So, the cat has decided that we are OK and that maybe he will adopt us after a successful two-week trial period. It did however get quite complicated at times. When new cat first arrived, we put an announcement on Facebook and in the local bar that we had found this stray. After a few days we were contacted by an English couple who own a property about half a mile away across the fields at the bottom of our big field.

Apparently, they had found a small kitten in October last year and they thought it was the same as the stray. They had to go back to England at the end of November and had made a cat house in their greenhouse complete with a cat flap. They had filled a large hopper with cat crunchies and hoped for the best. They returned to France last week and wanted to reclaim new cat if indeed it was the same cat. But of course, this is France and the cats play by different rules! When they arrived back they found a large black and white cat had taken up residence in the greenhouse and maybe had chased off new cat. A second message came back to us that they had discovered that the black and white cat was heavily pregnant and could this be one of our cats.

I made clear that our cats were both males and that there was no question of a paternity suit as they had both been spayed! After further discussion it was found that there was a rather large tabby male cat who was also living is the greenhouse and presumably the father to the prospective kittens. Given this scenario it was clear that there was no way that new cat would be allowed back to the greenhouse and that it was pretty obvious that he had been chased off, which is why he ended up at our house.

We agreed that in all the circumstances it made sense for new cat to stay with us. I also made it clear that now we had 3 cats that was our limit and that no matter how cute and fluffy the kittens would no doubt be, we absolutely did not want one!! New cat is still a kitten and very lively and now he is settled very playful and with sharp teeth and claws. He has a nasty habit of running up our legs and sitting on our shoulders. He also likes to lick my hands with his rough old tongue and when I try to stop him he attacks my hand by grabbing with his claws and biting my hand. I remain covered in little scratches!

Another set of claw marks and scratches

For subjecting us to this reign of terror, I suggest we call him Robespierre (of French revolution infamy – the terror, guillotines etc).

Petit has settled in, here enjoying some indoor time

We have been trying to come up with a suitable name and have taken advice as usual from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The naming of cats” which defines the parameters as follows:

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES

The first is an everyday name and we have decided to call him “Petit” which is French for little and compared to Archie and even Moggie he is very small. The second name is peculiar and particular to an individual cat and so Robespierre will do for this name. As to the third name the poem describes it thus:

But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS and will never confess.
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

Moggie thinking if I can't see him he is not there!

Petit has settled in and has read the contract and now knows about being an outside cat with occasional indoor privileges. Mind you he hasn’t quite got this and as soon as the door is open a crack he is straight in and has to be ejected. Archie still tends to ignore him but Moggie is torn between being aggressive and giving him a boff on the nose and on the other side he likes to play chase around the garden with him. Petit is now allowed into the cat palace, particularly when it is raining. For the moment he prefers to sleep in the lean to shed.

Of course, Petit may come to regret his decision as I have not yet told him about his next visit to the vet in a couple of weeks’ time for a little snip to make sure there are no future paternity issues.

Talking of paternity reminds me that Little Owl is back and sitting about during the day calling his mate. It will soon be time for them to make a nest as for the past two years we have seen them actively in the nest at the end of the gite roof by the end of March. The owl has popped back to keep an eye on the nest several times over the winter so I expect he is serious about another nesting year. At one point we also seemed to have a kestrel with an interest in the nest site but the bird appears to have found a better site as we have not seen it recently.

At the beginning of the week we picked up 5 wild boars on our trail camera as you may have seen. Since then we have not had any further damage in our grounds. It is possible they have moved on. Our trail camera is out of batteries so we have not been able to check for the past few days.

Tomorrow a couple of old friends arrive to spend a few days with us. Debi and Alan are ex work colleagues and come and visit us regularly. We have promised to get Olivier’s duck out of the freezer for a duck feast when they arrive. It is a big duck and Mrs. Parish had to take it out of the freezer on Sunday to ensure it defrosts in time. It was in the fridge in our cave but was still frozen this morning so now it is in the cat proof storage device otherwise known as the oven! This means that we (in reality I) have to remember not to put the oven on for any other purpose. The cats are so quick that any open place is vulnerable and I don’t know how we would explain to Debi if there was a duck incident of any sort.

Mrs. Parish also spent some time searching in the bottom of the freezer as she had promised cherry sauce made with our home-grown cherries. Fortunately, the cherries have been found and all is on track for the welcoming feast. I will need to spend some time in the cave selecting just the right wines to go with the duck. I think a bottle or two of the Margaux would be just the thing and of course kir royales for the aperitif. All is going to plan as long as Alan correctly sets his sat nav for La Godefrere!

All this talk of wine has given me a thirst.

Bonne santé