Le plastique n’est pas fantastique

Cat Daddy and I have found it difficult to stick to our green routine during lockdown, for the following reasons:

1. Due to lack of availability, we have, at times, had to choose between food wrapped in plastic or no food at all.

2. We haven’t been able to get to the post office to send our plastic film to our friend who makes the speakers, nor our empty crisp packets to the lovely volunteers who magically transform them into donations to their local air ambulance. So we have had to bin some of it, as we don’t have the space to let it pile up.

3. Ocado are no longer taking back their carrier bags for recycling.

4. Sometimes we I have stuffed up and ordered the wrong thing online by accident.

Cat Daddy was very cross with me the other day when what I thought would be recyclable aluminium cans of John West Tuna in olive oil, ordered on Ocado, turned out to be plastic pots of John West tuna in olive oil. These are a new invention because, apparently, when people put a half-eaten can of tuna in the fridge, they don’t like the whole fridge smelling of tuna (and, apparently, decanting into a sealable container is too arduous and/or complicated). So the new pots come with a resealable lid to keep the tuna stench from tainting the fridge.

It’s somewhat annoying that both pot and lid are made of plastic, plus there is a peel-back film made of that weird plastic-foil hybrid stuff which isn’t recyclable anywhere on the planet. And it’s also annoying that the pots are smaller than the cans, so the chances are that most people would eat the lot and wouldn’t need to put any leftovers in the fridge. But what offended Cat Daddy about this purchase was that he had just written to John West to complain about the hideous ungreenness of their new plastic pots and I have now made a fool of him by buying that very product, even though it was a genuine mistake.

Anyway, in something of a departure from the norm, the only individual in our household maintaining their level of responsibility is Louis Catorze, who is still a loyal customer of Lily’s Kitchen in their compostable packaging (which, when empty, we use as food waste bags). And we sincerely hope that their acquisition by Nestlé will not lead to any changes in their packaging nor in their food formulations. I am half-tempted to shop around and change but Le Roi really, really likes Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish.

Here is Catorze, looking smug beyond belief in the knowledge that he is the greenest person in Le Château. And he would like to remind any tuna-loving furry comrades to boycott John West until they do something about their stupid plastic pots.

Like an evil warlord planning his next strike.

Le Jour de la Terre

We all knew, didn’t we, that, as soon as I posted about Louis Catorze being Cône-free, he would scratch himself and stuff everything up. To be honest I thought he would maybe give it a day or two. Eight hours after my post is quite some doing, even by his standards.

Anyway, enough about that little miscreant for now. Today is Earth Day, and I will not allow him to ruin it. I thought it a good time to talk about our plastics recycling box looking mightily impressive (i.e. empty), with a huge reduction in bottles and packaging. At least this was the case pre-quarantine; now, it seems, we can’t afford to be too fussy, and sometimes we have had to choose between food wrapped in plastic or no food at all. But we hope to resume our previous ways once life becomes normal again.

We are now the proud users of plastic-free sanitary ware from Natracare and Naty (me, obviously, not Cat Daddy), plastic-free toothpaste from Georganics and GENUINELY recycled/recyclable shampoo in the black tubs from Lush (which, when returned to Lush stores, are recycled forever and ever, as opposed to normal “recyclable” plastic of which only a tiny percentage is actually recycled).

One of the few plasticky things still lingering is Catorze’s Broadline and, even though it’s only once a month, it bugs me that I am using this single-use plastic – or ZERO-use plastic, if you count all the times the little sod has fought like a demon during application and the product has ended up on the floor or on me instead of on him.

But my extensive searches online for an alternative – yes, it’s astounding how many hours I can while away on stuff that is dull as shite, and I was quite skilled at this even before lockdown – have revealed nothing suitable. Everything I have found is either individually wrapped in plastic (nope) or, in one case, is a pill that requires Greco-Roman administering (HELL, nope).

Cat Daddy wondered if we could get away with just not flea-treating Catorze. If he were an indoor cat I might have been tempted; however, not only does he go outdoors, but he also rummages in the most disgusting places that don’t bear thinking about. Last week I had to try and haul his arse out of That Neighbour’s bin, Cône and all. And on THIS occasion (see link) we suspect that he crept into a fox hole and stole their dinner, for fun: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/08/14/a-bon-chat-bon-rat/

I have never had to deal with a flea infestation, but I have heard dreadful horror stories from fellow cat freaks who have. Fleas are stubborn little buggers and, if you’re very unlucky, you can end up having to treat the cat, carpets, curtains, clothes, furniture and bedding, multiple times. No, thank you.

So the best I can do at present to deal with the remnants of Broadline is to deconstruct the vial after use, so that the damage is minimal. Left to right, with their final resting places listed in brackets, are as follows:

1. Box and information leaflet (cardboard and paper recycling)

2. Vial container tray (plastics recycling)

3. Vial with plunge bit (plastics recycling)

4. Floppy film covering the tray (our friend whose company makes speakers – yes, as in sound system speakers – from recycled plastic film: https://www.gomi.design)

5. Very tiny thing on the far right: rubber stopper (landfill)

Louis Catorze may not quite be a 100% zero-waste kitty but, if the extent of his waste is just a rubber stopper every month, I guess that’s not bad for now. Manufacturers, you’re not off the hook, though. You still have work to do.

Maintenant lavez-vous les pattes

We have just treated ourselves to a fabulous green solution for storing our unsightly recycling boxes. However, once the top bit is filled with soil and plants, I am concerned that a certain someone may mistake it for the world’s fanciest litter tray. So … how to keep Louis Catorze from doing unwanted business here? 

Cat Daddy, rather naively, is insisting that Catorze will never use this as les toilettes royales “because he isn’t allowed out at The Front”. But we all know better, don’t we? 

We – well, I – thought about everything from cat-arse-activated sprinklers to filling the top with spiky cacti to deter la derrière royale, but then my mum suggested sedums. No, I had no idea what they were, either, until now. 

As far as I can gather, sedums are low-maintenance, semi-succulent plants which (my mum says) will spread quickly, leaving little-to-no soil exposed to tempt wayward cat behinds. And although they are not covered in spines like cacti, they can be quite pointy in places, so I can’t say I would especially want to sit on one.

So, now that we have a genius idea for Roi-proofing our new purchase, all we need to do is ramp up our efforts to keep The Front under lockdown. Player 1 (me) is ready. Player 2 (Cat Daddy), not so much.

If you also fancy treating your cat to a ruinously expensive outdoor litter tray, we got ours from bluum.co.uk. We even managed to assemble it without Cat Daddy losing his temper and without me stabbing either him or myself in the head with the screwdriver.

Les caresses de chat donnent des puces

C584A943-212A-47E7-9B98-81566F8D670CMy plan to make Louis Catorze a zero-waste kitty has reached an obstacle: spot-on flea treatment. Not only is the market fairly limited in terms of products – with some well known to be utterly useless – but not a single one is plastic-free. So it won’t be quite as simple as swapping brands, as we did with the little sod’s food. 

Louis Catorze uses Broadline, which has the added benefit of also treating worms and therefore absolving us of the Greco-Roman death-wrestle when we try to get a worming pill into him. Each little vial comes individually wrapped in a plastic tray with a peel-off film cover. Whilst I can see why vets and pet shops would want such packaging for sterility, I wrote to the manufacturer to ask if there may be another option for at-home users.

The response – which, unbelievably, came from a lovely customer services lady named Cat – was that the packaging was needed to keep the product stable and to comply with some fancy-sounding European safety law. 

(When I told others about Cat, very worryingly a couple of friends told me that the name must just be a coincidence, as if I genuinely thought the company might only recruit people with animal names or, worse, that I thought they had an actual cat managing their customer service enquiries.)

I wrote back to Broadline Cat and asked if they were doing anything to find an alternative to plastic. I understood about the product stability – after all, we wouldn’t want rancid chemicals to cause Catorze to mutate and turn into the scary Monsieur Hyde version of himself – but, given the ticking time bomb that is single-use plastic, I hoped that there might be another way. (Cat Daddy remarked that Catorze already IS the scary, mutant Monsieur Hyde version, and that a cocktail of putrid chemicals couldn’t possibly make things worse in that respect.)

Broadline Cat replied as follows: 

“Please rest assured that Boehringer Ingelheim continuously look to make improvements where possible to improve our environmental impact. Whilst there is nothing more we can share currently on this particular area, we will ensure to raise this with global manufacturing and supply chain colleagues working on our environmental programmes.”

I don’t know what the solution is for packaging spot-on flea treatment. But I hope Broadline Cat will be true to her word and that they will continue to look for one. 

Je bouffe, donc je suis

After several months of a carefully-orchestrated changeover and regular snippy comments from Cat Daddy about the slowness of it all, Louis Catorze has now fully transitioned from Acana Pacifica to Lily’s Kitchen. So he is well on his way to becoming a zero-waste kitty. (Cat Daddy: “Apart from the waste that comes out of his arse end.”) 

Better yet, he genuinely seems to like the Lily’s Kitchen better, which is quite the accomplishment for a cat who, generally speaking, doesn’t like food. He actually comes running when he hears the biscuits rattling and sometimes clears his plate, neither of which he used to do before, and I feel almost* guilty that we have subjected him to merely satisfactory food until now. 

*Almost, but not quite. Louis Catorze leads a life of luxury and certainly doesn’t need our sympathy. 

Whilst I am delighted that our boy is happy and that he has actively reduced his carbon pawprint, I hope we won’t lose the many advantages of a cat who doesn’t like food. It is an absolute joy to be able to leave human food on the kitchen worktop, knowing that it will be safe. It’s also great to be able to go out for a whole day, having put down 2 meals’ worth of food, and know that the little sod will make it last. His big brother Luther was very much a guzzler rather than a grazer; his inability to pace himself meant that, if we were going out, we would always have to make arrangements for someone to come and feed him. I recall my mum once witnessing his gluttony and saying, “That food was meant to last him until the evening. When you gave it to him, did you not EXPLAIN?” 

Here is Catorze’s custom-made feeding station (created by the builders upon Cat Daddy’s orders), which houses his black kitty feeding mat (gifted by my sister) and his vintage French bowl (gifted by one of his best-loved pilgrims). La vie est belle.

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Rien ne sert de courir

And behold: Phase Trois is under way!

I never thought this day would come – mainly because I imagined I would have throttled the little sod long before we reached this point – but we have a carefully-calibrated* 6:4** ratio of Acana Pacifica to Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish. AND LOUIS CATORZE IS EATING IT. 

*(Too much Lily’s Kitchen accidentally tipped in)

**(Was meant to be 7:3 – see above)

When I began Phase Une I bought only the smallest pack of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish, for fear of Catorze rejecting it. But now I have been able to buy the largest and best-value size, safe in the knowledge that it won’t go to waste AND that I can just toss the packaging into our compost. What’s more, we were able to walk to Pets at Home and carry it home (on the hottest afternoon of the week, with poor Cat Daddy as the load-bearing packhorse) rather than ordering online and having it arrive in cardboard, bubble wrap or, worse, those awful polystyrene Wotsit things that won’t be recycled and that spread everywhere like an STD of the parcel world. 

(Cat Daddy wanted to know why I was writing about STDs in a cat blog but, as he hates the polystyrene Wotsits as much as I do, he will understand when he reads this.)

I was also about to say that we have successfully avoided activating the puke switch so far, due to the gradual transition, but things are already going unsettlingly well and I daren’t tempt fate. So I shall avoid any talk of the puke switch. NOBODY MENTION THE PUKE SWITCH.

Phew. I think I just about saved myself there.

Le lit découvre tous les secrets

Louis Catorze has a Château full of comfortable beds at his disposal, with soft anti-allergy bedding and freshly-laundered duvet covers. So, naturellement, he chooses to sleep in … a grubby Hounslow Council plastics refuse sack, in the equally grubby Forbidden Greenhouse. You couldn’t make this up … and, to prove that I really haven’t, here he is, narrowing his eyes at me with no shame whatsoever: 

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Could he BE any more low-brow and unbecoming of a Sun King? 

Cat Daddy: “If you gave him enough time, probably, yes.”