There we were, Mrs. Parish and I, relaxing and thinking we had got this living in France all sorted. The weather had improved and we had some nice sunny days and we were able to get out and do some tidying up jobs in the garden, some fence replacing and rehanging of gates and coppicing of some of our trees. Mrs. Parish tells me that I was mistaken last week and that it was hazel that we use for bean poles and not hawthorn as I reported. They both begin with H I say, but Mrs. Parish gives one of her sighs and explains that the word hawthorn gives away the fact that it has thorns and why would she want to use something with lots of thorns!

Anyway, apart from the wrong trees, everything was quiet and well ordered here at La Godefrere. The boars seem to have gone away for the moment and we were in the process of repairing the damage they had caused in the lane.

Just when all appeared calm, the cat arrived. We had caught a glimpse of the cat on our trail camera, down at the bottom of the big field and didn’t think much about it. At this time of year, we often see tom cats wandering the countryside looking for suitable amorous conquests. A few days later Mrs. Parish came into the house with a small cat in her arms that she had found in our lean to shed while going to get some wood to make the fire first thing in the morning. It was the same cat we had caught on camera but it was not a semi feral male but a very friendly young female cat.

New cat found in our shed

It appears to be about 6 months old and was very skinny and very hungry. It was used to people which suggested that it was either a stray from somebody’s house nearby or that it was an abandoned cat. Sadly, the French do not always see cats as pets. They have a job which is to keep the mice down and female cats are a problem as they get pregnant and you end up with a load of kittens. French farmers also won’t pay to have them neutered. So, there are quite a lot of abandoned cats about. Stray cats are known as voyagers in France. Seems quite appropriate!

We put a picture on our website and took one to the local bar to see if anyone was looking for a lost cat. We found the cat on Saturday and no-one has yet claimed her. We will go into the vets tomorrow to get her checked over. She is in good condition, if very thin.

Once fed the cat turned into a tornado as she had to go everywhere in the house at once all at break neck speed. She interspersed this with running up and down our legs and on to the shoulders leaving a trail of pin pricks where she had used her claws to get a grip.

Our resident cats looked with growing disbelief. What on earth was it and why was it in their house, eating their cat food. Moggie is the original scaredy cat and despite being twice the size of new cat is afraid of her and ran away upstairs after a bit of hissing. He is now very stressed and we are having to give him some of his calming medicine called nervosyl which contains camomile to sooth his anxieties. Archie is rather stoical about the new arrival and apart from an occasional hiss has just ignored her.

This has created something of a problem as I had had to explain to the new cat the house rules and the basis of the cat/house owner contract. However new cat does not recognise the concept of being an outside cat which is the fundamental basis of the contract. She constantly appears at the window crying and generally looking very pathetic (also a little cute). As she is new and lost we have tended to let her in during the day for warmth and cuddles. This of course has opened a crack in the other cats’ contract and they have been quick to exploit it by also coming indoors.

New cat exploiting contractual loophole

It would not be so bad if like the older two she came in and found a warm spot to go to sleep. New cat is very nosy and also keen to find food sources. We have already had to rescue her after getting her head stuck in an empty cat food tin and stop her from hiding in the dish washer! In between times she likes racing around and sitting on shoulders.

Cat feeding times are a nightmare as new cat is so quick and wriggly that she jumps out of our arms and tries to steal the other cats’ food even before it is put in their bowls. It is now a two-person job. She has very sharp claws as I have just discovered and I now have plasters to stop the blood on one hand and anti-septic cream on scratches on the other hand! At least new cat has at last calmed down and is currently fast asleep on the sofa. Archie is asleep next to me and Moggie is upstairs on the bed keeping out of the way. According to the contract at this time they should all be outside!

Mrs. Parish has just gone out to her yoga class which I recently referred to as her karate class for some bizarre reason. She has left me in charge of the three cats, three chickens and the fire. I am not sure whether I can cope. I am torn between some of Moggie’s calming medicine and a large glass of wine. It may even come to the calvados.

It may be that someone will claim new cat but it looks increasingly like we will have a new addition to the La Godefrere team. In which case we will have to find a name for new cat. Tas after Tasmanian Devil is my current favourite!

To maintain some sort of balance we did manage to visit the nearby town of Bagnoles de l’Orne for its annual gourmand festival over the weekend. There are over 50 stalls all selling local Normandy products made by local artisans. There were stalls displaying and selling, cheese, wine, cider, bread, meats, pastries etc. There was even a stall selling French whisky. The great thing about this exhibition is that all the stalls offer examples to taste. 

So, we tried the cheese which was really good, some soup, some wine and a sample of the whisky which was nice and smooth with a slight perfumed flavour. Not really my style after Scottish whisky but drinkable! We made a few selective purchases and came to the final stall which featured a live example of French food with a box full of lettuce and several large French Snails. Thankfully we weren’t offered a taste and decided that would be a purchase too far!


The cats are all still fast asleep so I can concentrate on shutting the hens away for the night and then make up the fire. I think then it will be time for a drink. I am left with a final thought that maybe the French have been very clever in now abandoning their excess cats next to property owned by soft headed English people, knowing they will take them in!

Bon courage