Il est 11h30 et Le Roi saute et saute

It’s New Year’s Eve. There was a time when I would rather have punched myself in both eyes than stayed home tonight. Whereas, now, the idea of catching a tube across town and paying £30 to enter a pub that I would ordinarily be able to enter free of charge, doesn’t appeal at all. Plus queuing for toilets, Compromise Prosecco instead of proper Crémant and so on – just NO. So Cat Daddy and I will be spending the night TUC.

For once in our lives, the member of the household who is in the best state of health, not simply lacking in ailments but positively glowing and well, is Louis Catorze.

I was a little worried about him when his last vet visit revealed a weight loss of 190g (almost two bars of Green and Black’s chocolate – a lot for one so small), but the vet wasn’t unduly concerned since his habits haven’t changed. The little sod is showing every sign of being a healthy cat: eating and drinking well, playing constantly, diving underneath blankets and cushions and thrashing around and, somehow, managing to find rodents from somewhere, despite us being in the depths of winter.

(I could do without that last one but, since it’s a clear sign that he’s feeling good, I’ll take it. Cat Daddy, however, is delighted that his boy has rediscovered hunting, because it reassures him that he has raised a manly cat who can take care of himself.)

If it’s true that the way in which one year ends is indicative of how the next one will go, Sa Maj looks set to have an absolute cracker of a 2023, when he will turn a sinister but impressive thirteen.

I hope 2023 is a glorious year for you, and thank you so much for putting up with supporting us and our dear little sod. Here he is, having just finished gadding about in the soft plastics recycling, ready to race up the stairs and attack some hapless object (probably me):

If there were ever a good moment for chain mail socks, this would be it.

Le dernier repas

It’s all kicking off here in the U.K. and we Brits are the laughing stock of the world. Again.

During lockdown, when we weren’t supposed to be seeing more than one person outdoors, parties took place at the Prime Minister’s residence. The person hosting the parties initially denied that there were parties, and has now admitted it but claims that he thought they were work events. The person originally investigating whether or not there were parties, attended one of the parties. The person who wrote the Covid rules and who decides whether or not they were broken, also attended one of the parties. The newly-appointed person investigating whether or not there were parties, works under the person who hosted the parties.

I know. It couldn’t be more absurd if it tried, although it certainly explains why Louis Catorze behaved so badly during my online lessons and meetings: clearly he thought he was at a party. And, to be fair, there were a couple of occasions when things were completely chaotic and/or I was drinking neat Absolut Vanilla from a tea mug at 3pm, so I can’t really blame him.

Meanwhile, Catorze’s war against mealtimes is waging on. Cat Daddy has weighed Catorze’s food on our new set of precision scales, and it turns out that we are only supposed to be giving him three scoops per day. In actual fact we have been giving him around 978 scoops per day.

Now, I wouldn’t normally advocate overfeeding a cat but, since the vet told us that the little sod needed to chub up, we aren’t in a rush to change the overall quantity of food. We have, however, been reconsidering his feeding times and, instead of feeding Catorze whenever he asks, we decided that would give him set mealtimes, just like normal cats.

Catorze came downstairs from his nap one afternoon at around 4pm, then began to creepy-stare for food.

Cat Daddy: “Look at him, trying to bully us.”

Catorze continued to creepy-stare.

Cat Daddy: “Ignore him.”

Catorze continued to creepy-stare.

Cat Daddy: “In fact, let’s take his bowl away.”

I put Catorze’s empty bowl into his food cupboard.

Then the screaming started.

Mon Dieu: I know I have said this numerous times before, but you really could strip paint with his voice.

Our new tough love regime lasted a whole minute and a half before we reverted back to our previous system, because I just couldn’t stand the screaming. So here we are – again – at the mercy of this shouty, toothy little dictator.

He really is the worst. And we are pathetic beyond belief for allowing it.

“Feed moi.”

La fête des jeunes

There is a gang of marauding youths partying in the park over the road. And Louis Catorze is DESPERATE to go out at The Front and join in their festivities.

Obviously there’s not a chance in hell that this will happen. However, this hasn’t stopped the little sod from trying. He is battering and headbutting the shutters, whining like a dying dog, and, the louder the marauding youths and their music become, the more he wants to go out.

We didn’t have to worry about this kind of thing with Luther; although he was adventurous and wandered some distance, he wasn’t especially brave when it came to people and he would run from strangers. Catorze, as we know, doesn’t go far, but he will happily hang out with anyone, anytime. Even marauding youths, in the dead of night, in the run-up to Hallowe’en.

If Cat Daddy were home right now, he’d be talking to Catorze as if I weren’t there, saying, “Aww, poor Louis! She never lets you have any fun, does she?” But he’s not, so tant pis for the pair of them.

Anyway, I am trying to watch a film, and I am being constantly interrupted by whining, creepy staring, and by the little sod repeatedly leaving the room, then pushing the door wide open as he comes back to see if I’ve changed my mind about letting him out. (I haven’t.) The film is supposed to be a tense horror, but the interruptions are more atmosphere-killing than you can possibly imagine.

It’s going to be a long evening. And not because of the marauding youths.

It’s still a NO.

Une fête magnifique

Full Moon Hallowe’en is over. And this time is the saddest of times, because we have a whole year to wait until the next Hallowe’en and NINETEEN YEARS until the next full moon one.

But what a time was had. (And it’s just as well because, as from 5th November, the axe will be falling on the U.K. and we will be locked down for a month.)

Oscar the dog’s folks have always been astonishingly good sports when it comes to festivities, but on Saturday night they surpassed even their own high standards by coming to our barbecue dressed as Louis Catorze. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: all three of them, DRESSED AS CATORZE. Dog Mamma and Dog Sister even had fangs. And the Dog Family also brought a “Pin the Tail on Louis” game, which was a close competition but Cat Daddy just edged me out by a few pesky millimetres, making him the overall winner on the night:

An excellent likeness: chapeau to Dog Sister.

We really couldn’t have wished for a more perfect night: a sumptuous Hallowe’en barbecue cooked by Cat Daddy, great fun with the Dog Family’s quiz and entertainment, all within the confines of The Rules and, unbelievably, no misbehaviour from Catorze. (This was due in part, I’m sure, to the fact that we weren’t repeatedly opening our door to trick-or-treaters and therefore his opportunities to cause trouble at The Front were severely limited.) However, next Hallowe’en is also set to be a special one because it coincides with the end of British Summer Time. So we will have an extra hour of the best day in the world.

And, would you believe, Sa Maj is already fully booked for the whole of the 2021 Hallowe’en weekend, and has been for some time. It’s a sad day when your cat is more popular than you but, at the same time, we’re used to it.

The Dog Family made us this delicious chocolate torte, based on Catorze’s two favourite activities: catching rodents and bringing about the apocalypse.

La fête de la décennie

And, in the blink of an eye, Louis Catorze’s birthday weekend was over. But what a party it was.

Cat Daddy, in a deadpan voice: “Oh yeah. It was probably the best cat birthday party I have ever been to.”

This celebration had everything: there was a birthday barbecue with Oscar the dog’s family – each of us in our own garden, of course – with a cat-themed music playlist, a Cat in the Hat recital and a speech in both English and French, all created by Oscar’s very talented human sister. Even Oscar was lured out of his post-meds sulk and joined in the proceedings, although that was more about the burgers than about extending an olive branch to his némésis.

Cat Daddy and I talked afterwards about this most likely being Catorze’s last big birthday, as it’s doubtful that he will make 20 or even 18. But, given that he doesn’t do very much or go very far, we see no reason why he wouldn’t make 14. And surely we should celebrate Catorze turning, erm, quatorze ans? Is it too early to start planning that?

Merci beaucoup to the Dog Family for their company, their impeccable party planning and their splendid gifts. Here is the little sod (below) checking out his stash and, although he loves everything, his favourite items are the handmade card and the beautifully decorated gift box.

Thank you also to Cocoa the babysit cat, his sister, Chanel, and their family for the Lily’s Kitchen treats, which came wrapped in the most sublime gift wrap ever (last photo).

“Pour moi?”
Un, deux, trois cat(s).
Le cœur de notre famille.
Cocoa Chanel.

Nos compagnons à quatre pattes

Cat Daddy and I have just spent Christmas Day with Louis Catorze’s Cat Uncle and Cat-Cousin Alfie, and we also met up with Nala the dog and her mamma a few days previously. (Gosh, that was a lot of the word “cat” in one sentence.) Nala is lucky enough to live opposite a lovely dog park and, as a result of her time spent there, she has made more same-species friends in the last two months than Sa Maj has made in his entire life. On Sunday there was even a dogs’ Christmas party in the park, with one of the dog mammas distributing home-made, dog-shaped biscuits to all canine guests.  

“How was the party?” I asked Puppy Mamma. 

“Oh, y’know: much like an office Christmas party,” she replied. “Too much noise, a couple of fights, that kind of thing.”

Oh dear. 

This kind of event would NEVER have worked for cat owners. But I do wonder what it might be like if there were such things as cat parks and we were able to meet in the same way that dog people do.  

Imagine, if you will, rows of park benches filled with ladies, some with bandaged hands due to pilling incidents that turned bad, all discussing the latest device to remove cat hair from furniture and clothes. There would be empty cat carriers at their feet as all the cats happily gambolled about in the park, chasing bugs and chewing grass. Then, when it was time to go home, the ladies would call their cats back and the cats would ignore them. 

Puppy Mamma added that she finally understood what I meant when I talked about my cat friends, as she now has dog friends. She explained how dog owners chat in the park about how their dogs have been, vet visits, the most recent embarrassing escapade etc. and generally bond through their mutual love of dogs. I get it – after all, this is what cat owners do, the only difference being that the internet is our “park”. 

“I guess it must be easier to suss people out as you’re meeting them in person and not online,” I said to Puppy Mamma, “but how do you avoid the freaks?” 

There have to be SOME freaks in Dogsville, right? The whole world knows, of course, about the 60% or so of cat people who are total weirdos, not always in a good way, and I suppose that, as someone who tells people that my cat is French and has his own visitors’ book, I am one of their merry number.

“Easy,” Puppy Mamma told me. “You get to know what time the undesirable people or the undesirable dogs are going to be in the park, and you just avoid going at that time.”

If only it were that easy in the cat world; how wonderful to be able to avoid one particular attention-seeking, punctuation-dodging nutjob – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE – simply by refraining from logging on at certain times. That said, what a pity if the human were pleasant but one had to steer clear of them because they had an undesirable dog. This is utterly unheard of in cats. Whatever their issue, however naughty or stroppy or psycho they may be, undesirable cats are simply not a thing. 

Cat Daddy: “Really? I can think of one.”

If a genie were to grant me three wishes, I would wish for that cat park – yes, even before wishing for a lottery win, world peace or more wishes. And, should you ever see cats pitter-pattering about your local green space and a group of slightly harassed-looking ladies in jaunty scarves, helping themselves from a free Crémant fountain, you will KNOW. 

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!

On a 7 ans!

Today is Louis Catorze’s birthday, according to his paperwork, although it’s actually the anniversary of the day that he first pitter-pattered into the rescue. The staff there probably tend to celebrate 20th July instead, which is the day that we took him off their hands and ended his reign of money-draining. (He was, and, as far as we know, still remains, their most expensive cat ever.)

At 7 years old he is now officially either Mature or Senior, depending on one’s source. Yet he is still the same tiny, kittenish little scrap of a thing that (we imagine) he was at a year old, which is quite impressive; how many humans could claim to look 1/7 of their actual age?

I had the idea of a huge neighbourhood birthday extravaganza with accordion music, Sun King bunting and party poppers that scatter Dreamies and party powder instead of shredded paper and glitter, but Cat Daddy vetoed it.

“We have had a whole house built and furnished to his specifications,” he sighed. “We have spent, and continue to spend, a fortune on anti-allergy paraphernalia. He has better food and health care than we do. So he can go whistle if he thinks he’s getting a party or presents.”

And that was that.

Don’t feel too bad for the little sod, though. He doesn’t know that it’s his birthday, for a start. And he will have a perfectly pleasant day here at Le Château with us, eating his usual ruinously expensive food imported from Canada and playing with the many lovely toys that pilgrims have kindly given him. And we will be raising a glass to him and thanking the universe for his good health. It will be no different from any other day in his life, but, trust me: this is good.

We hope you are having an equally lovely bank holiday weekend with your furry overlords, and that every day feels like their birthday.