L’hiver arrive

Even though Actual Winter doesn’t start until the winter solstice, the first snowfall of the season means that Psychological Winter has begun. We had delightfully thick, chunky flakes falling yesterday and, whilst the ground was too wet for them to settle for as long as I’d have liked, we have so little snow in London generally that I will happily take what I can get. So this was a glorious, wondrous thing to behold.

My social media feed yesterday was inundated with photos of cats frolicking in the snow or, at the very least, placing a cautious paw on the frozen wasteland that was once their garden, then backing away. Louis Catorze, on the other hand, spent the entire morning lounging in bed with us and didn’t set so much as a whisker outdoors. We couldn’t decide whether that was incredibly lazy, or smarter than the rest of us who insisted on schlepping around all over town despite the weather warnings.

“The met office are saying you shouldn’t make non-essential journeys,” said Cat Daddy, as I pulled out my puffy, red “Santa’s duvet” coat from the cupboard. “Are you sure you need to make this trip to your friend’s place?”

She has cats, so YES. Catorze yawned.

“The snow is getting thicker and thicker,” continued Cat Daddy, peering nervously out of the window. “Are you sure about this?”

Catorze twitched and flicked his tail.

“Right,” Cat Daddy eventually sighed. “Don’t blame me if your train is cancelled and you end up stuck on the other side of London.”

Catorze stretched and rolled. And, when I got back several hours later, he was still in exactly the same spot.

“He’s not even been outside to go to the loo,” said Cat Daddy, “which either means he’s saving it up for later [fine by me] or he’s done it somewhere in the house [not really fine].” If it’s the latter, no doubt our senses will detect that tantalising, come-hither fragrance at some point.

Winter is coming. Mind you, Sa Majesté can be seen resting les fesses royales and not doing much all year round.

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Chercher et détruire

Oh. Mon. Dieu. It’s every cat owner’s nightmare: you hear your little sod making that horking sound, you rush to the source with tissues and antiseptic spray, and there’s no puke to be found.

The last time this happened was (I think) May 2016. I am still looking for that one.

This time, not only did I hear the horking but I also heard the splattery thwack as the puke hit the floor. Horrifying, indeed, but this told me that it was on floor, at least, and not on carpet or soft furnishings. And, thanks to the disgusting yet reassuring echo of the splattery thwack, I also knew that it was out in the open and not secretly left to fester until the tragic day that I discovered it by opening a drawer or slipping my unsuspecting foot into a seldom-worn shoe. But, upon racing into the kitchen, I was greeted by the sight of a lip-smacking Roi and nothing else.

Où est le puke?

“I don’t understand,” I said to Cat Daddy. “I heard its sound, clear as anything. Why can’t I find it?”

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said, without looking up from his laptop. “You will.”

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Psycho kitty, qu’est-ce que c’est?

A few days ago, Louis Catorze decided that he wanted to play a game of “J’ai Caché Un Otage Quelque Part Dans Le Château Et Maintenant C’est A Toi De Le Retrouver.” If you don’t know what this is, trust me, you’ve dodged a bullet here.

Like every twisted serial killer in history who has left a trail of clues to taunt the world-weary detective chasing him, Catorze taunted me. The first clue was staring at nothing, sniffing nothing and peering under furniture at nothing. I knew that something was up but I couldn’t prove it.

Next clue: lots of nocturnal pitter-pattering but, when the light was switched on, the little sod would be sitting perfectly still, eyes wide with innocence. Then, when the light went out again, the pitter-pattering would resume. (The written description of this doesn’t even come close to conveying how annoying it was in reality, ESPECIALLY as Cat Daddy slept through it all.)

Then, a couple of nights ago, the bar was raised. I awoke to far-off, yet clear, panting: short, regular bursts, as if someone were inflating an air mattress with one of those manual pump things. Not long after that came the sound of familiar pitter-pattering and, then, the killer’s final coup de poing: the dull-eyed corpse of a huge mouse or medium-sized rat (I hope beyond hope that it was the former but fear it may have been the latter), blood spilling in all directions, dumped in the bedroom.

I realised then that the panting must have been either the poor rodent’s dying breath, or evil Catorze’s laboured wheezing whilst trying to run with his grande gueule stuffed full of rat. Neither option fills me with joy.

I now know exactly how Scotland Yard felt when they received THAT letter, although things were much easier for them as Jack the Ripper was good enough to stop after five(ish) victims. What next for Catorze and his killing spree? Tortured hostages dragging themselves around, half-alive, under the bed? Body parts and innards dropped onto my face as I sleep?

Cat Daddy: “It’s what cats do.” I still wish they wouldn’t, though. Here he is, taking a brief bit of repos from his murderous rampage:

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L’infirmier

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A couple of weeks ago I had a cortisone injection in my right shoulder, and yesterday I had another one in the left. (The hospital actually sent me a further letter inviting me for a third one, then realised their mistake when I pointed out that I only have 2 shoulders.)

My sister: “This means that 2/3 of your household are on steroids!”

After the injection you are supposed to rest at home for 48 hours, which has meant I’ve had to cancel a few things that had been planned for ages, including my mum’s birthday lunch, my friend’s 30th and a concert which was my anniversary gift to Cat Daddy. So he went out for the night, taking his friend as his anniversary date, and I was stuck indoors with Catorze. (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme.)

Now, I realise that a cosy night in with a cat may sound like a pleasant way of passing the time, but this is Catorze we’re taking about. For a start, I am only his 14th favourite human in the world (after Cat Daddy, ex-Houseguest Matt, Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy, Cocoa the babysit cat’s brother, Oscar the dog’s daddy, Bert the dog’s daddy, our friend Steve, our friend Phil, our friend Daniel, Krzysztof driving the Lemon van from Ocado, the man who fixed the dishwasher and those two trick-or-treating youths who came wearing clown masks and brandishing machine guns), so I don’t suppose staying home with me is top of his list of fun things to do. Also, cats instinctively know when you are ill but only about 8% of them actually give a shit, and this makes the patient more miserable.

Quelle surprise, then, when the little sod remained cuddled up on my knees all evening! THIS NEVER HAPPENS! And, when my pain got too bad and I decided to take myself off to bed, I called him from upstairs and he came running to join me. (This is one of the dog-like qualities that I love in him but, very often, when he arrives and sees that it’s just me and my stupid shit again, he turns around and leaves. This time he stayed for a brief cuddle.)

At 1:15am I was woken by the familiar sound of indistinct scrabbling (the feline version of a text from DHL, indicating that a delivery had been made). Nothing says “Get well soon, maman!” quite like blood all over the bedroom floor and a dead rat, especially when only having one functioning arm with which to clean up the mess.

I intend to take it easy for the rest of the weekend. I really hope that Catorze does, too.

Les feux d’artifice

So now we know why The Day of the Dead is so called: in the days after our Halloween festivities, none of us were fit for anything. Including Louis Catorze:

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Sadly we never managed to get the little sod to pose with a pumpkin for his official Halloween portrait. However, Cat Daddy had a chat with his boy before the merriment started, reminding him that it was his time to shine, and it would appear that some of this actually registered in the dim recesses of the royal non-brain. Seemingly oblivious to Marilyn Manson blasting out behind him through enormous speakers, Louis Catorze relaxed on his chaise longue all evening, purring and slow-blinking away, happily let Cat Daddy scoop him up and present our vampire-fanged Halloween kitty to each group of visitors, then pitter-pattered back to his chaise to wait for the next group. We can’t think of many cats who would have gone along with this.

Bonfire Night will be upon us this weekend, which means more chaos and disruption and a flurry of warnings posted on social media by animal behaviourists and veterinary practices. Louis Catorze has already been put to the test by fireworks on all sides of Le Château, every evening since the weekend before Halloween, and his response has been … to tip his head to one side, listen intently, then go about his regular cat business as if nothing were amiss. Sometimes he even goes out to investigate (at The Back, of course: The Front is still on lockdown as I don’t consider the season to be fully stupid-cat-safe yet).

I know: we are INCREDIBLY lucky that he is so accepting of fireworks, and this is one of those moments when a lack of fear/brains has its benefits.

If your cat is the stressy sort, I genuinely feel for you. Easier said than done, I know, but even the stupid ones pick up on our worry, so try as much as you can not to stress on their behalf. I hope that creating a relaxed atmosphere at home – Feliway, catnip for kitty and a hefty glass of bourbon for yourself – will help to ease things.

Le chat (un poème spécial pour la fête d’Halloween)

B9116EC7-7EFA-4767-9947-6514114EB0AFOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I slumbered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, sweetly dreaming, suddenly I was blaspheming,
As of some one loudly screaming, screaming at my chamber door —
“’Tis some little sod,” I muttered, “screaming at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I was sober, for I know it was October;
And each waft of limey odour chilled me to my very core.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
For my eyes, no sleep, just sorrow – sorrow at the screaming jaws —
Of the loud and rude shitweasel whom the demons name Catorze —
Bugging me for evermore.

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Votre Majesté” said I, “truly some silence I implore.
But the fact is I was dreaming, and you caused my wild blaspheming.
And so loudly you came screaming, screaming at my chamber door;
That I know full well I heard you” — here I opened wide the door —
Darkness there and nothing more.

Back into the chamber, learning that my ears were still a-burning,
All at once I heard paws turning, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is how the Sun King pitter-patters;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, this vile din I can’t ignore —
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore —
’Tis Le Roi and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
Pitter-pattered a small Sun King, tail aloft with odious roar;
“Though thy fur be foul and gritty, thou,” I said, “‘tis quite a pity,
Ghastly, grim and noisy kitty, wandering fresh from canine war —
Tell me what the heck you want now, for thy screaming’s quite a bore!” —
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

“Salaud!” said I, “thing of evil! – little sod, if cat or devil!
He’s a fiend that walks among us, fangèd demon with four paws –
Tell my face with mouth a-yawning if, before the new year’s dawning,
I shall see a peaceful morning sans disturbance from Catorze.
Take away this hellish racket, now; begone, thy screaming jaws!”
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, cat or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting.
“Get thee back into le salon, sur la chaise that you adore!
Leave no cat hair as a token of that scream thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my cursèd sleep unbroken! Quit my chamber, out the door! —
Take thy face from out my sight, and take thine arse from off my floor!” —
Quoth the Sun King, “Nevermore.”

And the Sun King, fangs a-gleaming, still is screaming, still is screaming
By the basking bust of Bastet just beside my chamber door;
And my eyes have not stopped weeping: thanks to him, I am not sleeping,
And the lamp-light o’er him creeping throws his shadow on the floor —
And my peace, ‘cause of that crotte de merde who’s screaming at my door —
Shall be granted — nevermore!

Le portrait officiel du Roi

Our Gothic dining room which, of all the rooms in Le Château, does the most justice to a Halloween kitty with vampire fangs, is taking a little while to decorate fully.

Other rooms have somehow just worked, with us finding the perfect colours and furnishings through sheer good fortune (and the help of a fabulous project manager), but the dining room has, until now, remained with just table and chairs and very little else. I had an idea of what I wanted in terms of wall art – “rock and roll meets creepy Victorian Gothic” was about the best that I managed to articulate myself – but, unsurprisingly, this fabled work never appeared.

And then Cat Daddy found this:

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I kneel humbly at his awe-inspiring art-finding ability; this picture is sinister, humorous, unnerving, quirky … and absolutely perfect.

It may not actually be a picture of Louis Catorze but I am pretty certain it’s what he sees when he looks in the mirror, so, as far as his official Halloween portrait goes, it will have to do. And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the portrait were to slowly deteriorate whilst Catorze, despite a hedonistic lifestyle of steroids and party powder, retained his kittenish looks. Oscar Wilde would be très proud.

La salle à manger is now officially open to the Sun King’s pilgrims.