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

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 … 🎶

Noir et blanc

It has been an especially sunny week here in TW8 so Louis Catorze is continuing to wear sunblock on his ears, much to Cat Daddy’s amusement. Sadly we have also had to deal with the usual Catorze contrariness, i.e. he dashes out into the sun before we have a chance to apply the block and, if we do manage to catch him and apply it, he comes straight back indoors and tries to roll it off onto our bed. But then we all knew something like that would happen.

A couple of things about cat sunblock:

Firstly, a little goes a long way. The first time I put it on Catorze, I applied far too much and he ended up with bright white ears. The second time I used about a tenth of the previous amount, but it was still too much and he ended up with bright white ears AGAIN. So, at this rate, I will only require about 0.001 drops per application, and therefore this tiny 30ml tube looks set to last at least 823 years. This makes it very good value indeed.

Secondly, a black cat with bright white ears is hilarious. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I’ve seen plenty of white cats with dark ears and somehow this isn’t funny, but a black cat with white ears is. Cat Daddy now wants to apply sunblock in tasteful/hilarious patterns onto other parts of Catorze’s body, just for fun, turning him into a live, screaming art installation. And I don’t think he’s joking.

As for what to paint, please let us know your feelings on the following designs:

1. Skunk stripes.

2. Snow leopard spots.

3. Skeleton bones.

4. “White Over Black” (a monochrome interpretation of Rothko’s “White Over Red” which will be very easy to do as it’s just a couple of rectangles).

5. Other (please specify).

Safe from the sun, but looking ridiculous.

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

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.

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.

Le soldat

Summer is fast approaching, which means that Louis Catorze spends the vast majority of his time sitting to attention, carefully monitoring the gap between the Forbidden Greenhouse and the shed (first picture). Very occasionally he relaxes his pose and sits at ease, but his concentration does not wane (second picture).

Nothing can successfully shift him from his station except someone approaching to take a photo, so these shots were very lucky indeed.

The only explanation we have for this behaviour: this must be a spot where rodents hang out. Obviously it’s great that the little sod takes his Rodent Duty so seriously – and, by this, I mean that he spends hours and hours like this, and neighbours have begun to comment and laugh – but I’m not looking forward to him bringing his panting, dismembered prey to our bedroom. Which he will.

I’m not joking about the panting. Look here if you don’t believe me: https://jesuisleroisoleil.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/psycho-kitty-quest-ce-que-cest/

Cat Daddy: “He’s not on Rodent Duty; he’s just staring at nothing because he’s THAT boring. He’s the most inept hunter ever. He won’t catch a thing.”

Cat Daddy was really silly to tempt fate by saying this. For an “inept hunter”, Catorze hasn’t done badly since we moved here (rats, mice, a bird and, of course, the slug that was dropped onto my pillow as I slept). Plus he is highly proficient at doing exactly what we don’t want him to do, so I’d be prepared to put money on us receiving a delivery very soon.

The bin bags and the rubber gloves are primed for action … and, should the worst happen, Cat Daddy will be on disposal duty.

Le livre d’or

IMG_9957Thanks to our lovely new friend from Mexico, Louis Catorze now has a visitors’ book.

Cat Daddy: “Visitors’ book? Not even we have a visitors’ book!”
Me: “Yeah, but, to have a visitors’ book, you need visitors. Who’s coming to see us in the next couple of weeks?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

The magnificent book is a work of art like no other, with textured letters on the front cover, spiral binding, stylish ribbon closure and photos of the little sod. There are also thick, onyx-black pages for pilgrims to write declarations of devotion to the Sun King, using special white and metallic pens also gifted by our generous guest.

The only problem was how to backdate entries from the throngs of pilgrims who have already been? Luckily, upon learning of the visitors’ book, they have taken matters into their own hands by vowing to return to Le Château to see Catorze again and write messages to him. We already have a provisional booking for 2 people for late September, and I suspect that October will be insane as everyone starts to crave their Halloween vampire kitty fix.

I thought about ending this blog entry with: ‘Book soon to avoid disappointment’. However, Cat Daddy says he would prefer to go with, ‘A small, black portion of disappointment will be served on arrival’.

 

L’effet de serre

IMG_9200

During the 30+ degree heat of last week, when most of us were desperately seeking shade, the Sun King, apparently, wasn’t warm enough, and spent much of his time in the greenhouse.

A word of warning if, like us, you happen to have both a greenhouse and an incredibly stupid cat: please be careful. Le fichu con was trapped there for about 3-4 hours one evening – thankfully after the worst of the heat had passed – and, because he is highly adept at slipping unnoticed from one place to another, we are prepared to bet a Roi’s ransom that it will happen again if we don’t watch out.

Catorze had just had a visitor and had been cuddled and spoilt beyond measure, so it would have been easy to assume that he were sleeping off the evening’s excitement somewhere. But it was unusual for him not to join us for Movie Night, so eventually we decided to go out and look for him. After being alerted by the pathetic wailing coming from the greenhouse, we were able to release him – and, fortunately, he was perfectly fine and unharmed, just mildly outraged at the inconvenience of it all. A few cuddles later and he had completely forgotten about his ordeal.

Even if your cat wouldn’t be that stupid/nosey, be prepared for the fact that other neighbourhood cats might. Cats sneak into sheds and outhouses all the time and are usually fine, even after days of entrapment, but greenhouses are like ovens in this weather so the consequences could be disastrous. And, although it may seem illogical for any creature to actively seek shelter in a greenhouse when it’s this hot, trust me, they still do it.

Please, please check carefully before closing up for the day/night, especially if your greenhouse has lots of nooks and crannies in which a silly (or lost) animal could hide. Or, better yet, if you’re in any way unsure, don’t close up completely at all, and leave an escape route for said silly/lost animal to use in an emergency.

 

La chaleur est là

Le Château, its contents and its occupants are melting in the heat. We have dealt with heat before, of course, but, when it’s so hot that packets of salted peanuts in our kitchen cupboards start to ooze oil – which doesn’t sound that bad but, in reality, it’s like the initial signs of a poltergeist haunting and is creepy as hell – it really is the end of days.

But it’s all right for some, who are able to lounge languidly in their cool chaise longues. The glamorous piece of cat furniture that you see was a gift from one of Louis Catorze’s wonderful supporters and, because it’s positioned on the ground floor by the patio doors AND raised off the hot ground, it’s the coolest spot in the house. On sticky nights, when it’s too uncomfortable to snuggle in bed with us, Sa Majesté heads here instead.

Le Roi is also partial to having a freezer-cold bottle of vodka rolled up & down his body when temperatures soar (see photo from the archives), but Cat Daddy has imposed strict conditions on this. “It’s the chaise longue or the cold vodka massage, not both. Let’s not go overboard.”

Exactement. We don’t want the Sun King becoming too pampered.