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.

La guerre de la planète des écureuils

We appear to be living in not one but TWO horror movie sub-genres at the moment:

1. Post-apocalyptic dystopia.

2. Erm, those films in which the protagonist offends the wrong people and receives a warning message daubed on their house.

Not content with annoying the magpies, the parakeets, the foxes and the dogs, and despite being Côned, Louis Catorze has now pissed off the squirrels. And this was their grim reminder that they are not to be messed with:

We have seen news stories about nature reclaiming the planet now that we humans have retreated into our homes (for example, those goats in that town in Wales: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-wales-52109712/coronavirus-goats-take-over-deserted-llandudno) and it seems that our answer to that is the squirrels. They are the new gangland bosses who rule the lawless streets of TW8, and they appear to have teamed up with the magpies and the parakeets to form a united force against their common foe: cats.

(It also doesn’t help that relations between Cocoa the babysit cat and the squirrels are acrimonious, to say the least. He can name murder, actual bodily harm, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment among his crimes against squirrels, so you can’t really blame them for not liking cats.)

Not only do the squirrels seem bigger, cheekier and more prolific than ever before, but they are also noisier. Yes, squirrels have a NOISE, which is a new, and not especially pleasant, discovery to us. We have heard the abrasive part-chatter, part-rattle during Catorze’s supervised exercise yard sessions – with the little sod occasionally meowing back – and now we realise that it wasn’t just an incidental squirrely sound but a battle cry. And I dread to think what Catorze said in return. I had hoped it might have been a friendly “Bonjour” but, under the circumstances, this seems unlikely.

These are dangerous times indeed, Mesdames et Messieurs. We have been told that we must stay at home to remain safe, but I feel anything but safe knowing that the squirrels KNOW WHERE WE LIVE.

*EDIT: 48 hours after Cat Daddy cleared up the above mess, the squirrels returned and did the same again, presumably because we talked. Shit just got serious.

Un oiseau en main

I don’t know whether I feel less alone, or more appalled, to learn that other cats ruin things, too. 

The occasion was Cat Granny’s 90th birthday party, held at Cat Auntie and Cat Uncle’s beautiful house in Somerset, and the culprit was this attractive, slightly boss-eyed chap.

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I spotted him in the garden, called him over for a cuddle and he happily obliged, shouting himself silly throughout. When the rest of the party guests joined us outside, he pitter-pattered off to explore other parts of the huge, sprawling garden. 

Moments later there was a huge commotion and we saw the little sod leaping and pouncing at a flock of angry, shrieking blackbirds. Cat Auntie went to investigate, then announced that he had managed to catch one of the birds and asked for a volunteer to do the honourable deed. I think that, at this point, I might have looked down into my cup of tea and muttered something about it being a man’s job but, before any of the men had a chance to intervene, the poor bird flutter-limped to its nest deep inside a thick, impenetrable shrub where nobody could reach it. 

Cat Granny continued to enjoy her champagne and remained happily oblivious to what was going on. And Cat Daddy, whilst a bit cross with me for encouraging the cat with cuddles, was relieved that, for once, it was someone else’s cat and not ours that had made an embarrassing spectacle of himself. 

That said, we have a number of social events planned at Le Château over the next few weeks and months. So, if Catorze decides he fancies creating havoc and showing us up in front of our friends, there’s still time. 

Si on donne du jambon à un roi, il mangera toujours

I had only made one New Year resolution this year, which was to try a wider variety of vodkas instead of just having Absolut Vanilla all the time. But I have now made a second resolution, which is never to get a leg of jamón serrano again.

If you have a dog, or a normal cat, the clearing up from a leg of jamón pretty much does itself. But, if you have a tiny cat who doesn’t really like food, you’re stuck with a ton of meat and a greasy, hammy film all over your house for days afterwards. Louis Catorze is partial to cured ham, but he couldn’t possibly eat it as fast as we could slice it. Come to think of it, neither could we. Hoping for zero remnants from a piece of meat several times the size of our pet was, perhaps, a little optimistic.

So, having gifted some of our neighbours with several months’ supply of jamón each, we were still left with the huge hoofy bone and the gross fatty bits. Quoi faire avec? There is no real way of getting rid of such a thing in the garden without attracting rats, and it wouldn’t fit into the tiny food waste bin supplied by Hounslow Council.

Eventually Cat Daddy took it to work and left it in the area of overgrown scrubland behind his office, which is inhabited by all manner of beasties. The wildlife of TW8 would have had a fine old feast that night. But, unfortunately, this has done nothing to stop Le Château from smelling all hammy.

Cat Daddy, after opening the dining room door and being hit with the smell of jamón once more: “Never again. Next time we’re giving everyone sliced ham from a packet. If we give them enough champagne beforehand they won’t know, and the ones that know won’t care.”

Once again, les invités, you’re welcome.

“Or maybe,” Cat Daddy continued, “we’ll just get a normal cat who actually eats food. New Year, new cat.”

Luckily he said this in English, so Louis Catorze didn’t understand him. Here he is, assuming the “Je ne comprends pas” position.

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Le personnel domestique est de retour

Cat Daddy and I have been away for a few days; this was our first mini-holiday in years, due in part to my inconsistent health but also to the fact that Louis Catorze used to require medication every other day, and we didn’t think it fair to make a neighbour or a cat sitter do battle with him. We returned home on Friday to a strikingly glossy, healthy-looking Roi who was delighted to see his daddy again. (Me, not so much.)

Oscar the dog’s folks looked after him magnificently well in our absence, and we are super-grateful to them. (They came here to feed him, obviously; he didn’t go and live with them, although part of me thinks it would have been funny to try it.) Not only were we able to go away with peace of mind, knowing that the little sod would be loved, but their kindness also meant I didn’t have to write the embarrassing advert: “Wanted: cat sitter for tiny black cat with annoying voice that could strip paint. Must be prepared to referee turf wars with dogs and dispose of rats, birds, slugs and other assorted wildlife, living, dead or somewhere between the two.”

As you can see, normal service has very much resumed, with both daddy-love and newspaper impingement in progress. And Cat Daddy has come up with a solution to the newspaper problem: take advantage of the lack of binding or staples in a newspaper and separate it as soon as you see the cat approaching. Just make sure you end up with the decent half, and that the cat sits on the boring property bit.

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