La canicule

When it’s this darned hot in the UK, two types of people emerge:

1. Those who stock up on Ambre Solaire and head straight for the beach, even if it’s a 14-hour drive and they have no air conditioning in their cars

2. Me

It’s horrendous. Just foul beyond belief. Last night was so grim that I came downstairs at 3am to sleep in the kitchen, and Louis Catorze, confused by the change and/or wondering whether I had gone there to die, kept me awake for hours by clambering all over me, screaming. The only saving grace is that I don’t have to go to work in this heat. Except for, erm, today, because it’s exam results day. And, given that assessment and moderation have been completely thrown into disarray by Covid 19, today is going to be more of a cirque de merde than we ever thought possible.

People who live in places hotter than the UK: “You should try living HERE!” No, I really shouldn’t. That’s why I chose here and not there. But thank you. Your comments have been duly noted.

Cats in heatwaves are another matter entirely, and they seem to manage much better than humans. Catorze has been spending his days playing energetically with his catnip toys and sunbathing outside, popping occasionally into his shady spot in the ferns to take a break. Sometimes he joins Cat Daddy at the end of the garden, lying at his feet like a guard dog and scowling at me – an audible scowl, would you believe – should I have the temerity to approach them.

Whilst Cat Daddy and I slow-cook in bed at night, Catorze is either enjoying nocturnal adventures, going exploring as far as Twiggy the greyhound’s house, or napping in his new favourite place: on our laundry basket. I imagine that it has the double benefit of air circulating underneath AND a textured surface on which to squirm and roll. A cooling, massaging/exfoliating spa treatment, if you will.

So it’s all right for him.

But, as any cat owner will understand, it’s all about them. It’s only ever about them.

Here he is on the laundry basket, looking as cute and kittenish as can be. But we know the truth:

“Très confortable, merci for asking.

La récolte

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, with Heathrow (6 miles away) hitting 37.8 degrees. Louis Catorze dealt with this by, erm, escaping out to the south-facing, waterless Front when Cat Daddy returned from the food bank. When I retrieved him two hours later, he had leaves stuck to his fur and was screaming his guts out. Then, when the sun passed to The Back, he went there to sunbathe when the temperature reached its peak.

In other, better news, it’s the festival of Lammas today, which is traditionally a celebration of the grain harvest, bread and baking. So how wonderful it is that we have recently discovered wheat – yes, ACTUAL WHEAT – randomly growing in our garden at The Back.

Unfortunately we only have five stalks which are barely enough to yield a teaspoonful of flour, not that I have the slightest idea of how to turn it from grains into flour. Plus I don’t even really like baking and am spectacularly bad at it. But free food is free food, non? So I intend to treat our wheat stalks with love in the hope that they will multiply, but we will need to take into account the Catorze risk factor. He has never shown much interest in that particular part of The Back before but, now that I want him to stay away from it, we all know what he’ll do, don’t we?

This is what we have (x 5).
This is what we want to end up with.
This is what Catorze will see when he looks at it.

We know absolutely nothing about cultivating wheat, so are very much open to advice. And, should you know – and be willing to share – the secret of keeping a cat who always does the opposite of what you want, from doing the one thing that you don’t want him to do, we would be very grateful indeed. (We’ve spent 6 years trying to figure that one out, with zero success.)

If you fancy entering into the Lammas spirit but your baking is anything like mine, you might like to check out the link below from Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma. I highly recommend her Hen Corner courses and, should you attend an in-person course (with safe distancing and hygiene measures in place), you will actually get to meet Cocoa and Chanel!

https://youtu.be/TbeqNddE7FM

Une créature de la nuit, comme celles dans les BD

Now that summer is properly here, Louis Catorze is permanently out. And by that I don’t simply mean he is spending more time outdoors than he used to. I mean we never see him, EVER. Sometimes Cat Daddy has even had to cancel Boys’ Club meetings due to low attendance, which is unheard of.

Occasionally, when I go to bed, Catorze comes up with me and cuddles me until I fall asleep. But this is not a loving gesture; this is more like a teenager making sure his parents are properly asleep before sneaking out for some illicit partying. Once I’m asleep, Catorze is back downstairs bidding his papa a friendly “Bonsoir” and then he’s out.

As for what he does when he’s out, that rather depends on whether or not we can see him. If he’s in our garden, it’s not hard to monitor his activities which are usually as follows:

1. Rodent Duty (see below for a photo of him surveying the gap in the fence that separates the Zone Occupé from the Zone Libre)

2. Arguing with the local wildlife (see below for a photo of him taken just after I intervened in a scream-off with an absolutely furious parakeet)

Rather more worrying is what the little sod gets up to when we CAN’T see him. Quite often he disappears eastwards across the shed roofs and we hear mid-distance barking, which most likely means he has got as far as Twiggy the greyhound’s place about ten houses away. And I really don’t fancy his chances of outrunning her.

Most cats start to slow down when they reach double figures, but Catorze appears to have taken his lead from The Lost Boys* instead. He has mastered both sleeping all day and partying all night and, due to his diminutive kittenish stature, he ticks the “never grow old” box, too.

It’s fun to be a vampire.

*Younger followers: ask your parents.

Playing Whack-a-Rat.
He says the parakeet started it.

Les rats de ville

Our pubs are officially open from today.

However, Cat Daddy and his boozing buddies have decided that they won’t be heading back to the Cock and Bull* quite yet, and that they will continue their virtual drinking meets for the time being. This is great news for Louis Catorze, who loves the Friday night Zoom sessions with the boys, and even better news for me as I get to listen to their captivating chats and tell you all about them.

*I haven’t made this up. This is the actual name of the pub where they used to meet pre-lockdown. I KNOW.

Anyway, for those who are interested, their most recent meeting of minds consisted of the following topics:

1. Eric Clapton

2. Playing whole albums on Spotify/Deezer/Apple Music/whatever, versus only playing selected tracks

3. Who has the biggest car (Tim, Mike and Simon fought it out between them and couldn’t agree, so the conclusion remains inconclusive)

4. Plastering, and the fact that you can (apparently) now get paint which is the same colour as plasterboard

5. Lawn bowls

6. Sutton Beer Festival 1975, when (apparently) a naked lady climbed to the top of a marquee and a naked man chased after her

7. Pete’s summer house/shed, and whether it should be called a summer house or a shed

8. How much salt everyone adds when they’re cooking

In other news, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, CANNIBAL RATS. Oh yes. 2020 has already given us blazing infernos (Australia), raging floods (UK), a plague of locusts (Somalia) and a killer virus (erm, everywhere) but, if you drew “cannibal rats” in your workplace sweepstake as the next thing to go wrong in the world, you may well be in the money. On the positive side, the reopening of pubs may draw the little critters away from residential areas. But that’s about the only good news that there is.

Be warned, this link is a darkly comedic yet horrifying read:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/29/summer-of-the-cannibal-rats-hungry-aggressive-highly-fertile-and-coming-to-our-homes?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Thank goodness for Catorze and his relentless hours of Rodent Duty. Ok, so it’s not great that he brings them into the house, but I guess a dead rat in the house is somewhat preferable to a live one running freely and making little ratty babies. (There were many, many things in the above link that made me shudder, but “highly fertile” was by far the worst.)

Here is the little sod, having adopted an elevated position for a better view and continuing to take his civic duty very seriously indeed. So, good citizens of TW8, we can sleep soundly in our beds this summer.

All along the watchtower.

Sous la chaleur du soleil

It is unbelievably, painfully, brain-vaporisingly hot. And Louis Catorze wants lap cuddles.

But, when he settles on me, it makes him/us even hotter. So he meows disdainfully as if it were all my fault and steps off.

But then he wants lap cuddles again. So he steps onto me and settles down once more. As before, this makes him/us too hot, so he meows disdainfully as if it were all my fault and steps off again.

The little sod has invented possibly the most annoying perpetual motion machine on earth: himself. And it will keep motoring along until one or other of us snaps and loses our shit.

My money is on me being first.

🎵 The heat is on. On my lap … 🎶

La vénération du soleil

Last Friday, the day after Louis Catorze’s birthday, it was Beltane, the Celtic start of summer. And, as most of us rethink our sun protection at this time of year, so does Louis Catorze. I’m not joking.

His recent allergy flare-up, and/or possibly friction against Le Cône, has caused him to lose fur from his ears. This is what they look like now, whereas a few months ago they just looked like normal, furry black ears:

Cochon.

My friend Lizzi thinks they look like pigs’ ears, which is revolting but she has a point. And now we can’t stop thinking about this. When we see pigs on television (e.g. when James Martin went to that pig farm in Dorset), we actually look for ones with ears like Catorze. I know. We really need to get out more (although there’s a very good reason why we don’t at the moment).

Apparently sunburned ears are a thing, albeit usually for pale-coloured cats. So, after seeking the vet’s advice, I have, erm, purchased some sunblock for Sa Maj.

Cat Daddy spat his tea all over his laptop when I told him. But, given that this is a cat who loves the sun so much that he used to take refuge in the GREENHOUSE during 35 degree heatwaves, he simply cannot be trusted to know what’s best for him.

Anyway, my quest for a cat sunblock revealed that there aren’t many U.K. options available, I imagine because we’re not exactly known for our sun. I eventually found some which, naturellement, costs twice as much as the product that we use on ourselves, for around 1/5 of the quantity. But it’s a relatively small price to pay to save us the crippling embarrassment of having to look another living soul in the face and tell them that our black cat has burnt his bald piggy ears.

So now the Sun King can sunbathe to his heart’s content.

If your cat is pale, bald, piggy-eared or or stupid enough to cook themselves half to death in the sun, you may wish ask your vet’s advice about something like this: https://www.vetsend.co.uk/dermoscent-sunfree-dogs-cats/?search=Dermoscent%20SunFREE%20for%20Dogs%20&%20Cats&autocomplete=true

La chaleur omniprésente

Boris Johnson is Prime Minister (and yes, non-Brits, he IS an actual person and not some Sacha Baron Cohen-type actor pretending). It’s already too bloody hot and it’s due to hit 38 degrees later. And I am still recovering from my surgery, with my stitches – which Louis Catorze has only kicked once, thankfully – pinching and pulling at my skin especially badly in this heat. So I really don’t have the time, the will or the energy to be dealing with little sods escaping out at The Front and having to find inventive ways of herding them back in again. Yet that is exactly what I’ve been having to do, because the soaring temperatures appear to have triggered Catorze’s “Must Kill Self” switch.

Fortunately I think the heat is sapping him of any mischief-making ability and just making him fall asleep out there, so he’s unlikely to go annoying any neighbours or pitter-pattering into oncoming traffic (we hope). But it’s 793 times hotter outside at The south-facing Front than it is inside. Plus there is no water out there (and, if I take fresh water to him, he won’t drink it). And, worse yet, his go-to shelter from the sun appears to be Oscar the dog’s front garden – too deep into the bushes for me to reach in and pull him out – and we all know that that isn’t going to end well when Oscar finds out.

(Dog Mamma discovered Sa Maj yesterday when she was taking out the recycling, gave him some cuddles and very kindly messaged me to ask if he was ok in the heat, commenting on his sickly-sounding meow. I shamefacedly had to tell her that that was his normal voice.)

Most animals can be trusted in extreme weather conditions to rely on their natural instincts and know what’s best for them. It’s a bit more difficult when your pet appears to be from another planet and goes out of his way to CHOOSE the worst possible course of action.

Below is a picture of the extra water that I left for him in the bedroom during the night, so that he wouldn’t have to go downstairs to drink. (Newcomers to Le Blog: yes, he has always drunk from a glass and would rather go on Thirst Strike than use a bowl.) He did not touch a single drop.

Cat Daddy: “Well, he didn’t ask for it, did he?”

Quel ange me réveille sur mon lit de fleurs?

The summer solstice is here, and that can mean only one thing: Louis Catorze’s summer bed has been deployed.

The rest of us, of course, have to put up with just one bed all year round, but Sa Maj has his winter bed (the igloo), his spring and autumn bed (the igloo converted into a bowl) and his summer bed (the chaise longue). And, when he feels like it, he also has our bed, any of two guest beds, any of two laps (but usually Cat Daddy’s), any of THREE sofas, Cat Daddy’s overnight holdall, Cat Daddy’s work rucksack, the shed roof, Oscar the dog’s shed roof and probably a whole host of other locations that we don’t know about.

Here he is, staring evilly (looks wrong but spellcheck confirms that it is, indeed, an actual word) from the chaise longue, probably mentally totting up his total number of beds and cursing us for providing so pathetically few.

Happy Midsummer to you all from the Sun King.

Un chat dans Le Château en vaut deux dans la rue

1C3040C7-180B-4363-9E46-7B2340ED3E7BNon, non, non, Louis Catorze! This is just one of the many reasons* he is not allowed out at The Front unsupervised; rolling around on the dirty pavement that dogs have used as their toilettes is not what we want and, quite frankly, it makes me feel a little sick. 

*The other reasons are: 

  1. Picking fights with dogs
  2. Picking fights with foxes 
  3. Screaming outside neighbours’ houses, forcing them to return him to us when they can’t stand the racket any longer 
  4. Accosting neighbours as they are attempting to leave their houses and either not letting them leave, or following them, screaming 
  5. Rolling around in exactly this same way but IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD 

On this occasion he slipped out as soon as Cat Daddy opened the front door to go to work. Naturellement, just as I sat down to have my tea, he was screaming at the door to be let in again, much to the amusement of a family passing by. 

And, whilst the little sod usually avoids me, after returning from his exploits at The Front he was suddenly desperate to show me affection and to rub his gross, dirty fur all over me. He was chasing me around the house in exactly the way I do with him when it’s time to take him to the vet. 

It seems that he is starting to unleash his Summer Psycho. He’s a bit early. But I don’t suppose he cares about that. 

Le silence des méchants

Louis Catorze scared the merde out of me the other day when I came home from the shops and he didn’t come running to greet me, as he usually does. I went out into the garden and called his name (just “Louis!”, as opposed to his full royal title of “Sa Majesté Louis Catorze, Le Roi Soleil!”) but there was no sign of him. I found him slumped in the flowerbed and, when I prodded him a little, he lifted his head, let out a weak meow and then flopped down again. 

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I texted Cat Daddy and asked if Boys’ Club had overrun the previous night and whether Catorze might just be over-tired. (His body clock is very much determined by what we do: whether we go to bed early or stay up late, he does the same.) Cat Daddy replied that they hadn’t been especially late and suggested that the lifelessness may be down to the heat. I started to panic; if dogs can die in hot cars after just a few minutes, it seemed quite within the realms of possibility that stupid black animals covered in fur could overheat if they lay all afternoon in a garden hotter than the surface of the sun.

Cat Daddy arrived home very shortly after our text exchange … and, as if by magic, the little sod sprang into life just before we heard the key (his creepy kitty sixth sense obviously still bring fully functional) and pitter-pattered to the front door, up-tailed and screaming. Cat Daddy accused me of imagining/exaggerating the whole lethargy episode and shushed at all my protests of, “But this isn’t how he was when I got home”. He then spent the rest of the evening cuddling a bouncy, chatty Catorze whilst I seethed in the corner. 

So Sa Majesté was neither tired nor dead nor suffering from heatstroke, but just being a lazy and mannerless shite. I don’t know why I am even the slightest bit surprised. 

Cat Daddy: “Look on the bright side: at least you found out for yourself. Imagine if the vet had had to tell you that your cat is perfectly well but just can’t be arsed with you.”

*It is unlikely that your pet is as rude as Catorze so, if he or she is limp and unresponsive in the heat, please seek medical help.