Les rats de ville

Our pubs are officially open from today.

However, Cat Daddy and his boozing buddies have decided that they won’t be heading back to the Cock and Bull* quite yet, and that they will continue their virtual drinking meets for the time being. This is great news for Louis Catorze, who loves the Friday night Zoom sessions with the boys, and even better news for me as I get to listen to their captivating chats and tell you all about them.

*I haven’t made this up. This is the actual name of the pub where they used to meet pre-lockdown. I KNOW.

Anyway, for those who are interested, their most recent meeting of minds consisted of the following topics:

1. Eric Clapton

2. Playing whole albums on Spotify/Deezer/Apple Music/whatever, versus only playing selected tracks

3. Who has the biggest car (Tim, Mike and Simon fought it out between them and couldn’t agree, so the conclusion remains inconclusive)

4. Plastering, and the fact that you can (apparently) now get paint which is the same colour as plasterboard

5. Lawn bowls

6. Sutton Beer Festival 1975, when (apparently) a naked lady climbed to the top of a marquee and a naked man chased after her

7. Pete’s summer house/shed, and whether it should be called a summer house or a shed

8. How much salt everyone adds when they’re cooking

In other news, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, CANNIBAL RATS. Oh yes. 2020 has already given us blazing infernos (Australia), raging floods (UK), a plague of locusts (Somalia) and a killer virus (erm, everywhere) but, if you drew “cannibal rats” in your workplace sweepstake as the next thing to go wrong in the world, you may well be in the money. On the positive side, the reopening of pubs may draw the little critters away from residential areas. But that’s about the only good news that there is.

Be warned, this link is a darkly comedic yet horrifying read:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/29/summer-of-the-cannibal-rats-hungry-aggressive-highly-fertile-and-coming-to-our-homes?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Thank goodness for Catorze and his relentless hours of Rodent Duty. Ok, so it’s not great that he brings them into the house, but I guess a dead rat in the house is somewhat preferable to a live one running freely and making little ratty babies. (There were many, many things in the above link that made me shudder, but “highly fertile” was by far the worst.)

Here is the little sod, having adopted an elevated position for a better view and continuing to take his civic duty very seriously indeed. So, good citizens of TW8, we can sleep soundly in our beds this summer.

All along the watchtower.

Vieux chat fait bonne chasse

One big difference between me and Cat Daddy, in terms of our attitude and preferences regarding pets, is that he likes show-off animals who do lots of zany things, whereas I just want a quiet one who won’t give me any grief.

Blue the Smoke Bengal’s mamma told us last week that, since quarantine began, Blue had caught a blackbird, a squirrel and some other animal that I can’t remember (possibly a mouse), and Cat Daddy remarked that Louis Catorze was useless, having caught nothing this year. I, on the other hand, was very happy not having to clean up the remains of dead wildlife from my house, and I did not want Cat Daddy to tempt fate by wishing otherwise.

Over the weekend I had some restless nights, and Catorze didn’t help when his energy spike peaked at about 5am on Sunday resulting in abundant screaming and thundering loudly around the house. Later that morning I found a piece of silverware, i.e. a dead rat, in his trophy cabinet, i.e. the area at the bottom of the stairs, strangely the same area that his big brother Luther also used to use as HIS trophy cabinet in our old house. Whilst this is by no means a great place, especially as a sleep-deprived human doesn’t always spot brownish prey placed on the brownish floor and therefore risks stepping on it, Catorze’s previous trophy cabinet used to be our bedroom and, quite frankly, anything is better than that.

As ever, I followed the same standard ritual that I always follow in these circumstances. And I am sure most pet owners can relate:

1. Gasp and retch.

2. Admonish Catorze, who doesn’t understand a word I am saying (and, if he did, he still wouldn’t give a shite).

3. Shut Catorze away in sin bin in case he grabs rat and darts under our bed with it.

4. Find coin and slide it next to rat (very slowly and cautiously in case rat springs back to life and runs up my arm), then take photo for my friend Lizzi, who STILL hasn’t forgiven me for not photographing the curly-haired rat from 4 years ago: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/

5. Place Ocado bag inside another Ocado bag and gingerly scoop up rat with hand inside the double-bag barrier.

6. Knot double-bag very firmly, again in case rat springs back to life.

7. Place bag outside on doorstep so that Cat Daddy can dispose of it in park bin when he wakes up. (Since this is partly his fault for wishing it upon us, it’s only fair that he do his bit.)

8. Gently slide coin away from ratty floor area.

9. Clean both coin and ratty floor area.

10. Release horrid, screaming Catorze from sin bin.

11. Seethe with frustration as Cat Daddy undermines me by lavishing Catorze with praise and cuddles.

I really want this to have been a one-off. But the fact that Catorze has now begun Rodent Duty – sitting motionless for hours outside, eyes fixed on the gap between the Zone Occupé and the Zone Libre – doesn’t fill me with hope.

*EDIT: after I placed the bagged rat on our doorstep, we both forgot about it and didn’t remember until about 3pm, by which time it had sat cooking in the sun for 7 hours. Oh well. Cat Daddy’s problem, not mine.

He can still taste it.

Le soldat

Summer is fast approaching, which means that Louis Catorze spends the vast majority of his time sitting to attention, carefully monitoring the gap between the Forbidden Greenhouse and the shed (first picture). Very occasionally he relaxes his pose and sits at ease, but his concentration does not wane (second picture).

Nothing can successfully shift him from his station except someone approaching to take a photo, so these shots were very lucky indeed.

The only explanation we have for this behaviour: this must be a spot where rodents hang out. Obviously it’s great that the little sod takes his Rodent Duty so seriously – and, by this, I mean that he spends hours and hours like this, and neighbours have begun to comment and laugh – but I’m not looking forward to him bringing his panting, dismembered prey to our bedroom. Which he will.

I’m not joking about the panting. Look here if you don’t believe me: https://jesuisleroisoleil.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/psycho-kitty-quest-ce-que-cest/

Cat Daddy: “He’s not on Rodent Duty; he’s just staring at nothing because he’s THAT boring. He’s the most inept hunter ever. He won’t catch a thing.”

Cat Daddy was really silly to tempt fate by saying this. For an “inept hunter”, Catorze hasn’t done badly since we moved here (rats, mice, a bird and, of course, the slug that was dropped onto my pillow as I slept). Plus he is highly proficient at doing exactly what we don’t want him to do, so I’d be prepared to put money on us receiving a delivery very soon.

The bin bags and the rubber gloves are primed for action … and, should the worst happen, Cat Daddy will be on disposal duty.

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.

A31E46B8-D744-4D6E-8047-2171EB2500E6

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:

CE9BFC62-8832-4F1A-ADDB-8B631880D831

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:

AC20F5E1-5298-4F40-85AA-51383A725A38

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.