French sailor Florence Arthaud is like a cat with nine lives. The winner of the 1990 Route de Rhum, a single-handed trans-Atlantic race, was responding to a call of nature on October 30, 2011 when she lost her balance and fell off the boat off the coast of Corsica. Arthaud should have attached herself to the rail, but she failed to take this basic precaution. Fortunately, her cell phone was on her when she went overboard. Even more fortunately, it was a waterproof phone that she’d purchased just before heading to sea. She managed to hold it above the waves and call her mom and give a pretty accurate location. Arthaud’s phone was equipped with GPS, which helped rescuers pinpoint her location, as did her headlamp. She spent about an hour and a half in 60 degree water but suffered no other injury. Arnaud was treated for hypothermia and released. On the French news tonight, she appeared with her ginger cat that had been on board with her at the time. Arthaud said that once rescuers got her back to her boat, she saw the cat running back and forth frantically. Clearly, tonight the two didn’t want to be separated, even for a live TV appearance.
Today’s expression, une toilette de chat (oon twalet duh shat) means “a cat’s toilet.” It refers to a quick wash, the way a cat gives itself a once-over. It does not refer to dropping oneself in the Mediterranean while taking care of business and leaving your cat alone.