J’adore l’extérieur

 Is it possible for someone to be placed under house arrest even if they were never allowed out to begin with? If so, Louis Catorze is that someone. Last night we were about to go out for Cat Daddy’s birthday but couldn’t lock our front door because the builders had decided it would be a good idea to fill the lock with plaster; in the end Cat Daddy had to get a chisel to hack away at it, at which point Louis Catorze took the opportunity to scoot outside and dive into the hedge.

Had this taken place at The Back we wouldn’t have been too upset, as it’s so enclosed that there’s nowhere to go. But The Front, with The Park and The Road, is a firm NON. Calling him was no use whatsoever as he just ignored us and meowed, and grabbing him was impossible as he was buried deep in the shrubbery so, in the end, whilst I called the restaurant to say we’d be 30 minutes late, Cat Daddy and our French guest had to resort to scaring Louis Catorze from the other side of the hedge to make him bolt back indoors.  So he’s stuck indoors whether he likes it or not, and security has been ramped up the way it would be in a maximum security penitentiary following a hostage crisis. Luckily his interest in getting outside is only mild-to-moderate, as opposed to utter desperation, so another week isn’t going to be too horrendous. What’s a little more concerning, however, is that his eye area fur looks as if it’s thinning again, and he has a tiny scab on his chin. I don’t suppose it helps that we have an inordinate amount of dust in the house, which the workmen create faster than we can clean. Louis Catorze’s ex-rescue centre told me that he had a tendency to flare up with a change of environment, so let’s hope it’s just that and not a dust-triggered long-term descent to where he was 18 months ago.

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.