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.

La vengeance de l’écureuil

Merde, merde and thrice merde: it really is kicking off at Le Château right now.

Earlier this week, Cat Daddy found this object (below, with a 5p coin for scale) whilst sweeping up the leaves at The Front. He thought it was a piece of faux fur from someone’s coat, but a few enquiries among my cat freak friends seem to suggest that it’s … a squirrel’s tail.

It’s all going a bit Godfather here in TW8.

Now, although squirrels can apparently lose their tails during combat, I highly doubt that Louis Catorze could ever be fast enough to catch one. But what a coincidence that we found the tail 24 hours after we glimpsed him howling, growling and swishing his puffy tail at an unknown adversary at The Front.

And, on the day of our grim discovery, we noticed that his left eye was looking sore and scratched. Our theories are as follows:

1. He is allergic to the merino wool scarf that I made recently (unlikely as I finished it and gave it to the recipient three weeks ago, plus Catorze was barely even in the HOUSE when I was knitting it, let alone in the room)

2. He has come into contact with some noxious matter outside which has irritated him (highly likely for the reason given above, i .e. he is constantly outdoors)

3. Cat Daddy’s theory: a squirrel took offence at having its tail lopped off by Catorze and punched him in the face (also highly likely, not to mention shameful on many levels)

I gave Sa Maj a steroid pill (left over from his course in the spring) the day we discovered the problem, just in case it was option 1 or option 2, and it seems to be preventing things from deteriorating. I would never normally advocate giving medication without consulting the vet first, of course, but the soonest available appointment is on Monday morning and I know from bitter experience how Catorze’s condition can turn from concerning to utterly catastrophic in an instant. Trust me, had you seen the worst photos from February and March (unpublished on here and unseen by all but a strong-stomached few), you would want to pill him too.

Worse yet, this afternoon I am heading over to the south coast for my annual Halloweekend celebration with my sister, so I won’t be around if things turn bad. I am aghast at Catorze’s timing yet, at the same time, he has previous in this department so it wouldn’t surprise me if he had planned it all just to spite me and to get extra love from Cat Daddy during their lads’ weekend together.

Please keep your fingers crossed that we won’t have to deploy Le dreaded Cône. Not now. Not in the run-up to Full Moon Hallowe’en.

L’armée rousse

Saint Jésus et tous ses apôtres: Cat Daddy has seen three foxes run away from Louis Catorze at The Back.

Je répète: three foxes, each weighing (I imagine) around 7-10kg, have RUN AWAY from our 3kg cat.

The strange thing is that he didn’t even scream or hiss to send them packing; all he did was stick his head through the gap in the fence that separates the Zone Occupé from the Zone Libre. That said, his diminutive stature and vampire fangs mean that he isn’t immediately identifiable as a cat, so perhaps they saw him as some cryptozoological freak of nature and thought it best to steer clear. And, to be fair, it’s not the first time anyone has looked at him and had those thoughts.

Cat Daddy found a big hole dug in our garden not long ago, so clearly the foxes had been gadding about back here again (unless, of course, a bunch of them cornered Catorze and forced him to dig his own grave), which is not what we want. I would be very happy if these three reported back to their foxy friends that a peculiar beast is at large in the Zone Occupé, and that they must avoid the area at all costs.

However, I wouldn’t want Sa Maj to become over-confident and to go sashaying over there thinking there were only three of them, when in fact there are at least eight.

This is a situation which will require ongoing monitoring. But Cat Daddy and I are ready.

“You and whose armée?”

Journal d’une chatière (Partie 4)

The vet confirmed on Monday that Louis Catorze’s chip remains correctly positioned and has not migrated into some strange part of his body. So the problem is definitely either in the Sureflap, in his brain or both.

The Sureflap has been in manual mode for a couple of weeks now. And, merci à Dieu, we have had no unwanted visitors, despite Cat Daddy spotting these chaps in the Zone Libre after first hearing Catorze growling and hissing at them:

These are just two of an army of around eight to ten.

Cat Daddy has wanted to put the Sureflap back into electronic mode for some time, but I wanted to be sure first of all that Catorze remembered how to come in. Any slight mishap is likely to wipe the remaining fragments of his memory and then we would have to start all over again.

Catorze is often outside when we go to bed and inside when we wake up, so clearly he is managing to find his way in. But we find it rather peculiar that he is coming and going undetected. Neither Cat Daddy nor I have seen him come in, not once, despite having seen him go out many times. Obviously being in the right place at the right time to ensure a completely equal balance would be unlikely, but you’d imagine SOME parity, as opposed to witnessing 842 of his exits and absolutely none of his entrances.

My friend Lizzi: “But he teleports. You know this. I don’t know why you’re even surprised.”

Anyway, sooner or later we will have to switch the Sureflap back to selective mode, which will, no doubt, be the trigger point for making everything go wrong again.

Please pray for all those affected by this crisis.

Rusé comme un renard

During my pre-Sureflap childhood, when any old random punter could – and did – wander into our home and wreak havoc, we would often find scraps of fur indicating that there had been an altercation between our cats and whoever.

Our lovely tuxedo boy, Rambo, had a neighbourhood nemesis (evil Jasper – a black cat, of course, with the most horror-movie cat snarl I have ever heard), and the two of them would have frequent bust-ups. One day Jasper’s mamma mentioned to my mum that Jasper had come home the other night with a wounded ear, and, by some curious coincidence, my mum had found blood on her back doorstep the same day.

That was the beginning of what has come to be our family mantra: “Oh dear, how awful. Must’ve been some other cat.”

Since we’ve had Louis Catorze, we have never seen any evidence of fights with other cats – apart from, erm, the time we took him to the vet with what turned out to be a fight wound, and the vet told Cat Daddy that its position indicated that Catorze was the one who started it.

However, a few days ago, Cat Daddy found this in the back garden:

Fox sake.

Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs, this is fox fur (approximately 5cm long).

I really hope someone will be able to reassure me that fox fur can just randomly fall off in this way. Otherwise I shall be forced to consider the truly horrifying thought that … shudder … Catorze has been taking them on.

Cat Daddy: “He wouldn’t be THAT stupid.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

L’envahisseur inconnu

I am so, so sorry for the deluge of posts. It’s this darned cat. He just won’t stop. And I am keen to document every bit of it to make a point to all those who say, “But he’s so cute!” “He’s like a little kitten!” “I can’t imagine him being naughty!” and other such nonsense.

Last night the planets were magically aligned and we were lucky enough to get an Ocado delivery for the first time since the world ground to a halt. Louis Catorze promptly escaped out to bother poor Pankaj driving the Raspberry van, then he went on the rampage. At the same time, when I dropped some of the Ocado supplies at Blue the Smoke Bengal’s place, Blue also took it upon himself to escape out and to join Catorze on the rampage in the street.

So there we were, supposedly under lockdown, with Blue’s poor self-isolating mamma chasing him down in her dressing gown and slippers, and me trying to drag Catorze, Cône and all, out of That Neighbour’s bin.

Blue’s mamma eventually managed to retrieve her guy when he grew bored and went home of his own accord. And I retrieved Catorze when he got stuck to our lavender plant with the Velcro of his Cône, and I had to peel him off.

I know. This could only happen here.

It gets worse. A couple of nights ago we sat outside to watch the sunset and, when we came indoors, Catorze decided to remain outside. Now, we have learned our lesson from previous incidents and we didn’t want to make the same mistakes again, so we kept checking on him every half hour or so. And, every time we checked, he was on exactly the same spot on the outdoor sofa, appearing to be enjoying the solitude.

Then Cat Daddy decided to fetch him in for some unCôned lap time, but returned empty-handed and flustered.

He told me that, when he opened the door to go out, he heard a scrambling sound and saw a very large shape at the end of the garden, which took off over the top of our shed and over the fence. Cat Daddy couldn’t tell what it was because it was too dark, but he believed it to be “maybe a cat, more likely a fox, but pretty big”.

And, whatever it was, Catorze had immediately taken off after it.

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

We both stood outside and called the little sod, but were met with deathly silence. After a very stressful 20-minute wait he reappeared – mercifully avec Cône, utterly unbothered and without the slightest scratch on him – and this time Cat Daddy was the rescue helicopter plucking him from the top of the fence and carrying him indoors.

Cat Daddy: “It’s the drugs. He’s bloody stoned. They turn him into a lunatic.” This is true. Thank goodness we are now moving into the lower-dose phase, which means that he should be calming down soon.

Here is Catorze, proving that Le Cône does not hold him back:

Important Cat Business.

Les drogues et les bagarres

Now that the steroids have kicked in, living with Louis Catorze is rather like living with a drug addict (not that I have lived with THAT many drug addicts in my life, but you know what I mean). He spends his days either asleep, bouncing off the walls or having an attack of the munchies.

The good thing is that he’s MOSTLY continuing to eat his tablets in Pill Pockets. However, on the odd occasion when he doesn’t, we have had no choice but to use the Greco-Roman method.

To find out why the Greco-Roman method is so called, please look here: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/01/07/la-pilule-est-dure-a-avaler/

Although I am getting better at Greco-Romaning, when he takes his pills without the buffer of the Pill Pocket it’s rather like having a neat vodka shot instead of a vodka and soda. Suddenly he is wired and invincible, and we have to be on the alert to wrench him out of trouble’s way.

Not long ago, immediately after being Greco-Romaned, he decided to go outside and taunt the enemy again. You can just about make out the squirrel atop the telegraph pole and Catorze, alarmingly, is trying to figure out a way of joining him:

I would have concerns about any cat considering this even under normal circumstances, but doing so whilst stoned and Côned is utter lunacy. So I had to go out there and do the rescue helicopter thing and pluck him to safety. (Yes, I also took a photo, but this is mainly because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.)

No doubt we can expect to have another warning anytime soon. And I know how these gangs work: if one warning appears to have no effect, they will do something worse the next time. So, if you hear that our bodies have been found, buried face-down in our back garden (cause of death: stoning with hazelnuts), you will KNOW.