On a 7 ans!

Today is Louis Catorze’s birthday, according to his paperwork, although it’s actually the anniversary of the day that he first pitter-pattered into the rescue. The staff there probably tend to celebrate 20th July instead, which is the day that we took him off their hands and ended his reign of money-draining. (He was, and, as far as we know, still remains, their most expensive cat ever.)

At 7 years old he is now officially either Mature or Senior, depending on one’s source. Yet he is still the same tiny, kittenish little scrap of a thing that (we imagine) he was at a year old, which is quite impressive; how many humans could claim to look 1/7 of their actual age?

I had the idea of a huge neighbourhood birthday extravaganza with accordion music, Sun King bunting and party poppers that scatter Dreamies and party powder instead of shredded paper and glitter, but Cat Daddy vetoed it.

“We have had a whole house built and furnished to his specifications,” he sighed. “We have spent, and continue to spend, a fortune on anti-allergy paraphernalia. He has better food and health care than we do. So he can go whistle if he thinks he’s getting a party or presents.”

And that was that.

Don’t feel too bad for the little sod, though. He doesn’t know that it’s his birthday, for a start. And he will have a perfectly pleasant day here at Le Château with us, eating his usual ruinously expensive food imported from Canada and playing with the many lovely toys that pilgrims have kindly given him. And we will be raising a glass to him and thanking the universe for his good health. It will be no different from any other day in his life, but, trust me: this is good.

We hope you are having an equally lovely bank holiday weekend with your furry overlords, and that every day feels like their birthday.

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Le tricheur royal

Remember when Louis Catorze liked pâté de Bruxelles? Yeah, well, now he doesn’t. So we’re back to Greco-Romaning him again, and you all know what a cirque de merde that is. One of our friends witnessed it the other day and said, “Oh my God, that was absolutely HORRIBLE!” Erm, no blood was drawn and nobody died, which actually makes that a decent session. Wait till you see one of the bad ones, mon coco!

And I never thought I would use the words “Louis Catorze” and “clever” in the same sentence, but the little sod is finding more and more ingenious ways of avoiding his pill. His latest trick is to pretend he’s swallowed it, press his body against me for a fake cuddle and then silently spit the pill over my shoulder and into my hair.

I have coarse, curly hair so the pill remains stuck there for some time and, because I don’t notice it, I assume it has been swallowed. Obviously it dislodges itself eventually and falls onto the floor, but we didn’t think anything of it because we are quite used to seeing pills strewn about Le Château from failed Greco-Roman attempts. So Catorze has been able to get away with this treachery until now.

Le Roi’s little plan was finally foiled when Cat Daddy came home right after I’d just Greco-Romaned and cuddled notre cher ami, and he said, “There’s something in your hair.”

Quel. Fichu. Salaud.

So now I have to give my hair a good old shake after pilling time, just to be sure.

If I’m honest, the lies and deceit offend me far more than the non-pill-taking. “It’s a bit of a tragic day,” I said to Cat Daddy, “when the only cuddles you get from your cat are fake ones.”

Cat Daddy, not even glancing up from his laptop: “I wouldn’t know.”

Aïe.

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L’ascension du Roi

Easter weekend at Le Château? Oh, y’know: eating too much chocolate, drinking too much wine, the Sun King going out and then returning home smelling of recreational drugs, that kind of thing …

We could tell that he smelled different as soon as he jumped onto the sofa with us – not lime, nor (thank goodness) that awful catty stench, but a sweetish, herby aroma that we couldn’t quite place. Then, when we finally realised, neither of us wanted to be the one to say it first.

So it seems that either Louis Catorze roams further than we thought … or one of our closer neighbours is naughtier than we realised.

Although I cannot stop myself from eyeing everyone’s houses suspiciously as I walk down the street and wondering if it could be them, I can’t say I’m that bothered about what people do in their own homes. My only concern is that the little sod has been entering people’s houses uninvited, which is rather rude and not how we have raised him to be. And, judging by the smell of his fur, he has definitely been sitting downwind of the smoke at length, so surely the smokers would notice his presence and kick his arse out of their house? Or perhaps they do notice him but each person thinks they are hallucinating, and so nobody mentions the cannabis cat? With his glassy eyes and protruding fangs, Louis Catorze could EASILY be mistaken for the product of someone’s drug-altered mind, rather like a creepier version of the Absinthe fairy.

Anyway, short of actually asking neighbours outright (“Hello! You look like the sort of person who enjoys a smoke …”), I don’t suppose there is anything we can do to find out who the mystery herb user is, nor can we stop mannerless Catorze from breaking and entering. So I guess we can add this to the forever-expanding list of unsolvable Roi mysteries.

Here he is, during his glory days of party powder use. It’s an old photo yet somehow very appropriate …

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Vive les vacances

Cat Daddy and I have just returned from a few days away and, as you can see from this plaque on the cottage next door, we didn’t need to go looking for French cats: they found us. And we weren’t even holidaying in France!

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People often ask us how we manage holidays with all the attention that Louis Catorze needs. The short answer used to be: by not going away, ever. It simply wasn’t practical to do so during his tail-munching days, not only because we would have been worried about him but also because we couldn’t unleash a manic, yowling, self-harming kitty onto any of our friends or neighbours, nor any cattery.

It has, very occasionally, crossed our minds to take him away with us. But then we consult The Checklist – of which you really need a full house of affirmative answers before you can consider taking your cat on holiday – and we are reminded of what a stupid idea it would be:

– Is your cat good with long journeys?
– Is your cat good with new places?
– Can your cat be trusted to behave, stick close by and not pitter-patter off into oncoming traffic, dark forests or raging seas?
– If you’re going rural, is your cat large enough not to be picked off by a marauding bird of prey? (Cue hysterical laughter from Cat Daddy at the thought of a floppy Catorze dangling undignifiedly from the talons of a huge buzzard, his indignant meows ringing out through the skies.)

Anyway, c’est un grand NON DE PARTOUT for The Checklist. So no mini-breaks for Le Roi.

Because we have now found a fairly foolproof way of getting the Gabapentin into Louis Catorze, we can ask pretty much anyone to come in and feed him in our absence, knowing that no Greco-Romaning is required. And we are lucky enough to have heaps of kind and obliging neighbours, including Cocoa the babysit cat’s folks, Oscar the dog’s folks and, if we can ever muster up the courage to face her again, maybe even the lady who found Louis Catorze screaming in the street the other day.

We are also very lucky that Louis Catorze is happy to see us when we return, whether we’ve been away for a few hours or a few days. I frequently hear horror stories of cats expressing their displeasure at being left, with tactics ranging from passive-aggressive sulking to plain offensive peeing/pooing/puking on things, but we have never experienced anything of the sort from the Sun King. When we arrive home he happily greets us, all shouty and up-tailed and, within minutes, he is flat out on Cat Daddy’s lap. What an easy-going, accepting little boy he is.

Cat Daddy: “He’s not easy-going or accepting: he’s thick. He doesn’t even remember we’ve been away because his brain can only store 3 facts at a time. If you wanted him to remember we’d been away AND plan an act of revenge, you’d have to remove 2 facts first.”

Les pèlerins du Roi Soleil

IMG_8830I can’t think of the last time one of my friends was organised enough to make plans with me several months ahead of time. However, not only does a certain little sod have people who are, but they happily come from all over the place to see him.

The Sun King had a lovely day yesterday with one of his beloved and generous pilgrims (see above for the fabulous gift that he received) and he has further pilgrimages arranged for as far ahead as September, from as far away as Mexico.

Prior to receiving his pilgrims, Cat Daddy and I often have a conversation like this:

“So, who’s coming today?”
“[Insert name of pilgrim].”
“Where are they coming from?”
“Somewhere north of, erm … the equator.” [I usually mumble the words “the equator” to try and make it sound like an actual place.]
“What do they do for a living?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are they single or married?”
“I don’t know.”
“How old are they?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, how old do they look in their Facebook profile photo?”
“I don’t know, because their Facebook profile photo is of a cat.”
“So you haven’t asked our guest ANYTHING about themselves?”
“Erm, well, I know about their cats.”
“Of course you do.”
“There’s Buddy, who’s black with 3 white feet and a white chest, who weighs 4.2kg. He’s going to be 2 on 7th November and he once brought a mouse and put it into [Pilgrim]’s laptop bag. And there’s Princess, a seal point Siamese weighing 5.1kg, who celebrated her 8th birthday last week and who is scared of the vacuum cleaner but fine with the hairdryer.”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

I know this must sound as if I’m not interested in people. I am. But, quite often, I’m more interested in cats. And, luckily, I know that not a single one of Louis Catorze’s pilgrims will be insulted by this, because they all feel the same way.

They are, after all, coming to see him, not me.

 

Le renard

Seigneur Dieu: Cat Daddy and the Virgin Media man have just seen a fox jump over the 5ft fence between Le Château and Bert the dog’s place – yup, actually OVER the fence – and disappear through a gap in the fence that separates us from the school at The Back.

Louis Catorze was in the garden at the time and, luckily, Le Renard walked straight past him, clearly not thinking him a worthwhile snack. Catorze was left unharmed but all puffed up and affronted, as if to say, “Quoi? Excuse-moi?” He isn’t scared enough to come indoors and is perfectly happy to remain out there, but I daren’t leave him unsupervised in case Le Renard comes back. The poor boy wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight against any other creature or object, never mind one several times his size. He once had a fight with a leaf that was blowing in the wind, and still lost.

Fortunately, Louis Catorze isn’t the wandering sort and likes to be wherever we are, so I don’t think we need to keep him under house arrest at this point. But I might call him in at night – or get Cat Daddy to call him, since he ignores me when I do it – just to be sure. And I might also message Oscar the dog’s folks and warn them to check their lawn, because Oscar has been known to do things with fox poo that really defy belief …

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Le crieur public

IMG_8757If you are, or have ever been, the owner of a black cat, you will be familiar with a certain section of Little Sods’ Law: “If you see a black cat behaving badly in a public place, it’s very likely to be your cat.” And there is an added sub-clause to this part of The Law: “The likelihood of it being your cat is directly proportional to the embarrassingness of the behaviour.”

We have been caught out here a few times with Louis Catorze, and about 758 times with his big brother Luther, and we know now not to waste our time with smug thoughts such as, “What an idiot cat! I wonder whose it is?” So, when Cat Daddy was walking home from Cocoa the babysit cat’s place the other day and saw, in the distance, a lady in the street bending down and appearing to talk to a small, screaming animal, HE KNEW.

Clearly Catorze had slipped out unnoticed as Cat Daddy was leaving for Cocoa’s place, somehow lost sight of his papa and, instead of going back to Le Château to wait, decided to pitter-patter about the streets, screaming.

Cat Daddy was so embarrassed that he briefly toyed with the idea of bidding the lady a good afternoon, pretending he didn’t know Catorze and just walking by. However, Le Roi spotted him as he approached and galloped towards him, up-tailed and screaming himself almost hoarse, so Cat Daddy had no option but to sheepishly own up. “Yeah, this is my cat. No, we hadn’t shut him out: he chose to run out. No, he’s not neglected or mistreated: that’s his normal appearance. No, he’s not traumatised: that’s his normal voice …” and so on.

And it turned out that the lady was not a passer-by but a neighbour, who had heard the unearthly screaming from her house and come out to investigate. Yup, Louis Catorze was THAT loud.

The lady then opened her door to introduce Cat Daddy to her quieter, prettier, better-behaved cat, who sat there eyeing Catorze disdainfully as if to say, “Oh, DO shut up, you undignified oaf!” whilst the little sod continued to scream. Cat Daddy then scooped Catorze up in one hand and said goodbye, apologising again for having disturbed their afternoon. The lady said, “I expect I will see Louis around.”

I think she might hear him first.