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!

Les pèlerins du Roi Soleil

IMG_8830I can’t think of the last time one of my friends was organised enough to make plans with me several months ahead of time. However, not only does a certain little sod have people who are, but they happily come from all over the place to see him.

The Sun King had a lovely day yesterday with one of his beloved and generous pilgrims (see above for the fabulous gift that he received) and he has further pilgrimages arranged for as far ahead as September, from as far away as Mexico.

Prior to receiving his pilgrims, Cat Daddy and I often have a conversation like this:

“So, who’s coming today?”
“[Insert name of pilgrim].”
“Where are they coming from?”
“Somewhere north of, erm … the equator.” [I usually mumble the words “the equator” to try and make it sound like an actual place.]
“What do they do for a living?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are they single or married?”
“I don’t know.”
“How old are they?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how old do they look in their Facebook profile photo?”
“I don’t know, because their Facebook profile photo is of a cat.”
“So you haven’t asked our guest ANYTHING about themselves?”
“Erm, well, I know about their cats.”
“Of course you do.”
“There’s Buddy, who’s black with 3 white feet and a white chest, who weighs 4.2kg. He’s going to be 2 on 7th November and he once brought a mouse and put it into [Pilgrim]’s laptop bag. And there’s Princess, a seal point Siamese weighing 5.1kg, who celebrated her 8th birthday last week and who is scared of the vacuum cleaner but fine with the hairdryer.”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

I know this must sound as if I’m not interested in people. I am. But, quite often, I’m more interested in cats. And, luckily, I know that not a single one of Louis Catorze’s pilgrims will be insulted by this, because they all feel the same way.

They are, after all, coming to see him, not me.

 

Vivre un échec est pire que lutter

After the joys of the weekend, which included a wonderful visit from some of the Sun King’s pilgrims, today was Steroid Shot Day. And this is how it went:

– Brutal wrestle getting Louis Catorze into La Cage: check
– Yowling throughout the journey: check
– Kicking, hissing and clawing during the injection: check
– Silence all the way home (apart from the odd moment when Cat Daddy muttered, “Disgraceful behaviour”): check

And it seems that Le Roi has lost weight and is down to 3.22kg. We had noticed his appetite reducing in proportion to his increased trips outdoors for Oscar-baiting and suchlike, and we’ve had no reason to be unduly concerned. But we’ve been told to keep an eye on him and not let him get too skinny (which will be a challenge for a cat who doesn’t like food).

Then, when we got home, we realised that we had locked ourselves out of Le Château, so Cat Daddy waited outside our door with La Cage perched on the wall whilst I dashed around retrieving our spare keys from Cocoa the babysit cat’s family. During the wait, Cat Daddy got chatting to a random passer-by who commented on Louis Catorze’s “lovely face” (although, to be fair, it was getting dark outside at this point), and who revealed that all his cats had come from the same rescue as Catorze.

The little sod sat happily and serenely through the key kerfuffle and the compliments. Maybe one day he will do the same with the vet.

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(Thank you, Phil, for the fabulous photo showing my dear boy’s tooth impediment in its full glory.)

J’adore mes invités

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This weekend Louis Catorze had another visit from one of his many internet admirers. Cat Daddy rolled his eyes when I told him of this lady’s impending arrival. “Not because I mind people coming,” he said, “but because it must be such a massive anti-climax for them when they see Louis.”

Excuse-moi?

“They’re probably too polite to say, ‘We came all the way here for THIS?'” he continued. “And I don’t suppose it’s possible for them to post a message on the forum warning others not to bother coming, without you reading it too. So there’s going to be a perpetual stream of people coming, feeling disappointed and then leaving. Like being trapped in an eternal cycle of samsara without ever reaching nirvana.”

At this point I had to Google what the heck he was on about, hoping to catch him out by saying, “Actually, samsara is Hindu but nirvana is Buddhist” or some such thing but, annoyingly, he appeared to have got it right.

I told Cat Daddy that everyone who had visited Louis Catorze thus far had found him nothing but delightful (although this is probably because, when he’s feeling unwell and anti-social, I don’t have people round). “In that case, we should give everyone something to make their pilgrimage worthwhile,” Cat Daddy said. “Like those rosaries and trinkets that they sell at Lourdes. I think it would be hilarious to arm all the cat freaks in London with Louis Catorze stuff.”

Ok, so … you think people would be disappointed by our cat so, to compensate them, you wish to give them a keepsake of said disappointing cat? A keepsake in the style of a SAINTLY RELIC? There is no logic whatsoever in that, yet I do agree that it would be funny. A little creepy, and the kind of thing that some sort of subversive cult leader would do, but also funny.

So I shall happily take suggestions from Le Roi’s followers: what sort of merchandise would make you feel adequately recompensed for an “anti-climactic” trip to TW8? Fridge magnets? Key rings? Prayer candles? Do please reply and let us know. And, if you have already visited him, don’t worry: retrospective gifts can be sent to you so that you don’t miss out, even if you have come from overseas.

Oh my. So one day Louis Catorze is washing his arse and puking on the floor, and the next he’s being deified. No doubt this would seem weird to most but, when it comes to him and his ridiculous life, tout est possible.

Faites vos dévotions à moi!

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It’s been another eventful weekend at Le Château. First of all, the onset of autumn has meant a glut of daddy long legs(es?), so Louis Catorze has been busy catching and eating them. Despite being a bit dim in most areas of life, he is surprisingly adept as an insect- and arachnid-hunter and has even been known to leap from laps, shoot across the room in semi-darkness and gulp down some hapless creature that was minding its own business on the opposite wall. And, just as wildlife photographers don’t interfere when a Thomson’s gazelle meets its end at the hands of a predator in the Serengeti, I stay out of it and let nature take its course.

Louis Catorze also had a visit from another of his loyal subjects, who had read about him online and wanted to experience the warmth of the Sun King first-hand. These visits are starting to become a regular thing, which is most delightful for all of us at Le Château, and they have even been likened to pilgrimages, with reverent followers coming from near and far to bestow blessings in the form of cuddles and toys.

Cat Daddy snorted with laughter at the idea of our boy becoming a sort of latter-day Notre Dame/Seigneur de Lourdes, and said, “He’s a scraggy, black runt! What POSSIBLE benefit could anyone reap from coming to see him?” Well, the fact is they continue to come; we have 2 more visits lined up next month, and I daresay there will be more after that. If people can be so inspired by an unremarkable-looking, special needs black cat, I see that as a major coup in the battle against black cat prejudice which currently sees them as the least popular and last-picked of all cats.

Health-wise, Louis Catorze is continuing to remain allergy-free, although both Cat Daddy and I sense that this run of good fortune is soon to end. That’s just the way it goes with our boy, with good and bad episodes coming and going in cycles, but I’m always on the lookout for the next thing that could help him. A very kind friend and Roi-enthusiast recently recommended rooibos and chamomile as possible soothers of irritated skin and, with Cat Daddy and I both being tea lovers, we have heaps of both in our kitchen. So, whenever it may be that things start to go bad again, we’re ready with a new weapon of choice.