Si on donne un poisson à un chat …

If you are British, over a certain age and a follower of this blog, you will, no doubt, have spent New Year’s Eve exactly as we did: at home, TUC, watching the London fireworks on television and muttering things like, “What a waste of money” or “I bet Sydney’s were better”.

Louis Catorze ended last year, and began this one, doing what he does best:

1. Hunting*.

2. Playing with the motion-activated catnip fish that the Dog Family gave him for Christmas. He absolutely loves it.

When in motion, the fish’s tail makes a kind of yappy-slappy sound. This doesn’t bother us in the slightest when we know that Catorze is playing with his fish. After all, if he weren’t, he would be demanding play from us. And, when you’re still seeping flu from the eyeballs, a cat wanting relentless play is like watching a performing artist who requests audience participation.

However, if we happen to be walking past the fish and glance it very slightly with half a toe, that’s enough to set it off. And don’t even get me started on how scary it is when you’re home alone and the yappy-slappy sound starts up from another room. I daren’t even go and check whether it’s Catorze or a poltergeist, although there are times when I wonder if the latter would be less stressful than the former.

If we try to take the fish from him, he hangs on with his claws and not even an atomic bomb would shift him. Let’s hope that le poisson will make a dent in his excess energy, and give us all at least a few minutes of peace in 2023.

“MON poisson.”

*Oh yes, we had another mouse on New Year’s Day morning, and this time Catorze was sitting proudly by his victim, tail swishing menacingly, looking thoroughly pleased with himself. And, would you believe, on that day, of all days, the park bin was overflowing. So I had to tip Mousey into the park’s undergrowth and hope not only that Foxy Loxy would get it, but also that none of the neighbours’ Ring doorbell cameras caught me. The last thing I want is That Neighbour and the rest of the Neighbourhood Activist Committee admonishing me for dumping random shite in the park.

Le thé royal

You know that old cliché about spending time, effort and money on a fancy cat bed, only to have the little sod prefer the cardboard box that packaged the bed? Over the years Louis Catorze has been lucky enough to receive many fabulous toys from various friends, pilgrims and well-wishers. However, his new favourite thing is, erm, a teabag.

In the past, when I’ve made a pot of teapigs Calm tea, Catorze’s head has spun around like Regan in The Exorcist (younger followers: ask your grandparents) as he’s tried to find the source of the smell. The tea contains valerian, which is absolutely vile to the human nose but cats can’t resist it. To them, it’s like Chanel No.5 and crystal meth combined.

A few days ago, when I made another pot of Calm tea, he came and creepy-stared by my feet. He didn’t want food. He wanted valerian.

This isn’t the greatest picture as Catorze was moving, but you can see the most important elements: the teabag, the chat noir shape and, of course, the trademark fang. And, no, we did not make tea with the teabag afterwards, although I know many cat freaks who would (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE).

Cat toys: why bother? No, seriously … why?

Le jouet du moment

Louis Catorze is overflowing with energy at the moment.

My friend: “It’s probably because of the steroid shot. He’ll calm down.”

Me: “He hasn’t had his shot yet. He’s having it on Tuesday.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

He is also obsessed with his new toy. We play with him every night for about twenty minutes, in the hope that it will wear him out and that he will calm down during the night as a result.

It doesn’t work.

We are the ones who are worn out by the play, and Catorze is almost as much of a nuisance through the night as he is when he doesn’t have play. (Granted, his new-found love of his igloo helps in that respect, but he’s still utterly unhinged.)

One night, after TWO evening play sessions of twenty minutes each, I awoke to hear him downstairs, scrabbling around with his toy, having dragged it out of the hiding place where we’d put it because we don’t trust him alone with it. When all eventually went quiet, I didn’t know whether to be relieved that we finally had some peace, or concerned in case he had hung or impaled himself. (I’m not sure whether any vampires throughout history have managed to do THEMSELVES in with a stake through the heart but, if anyone’s going to do it, it’s him.)

At 5am, when I decided that I would go down and check on him, Sa Maj appeared upstairs. Then the screaming started, which was when I discovered that, even whilst asleep, Cat Daddy is capable of Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind.

Here is the little sod, enjoying one of many play sessions that he had with our friend Emily recently. Yes, he is responsible for the white stringy bits pulled from the red rug. And, no, he never poses like this for me.

Having fun with one of his favourite people.
Bit of fang.

Les liens qui nous unissent

Louis Catorze has just tangled himself up in his new toy. (See photo below – and, yes, I did deliberately choose pink.)

Obviously we would have untangled him had he been in distress, but he wasn’t. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice that the cord was wrapped around him. Cat Daddy and I watched him at length, giggling a little and saying, “Any minute now he will realise.”

Nope.

The little sod took a break from play, went for a casual wander around the living room, then settled down on Cat Daddy’s lap, all the while remaining entangled and dragging the stick behind him. How on earth it could possibly have been comfortable is beyond me, but then we have never understood this beast and it’s unlikely that we will start now.

Here is Sa Maj, blissfully unaware of his entrapment:

Yes, that’s the wooden stick under his rump.

À cheval donné on ne regarde pas les dents

Blue the Smoke Bengal gave Louis Catorze a Christmas gift, which was very generous of him given that Catorze hasn’t done the slightest thing to deserve it and, in fact, has been quite rude and unpleasant to him. This must be what it feels like when your kid is the awful one whom all the other kids hate, but their parents still go out of their way to be nice because they feel sorry for you.

If some other cat were mean to Catorze I’m not sure I’d be bothered to give him/her a gift, and I’d probably judge the human for their poor parenting skills, but good for Blue’s mamma for being the bigger person here.

The Trojan horse.

Anyway, the gift was a set of ELEVEN jingle bell cat toys, and they are the noisiest things I have ever heard. Catorze loves them, with his preferred playtimes appearing to be the times that are the least convenient for us: during tense football matches or television dramas, that kind of thing. In the middle of the night would, I imagine, also be an excellent time, were it not for that fact that we do an inventory of the balls before we go to bed at night, just like in prison kitchens where they count in the knives at the end of every shift.

Bien joué, Blue’s mamma. Bien joué.

Here are a few of the offending items. Even the soft ones have bells in them.

La boîte à merveilles

Middle-class cat problems: when your cat has too many toys. And, since every single one of them was given as a gift by a visiting pilgrim (oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: we have never needed to buy Louis Catorze a single toy in his life), I guess that makes it an upper-middle-class cat problem. 

Cat Daddy decided recently that the cat toys must be secretly moving and/or multiplying in the night because, every time he comes downstairs, he finds them in a different position. It’s possible that supernatural forces are at work … although it’s far more likely that Catorze, like his mamma, is great at using things but not so good at putting them away afterwards. 

I thought, for a minute, that Cat Daddy was going to threaten to get rid of the toys (or Catorze). But, instead, he suggested: A TOY BOX. And, naturellement, because he is Sa Majesté Louis Catorze, Le Roi Soleil, only the best box will do. 

So Cat Daddy spent an afternoon painstakingly restoring Cat Grandpa’s antique tool box to make it into a toy box for Le Roi. We know that Cat Grandpa would have approved of this as he had a very special relationship with Catorze. During his visits he would whistle to Catorze, just like whistling to a dog, and the little sod would go running for a cuddle.

Cat Grandpa would have been 100 today and we hope that, wherever he may be, he has cats and a whole stack of toys.

Tromper, jouer, trahir

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We are still reeling from the vet’s revelation that Louis Catorze has resorted to eating his own body parts because he’s so bored. Cat Daddy, in particular, has taken it quite badly.

“I don’t have a problem with being called boring,” he said, “but … too boring for him? FOR HIM? He’s the dullest cat ever! He does nothing! What does that make us?”

He has a point.

I attempted a play session this morning, as advised, but the little sod just sat with his arms/front legs folded, tail flicking away, and made zero effort to join in. And, in a creepy sort of way, I had the feeling he had the upper hand and that he was playing with me, not vice versa.

I went berserk with the feather on a stick, trying desperately to elicit some sort of reaction, and Louis Catorze just stared back as if to say, “Danse, mon petit singe, danse!” Then, after I gave up and discarded the toys, he went out to chase some leaves. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: EVEN DEAD LEAVES ARE MORE FUN THAN ME.

I don’t know where we go from here. M’aidez!