Merde, merde and thrice merde: I gave the Sureflap a good clean the weekend before Louis Catorze’s birthday and even programmed it to re-memorise him, but it’s still been failing to let him in when needed. When I sat by the door and observed the latch as Catorze tried to pass through, I noticed that it wasn’t moving.
Me: “So there definitely is a problem with the Sureflap. And all this time you thought it was just him being a shite.”
Cat Daddy, without looking up from his phone: “He is a shite, though.”
Good point, well made.
Anyway, we have a new Sureflap, but Raf the builder glued in the existing one so firmly that we can’t get it out. So we’ve messaged him and asked him to provide a quote for fitting the new one, and we hope he is able to respond before Donnie figures out that he can follow his cher ami through.
Incidentally, Cat Daddy has now started calling him Donnie, too. Sometimes he forgets and calls him Danny, but that also works. (Younger followers: ask your mums.)
So now we have to wait to hear from Raf the builder, and we fear that it might take some time. Will Donnie beat him to it?
Good news: Cat Daddy has fixed the Sureflap, which is astounding as he is, shall we say, not a natural handyman. It turns out that the sensors just needed a good old clean. So we will not have to spend £150 on the snazzy space-age Sureflap with hub (although I was looking forward to the adventure of figuring it out).
Bad news: Although Louis Catorze is continuing to go out through the Sureflap, he won’t come in. Even when we turned it into a manual swing door, he still wouldn’t come in. He will either enter the house through the bifold doors if they’re open, or just stay out all night if they’re not.
When Catorze first came to live with us, it took him several months to learn to go out through the cat flap and another few weeks to come in again. And now history is repeating itself. Going out is fine. But, because of previous failed attempts to come in, he has either been discouraged from trying again or (more likely) he is so thick that he has forgotten what to do.
We have scrubbed the Sureflap with plain hot water, in case there was a cleaning product residue that Catorze didn’t like. We have sprinkled catnip in the tunnel (I’m not joking). We have tried using brute force, which REALLY didn’t go well. But, whereas he used to push the door with his head when coming in, he now won’t.
And we have checked and double-checked the way his chip activates the latch, and it has worked fine every time but one. (That one time was when we were trying the brute force method, so we can’t be sure whether the fault lay with the Sureflap, his chip or his Exorcist-style struggling and writhing.)
Next steps are as follows:
1. Further studies of exactly what happens to the latch when his chip activates it, to be sure that it’s opening properly every single time.
2. Cat flap retraining.
3. A trip to the vet to see if his chip has been dislodged. (This only happens to one cat in every 873 billion. We just KNOW it will be him.)
I will be back at school in just over a week, so it looks as if Cat Daddy will have to be responsible for conducting any cat flap retraining. I have no idea how to break the happy news to him.
A few nights ago Louis Catorze somehow wasn’t able to come in through the Sureflap, and the little sod was stuck outside all night.
If Catorze stops wanting to use the Sureflap and screams for the door to be opened for him instead – which he does from time to time – it’s hard to know whether something is genuinely wrong or whether he’s just being a lazy shite. We do thoroughly check the Sureflap for any problems – malfunctioning mechanism, duff batteries, deadly tarantulas nesting in the tunnel and so on – but we can never find anything wrong, so usually we just put it down to him being a lazy shite and ignore him. And then he starts using it again.
However, the following night, after trying several new sets of batteries, the same thing occurred and he was stuck outside again. So it looks as if Sa Maj will require a new Sureflap. And, naturellement, this isn’t as straightforward as I imagined because Sureflap has advanced significantly since we first became customers in 2012, when we had Luther.
The models from which we can choose are as follows:
1. Entry level model – lets only certain cats in but all out, up to a total number of 32 (!) cats
2. DualScan model – lets only certain cats in and certain cats out, for those of us who have both the rare ones who behave and the troublemakers who need to be kept isolated from society
3. Connect model with hub – enables you to “connect with your cat from anywhere in the world” (whatever that means)
Cat Daddy, laughing hysterically: “CONNECT WITH YOUR CAT FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD?”
He has a point. If Catorze is here and we’ve chosen to be somewhere else in the world, the chances are we don’t want to connect with him.
Anyway, Cat Daddy wants to try to fix the Sureflap. However, I want to buy the super-snazzy connect model with hub. (In the highly likely event of me never figuring it out, school starts in a couple of weeks so I can always show the accompanying app to one of my Year 9s and ask them to explain.)
Whilst we make up our minds what to do, we have had to deactivate the Sureflap’s magical selective powers and turn it into a manual swing door, to allow poor Catorze to come in.
Sadly this means that any old random punter who wants to come in, can also do so. The only question is: who will be first?
I have read several online posts lately about cats traumatised or hurt by the neighbourhood nemesis cat. There’s always one, isn’t there, and it’s usually black. (Unless your own cat is black, in which case the NN tends to be ginger.)
We have been incredibly lucky with Louis Catorze who, despite being textbook bully fodder – small and rather pathetic-looking – has always been left alone. Well, there was that one time in his secret Fight Club when he ended up with a puncture wound on his forehead, but he barely even noticed it and just went about his normal business. And we later found out that this type of wound is typical of cats on the attack, rather than retreating ones, so Cat Daddy was happy to learn that his boy was standing up for himself and not bringing the royal family name into disrepute. A passive monarch simply won’t do, will it?
So, what can one do if there is a NN on the loose? First thing: get a microchip cat flap. Yes, they are expensive, but things will be a whole lot worse if NN is actually managing to terrorise your poor kitty in your own house. If the fights start because NN is coming in to steal food, you can’t really blame him; if I saw a magical portal leading to free food, I’d go through it, too. An electronic cat flap will be the answer to all your prayers, and the hefty price tag will more than offset the costs of stolen food, vet bills etc.
If NN is a stray, you might need the assistance of a rescue to trap him. (Dosti was trapped, neutered and chipped with the help of the wonderful Hounslow Animal Welfare Society: http://www.haws-animals.org.uk.) Bear in mind that appearance alone can be deceptive: Dosti looked in pristine condition for a long time before anyone realised that he didn’t have a home. And, likewise, a scruffy cat isn’t necessarily a sign of a stray: Louis Catorze looks like utter merde most of the time and, as you all know, he has a family and is very much loved.
If, on the other hand, NN has a home and you are able to find out where he lives, it could be worth approaching the Cat Parents and starting a polite but frank dialogue with them. You just never know: they may not be aware that their cat is being such a voyou, and they might not be able to stop him but you could, at least, mutually agree a strategy. I have told other pet owners in the street that, in the unlikely event of Catorze making a nuisance of himself on their territory, I have no issue with him being shouted at a bit. If that doesn’t work, waving a tampon at him should send him scurrying for the hills. (Oh yes: he will happily take on dogs and invisible Fight Club assailants, but sanitary protection is his kryptonite.)
If you have a NN problem and you follow my tips, it would be great to hear how things go: please comment and let me know!
Unfortunately there was a considerable delay between the builder installing it and me getting home to programme it, which meant that, upon my return, I discovered a soaking wet, whining Roi stuck outside. He did, however, get his own back with a perfectly-timed revenge puke which I heard whilst I was showering, rushed to contain, yet, chillingly, could not find.
Anyway, this should spell the end of Ginger Impinger’s access to Le Château, although it will be weird not to hear the noise as if Catorze is buzzing himself through with his security pass. I think I can accept the pair of them hanging out together in Le Jardin, although, given that GI still has his lower portions intact, I feel uneasy leaving them unsupervised in case there’s trouble. But he’s not coming in. A Frenchman’s home is very much HIS castle, and nobody else’s.
I was woken at 5am today by the loud, bell-like hollering of Ginger Impinger, who was in the house again. I have no idea where Louis Catorze was at the time, but I suspect he was holding the cat flap open, ushering him in and offering him a welcome apéritif and canapés.
We need to fix the cat flap, but the sodding thing won’t come off the wall. The builders did such a good job fitting it, understandably assuming it to be a permanent fixture, that it’s stuck fast, and no amount of prising or pulling will shift it.
So it looks as if we’re going to have to order new tunnel extenders and get the builders to fit the new Sureflap because, if we try it ourselves, we will mess it up and end up with a massive hole. I’ll be like a reverse Donald Trump, paying for my own wall and then making a hole in it to let undesirables come through in a never-ending stream.
Le Château has been awash with visitors this bank holiday weekend, some welcome, some not so much. The welcome ones were 3 delightful human children aged 5, 7 and 9, who gave Louis Catorze heaps of attention and wanted to take him home. (We said yes, then had to reassure the parents when we saw their “Oh God, they’re actually serious” faces.)
The less welcome one appeared under rather different circumstances: the 3 of us were cosied up on the sofa watching a heartwarming comedy about serial killers, and suddenly we heard the distinct and uncomfortably close sound of a cat. When we investigated, we came face to face with Ginger Impinger in our hallway. For a brief moment he and Catorze touched noses and all was quite civilised but, as we followed, the cheeky orange invader ran for the hills.
Now, this is our fault entirely: when the cat flap started malfunctioning months ago we just lazily put it on a manual setting, effectively turning it into a regular non-microchip flap, and just thanked the stars that no other cats were coming in. It turned out that the malfunction was a design fault, so Sureflap sent us a replacement free of charge, but we were still too rubbish and disorganised to install it. And our inefficiency, it seems, is GI’s gain.
I feel bad for him, especially as he is good-natured and doesn’t appear to want any trouble, but I don’t another cat coming into the house. Plus he is unneutered, which makes him more likely to spray and be a nuisance. So I’m refitting that cat flap, even if I have to prise the old one off the wall with my bare hands.
It was my birthday yesterday. Louis Catorze’s gifts to me were to knock all the bottles off my bedside table at 5am, and to continue using the cat flap to go out but inexplicably cease using it to come in.
CatFlapGate actually began the previous evening: when I came home, Louis Catorze was yowling outside and clawing at the patio door. “He’s been doing that for ages but, whenever I go to open the door, he runs away,” said Cat Daddy, who had arrived home before me. “I don’t know whether something’s wrong with the cat flap or he’s just being a stupid arse.”
The former isn’t wholly out of the question, especially as the cat flap has started buzzing recently. But, if I were a betting woman, I’d put money on the latter. Cat Daddy, however, didn’t agree. “He wouldn’t keep it up for this long unless something were really wrong,” he insisted. “And look at his face: he looks stressed. I really think we should have a look at the cat flap. Maybe it’s jammed. Or maybe there’s a snake or something stuck in it and Louis is too scared to go through.”
I gave the cat flap a good clean in case the dirt was putting him off (unlikely, as he happily drinks from cruddy buckets in the garden and rolls around in century-old cobwebs). I wanted to change the batteries but we didn’t have any new ones, so I switched the setting to manual by taking out the old batteries and taping down the latch thing. It made no difference. The little sod continued to shriek like a lunatic outside, rearing up on his hind legs, his eyes saucer-wide with anguish.
Then, when we gave up and went to the living room to watch TV, he came in. Sigh.
What on earth would make him suddenly decide to play this game? It’s not as if any other cats’ behaviour could have influenced him (he doesn’t have any friends). So why, then?
Maybe some of his fan club, two of whom are visiting this weekend, will be able to shed some light on this?
There has been a cat flap malfunction here at Le Château. Whilst it still permits Louis Catorze to come and go as he pleases, it now makes a buzzing sound as he passes through. I had intended to contact Sureflap to ask them how to stop it, but I’ve had so much to do that I’ve not had a chance. That said, it doesn’t seem to be bothering him in the slightest; in fact, it’s quite funny hearing it and imagining Louis Catorze swiping his security pass and buzzing himself in.
Hearing it throughout the night doesn’t amuse us quite so much, though. It’s not especially loud – certainly not loud enough to permanently disturb our sleep – but it’s certainly made us aware of how many times Louis Catorze goes in and out whilst we’re asleep. He used to spend the whole night in our bed with us, but recently he’s become more adventurous and he’s started to go gadding about outside between 11pm and 6am. Occasionally he’s on our bed when we wake up but, more often than not, he’s still outside. Then, after I leave for work, he returns to bed, clambers all over Cat Daddy and hollers in his ear, and I receive a flurry of annoyed texts calling Louis Catorze some very rude names and threatening to lock him out all night.
There was something reassuring about knowing that our boy was with us all night, and I feel distinctly less comfortable at the prospect of him gallivanting around the neighbourhood. But, short of locking him in overnight (which I know he would hate), there’s not much I can do about it. The fact that The Back is very enclosed, far from cars and dogs, comforts me a little. As does the fact that Louis Catorze is too stupid to get into any proper trouble.
So, unless he comes home shredded to smithereens or otherwise traumatised, I think I shall just leave him to it. I can’t say I see the appeal of the cold autumn outdoes versus a cosy, warm anti-allergy bed with eye-wateringly expensive John Lewis duvet cover, but then I don’t suppose this will be the last time Louis Carorze does stupid shit that nobody can understand.
Not only that, but he then rolled on the garden path, covering himself in dust and making Tom the decorator laugh, and re-entered the building. All in the space of a few minutes. To say we are in disbelief is an understatement; can this really be the same dumbo cat who took half a year to do the same thing at Le Palais?
So this morning was spent taking photos and sending them to anyone who cared (and plenty of people who probably didn’t), much to the amusement of Tom the decorator. We don’t speak the same language so I’m not able to explain what a big deal this is; if anyone knows the Polish for “My cat took 6 months to use the cat flap in our previous house yet he’s just done it here in a day, so I have to mark this auspicious occasion by taking lots of photos and posting them online for the amusement of strangers,” please let me know. Otherwise I guess I’ll just have to leave him thinking I’m a complete nutjob.
Whilst I’m inordinately proud of my boy, this now leaves me with something of a content dearth for my blog. I had planned for at least 6 months of cat flap progress – or lack of progress – updates, which have now been rendered redundant thanks to Louis Catorze’s shock succès. I have no idea what I will write about now, yet I trust him to inspire me as he always does.