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.”

Sois le changement que tu désires voir en ce monde

Cat Daddy and I are continuing in our efforts to reduce the use of plastic. Our household now boasts sustainable bamboo toilet paper (which used to come from Amazon wrapped in nasty plastic, until we snitched to the supplier and they put pressure on Amazon to stop), plastic-free ladies’ sanitary items made of cotton and other plant matter, and we have even ditched supermarket meat and started going to the pricey-but-worth-it butcher who doesn’t use those polystyrene tray things. 

This morning we said goodbye to the last thing that is really bugging us, which is Louis Catorze’s environmentally-unfriendly Acana Pacifica packaging. Unfortunately some other living thing somewhere will be forced to say hello to it, seeing as the darned thing isn’t recyclable, and I wish there were something we could do about that. But there isn’t.

So we have done the next best thing, which is to stop buying it and to buy something else instead. Lily’s Kitchen is officially our new partner in Opération Get-The-Little-Sod-Onto-New-Food-Without-Him-Noticing, which goes live later today. 

Phase Une will consist of normal servings of Acana Pacifica, with the lightest garnish of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish on top. Assuming it passes with neither refusal to eat nor freak vomiting/diarrhoea incident, we will move onto Phase Deux, which is, erm, the same thing but with a moderately heavier sprinkling of Lily’s Kitchen. 

Despite getting rid of the plastic packaging we still have a considerable supply of the Acana Pacifica food left, having decanted it into Catorze’s refillable airtight dispenser. And, actually, this suits us fine; we will need plenty of the base ingredient because Opération G-T-L-S-O-N-F-W-H-N is going to be a long and arduous project. But it will definitely be worth it for the positive impact of buying from a UK-based company with compostable packaging. And, better yet, our local Pets at Home stock Lily’s Kitchen, so I can go there to collect it rather than have it arrive in a cardboard carton and a layer of bubble wrap. (Cat Daddy: “It’ll be far too heavy for you to carry, with your bad neck and shoulder. Let’s face it: I’m the chump who’s going to end up being the packhorse.”)

I told Cat Daddy how proud I was that our boy was doing his bit to minimise his negative impact on the planet. His deadpan reply, without looking up from his laptop: “Great. Let me know the minute he starts making a positive impact.”

Le coeur vaillant

It’s a full moon tonight, which means more idiocy from the feline population of the planet. And, because we’re approaching Halloween, black cats, in particular, will be more idiotic than ever.

I got chatting yesterday afternoon to Bert the dog’s mamma, as we were putting out the recycling at The Front.

Now, Louis Catorze’s interactions with Bert are pretty minimal, which is why you haven’t heard much about him so far. Bert’s garden has lots of trees and shrubs against the fence, making it harder for Catorze to access it, and it also helps tremendously that Bert is getting on a bit, so his eyesight and hearing aren’t what they used to be. Not that this stops Catorze from making trouble when he feels like it; a friend who visited us once said, “I can’t believe what I’ve just seen. First Louis went over that fence [pointing to Bert the dog’s side] and pissed off that dog, then he went over THAT fence [pointing to Oscar the dog’s side] and pissed off THAT dog. Now the 2 dogs won’t shut up. Your neighbours must hate him – and you.”

Anyway, during our chat, Bert was happily sniffling and snuffling around his mamma’s feet. Louis Catorze had been asleep on the sofa but woke up, heard Bert and decided to follow me outside and scream at him.

Yes, I realise that normal feline instinct should spur him to run in the opposite direction from a dog. But this is Le Roi we’re talking about.

Bert’s mamma didn’t appear the slightest bit surprised by the screaming. In fact, she revealed that she often opened her front door to find Catorze on the doorstep, screaming away (at times when we knew he was at The Front but thought he was having a nap under our wisteria plant). And, apparently, if Bert was in the vicinity, our little sod would scream even more and sometimes try to shimmy past Dog Mamma and into the house.

Yesterday’s incident could have ended badly, but Le Roi’s royal arse was saved by the fact that Bert, incredibly, didn’t see or hear him. (No, I don’t understand, either, how anyone could fail to hear this whiny, searing meow that scrapes away at your eardrums like fingernails on a blackboard.) Then Bert’s daddy came out and said hello, which distracted Bert even further, allowing Catorze to tire of the screaming and pitter-patter back indoors.

This isn’t good, is it? Whilst I am glad that Catorze is confident and not a nervous, hunger-striking, pooing-and-peeing wreck, running screaming towards dogs isn’t exactly where I want him to be. I have heard of strategies to make a nervous cat more confident, but … making a fearless/stupid cat rein it in a bit? Is this even a thing?

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