L’écureuil a été reconnu non coupable

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.

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable, fat-shaming expletives]”

This photo, taken last Wednesday, was what prompted our vet appointment, but Sa Maj is starting to look a little better now:

Sore little sod. But still loving life.

L’armée rousse

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 Occupé 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.

“You and whose armée?”

Les drogues et les bagarres

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.

To find out why the Greco-Roman method is so called, please look here: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/01/07/la-pilule-est-dure-a-avaler/

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.

La guerre de la planète des écureuils

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.

L’enfer, c’est les chats noirs

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:

At least they’re 2 metres apart.

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.

J’adore le parc

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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.

Tel est pris qui croyait prendre

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Meteorological hot snaps and convalescence: not a good combination. However, one very flimsy silver lining is that Cat Daddy and I like to sit outside in the evenings and gaze up at the sunset through the telegraph wires at the back of Le Château, with Louis Catorze pitter-pattering about our feet. We used to find the wires a bit of an eyesore but now, somehow, we have fallen in love with their retro charm, and we adore watching the clouds glide and the colours melt hypnotically through their stark lines.

Not so yesterday. One moment they looked just as they do in this photo, and the next – no more than a second or two later – they were filled with starling-type birds, all eyeing us disdainfully. The whole flock had suddenly risen like a cloud of black vapour from behind the fence and alighted on the wires, then, as quickly as they had appeared and before either of us could reach for our phones, they vanished.

I have always found birds creepy, long before seeing THAT Hitchcock film – something about the combination of fluffy bodies and scaly, dinosaur feet makes me feel funny – but this was just too much. And Cat Daddy didn’t help when he remarked that these particular birds looked exactly like the one that Louis Catorze killed recently.

Saint Jésus: we are being hunted. The birds want to avenge the death of their fallen comrade, and they know where we live.

Louis Catorze also observed the feathered army’s sinister vigil and didn’t appear to be in the slightest bit intimidated – but I was. Under normal circumstances I would lay down my life to protect my boy but, faced with the prospect of a 100-strong throng of terrifying, vengeful birds, cowardice has prevailed and I’m more inclined to fling Le Roi in their direction and beg them to take him instead of me. (Well, he is to blame for this, after all.)

What should we do if they come back? What if this encounter was just the beginning of a campaign of terror and intimidation? If Louis Catorze, Cat Daddy and/or I are ever found dead in mysterious circumstances, possibly face-down in a pile of feathers and covered in what look like puncture marks, please show the police this blog entry and tell them that the starlings did it.