Neutre, comme La Suisse

When it snows in the U.K. – which is nowhere near as often as non-Brits would imagine – most people swear firm allegiance to either Team Youpi! or Team Non.

I am very much Team Youpi! I love it. I appreciate that it’s not much fun when you have to actually go out and do things, but I would rather do battle than have no snow at all.

Cat Daddy is Team Non. This stems from when he used to run his own business and the snow meant severe disruption to their deliveries. One December, when Royal Mail couldn’t cope, he actually put a customer’s parcel in the car and personally delivered it so that they would have it in time for Christmas, just like a latter-day Santa.

Also, many years ago, I made Cat Daddy take me to the cinema during a yellow – or possibly amber? – weather warning, and I remember him muttering Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind as he flung a blanket, a spade and bottled water into the car for our journey. Yes, I made him drive to the cinema with me, in the snow, to see a film he didn’t even want to see and which was the sequel whose original he also hadn’t wanted to see. And, no, it wasn’t even a good sequel. They never are.

Now, you’d imagine Louis Catorze would side with his daddy, just to make me feel outnumbered and spited, but in actual fact he is neutral. Whilst he doesn’t spend extra time outside because of the snow, nor is he one of those cats who puts one paw onto it and then aborts their mission. He just goes about his normal life – whatever “normal” may be – in exactly the same way that he would if there were no snow.

Yes, a cat who is neutral to snow. It’s not normal. Trust me, I know. But I guess this is just another of the many [insert appropriate noun here because I can’t think of one] that make him so [insert appropriate adjective here because I can’t think of one].

Here is the little sod, entranced by a recent snowfall:

“Il neige!”

Then Cat Daddy opened the window wider and lifted him up so that he could get a better look:

The Pest from the West (of London).

L’or, l’encens et la myrrhe

The winter solstice is here, but I’m not really feeling the Yuletide joy. Firstly, my teacher-cold – the same one that had been threatening to hit since September but stayed simmering below the surface, enough to annoy me but not enough to warrant time off – finally broke through on the last day of term, just in time for the holidays. And, secondly, we were put into Tier 4 a couple of days ago. If you didn’t even know there was a Tier 4 you’re in good company, because neither did we. In fact, none of us Londoners did until a few hours before it was announced. In short, this means that the Five-Day Festive Free-For-All is cancelled, so we will all be spending the celebratory season like Kevin McCallister: home alone. (Younger followers, ask your parents.)

In better news, someone has sent Louis Catorze a Yuletide gift, but I have no idea who it is.

The card bears the words “From one crazy cat lady to another” which, frankly, doesn’t narrow it down in the slightest. And I know that the sender also has cats (although this doesn’t narrow it down, either) because there were puncture marks in the Dreamies packet. I am lucky enough to know several people who would be this thoughtful, yet most of the prime suspects have denied all knowledge.

If you were responsible and I have not yet accused you, I would have got to you at some point, I’m sure. There is the small matter of a certain someone having to be good in order to deserve presents, but nevertheless I am very grateful to you for thinking of the little sod. Thank you so much!

Incidentally, I still have the Black Cats calendar that I found on my doorstep in 2016, and my quest to find the mystery giver was unsuccessful. So, whilst we’re on the subject of owning up, it would be nice to know who left that, too, so that I may say thank you.

Wishing you a magical winter solstice. Brighter days are coming.

“They knelt before the king and offered precious gifts.”

Ça commence à beaucoup ressembler au solstice d’hiver

2020 really is the year that keeps on giving, right to the bitter end: our tree was supposed to have been delivered last week but, the day before the scheduled delivery, the supplier called to let us know that their shipment of trees wasn’t up to standard and therefore they were very sorry but they wouldn’t be delivering.

Now, compared to what we’ve already experienced of this cirque de merde of a year, no tree is hardly the end of the world – at least, not for us. But, for the poor tree man, this is just the worst thing ever; as well as his business being royally shafted, he was having to call every customer to let them know that Christmas was ruined, and I can imagine one or two of them being quite bratty and princessy about it.

He sounded so upset and frustrated, and we felt so bad for him, that we told him not to worry about refunding us. And, instead of our usual outdoor tree, we have decorated our bare virginia creeper skeleton with baubles and lights. If you followed Le Blog last year you will know that one of our household traditions is for Louis Catorze to have his own indoor tree, so we have brought in our potted bay tree from The Front for him, just in case you were concerned about him being treeless this year.

Cat Daddy: “Literally nobody was concerned about that.”

So we have our outdoor winter wonderland at The Back, Catorze’s bay tree in the living room, and a stunning wreath made for us by Puppy Mamma at The Front. And, whilst we were putting it all up, somehow the Yuletide spirit seemed to give Sa Maj a much-needed burst of energy after a day or two of slumpy inactivity (most likely powering up for his next bit of mischief) and, throughout the whole process, he pitter-pattered around us, bug-eyed and screaming.

We are so looking forward to the winter solstice and to the lighter days which will, we hope, bring a happier year.

Catorze’s special tree, with bespoke decorations.
Puppy Mamma’s super-stylish handmade wreath. She managed to keep the dogs’ chops away from it this time.

Elle fait une liste, elle la vérifie deux fois

Lockdown came to an end earlier this week. Cat Daddy, Louis Catorze and I are now in Tier 2*, which is the worst of the lot – yes, even worse than 3 – because it’s not quite normal life, yet not enough is in place to make it worth the bother for our hospitality industry.

*For non-Brits who aren’t familiar with the system, Tier 1 = alcohol, Tier 2 = alcohol but only with a pasty and a side salad, Tier 3 = no alcohol, no pasty, no side salad.

We have been granted five days over the festive season in which we can do what we like (not exactly what’s been instructed, but it’s what will happen) and, as we have seen before, any plan which relies on the common sense of the British public is doomed to fail. So Cat Daddy and I have told our families and friends that we won’t be seeing them. We’ve got this far and we just don’t see the point in chucking it all in now.

I am the one who takes charge of buying the gifts every December. Cat Daddy does so many of the boring chores and errands on a daily basis that it’s only fair I pull my weight just once a year. And, yes, I do realise that the fact that we’re even able to buy gifts makes us very lucky indeed. The other day, Cat Daddy asked me how I was getting along.

Me: “Oh, I’m almost done. I just need to get the animals’ presents.”

Him: “Sorry?”

Me: “Presents for Louis’s friends.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

Whilst it’s something of a stretch to suggest that he has any friends, it’s lovely that we are among like-minded animal lovers who understand animal gifts. That said, each pet has very different requirements so it’s not as simple as one would imagine:

1. Cat-Cousin Zelva: not keen on wet food.

2. Cat-Cousin King Ghidorah: likes Sheba (poultry variants) at the moment, but will have changed his mind by the time this post goes live.

3. Cocoa the babysit cat and his sister Chanel: are used to exotic delicacies such as, erm, squirrel and parakeet, and so nothing we could give them would ever feel like a real treat.

4. Blue the Smoke Bengal: is under strict orders to lose some poundage, so food-based gifts are out.

5. Nala the dog and Gizzy the [insert name of species]: sensitive tummies.

In short, festive shopping for pets is COMPLICATED.

Luckily, Louis Catorze is the simplest of the bunch: we don’t buy him anything. Now, before you feel sorry for him, hear me out. He doesn’t know it’s the festive season and, if he did, he wouldn’t give a hoot.

*EDIT: HOOT VERY MUCH GIVEN. After I drafted this post, Cat Daddy went to investigate a commotion in the dining room and discovered that Catorze had broken into the animals’ gift storage and was chasing Blue the Smoke Bengal’s catnip fish around the room. I don’t imagine Blue will want it now that it’s covered in Roi spit so, since the poor little sod hasn’t been well, we’ve decided to buy something else for Blue and let Catorze keep the fish:

Thou shalt have a fishy.

La renaissance du soleil

Louis Catorze’s Cat Granny passed away last month, and Cat Daddy and I have been thinking about her during our traditional winter solstice reminiscing. She was the best mother-in-law imaginable and would always take my side in an argument with Cat Daddy. In fact, she would always take my side even if there had been no argument, and at Christmas she would give me better presents than the ones she gave him. Her words to me when we announced our engagement were: “Well, he’s always been a very nice son to me. I just HOPE he’ll be a nice husband to you.”

She left us on Remembrance Sunday, which was a very important day to Cat Grandpa, and I can imagine him hurrying her along on that morning and telling her she’d better get to him before 11 o’clock.

Cat Granny loved cats, although I don’t have any decent pictures of her with Louis Catorze as he preferred hanging out with Cat Grandpa at Boys’ Club. But they had a lovely relationship, and she was one of the few people who didn’t mind stroking him when he had just come in, cold and wet, from a thunderstorm. She would always be there with the cuddles, whilst Cat Daddy and I flinched and shuddered when Catorze came near us with his gross, drenched fur.

Cat Granny is pictured below with Brook, the enormously fat* cat who lives in her residential home and who is the same cat that ruined her 90th birthday party by catching a bird in front of horrified guests.

*I must add that the residential home staff do not overfeed him. As anyone with a greedy and determined cat will understand only too well, he goes out and manages to find food – and clearly rather a lot of it – from somewhere.

Moments after this photo was taken, the delightful scene was ruined because Brook dug his claws hard into poor Cat Granny. Cat Daddy and I had to delicately unpick the big sod and hoist his considerable bulk off her body, which was quite some challenge, demonstrating yet again – not that we really needed reminding – cats’ innate capacity for spoiling things that were perfectly lovely before.

I hope that Cat Granny and Cat Grandpa, wherever they may be, are surrounded by cats (but maybe better-behaved ones than naughty Brook). And Catorze, Cat Daddy and I wish you all a wonderful winter solstice.

Trop de choses à faire

The winter solstice is fast approaching and, whilst Louis Catorze is following his natural instincts and burying himself so deeply into his igloo that I fear he might become part of it, Cat Daddy and I are doing the opposite. We have so much to do, including the following:

⁃ Buying, putting up and decorating our main tree, which Cat Daddy put outdoors one year because he didn’t want to disturb his boy’s main sleeping spot (even though he has 849 other sleeping spots) and has remained an outdoor tree ever since: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/12/15/mon-beau-sapin/

⁃ Buying and decorating Catorze’s tree (yes, Sa Maj has his own tree, although I don’t suppose he will agree to be pictured next to it)

⁃ Choosing a charity to receive the donation that we make in lieu of sending cards

⁃ Sending cards to the awkward people who don’t know about or understand the charity donation thing, and who would probably never speak to us again if we didn’t send them a card (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE)

⁃ Organising the festive menu for the day (even though we still don’t exactly know who’s coming and for how long)

It’s all a bit manic and although, at times, we wish we could climb into that igloo with Sa Maj and just wait for it to all be over, we know how lucky we are that we are able to do these things. The people who can’t, for whatever reason, are very much on our minds at this time of year.

We hope that your festive planning is going well, and that it’s bringing you more joy than stress. In the meantime, Sa Maj is still in his igloo, and he won’t be budging anytime soon.

J’adore mon igloo

Louis Catorze’s winter igloo has officially been reinstated. Even though I know that, once he’s in, he won’t be coming out unless it’s on fire.

Selfishly, I wanted to delay giving him back his igloo because I like having him on our laps. That said, I know how much he loves it. And it means we can have our blankets back. And, possibly most importantly, if he’s sleeping in it throughout most of the day and night, it’s less likely that he will be bothering the neighbours, howling at dogs / foxes / magpies / parakeets / other cats, or waking us up by bouncing around our bed and screaming in our faces. So, in many ways, it’s a win-win.

If anyone wants him – don’t all rush at once – he’ll be here until next May:

Le froid ne m’a jamais dérangé de toute façon

We all know that Louis Catorze isn’t really one for doing what we would expect (or want). In 37-degree heat, he heads for the sun. In thunderstorms, he heads outside. And, if faced with a larger and more ferocious animal who could kill him in an instant, he pitter-patters towards it, up-tailed and screaming.

However, on a cold day, he can’t ignore his natural catty instincts, and that is when he wants ALL THE BLANKETS. One clearly wasn’t sufficient so he actually has a total of three here. We wouldn’t mind a couple for ourselves, but it doesn’t look as if that will be happening. Not today.

His face looks sour as an underripe lime but, trust me, the little sod is very happy indeed.

Le songe d’une nuit d’hiver

As well as his summer chaise longue, Louis Catorze now has a cosy bed for the winter. And, if you squish down the roof from the top, it folds into a bowl-shaped bed that also serves for spring and autumn.

Cat Daddy: “Absolutely bloody ridiculous. We don’t even have a summer and a winter DUVET, and yet he has A Bed For All Seasons?” 

The bed was gifted by one of Sa Maj’s favourite pilgrims in the whole world, and it’s not hard to see why it was chosen: a creepy black kitty with vampire fangs has to have a Hallowe’en bed, n’est-ce pas? Our friend did initially wonder about pink for a boy cat, but I don’t suppose cats really have colour preferences. And, if they did, something tells me that our boy would opt for pink in an instant. 

When we are home, we like it when the little sod sits on our laps. But, when we’re out, it’s nice to know that he has a comfy little spot of his own. Below is a picture of him enjoying his gift, and the fact that he took to it so quickly was something rather special as he usually does the opposite of whatever is expected (or wanted). 

I hope he feels this snug and happy forever. 

Un nouvel an, des anciens problèmes

2019 is here, with its annoyingly unround and unbalanced appearance. I almost can’t stand to look at it because it hurts my OCD, and, whilst I don’t want to wish time away, I really want to add 1 to 2019 and turn it into the beautifully even 2020. 

I don’t know what the year will bring but, as Benjamin Franklin (I think – or possibly Mark Twain?) once said, in this world nothing can be said to be certain except death, taxes and Louis Catorze getting stuck in the Forbidden Greenhouse when it’s either life-threateningly hot or life-threateningly cold. And one of those things is more certain than the others.

I came home the other day to find no sign of our mutual friend, which is somewhat unusual as he is very dog-like in his ways and almost always greets us. Then, when I stepped outside to grab a bottle of Crémant from nature’s outdoor overflow fridge, I heard the faraway yet unmistakable sound of screaming, then saw his affronted face and psycho eyes peering at me through the glass. 

Cat Daddy, when I texted him to tell him: “WHAT? I opened the greenhouse door for about 0.3 seconds this morning to grab some boots, then I shut it again. I didn’t see him go in at all. How was he?”

Erm: indignant and loud. And pretty cold.

Yet not quite cold enough, it seems, as, right after getting his body back to optimum temperature (by settling on me and sucking out my heat), the little sod pitter-pattered out again and was immediately heard screaming at birds / bugs /  Oscar the dog / the air. 

Here he is after eventually deciding to come back in again. Most cats wouldn’t be so silly as to do the same thing twice but, as this is Le Roi we’re talking about, I guess we’re ready for another year of more of the same. 

Hope the start of 2019 has been better for you than it was for Catorze.