Une image vaut mieux que mille mots

If you have a black cat, creating their official Halloween portrait is easy: you just place a pumpkin next to them, take a photo and that’s it, non?

Not so with Louis Catorze. Firstly, he’s not the most photogenic of cats. And, secondly, he doesn’t do as he’s told. The über-cool factor of a black vampire kitty with protruding fangs is utterly lost if we cannot capture this on camera for Halloween. And, alas, it seems that we cannot.

“Oh well,” said my sister, who visited this weekend for our annual Halloweekend tradition. “Maybe you can post those hilarious outtake photos instead?” Erm, those aren’t hilarious outtakes. Those are my best shots to date:

Friends have suggested the following strategies:

1. Place strips of jambon de Bayonne on the pumpkin to get Catorze to linger for longer.
2. Download a photo of a nicely-posed internet cat, paint the fangs on and pass him off as Sa Majesté.
3. Place the pumpkin on the floor and tell him that under no circumstances is he to go near it.

With 31st October gaining on us more quickly than I can say, “Dis ouistiti!” and still no official Halloween portrait in sight, I am starting to feel the pressure …

Attention aux courges butternut

Beware of butternut squash, Mesdames et Messieurs. No, not marauding street ones wearing hockey masks and carrying chain saws, but the innocent-looking seeds that you unsuspectingly toss into the compost heap.

Thanks to the amazing richness of the soil around our compost heap, Cat Daddy and I have managed to grow a butternut squash without even trying. This is good, right? Well, the bonus dinner ingredient is quite a result, but the plant is an absolute beast, sprawling everywhere like a flesh-eating triffid and suffocating everything in its path. And nobody seems to tell you this, but both the stems and the leaves expel tiny, invisible barbs.

I should have guessed that it was a nasty plant when, instead of stepping over it or brushing past it, Louis Catorze would clear it with a massive leap (which won’t be helping his knee one bit). I thought at the time that he was just being dramatic but, if an idiot like Catorze is prepared to take such pains to avoid this plant, there is obviously a reason. Even a cautious cat absentmindedly brushing past could find itself speared but, should your cat have a more gung-ho temperament and be inclined to frolic around in your vegetable patch, this could spell very bad news indeed.

Given all the health issues we already have with Catorze, we really didn’t want to be picking painful barbs out of his skin, too. So Cat Daddy got to work destroying the evil plant and sweeping the barbs off the path (which was quite some feat given that they are invisible), whilst I chopped up the monster tendrils into more manageable pieces for the garden waste bag. All that is left now is the main stem bearing the single fruit.

And Le Roi sat and slow-blinked at us throughout these measures intended for his protection, watching us get painfully skewered and disembowelled. It would appear that he is not as stupid as we thought.

Here he is, snuggling up to the butternut squash and continuing, inexplicably, to remain a barb-free zone. I’m prepared to bet Le Château on the fact that he won’t sit this nicely with the pumpkin I have bought for his official Halloween portrait.

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