have been punched in the face by a squirrel AND that I’d given him drugs without prior authorisation. And I can now confirm that the common belief that a face mask conceals smiles/laughter is very much a myth.
Anyway, it seems that his allergy is the more likely culprit than squirrel rage, and that we were right to pill him. We have to continue for the next five days, and, after that, reduce to every other day for ten days and add an eye ointment. Not DROPS, which fall conveniently where you want them to and spread effortlessly across the whole eye, but OINTMENT, which comes in a squeezy tube and has to be smeared on/in. It defies all science (thick creams simply cannot go into eyes) and all common sense (nobody in their right mind would stick their finger into the eye of a screaming, writhing, clawed animal with the strength of ten angry bears), but we are in what they call an Option-Free Zone. Cat Daddy and I might have to do Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who ends up with that torturous task.
The secondary post-vet news is that Catorze now tips the scales at 3.8kg, his heaviest to date, yet it’s still within his healthy range so nothing to worry about.
Saint Jésus et tous ses apôtres: Cat Daddy has seen three foxes run away from Louis Catorze at The Back.
Je répète: three foxes, each weighing (I imagine) around 7-10kg, have RUN AWAY from our 3kg cat.
The strange thing is that he didn’t even scream or hiss to send them packing; all he did was stick his head through the gap in the fence that separates the Zone Occupée from the Zone Libre. That said, his diminutive stature and vampire fangs mean that he isn’t immediately identifiable as a cat, so perhaps they saw him as some cryptozoological freak of nature and thought it best to steer clear. And, to be fair, it’s not the first time anyone has looked at him and had those thoughts.
Cat Daddy found a big hole dug in our garden not long ago, so clearly the foxes had been gadding about back here again (unless, of course, a bunch of them cornered Catorze and forced him to dig his own grave), which is not what we want. I would be very happy if these three reported back to their foxy friends that a peculiar beast is at large in the Zone Occupé, and that they must avoid the area at all costs.
However, I wouldn’t want Sa Maj to become over-confident and to go sashaying over there thinking there were only three of them, when in fact there are at least eight.
This is a situation which will require ongoing monitoring. But Cat Daddy and I are ready.
Now that the steroids have kicked in, living with Louis Catorze is rather like living with a drug addict (not that I have lived with THAT many drug addicts in my life, but you know what I mean). He spends his days either asleep, bouncing off the walls or having an attack of the munchies.
The good thing is that he’s MOSTLY continuing to eat his tablets in Pill Pockets. However, on the odd occasion when he doesn’t, we have had no choice but to use the Greco-Roman method.
Although I am getting better at Greco-Romaning, when he takes his pills without the buffer of the Pill Pocket it’s rather like having a neat vodka shot instead of a vodka and soda. Suddenly he is wired and invincible, and we have to be on the alert to wrench him out of trouble’s way.
Not long ago, immediately after being Greco-Romaned, he decided to go outside and taunt the enemy again. You can just about make out the squirrel atop the telegraph pole and Catorze, alarmingly, is trying to figure out a way of joining him:
I would have concerns about any cat considering this even under normal circumstances, but doing so whilst stoned and Côned is utter lunacy. So I had to go out there and do the rescue helicopter thing and pluck him to safety. (Yes, I also took a photo, but this is mainly because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.)
No doubt we can expect to have another warning anytime soon. And I know how these gangs work: if one warning appears to have no effect, they will do something worse the next time. So, if you hear that our bodies have been found, buried face-down in our back garden (cause of death: stoning with hazelnuts), you will KNOW.
We appear to be living in not one but TWO horror movie sub-genres at the moment:
1. Post-apocalyptic dystopia.
2. Erm, those films in which the protagonist offends the wrong people and receives a warning message daubed on their house.
Not content with annoying the magpies, the parakeets, the foxes and the dogs, and despite being Côned, Louis Catorze has now pissed off the squirrels. And this was their grim reminder that they are not to be messed with:
We have seen news stories about nature reclaiming the planet now that we humans have retreated into our homes (for example, those goats in that town in Wales: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-wales-52109712/coronavirus-goats-take-over-deserted-llandudno) and it seems that our answer to that is the squirrels. They are the new gangland bosses who rule the lawless streets of TW8, and they appear to have teamed up with the magpies and the parakeets to form a united force against their common foe: cats.
(It also doesn’t help that relations between Cocoa the babysit cat and the squirrels are acrimonious, to say the least. He can name murder, actual bodily harm, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment among his crimes against squirrels, so you can’t really blame them for not liking cats.)
Not only do the squirrels seem bigger, cheekier and more prolific than ever before, but they are also noisier. Yes, squirrels have a NOISE, which is a new, and not especially pleasant, discovery to us. We have heard the abrasive part-chatter, part-rattle during Catorze’s supervised exercise yard sessions – with the little sod occasionally meowing back – and now we realise that it wasn’t just an incidental squirrely sound but a battle cry. And I dread to think what Catorze said in return. I had hoped it might have been a friendly “Bonjour” but, under the circumstances, this seems unlikely.
These are dangerous times indeed, Mesdames et Messieurs. We have been told that we must stay at home to remain safe, but I feel anything but safe knowing that the squirrels KNOW WHERE WE LIVE.
*EDIT: 48 hours after Cat Daddy cleared up the above mess, the squirrels returned and did the same again, presumably because we talked. Shit just got serious.
The good thing about having a black cat is that, when they raise hell, you can pretend it was some other cat and not yours. And the chances of anyone proving otherwise, beyond all reasonable doubt, are slim. If they raise hell at night it’s even better, because the darkness hides them and therefore there is zero proof.
However, Little Sods’ Law decrees that a black cat is most likely to raise hell as follows:
1. In broad daylight.
2. When the entire neighbourhood is at home to witness the carnage.
3. When the cat is sporting a unique piece of headgear making it impossible to mistake them for anyone else.
I turned my back for SECONDS to put the kettle on, then heard the most God-awful shrieking. When I went to investigate, I was met with this:
The screeching was coming from the green parakeet pictured on the wires, who was hollering at Louis Catorze with all its might. Yes, Catorze is on Oscar the dog’s territory. No, I have no idea how he got there. And, yes, he now has a new self-harm wound which means he will be Côned for EVEN LONGER until it heals.
He is now sleeping off the excitement in the living room, right where I can see him. I, in the meantime, am Googling animal cages (size: XS) and wondering if they can deliver within the hour.
I’m now over halfway through my post-surgery recovery, and things been quite hard as the fog of the anaesthetic has worn off and the realisation has dawned of what lies ahead: in other words, at least another fortnight of not fully being able to what I want, and being mostly stuck at home with a cat who couldn’t care less whether I live or die.
I’ve had a few dark moments when I have wished Luther were still here, because he was the perfect nursemaid when I was ill: instinctively knowing, caring and not leaving my side. I’ve felt a little sad wondering how I could have gone from that to this, yet also resigned to the fact that there is nothing I can do about it because Luther isn’t here anymore, and Louis Catorze is.
Yesterday afternoon Cat Daddy took me for my daily, medically-prescribed walk to the park across the road from Le Château; we have often talked about how Luther would have claimed it within a few days had we moved here with him, whereas Catorze has shown zero interest during the whole year that we’ve been here. However, this time the little sod shocked us senseless by deciding to come with us.
Although he didn’t vanish off into the farthest corner, as Luther would have done, for a short while it was like having Luther back with us. Louis Catorze hung close to the bench where we sat, yelling and sniffing, retreating home only upon the arrival of a menacing gang (an elderly couple) and their status dog (a tiny but very angry bichon frisé). And, when we got back, he even spent some time on my lap, in my favourite pose: with his torso and paws on me, and the less desirable arse end well away from my body.
Luther very often gives his little brother a beyond-the-grave kick up the arse when appropriate, and I really did need this one. I hope Catorze continues to remember that he likes me, even though I will only ever be, at best, his second favourite human.