Longue vie et prosperité

Since Valentine’s Day there have been no further sightings of Le Rat. Nor have there been any sightings of its much larger parents, whom my mum has convinced me are out there somewhere.

For a bit of fun, and in the hope that our collective mind over matter might speed things along a little, I started a sweepstake among my fellow cat freaks, with a small prize going to the person who correctly predicted the day that Louis Catorze eventually caught Le Rat. But, unfortunately, it has backfired catastrophically: whilst Le Château remains a rodent-free zone, the cats of some of the sweepstake entrants have had a right old hunting hootenanny. And one or two of the humans aren’t very happy and hold me responsible.

This turn of events means one of two things has occurred:

1. The Mothership* has malfunctioned
2. The Mothership is functioning perfectly well, merci, and the universe is unfolding as it should

*You are all aware of The Mothership, oui? The mysterious alien craft responsible for beaming sinister commands to the feline population via their microchips? Yes, we’re all TOLD that microchipping is to track them if they get lost, et patati et patata, but we know better, don’t we?

Cat Daddy is highly amused by the nationwide rodent-killing spree. “They say that rodents are the only creatures which could survive an apocalypse,” he said, “but it sounds as if the cats belonging to the sweepstake people would be ok, too. Louis Catorze wouldn’t last a minute. In fact, if there were an apocalypse, the rodents would probably eat HIM.”

Let’s hope that the hunting hootenanny is just a temporary phase. Otherwise I fear that the apocalypse might happen sooner than we think.

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Beurk, le rat!

It’s Valentine’s Day, and many of us will have received gifts in honour of this auspicious Hallmark day. My gift, however, is delayed.

Here is a picture of it:

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Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: here at Le Château, seeing a live rodent isn’t just seeing a live rodent. It’s Louis Catorze’s equivalent of those despatch confirmation emails, saying, “Your parcel is on its way.”

Responses to the photo of my impending delivery have been as follows:

Oscar the dog’s mamma: “A baby rat, I reckon. I think it’s rather cute. But I still wouldn’t want it in my house.”
Cat Daddy: “A RAT. Where the hell is HE when we need him?”
My mum: “They say that, in London, you’re never more than 3 feet away from a rat. You’d better keep your door shut when you go outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes.”

Super. Merci.

It’s not a question of WHETHER Louis Catorze will catch it – because we know that he will – but WHEN. And, unfortunately, there will be no way of tracking this package, and I guess I can forget about choosing a one-hour delivery slot. Knowing Catorze, Le Rat will be dropped onto my pillow in the dead of night, still squealing, with one or more limbs/organs hidden elsewhere in Le Château for me to find later.

Joyeuse Saint Valentin à tous!

Psycho kitty, qu’est-ce que c’est?

A few days ago, Louis Catorze decided that he wanted to play a game of “J’ai Caché Un Otage Quelque Part Dans Le Château Et Maintenant C’est À Toi De Le Retrouver.” If you don’t know what this is, trust me, you’ve dodged a bullet here.

Like every twisted serial killer in history who has left a trail of clues to taunt the world-weary detective chasing him, Catorze taunted me. The first clue was staring at nothing, sniffing nothing and peering under furniture at nothing. I knew that something was up but I couldn’t prove it.

Next clue: lots of nocturnal pitter-pattering but, when the light was switched on, the little sod would be sitting perfectly still, eyes wide with innocence. Then, when the light went out again, the pitter-pattering would resume. (The written description of this doesn’t even come close to conveying how annoying it was in reality, ESPECIALLY as Cat Daddy slept through it all.)

Then, a couple of nights ago, the bar was raised. I awoke to far-off, yet clear, panting: short, regular bursts, as if someone were inflating an air mattress with one of those manual pump things. Not long after that came the sound of familiar pitter-pattering and, then, the killer’s final coup de poing: the dull-eyed corpse of a huge mouse or medium-sized rat (I hope beyond hope that it was the former but fear it may have been the latter), blood spilling in all directions, dumped in the bedroom.

I realised then that the panting must have been either the poor rodent’s dying breath, or evil Catorze’s laboured wheezing whilst trying to run with his grande gueule stuffed full of rat. Neither option fills me with joy.

I now know exactly how Scotland Yard felt when they received THAT letter, although things were much easier for them as Jack the Ripper was good enough to stop after five(ish) victims. What next for Catorze and his killing spree? Tortured hostages dragging themselves around, half-alive, under the bed? Body parts and innards dropped onto my face as I sleep?

Cat Daddy: “It’s what cats do.” I still wish they wouldn’t, though. Here he is, taking a brief bit of repos from his murderous rampage:

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L’infirmier

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A couple of weeks ago I had a cortisone injection in my right shoulder, and yesterday I had another one in the left. (The hospital actually sent me a further letter inviting me for a third one, then realised their mistake when I pointed out that I only have 2 shoulders.)

My sister: “This means that 2/3 of your household are on steroids!”

After the injection you are supposed to rest at home for 48 hours, which has meant I’ve had to cancel a few things that had been planned for ages, including my mum’s birthday lunch, my friend’s 30th and a concert which was my anniversary gift to Cat Daddy. So he went out for the night, taking his friend as his anniversary date, and I was stuck indoors with Catorze. (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme.)

Now, I realise that a cosy night in with a cat may sound like a pleasant way of passing the time, but this is Catorze we’re taking about. For a start, I am only his 14th favourite human in the world (after Cat Daddy, ex-Houseguest Matt, Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy, Cocoa the babysit cat’s brother, Oscar the dog’s daddy, Bert the dog’s daddy, our friend Steve, our friend Phil, our friend Daniel, Krzysztof driving the Lemon van from Ocado, the man who fixed the dishwasher and those two trick-or-treating youths who came wearing clown masks and brandishing machine guns), so I don’t suppose staying home with me is top of his list of fun things to do. Also, cats instinctively know when you are ill but only about 8% of them actually give a shit, and this makes the patient more miserable.

Quelle surprise, then, when the little sod remained cuddled up on my knees all evening! THIS NEVER HAPPENS! And, when my pain got too bad and I decided to take myself off to bed, I called him from upstairs and he came running to join me. (This is one of the dog-like qualities that I love in him but, very often, when he arrives and sees that it’s just me and my stupid shit again, he turns around and leaves. This time he stayed for a brief cuddle.)

At 1:15am I was woken by the familiar sound of indistinct scrabbling (the feline version of a text from DHL, indicating that a delivery had been made). Nothing says “Get well soon, maman!” quite like blood all over the bedroom floor and a dead rat, especially when only having one functioning arm with which to clean up the mess.

I intend to take it easy for the rest of the weekend. I really hope that Catorze does, too.

Les escargots

Some cats catch birds, others catch mice and a few catch rats. Louis Catorze has managed all of the above, and more, but his latest thing is to bring teeny-tiny snails into Le Château.

Cat Daddy is quite embarrassed by it and feels that there is more prestige in rodents, with the manliness of the cat being directly proportional to the size of the rodent caught. “Snails are just a joke!” he declared. “Only he could be so slow that a SNAIL is capable of catching up with him and hitching a ride on his fur. I hope you chucked them out in the park at the front. If you chuck them out in the garden, they’ll eat all the kale.”

Oh. Oops. Luckily I remembered where I’d put them and was able to retrieve them because, being snails, they hadn’t got very far.

Here are two of our boy’s gifts, brought one after the other on the same night, pictured with a 20p coin to get a true sense of their teeny-tininess. It seems you can take Le Chat out of France, but you can’t take France out of Le Chat.

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.

La chasse de trésor

Cat Daddy is back after his 2-week business trip to the States, and he came home laden with gifts including this fabulous cushion cover.

imageI had a feeling that his return would either calm Louis Catorze down a little or send him into an even more excitable and annoying frenzy. I was right about one of those.

The little sod won’t leave his papa alone and has been yelling, climbing all over him and staring at him with crazed, psycho eyes. And, as we all know, some cats are known to bring gifts to staff on such occasions as returning after an absence, but Le Roi has taken it a step further and has devised a sort of twisted treasure hunt.

On the morning of Cat Daddy’s return, I had to clean 2 perfectly round, 5p-sized drops of fresh blood from our bedroom floor. There were no other smears or trails, just 2 solitary drops. Yet a thorough inspection of Louis Catorze – well, as thorough an inspection as he would allow without slicing me up – revealed that he was neither hurt nor in distress.

This could only mean that the blood came from another entity. And there was every chance that this entity could be somewhere within the walls of Le Château.

My mistake was cleaning up the blood before Cat Daddy had seen it because, bien sûr, he didn’t believe me when I told him about it. His theory is that it could have been nail varnish (?), ignoring my protests of “But I only own 1 bottle of nail varnish and it’s glittery silver, not red” and the rather more pertinent “I think I know the difference between nail varnish and blood.”

So this thing, whatever it may be, remains unknown and unfound, despite our best efforts (or, rather, MY best efforts, as Cat Daddy refused to help me look for an imaginary corpse that had shed imaginary blood). And I know that, if we fail to find it by sight, in time it will deploy the next clue: the come-hither stench of death, to help us locate it by smell. Let’s hope Cat Daddy finds it before I do.

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.

Le dimanche sanglant

Whilst last Sunday was officially Olympic Sensational Sunday to most British people, to Cat Daddy and me it will always be known as Le Jour du Rat.

This morning we were talking about the psychology behind cats’ offerings and why they bring them even if they’re well-fed. Some of the theories are as follows:

1. It’s part of an involuntary natural instinct
2. They are gifts borne out of love
3. Cats think we are rubbish hunters, so are attempting to show us how it ought to be done
4. Cats are little shits

What’s puzzling us about RatGate – apart from the rat’s curly hair, which appears to be bothering many Roi followers at the moment – is that the rat looked as if it had been dead for a little while. So … had Louis Catorze killed it ages ago, stored it in some unknown place and then artfully plated it up for his papa, like a Masterchef finalist presenting a piece of 21-day hung steak?

Or – and this is more likely – had the fox killed it and saved it for later, and was Catorze passing off the fox’s efforts as his own?

Either way, I remain traumatised by the whole event, replaying it in my mind over and over again. However, something tells me that Cat Daddy may have moved on:

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A bon chat, bon rat

Just like pre-baked jacket potatoes, cycling superhighways and selfie sticks, outdoor sofas are one of those things that seem like a good idea at the time. But, if you have a cat, you may need to rethink your plans to get one. Outdoor sofas can get covered in all sorts of undesirable matter: paw prints, cat hair, dead rats, that kind of thing. And guess which one of the three greeted Cat Daddy this morning, when he went outside to enjoy his first cup of tea of the day?

When he broke the happy news to me, for some reason I felt the need to go and look to make sure he was telling the truth. He was. There, on his favourite spot on the sofa, was a large, curly-haired (nope, neither have we), 3-legged rat.

(Don’t worry: Cat Daddy found the other leg later.)

There was also evidence that a fox had been in Le Jardin but, from what I have learned about foxes’ hunting habits during the 5+ solid hours that I have since spent Googling the subject, leaving prey behind on a raised rostrum isn’t their style. Although it’s quite possible that a fox killed the rat, the podium presentation has Louis Catorze written all over it.

Whilst I shrank into a corner, weeping quietly and rocking back and forth, Cat Daddy remained admirably stoical as he grabbed the gloves, spade and bin bags. I would dispute his theory that “if Louis Catorze had really done it, he would have brought the rat indoors.” No: he didn’t bring it indoors because he COULDN’T (although I bet he gave it his best shot). This thing was at least 30cm long from nose to tail, and probably a good 1/3 of the little sod’s own body weight. And it certainly explains why he was curiously absent for much of last night instead of snuggling up with us and watching the heptathlon and the long jump.

So the outdoor sofa cushion covers are drying outside and our bed linen is next, because we doubt that notre ami mutuel washed his paws this morning before tricking us into unsuspecting bed cuddles.

Here he is, looking very sorry for all the bother he has caused, with stuff on his face that I really hope are cobwebs but I expect they are some sort of nasty rat granules.

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