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.

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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.

La némésis du quartier

I have read several online posts lately about cats traumatised or hurt by the neighbourhood nemesis cat. There’s always one, isn’t there, and it’s usually black. (Unless your own cat is black, in which case the NN tends to be ginger.)

We have been incredibly lucky with Louis Catorze who, despite being textbook bully fodder – small and rather pathetic-looking – has always been left alone. Well, there was that one time in his secret Fight Club when he ended up with a puncture wound on his forehead, but he barely even noticed it and just went about his normal business. And we later found out that this type of wound is typical of cats on the attack, rather than retreating ones, so Cat Daddy was happy to learn that his boy was standing up for himself and not bringing the royal family name into disrepute. A passive monarch simply won’t do, will it?

So, what can one do if there is a NN on the loose? First thing: get a microchip cat flap. Yes, they are expensive, but things will be a whole lot worse if NN is actually managing to terrorise your poor kitty in your own house. If the fights start because NN is coming in to steal food, you can’t really blame him; if I saw a magical portal leading to free food, I’d go through it, too. An electronic cat flap will be the answer to all your prayers, and the hefty price tag will more than offset the costs of stolen food, vet bills etc.

If NN is a stray, you might need the assistance of a rescue to trap him. (Dosti was trapped, neutered and chipped with the help of the wonderful Hounslow Animal Welfare Society: http://www.haws-animals.org.uk.) Bear in mind that appearance alone can be deceptive: Dosti looked in pristine condition for a long time before anyone realised that he didn’t have a home. And, likewise, a scruffy cat isn’t necessarily a sign of a stray: Louis Catorze looks like utter merde most of the time and, as you all know, he has a family and is very much loved.

If, on the other hand, NN has a home and you are able to find out where he lives, it could be worth approaching the Cat Parents and starting a polite but frank dialogue with them. You just never know: they may not be aware that their cat is being such a voyou, and they might not be able to stop him but you could, at least, mutually agree a strategy. I have told other pet owners in the street that, in the unlikely event of Catorze making a nuisance of himself on their territory, I have no issue with him being shouted at a bit. If that doesn’t work, waving a tampon at him should send him scurrying for the hills. (Oh yes: he will happily take on dogs and invisible Fight Club assailants, but sanitary protection is his kryptonite.)

If you have a NN problem and you follow my tips, it would be great to hear how things go: please comment and let me know!

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Sa Majesté des mouches

We have a Code Ambre situation at Le Château: A FLY IN THE LIVING ROOM. Not that I really need to tell you, as you can probably hear the unholy racket from wherever you are in the world.

If you have a cat, you will know what I mean by “that bird-chatter sound”. The best way of describing it is a succession of clipped, otherworldly “eck-eck-eck” notes, daintily sung when the cat sees a bird. (Or you could just YouTube it and hear it for yourself.)

It’s very common for cats to make this noise at birds; however, Louis Catorze also does it to BUGS. Usually this is quite handy: if I hear it from the next room, I know that a fly is at large and I’m prompted to check my food or my cup of tea to make sure that they’re covered. But, right now, we just want to sit and enjoy Movie Afternoon, and the little sod won’t shut up.

(He once did the bird-chatter sound at the pterodactyls from Jurassic World, too. This was nowhere near as useful as the bug alert, but it was much funnier.)

There are a few theories as to why cats make this sound: it’s rumoured to be a sign of frustration that kitty can’t catch said bird/bug/dinosaur, a result of an adrenaline rush as the cat imagines the chase, or, rather more sinisterly, an involuntary reflex sound that escapes from the throat as the cat mimics chomping its jaws around the prey and killing it. But I don’t think anybody really knows for sure. It’s one of those peculiar little cat quirks that can’t be properly explained, but it makes us love them even more simply because it sounds so cute and funny. Unless you want some peace to watch a film. Then it’s really annoying.

I suggested continuing Movie Afternoon in another room, but Cat Daddy said that would be “letting Louis Catorze win.” A win for us, on the other hand, involves being stuck here, struggling to follow the story due to all the buzzing and chattering, and thinking, “Surely victory should feel better than this?” And this will go on and on until the fly escapes or is eaten, or until Cat Daddy finally snaps and swats both the fly and Catorze.

Unlike the film, I can predict exactly how this tale will end.

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Une image vaut mieux que mille mots

If you have a black cat, creating their official Halloween portrait is easy: you just place a pumpkin next to them, take a photo and that’s it, non?

Not so with Louis Catorze. Firstly, he’s not the most photogenic of cats. And, secondly, he doesn’t do as he’s told. The über-cool factor of a black vampire kitty with protruding fangs is utterly lost if we cannot capture this on camera for Halloween. And, alas, it seems that we cannot.

“Oh well,” said my sister, who visited this weekend for our annual Halloweekend tradition. “Maybe you can post those hilarious outtake photos instead?” Erm, those aren’t hilarious outtakes. Those are my best shots to date:

Friends have suggested the following strategies:

1. Place strips of jambon de Bayonne on the pumpkin to get Catorze to linger for longer.
2. Download a photo of a nicely-posed internet cat, paint the fangs on and pass him off as Sa Majesté.
3. Place the pumpkin on the floor and tell him that under no circumstances is he to go near it.

With 31st October gaining on us more quickly than I can say, “Dis ouistiti!” and still no official Halloween portrait in sight, I am starting to feel the pressure …