Il n’y a pas que le travail dans la vie

We are having some major work done in our bathroom this weekend, with the whole floor being replaced.

For most households with pets, this would require calming, anti-anxiety measures in the form of Feliway and suchlike. In our case it is the workmen, and not the pets, who will be requiring the calming, anti-anxiety measures, because Louis Catorze can’t seem to take no for an answer when it comes to men and won’t leave them alone. So we have tea ready for them in case Sa Maj is bad, and neat vodka and a cattle prod in case he is really bad. 

So, at best, we can expect some mildly irritated but tea-soothed men who manage to get their work done in spite of the screaming. At worst, with all the Roi distractions and the anaesthetising glugs of vodka, a three-day job could end up taking three months to complete. 

Here is the little sod carrying out his pre-work inspection and testing the acoustics of the bathroom. (It turns out that feline screaming magnifies/echoes massively in here, so I think we’re going to need more vodka.) 

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C’est mieux dehors que dedans

*WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC REFERENCES TO CAT PUKE*

The puke switch has been activated. I should have known I had spoken too soon in my last post, and no doubt this is because Louis Catorze has been outside chewing grass and not because of the food change, but that doesn’t make it any less foul. And, sadly, the combination of cat puke the same colour as our floorboards plus a tiring day spelled disaster for me when I stepped into it with bare feet. 

Our floorboards are the original ones dating back to when Le Château was built and, when we had it renovated, the builders put some sort of magical expanding stuffing between the floorboards to plug up the gaps. However, this was almost 3 years ago and, over time, in some areas the stuffing has worn away. And, tragically, by stepping on the puke AND in trying to clean it up, I ended up accidentally pushing some of it between the gaps. 

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: THERE IS NOW CAT PUKE UNDER OUR FLOORBOARDS. AND I PUT IT THERE.

Cat Daddy is not pleased about this at all. But, as he’s partially-sighted, I can’t imagine he would have spotted it, either. Nor would his clean-up attempts have been much better. 

So now we’re playing a waiting game. And, rather like Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart but with its stomach-churning stench rather than an ominous drumming, the festering cat puke will slowly alert all comers to its horrifying presence beneath the floorboards. Sadly, as Cat Daddy has firmly vetoed taking up the floorboards (“They’ve been here for over a century and have remained intact through 2 World Wars, so we’re not pulling them up just because of HIM”) there isn’t much we can do, apart from hope that it soon passes.

Here is the little sod showing profound regret at the anguish he has caused: 

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La poussière 

What a week it’s been at Le Château. We’ve been up every morning for work, and at 7:30 on Saturday mornings before the decorators arrive at 7:45 (although Louis Catorze tends to alert us to their arrival with his indignant “Invaders dans mon château!” meow).

The dust is really starting to get to us, with clouds of it rising from our clothes when we get dressed, and we’re suffering with itchy eyes and sore throats living in it all. Trying to wipe it away only seems to whip up swirling twisters of it and, even if we manage to clean it away one day, it’s back the next.

Louis Catorze, on the other hand, has taken it all in his stride and has got into a steady routine: he sleeps with us every night, then happily (or at least I hope it’s happily, as opposed to with the resignation of a condemned man going to the guillotine) pitter-patters upstairs with me, where I feed him, sort out his litter and water and then shut him in for the day. Then, when the decorators have gone, we release him and he joins us on the sofa. Given what we’ve done to him in the space of 9 days, it’s surprising he hasn’t gone crazy and eaten us whilst we sleep, feet first:

  • Change of environment: check
  • Change of cat litter brand without warning (not that it would have made a difference had we said, “Nous allons changer ta litière”): check
  • Erratic feeding times, due to being unable to locate food: check
  • Change of position of food bowl, pint glass and litter tray (many times each): check
  • Erratic medication times: check
  • Rooms creepily morphing and changing the way they do in horror movies, looking empty one minute then being full and smelling completely different the next: check
  • Strangers invading early in the morning, being noisy and moving stuff around all day long: check (although Louis Catorze appears to quite like the company of strange men – not that we’re judging)

The least awful of all the rooms is the attic bedroom, so that’s where we shut him whilst we’re at work, with the windows open a tiny bit and his litter tray in the en suite bathroom (well, he is a king). We keep a dust mite controller whirring away in that room, and I’d also have beeswax candles burning if I didn’t know that the stupid twit would knock them over and burn the place down. The bed in the attic room contains brand new anti-allergy pillows, duvet and mattress cover, so not a pesky feather in sight (see picture above). So far, so good: he’s deteriorated very slightly but he’s not looking TOO bad. I did briefly consider not letting him out of that room at all until the renovations are done, but he loves time with us and enjoys gadding about Le Château looking at things.

I can only put his positive temperament down to the fact that we’re with him, whereas in the past a new home has also meant new people. Let’s hope he’s still as chirpy when training for Le Tunnel starts next week.

J’adore mon château


They say that moving house is the most stressful experience the human body can endure without actually losing consciousness, or something like that, but they – whoever “they” are – have clearly never moved with Louis Catorze. After The Vet Incident, of which the poor veterinary staff now only speak in hushed whispers, I had expected nothing short of Armageddon for something as drastic as a house move: skies darkening, ravens circling, the lot. However, on the morning of the move, Louis Catorze was perfectly relaxed and happy, treating the cardboard boxes as his new gym rather than something to be feared. And, when the removal men turned out to be Crazy Cat Men, that was just about the glaçage on the gâteau.

They couldn’t have been nicer to Louis Catorze, cuddling him and having him purr and nuzzle them, after which he seemed to think, “Now that we’re friends, I don’t mind what you do in ma maison.” So they were able to stomp and make noise with reckless abandon, and he was absolutely fine with it all: no upset, no yowling, nothing. These guys don’t advertise themselves as a cat-friendly service – although they probably should – but, if you’re moving to or from the TW8 area and you want to make sure your cat is ok, look up Goddard’s of Brentford and ask for Dave and Matt to move you.

My no.1 piece of advice to anyone moving a cat would be to move them into a house that’s finished. Le Château-sur-Tamise isn’t even close to being ready so there was a lot of shunting Louis Catorze from room to room to create access for builders and, whilst he didn’t mind the builders themselves nor their noise, I think he could have done without the shunting around. His demeanour changed considerably at this point and out came the sad meows, the mega-sulks and the refusal to move from La Cage. Luckily he cheered up immensely by the evening and, after spending the night snuggled up at our feet and then waking us at 7am by puking on the floor, normal service had very much resumed.

Unfortunately the work will be going on for a good couple of weeks, so we’re going to have to shut Louis Catorze in one room when we go to work and release him when the builders have packed up for the day. Not ideal, but there’s nothing whatsoever we can do about it – and it beats the alternative, which is Louis Catorze absconding through an opening somewhere and heading across the park and towards the main road.

As a cat who has had a few different homes, I’m not sure whether Louis Catorze will respond to all this by thinking, “Oh merde, not this again,” or “I’ve done this before, and it was fine” (assuming he remembers, of course). I really hope it will be the latter, and that he will settle into his new Château quickly.