Le restaurant à la carte

Cat Daddy’s Avian Apartheid is working: the larger birds have given up trying to eat from the bird feeder, and he could not be more delighted about this. His favourite visitors are two pairs of pretty goldfinches who come every day, multiple times.

During his Friday night Zoom call with his boozy pub mates (yes, they’re still doing it, even though they’re allowed to go to the actual pub now), one of the lads told him that you can buy finch-specific bird feed. I know. So Cat Daddy then bought a huge 863kg sack of it.

Now, of course, he is complaining that the goldfinches like the food too much, because he is having to refill the feeder more often than before. It’s quite surprising that four such tiny birds manage to chomp through so much food in such a short time but, if he makes the choice to cater for particular birds’ dietary requirements, he surely can’t be too shocked that they, erm, eat the food?

Anyway, the good news is that, despite the fact that the finches have caught Louis Catorze’s eye, he appears to make no attempt to catch them. He sits and stares intently from a distance, and that’s as far as it goes. And we are glad about this.

Catorze definitely sees himself as the apex predator. But he also knows that he can’t be arsed to do anything about it.

Merci à Dieu: he’s leaving well alone.

Minuit dans le jardin du bien et du mal*

*Yes, of course the “mal” is our mutual friend. Who else would it be?

Louis Catorze appears to have adopted Teenage Me’s body clock: sleeping all day and partying all night.

The little sod goes out at dusk and eventually rolls in between around 4am and 5am every morning. At night, The Back is transformed into a magical place. Because the garden faces north-west, and because we are not overlooked by anyone, we are blessed with everlasting summer sunsets that deliver an enchanting light display.

Le Roi is on high alert at this time, having slept throughout most of the day to power up for after-dark tomfoolery, and his creepy kitty sixth sense picks up all sorts of animal sounds inaudible to us. Cat Daddy swears he can hear the snails chomping away at the leaves, and he constantly berates Catorze for not doing enough to destroy them.

(Incidentally, Cat Daddy hates the snails as much as he hates the pigeons and the squirrels. “I found one on my chervil plant the other day. That’s my f***ing dinner he was eating! What a ****.”)

Catorze’s favourite thing to do is to sit and stare at the virginia creeper, as if absorbing the sounds inside, sometimes bird-chattering at the invisible prey, then launch himself into the leaves to pounce on thin air.

Seeing our old, haggard boy frolicking around with the life and vigour of a young kitten is a heartwarming sight. During their most recent Boys’ Club en plein air, Cat Daddy thought it might be cute to take some pictures.

It wasn’t.

Just look at the horror show that resulted from that photo session. NOW do you believe me when I say Catorze is the devil himself?

Good grief.
Oh. Doux. Jésus.
What the hell even IS this?

Tenter le sort

Cat Daddy really should know better.

10:00pm: He complains that Louis Catorze hasn’t caught any rodents or birds all year, and claims that cats who hunt are more manly than those who don’t (?).

4.39am the next day: The little sod screams repeatedly in my face (note: not in Cat Daddy’s face but in MINE) and I know instantly that something is up.

Catorze used to bring his prey to our bedroom, which was disgusting but at least there were no surprises. Now, however, his MO is to announce the special delivery and then send us on a treasure hunt for whatever and wherever it may be. I searched in all the usual and unusual places to find nothing and, naturellement, after all that palaver, I was wide awake and there was no point trying to go back to sleep.

Later that morning, I went outside to work out on my aerobic step. It was then that I found the dead mouse, right in the spot where I would lay my head to do my sit-ups, with flies starting to gather around the aromatic smell of sun-cooked mouse as it was one of the hottest days of the month. Ugh.

Anyway, Cat Daddy removed the mouse and took it to the mouse graveyard aka the bin in the park over the road, luckily not bumping into That Neighbour who would regard this sort of thing as fly-tipping. And, when I finally did my sit-ups (avoiding the bit of mouse-patio, obviously), Catorze circled me, screaming his lungs out. I imagine he was either searching for his mouse or rejoicing in the fact that I was dying of heatstroke and then he would have Cat Daddy to himself.

The fun never stops here at Le Château. Sadly what passes for “fun” is questionable.

On the lookout for the next mouse.

Les pies qui chantent

According to the creepy old magpie rhyme, seven indicates “a secret never to be told”. In this case, it’s not much of a secret: Louis Catorze is on the other side of the fence, winding them up, and they’re all cackling at him. If you zoom in, you can even see the bottom right one with its beak open, mid-caw:

Seven against one doesn’t seem like a fair fight.

Cat Daddy was so concerned that he actually went to look over the fence to check that his boy was all right. Not only was he perfectly fine, but he didn’t even appear to care about the apocalypse unfolding around him. The skies were darkening, the avian army was gathering, and all the while Sa Maj was happily slow-blinking away in the Zone Libre, enjoying the last few remaining rays of sun.

The same kitty sixth sense which informs him of when I am about to give him medication, somehow failed to alert him to this. In fact, WE were alerted long before Catorze was. I don’t think I will ever understand this.

Worse yet, I have just discovered that the French version of the creepy magpie rhyme says “Sept pies: enterrement”, which isn’t especially reassuring.

I really don’t want any trouble … yet I fear that is exactly what I will get.

Le renard peureux

It’s the summer solstice. Usually, by this time of the year, we are not even close to hitting the heady heights of 28+ degrees – that tends to come in July/August – but this month has been a hot one.

However, the one good thing about it all is that cat mischief is inversely proportional to soaring temperatures; it’s simply too hot for cats to misbehave. And we imagine that Donnie has been feeling it, too, since he hasn’t been round in a while. Apart from, erm, last night, when he showed up and started a yowling match with Louis Catorze in front of our horrified dinner guests. And that time when a neighbour whom I don’t even know had to break up a fight between the pair of them. Oh, and that other time when I was awoken by that awful cat fight sound, and I looked outside to see their unmistakable forms on the fence. (Yes, it was definitely them. I know their silhouettes like I know my own name.)

Sa Maj has been flopping languidly around Le Château and Le Jardin, spending inordinate amounts of time at his Rodent Duty station (the gap by the fence separating us from the Zone Libre). He was outside with Cat Daddy the other day, happily pitter-pattering around, when the birds in the Zone Libre started screeching.

Now, we all know full well that, when birds screech in unison, it’s never good. Anyone with any brains would run in the opposite direction. So, naturellement, Catorze decided to run into the Zone Libre to investigate.

It was Foxy Loxy.

Cat Daddy was powerless to help on the other side of the fence, and all he could do was stare (and curse the fact that he didn’t have his phone to take a picture). Then, unbelievably, Foxy Loxy took one look at Catorze … and fled.

This is not the first time we have seen this; in fact, Cat Daddy has seen THREE foxes run away from Catorze. Obviously it’s no bad thing that a predator who could finish the little sod in an instant would choose, instead, to retreat. But we are puzzled and terrified that the birds’ screeching, something we thought to be a universal sign of abject peril – yes, known even to a dimwit like Le Roi, surely? – would send him running TOWARDS it.

Is there anything we can do about this? There must be some kind of training or lessons, like teaching kids the Green Cross Code? (Younger followers: ask your grandparents.)

“I hear danger! I must interfere for absolument no raison whatsoever!”

Dans le Zone Libre, personne ne vous entend crier

Louis Catorze’s friend Donnie now visits on a daily basis, often stopping by multiple times a day.

Cat Daddy and I are ok with this as long as Catorze remains happy to see his friend. We hope it won’t turn into something oppressive or threatening, and that Donnie won’t become that pleasant-but-too-needy friend who pops round unannounced and who doesn’t seem to know when to leave. (If you’ve ever had that friend, you will know how difficult it is to tell someone to get lost when they’re just being friendly and their only crime is no awareness of boundaries.)

It’s always the same routine when Donnie comes over: he sits outside the cat flap and screams, Catorze goes out to join him, then they either sit and stare at each other in our garden or they pitter-patter off into the Zone Libre. If Catorze isn’t available when he arrives, Donnie will sit outside and wait.

When you’re all set to go out on the town but your friend’s still getting ready.

The route from Donnie’s place to ours takes him through many gardens, over many fences and through the Zone Libre, which is Foxy Loxy’s domain. For the moment Catorze is always the one to host Donnie at Le Château but, should Donnie ever decide to return the gesture, I don’t like the thought of Catorze crossing the Zone Libre to get there. The foxes are becoming braver and more aggressive; Dog Mamma caught one cornering Blue the Smoke Bengal in her garden recently, and she had to intervene. I wouldn’t want Catorze or Donnie squaring up to a whole foxy gang in the inaccessible Zone Libre.

Sa Maj is an old boy and we imagined he would be taking it easy in his twilight years, not gallivanting around town with young whippersnappers like Donnie. But we’re glad he’s enjoying himself.

Hangin’ tough in the Zone Libre,

La guirlande lumineuse

The pesky squirrels have chewed, multiple times, through the wires of the pretty solar-powered garden lights that the Dog Family gave to Cat Daddy for his birthday. Of a string of around twenty lights, only four now work. And Cat Daddy is not happy about it.

After Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind and threats to obtain a firearm, Cat Daddy decided to … buy a new set of lights. Now, I don’t wish to victim-blame but this is asking for trouble, in the same way at that, if one’s Lexus were vandalised, it would not be advisable to buy an identical new Lexus and park it in the same spot the very next day.

Cat Daddy has also bought some new fruit trees for the garden, despite Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma telling us that the squirrels stole the figs and peaches from her trees last year. So, as well as parking a new Lexus in the same place where vandals targeted his old one, he’s also effectively bought several brand new Lexuses (Lexi?) and dotted them tantalisingly around a neighbourhood known for Lexus theft. Oh dear.

This is only going to fuel Cat Daddy’s already-raging hatred for the squirrels. But he’s done it now, so it’s too late.

The new string of lights looked lovely trailing around the honeysuckle trellis and across the fence and the shed roof … until Cat Daddy remembered that he had to paint the fence, so there was a second round of unrepeatable expletives when they all came down again.

This area also happens to be Louis Catorze’s route to Twiggy the greyhound’s place, so we may have to rethink when they go back up. Cats are supposed to be able to deftly pitter-patter through even the trickiest of obstacles – there’s a YouTube cat who can run across a floor covered in dominos without toppling a single one – but this is Catorze we’re talking about. I can well imagine going outside to find him flailing and screaming among the wires, like a fly caught on that sticky paper (not that flies scream, but you know what I mean).

The fence painting is going on right now as I write. But, when Cat Daddy has finished, I might ask him to nail the lights slightly lower, to facilitate the Catorzian exit route. And his painting supervisor (pictured below) agrees.

“You’ve missed a bit, papa.”

Défense de tuer les rouge-gorges

Most people would have dismantled their festive decorations on Twelfth Night, but we barely needed to bother because the squirrels were kind enough to do much of the job for us. We can’t be sure of exact numbers but we imagine we are about ten baubles down, thanks to those pesky, thieving little sods.

However, this is by no means the end of Cat Daddy’s war against them. His latest piece of weaponry is the feeder pictured below, which allows birds to access the tasty treats but somehow doesn’t permit “pests”. Nothing is quite as passive-aggressive as a feeder that says “Here’s food for everyone else, BUT NOT YOU.”

Our favourite visitors are a pair of robins, who are so friendly that they even come to feed whilst we are doing our noisy outdoor workouts.

Photographed by Cat Daddy a fortnight ago.

We love them, and we look forward to seeing them every time we look or go outside. But we are also very nervous on their behalf, because of this individual:

Don’t even THINK about it.

Now, the last time that Louis Catorze caught a bird was a long time ago (full story featured here: https://louiscatorze.com/2016/07/16/loiseau/ ) and, as far as we know, he hasn’t caught one since. So logic would deem it unlikely that things would go awry. However, this is Catorze, he who pretty much INVENTED the dark art of doing exactly the opposite of whatever is expected or wanted. This is why we are nervous.

So we have decided to follow the advice of The Guardian (see link: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/feb/11/meaty-meals-and-play-stop-cats-killing-wildlife-study-finds) and ramp up Catorze’s play sessions, especially as the sunnier weather seems to be giving him a boost of not-needed energy. And, as an extra precaution, Cat Daddy has “had a serious word with him” (?).

Please keep your fingers crossed and hope that Catorze behaves himself.

*EDIT: the day after I wrote this piece, Cat Daddy overheard Catorze making “his awful hunting noise” at two birds on the feeder. Oh my.

Le trésor enfui

It seems I must have been on the Naughty List, because Santa’s gift to me was a positive Covid test result. To add insult to injury, the text message came through in the early afternoon of Christmas Day, when I was in the middle of opening my presents. I suppose it’s sort of funny now.

Cat Daddy is not remotely amused; in fact, he’s livid that he’s now stuck indoors with me for the next few days and can’t go on any walks or bike rides. The isolation time is ten days from when symptoms started so we don’t have THAT long left although, bizarrely, I had none of the classic symptoms: no temperature, no continuous cough, no loss of sense of taste or smell, just what I believed to be an especially brutal teacher-cold. I only bothered to take the test because a family member had also tested positive in mid-December, with cold-like rather than text-book Covid symptoms.

In short, Louis Catorze is the only one of us who is allowed out. And he is making the most of this by, erm, burrowing deep into his winter igloo.

In other, equally rubbish news, our glorious outdoor winter wonderland has been vandalised by the depraved squirrels, so we can’t even enjoy that during our period of house arrest. They’ve chewed through our solar-powered outdoor lights, and the other day we caught one red-handed/pawed/clawed (no idea what one would call whatever squirrels have on the ends of their creepy little arms, and I daren’t Google to find out) trying to make off with one of our baubles:

Not really in the festive spirit.

Some of the baubles have been fully unhooked from the virginia creeper; in fact, we watched in horror as this chunksome thug did exactly that, before flinging it into That Neighbour’s garden. Other baubles have been snapped off, leaving the gold wires and the little clasp things dangling pointlessly on the bare twigs. It’s hard to say how many we’ve lost but it’s four that we can prove, and no doubt countless others that we can’t prove … at least, not until our neighbours do their springtime planting, when they will wonder what the heck’s been going on when they dig through the soil and unearth thousands of buried baubles.

Now, are the squirrels so dozy that they think the baubles are food? Or perhaps they are just feeling the magic of the season and want to make their dreys look pretty? Either way, Cat Daddy refuses to dismantle our display because he’s “not giving into bloody vermin”. He has installed a Squirrel Stick by the bifold doors at The Back, to pick up and poke threateningly in the direction of the thieving varmints when they come by.

Luckily there is a cat who has noted the problem and who is doing something about it. Sadly it’s Blue the Smoke Bengal and not Catorze.

Here is Blue (below), doing his civic duty. Catorze, meanwhile, has been in his igloo, doing sod all.

Blue on Squirrel Watch.

L’écureuil a été reconnu non coupable

I returned home from Halloweekend-by-the-sea on Sunday afternoon and, apart from Cat Daddy accidentally double-pilling Louis Catorze on Friday (and then wondering why he was so bouncy and show-offy during the Zoom call with his pub mates), the weekend passed sans incident in TW8.

Yesterday I took Catorze to the vet. Unusually, there was total silence from the patient on the walk over to the surgery. Then, when we arrived at the door, he shifted to demonic possession mode: thrashing around inside his transportation pod, Exorcist-style growling, the works.

This time I was allowed into the waiting room (avec masque, of course). But, regretfully, this meant enduring the embarrassment of looking them in the face and telling them that my cat might have been punched in the face by a squirrel AND that I’d given him drugs without prior authorisation. And I can now confirm that the common belief that a face mask conceals smiles/laughter is very much a myth.

Anyway, it seems that his allergy is the more likely culprit than squirrel rage, and that we were right to pill him. We have to continue for the next five days, and, after that, reduce to every other day for ten days and add an eye ointment. Not DROPS, which fall conveniently where you want them to and spread effortlessly across the whole eye, but OINTMENT, which comes in a squeezy tube and has to be smeared on/in. It defies all science (thick creams simply cannot go into eyes) and all common sense (nobody in their right mind would stick their finger into the eye of a screaming, writhing, clawed animal with the strength of ten angry bears), but we are in what they call an Option-Free Zone. Cat Daddy and I might have to do Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who ends up with that torturous task.

The secondary post-vet news is that Catorze now tips the scales at 3.8kg, his heaviest to date, yet it’s still within his healthy range so nothing to worry about.

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable, fat-shaming expletives]”

This photo, taken last Wednesday, was what prompted our vet appointment, but Sa Maj is starting to look a little better now:

Sore little sod. But still loving life.