Where did your name come from?
When Louis Catorze came to live with us, he was already called Louis. His foster mamma told us that he knew his name, so we didn’t want to change it. Apparently the lady who found him had named him Louise – her own middle name – because she thought he was a girl, and he later became Louis when he went to the rescue.
We added the “Catorze” and it has caused much merriment among my students, especially the one who asked, “Were your previous cats called Louis Un, Louis Deux, Louis Trois …?”
However, one day, when I was a bit bored and had time on my hands, I worked out Catorze is actually the fourteenth cat to come into our family.
Here are his predecessors:
1) Misha was tabby and white and the size of a tank. He would sit on our front doorstep and attack all the dogs that walked past our house, to the point where their owners would either cross the road when they reached our house or, if they had small dogs, pick them up and run past.
2) Cindy was black and white, and extremely nervous. After many months of hiding in a gap in the sofa and only ever coming out at night to eat, we ended up returning her to the rescue. As a family we weren’t very experienced with cats at the time, so we thought her behaviour meant that she was unhappy with us and would never settle. Obviously had this happened now, we would have persisted.
3) Missy was a tiny tortoiseshell psycho whose bright orange chin made her look as if she had her tongue permanently out. She would slice you to ribbons if you so much as looked at her the wrong way. My friend Aurora, if you’re reading this, you would have loved her. But you would have been the only one.
4) Rambo was a handsome tux who turned up as a stray one day, hungry and with bloodied paws, and never left. He became the long-term consort to Missy and was everything she wasn’t: placid, loving and easy-going. Our favourite thing to do as kids was to squeeze him as he purred and laugh at the change in pitch.
5) Genghis was tufty-eared feral tabby stray, whom my mum refused to take in on the basis that we couldn’t manage three cats, but eventually she relented when she saw him eating bread left out for the birds. Genghis did a runner from the vet’s car park just before he was due to lose his ballons d’or, and we are certain that Missy and Rambo, who never liked him, tipped him off in the knowledge that he would run away and then they would be rid of him.
6) Ambrose was another tux, brought in as Missy’s new consort to cure her post-Rambo depression. He loved doughnuts and could tell from the other end of the garden whether someone was eating a doughnut or just a plain bread roll.
7) Rosebud was an orange and white Turkish Van who turned up at my mum’s house one day. My mum had Ambrose and only became aware of Rosebud’s presence when her lodger, Gary, said, “I haven’t seen your other cat for a while”, and my mum replied, “I don’t have another cat.” This was long before the internet and social media so the thing to do at the time was inform the Cats’ Protection League, as my mum did. And they managed to trace Rosebud’s humans after three months. So you know when cats go missing and you convince yourself that a nice cat lady somewhere is looking after them? Yes, that happened.
8 and 9) Granville & Rodney, naughty tabby and white kittens who would go on neighbourhood stealing rampages together. Items taken included slices of pizza and salami and, on one occasion, a pair of gardening gloves.
10) Carlo was a ginger cat who used to strut around loving himself, as gingers do. We used to call him “Style Over Substance” because, although he looked beautiful, there wasn’t a great deal else going on. He had a mean streak and spent his life tormenting Granville (from the pairing mentioned above). This was another massive learning point: if you have an older, relaxed male cat, there will be trouble if you introduce a male kitten who wants to play all the time.
11) Nimbus was a British Blue mix, with a face like a slapped arse, whom we adopted from a family member whose ill health meant she couldn’t keep her. Nimbus looked miserable all the time, even though she wasn’t. People were forever asking, “Oh dear, poor thing, she doesn’t look very happy” and we would have to say, “Erm, that’s just her normal face.”
12) Spartacus was the family’s first Chat Noir and belonged to my sister. Like many cats, his appearance belied his voice; he was big and meaty, yet had a gentle soul and a melodic, fairylike meow. I cat-sat him one weekend and he allowed me to use him as a pillow.
13) Luther was a Bombay Chat Noir, originally from a breeder but then surrendered to a rescue because “the owner couldn’t cope” (yes, it really did say this on his paperwork). He was a complete rascal, always one step ahead of me and Cat Daddy. He was such a special cat that he deserved his own section on my blog, so have a look here for more information on how he made us question our sanity every single day.
This chain of cats has led us to Louis Catorze, the fourteenth. You know the rest. If you don’t – and if you dare – look here.
Feel those eyes burn into your soul.