Le courage fait des disciples

Not that I concern myself unduly with numbers – it’s all about quality rather than quantity for me – but it seems that the frequency of my recent postings has cost me a few followers.

To be honest, I get it. I appreciate that people don’t want to read quite so many posts, and that one can have too much of a good thing (although Cat Daddy would argue that Louis Catorze cannot, by any reasonable interpretation, be regarded as a “good thing”).

Believe me, it was never my intention to post almost every day. However, documenting each detail of Catorze’s condition and all the associated developments is a very useful record for me and, had I not done so, I think I would have struggled to remember what we’ve done and what we haven’t. There have been so many vet appointments, medications and tests that, after a point, they all blur into one.

If you are still here, thank you so much for bearing with us and for supporting us despite having greater priorities at the moment than a silly French vampire cat who won’t do as he’s told. Let’s hope that this wave of saddening news – both Catorze’s and those of the world in general – will soon pass.

“Merci à tous!”

Se gratter sans ongles

Damn this horrid little sod. Anyone would think he didn’t want to get better.

Last week we found Louis Catorze with suspicious new sore patches on his face, indicating that he had found an inventive, secret way of scratching (again). For days we puzzled over how on earth he could possibly have done it, given that he is supervised 99% of the time due to his wicked and untrustworthy nature. Then we discovered that, during his sessions in the exercise yard, he had been darting out of sight behind the shed and scratching himself on a bunch of sticking-out bamboo canes.

We never bothered checking up on him when he went there because it’s only a tiny crawl space the same length and width as Catorze, and we knew that Le Cône prevented him from going far. The space is pictured below, and you can see the offending bamboo canes just above and to the right of him. Cat Daddy has now moved the canes but I’m pretty sure that, even if we put them on the moon, Catorze would find them.

Our vet practice closed last week to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. The W5 and TW3 branches are remaining open for emergencies only – and, no, the irreparable damage to both our sanity and our will to live still doesn’t deem this an emergency – so we really can’t afford to have this turn bad. It seems we are going to have to ramp up our surveillance even more intensely, and possibly even – gasp – reintroduce the full Cône when the inmate is out of sight.

Cat Daddy explained to his boy the other day that we all have to live with constraints during these difficult times, however much we dislike it.

Catorze replied with a “Mwah”. Sadly I don’t think it was the good kind.

Caught you, you little shite.

Le plaisir de Sa Majesté

Last week, Cat Daddy was the one to drop the ball in our duty of care to Louis Catorze. This time it was my turn.

I had just let the little sod outside for some fresh air when I suddenly remembered that I had to prepare for a work video call, and therefore an old sports t-shirt and hair tied up in a bun with a pair of knickers simply wouldn’t do. So I left Catorze outside, thinking “What possible mischief could he get into in the few minutes it will take me to change into my work clothes?” (I know, I know.)

Then Dog Mamma sent me these photos:

What the …?
Don’t even THINK about it!

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Catorze can no longer access the playground at The Back (because he can’t fit through the gap in the fence with his Cône), so it seems that he was trying to get in over the top instead. Because there is a wire fence right up against the wooden fence to catch stray tennis balls, he would probably have fallen through the tiny gap between the two fences and ended up stuck halfway down, limbs flailing and screaming undignifiedly. And, because the school is closed, he would have remained there until who-knows-when.

So the new Château rule is that flight-risk prisoners cannot be left unsupervised in the exercise yard, not even for a second. At least we are in the fortunate position of having two wardens per inmate.

Les mains sales (Partie 2)

I am sure that you already knew this, Mesdames et Messieurs, but hand sanitising gel and cats don’t mix. In short, it’s because the former contains alcohol and/or tea tree and the latter are prolific lickers (especially of things that we don’t want them to lick).

If you’ve had to use hand sanitising gel during an unavoidable trip out, it might be a good idea to wash your hands normally with hot water and soap or hand wash – not with more gel – before you stroke your pets. Admittedly it’s unlikely that you would transfer enough gel for them to do themselves serious damage, but we have enough to deal with right now without having to add vet visits into the mix.

We use liquid soap from Scent Trail (see link below), who are kind enough to custom-make a fragrance-free version especially for Louis Catorze. They are a small U.K. business who are very mindful of animal welfare, and I am sure that they would appreciate any orders at this time.

https://www.scent-trail.co.uk/ourshop/cat_584899-Liquid-Soap.html

Ugly hands need washing, too.

Les petites pilules irrégulières

I don’t know whether collecting Louis Catorze’s medication from the vet is something that most would class as an “essential journey” but, yesterday – BEFORE the announcement from our esteemed leader, I might add – it was essential to us.

The little sod’s next steroid shot is due in the first week of April and, because we have no idea what state the world will be in by then, we contacted the vet to ask about a tablet version that we could administer at home. Catorze is quite hit and miss when it comes to pills – sometimes he will happily eat them in a Pill Pocket, sometimes he won’t – but we can’t risk injection time coming around and us not being allowed to leave the house.

We walked the seven minutes or so to the vet practice just before 6pm, when we knew the streets would be quieter, having paid for the pills over the phone beforehand. When we arrived, the nurse put down the bottle on the doorstep and I picked it up after she had closed the door. It’s all quite surreal and strange, like some post-apocalyptic horror film, and the ominous sense of dread increased in triplicate when I realised that it wasn’t just one or two pills but a course of two a day, for two weeks. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Here is Catorze, using his quarantine time to project some very artistic shadow shapes with Le Cône. Please stay safe, everyone.

And that’s why they call him the Sun King.

28 jours plus tard

We can’t believe that today marks four weeks of Louis Catorze being Côned, when it was only supposed to be a day or two. Nor can we believe how much life has changed because of Le Cône and its limitations. Our usual Catorzian tasks, which used to take seconds, now take considerably longer, or require constant supervision, or both. Plus there are now additional tasks that didn’t exist before.

In order to deal with all this, Cat Daddy and I organised a rota: he manages the Day Shift from whenever he wakes up until 6pm, we both share the Evening Shift from 6pm until around 10:30pm and then I take over the Night Shift.

For the last four weeks, my days have looked like this:

1. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual.

2. Trojan Horse pill (for Catorze, I mean).

3. Assisted breakfast at the special height-adjusted feeding station. (I have mixed success when it comes to getting him to eat breakfast, so I often have to leave handover notes for the Day Shift stating that I failed dismally and asking him to reattempt the task.)

4. Water glass is filled to almost-overflowing to accommodate Le Cône. (Again, there is mixed success in actually getting him to drink from it.)

5. Supervised time in the exercise yard.

6. Itch-relieving neck rubs and Aveda Tulasāra facial brushing sessions. (For the first fortnight, Catorze would wake me every 2-3 hours for these.)

7. Eye-cleaning with warm water and one of my nieces’ old baby muslins. Catorze welcomes this about as much as he would appreciate being waterboarded.

8. Ointment application to what’s left of his self-harm facial wounds. Again, the patient is not massively receptive to this.

9. I go to work, leaving handover notes for the Day Shift.

10. Day Shift staff sends me photos of various madcap antics.

11. I go home and we both share the Evening Shift. I often walk into the house to find Catorze on his daddy’s lap and the pair of them rocking out to Pink Floyd or suchlike.

Now, of course, my days will look just as they did above from points 1 to 8 onwards. But point 9 will most likely involve wrestling Catorze off me as he clambers all over my laptop and screams bloody murder, whilst my video-taught students stare in through the screen and giggle.

It has been a testing few weeks, but we hope that normal life can resume soon. Well, as normal as can be in these strange times.

Below are some of the handover messages exchanged with the Day Shift. We have named it “Who wrote it: cat owner or medical professional?”

Un régal pour les yeux

You’ve got to admire Louis Catorze’s positivity: even in Le Cône and with all the doors and windows shut, when he saw me coming with the Flamazine* the other day he still thought he could outrun me.

We had been granting him very limited and controlled Cône-free time behind closed (and locked) doors, to allow him to wash. Initially he would wash his sore bits too roughly, so Le Cône would be slapped back on after just a couple of minutes. But, over the last week, we had managed to progressively extend the Cône-free time and had worked our way up to a good hour or so.

However, the other night, on Cat Daddy’s watch, Le Cône was taken off and Sa Maj fell asleep on his daddy’s lap. But, after a few too many bottles glasses of Louis Latour (yes, it is an actual wine), Cat Daddy fell asleep, too. And sneaky Catorze took advantage of his daddy’s pass-out and now has a sore eye due to unsupervised over-zealous washing.

The wound is, no doubt, very itchy as it heals, so the little sod has resumed his efforts to scratch. He has also started to refuse the morning Piriton that he used to eat quite happily in a Pill Pocket.

Anyway, the new rule is: no unCôned time whilst intoxicated. And, although intoxication feels like the only way we can deal with all that’s going on in the world right now, it’s a sacrifice we are willing to make for our boy.

*Flamazine should not be ingested, so wash time cannot coincide with ointment time.

What a mess.

Le Spécial

It’s rather ironic that, after panicking that Louis Catorze’s skin flare-up might be an allergic reaction to The Special One (my merino wool scarf), and after shutting myself away and panic-speed-knitting like an absolute demon to finish the darned thing quickly, there is now no football due to the Covid 19 virus.

I finished the scarf quite some time ago, but it’s now sitting in the under-stairs cupboard, out of reach of curious pitter-pattering paws. The plan was to take it out on match days only, handling it very gently both to keep it from unravelling – because I accidentally cut off two stray ends of wool before I had knotted them, and now they are too short to knot – and to stop too many stray fibres from being dislodged and transferred onto La Personne Royale. But now, of course, with no football and with the weather turning unscarfworthy, it lives permanently in its dark prison, having barely seen the light of day.

After researching merino wool, I have discovered that it’s actually LESS likely to trigger a reaction than many other fabrics. But, since we will probably never know the cause of Sa Maj’s irritation, we intend to keep treating the scarf in the way one would handle an unexploded World War II bomb. And, knowing Catorze, it would be typical of him to be allergic to a hypoallergenic substance just to be difficult.

They say that the football is only on hold until 3rd April, but this seems like an eternity. And the thought of having to fill in the time by making actual conversation, with actual people, about things that aren’t football, makes me shudder.

What a good thing there are still cats.

“Où est le football?”

“EvanesCône!”

Although the healing process doesn’t look very attractive, Louis Catorze’s recovery is progressing as it should.

Cat Daddy: “Ugh. I wish we could send him away somewhere until he starts to look decent. Mind you, his “decent” still isn’t really decent, is it?”

In other news, it had to happen sooner or later, Mesdames et Messieurs: Le Roi has found a way of detaching the front part of Le Cône.

I found him only half-Côned when I woke up one morning, despite the fact that Cat Daddy and I had agreed never to leave him that way unsupervised. My immediate assumption was that Cat Daddy had forgotten to fully-Cône him after a riotous Boys’ Club of Jägerbombs, absinthe shots and suchlike. But it turned out that he HAD remembered, and now the little sod has lost the detachable section. Furthermore, we haven’t the faintest idea where it is.

The little sod is most certainly the Master of Dark Arts.

Thank goodness, then, for Le Deuxième Cône; having two of them means we can borrow the detachable part from the one that he isn’t wearing. Although this has now messed up The System, were it not for this we would be royally dans la merde.

*EDIT: not long after I wrote the above, Cat Daddy found the missing piece of Le Cône in our bed.

Catorze is modelling the main body of Le Deuxième Cône, accessorised with the detachable section of Le Premier Cône.

“Je suis le meilleur magicien.”

Le deuxième Cône

Louis Catorze has been Côned for almost three weeks – far longer than any of us expected or wanted – in which time he has managed to do the following:

– Escape over the fence into That Neighbour’s garden during supervised outdoor time, Cône and all, and get stuck coming back

– Escape over the fence into Oscar the dog’s territory, as above

– Escape out at The Front, after which he was promptly apprehended by Cat Daddy with the stern words: “The Front is no place for a Côned cat!”

We have also made the following discovery, Mesdames et Messieurs: Cônes get DIRTY.

Forget about washing my hands to avoid spreading Coronavirus: if I could amputate mine every time I touched Le Cône, I would. (And, unfortunately, touching is inevitable as we are constantly having to straighten it or detach the front part.)

Having seen the little sod scratch it with his gross back feet, lick it, dribble on it and even – shudder – rub it on his arse* when attempting to clean himself whilst wearing it, we decided that it would be a good idea to clean it.

Now, our problems with this were as follows:

1. The fabric edges would need time to dry out after cleaning.

2. Leaving Catorze sans Cône whilst waiting for it to dry was absolutely out of the question. (He is noticeably less itchy since the vet visit on Tuesday, but we don’t trust him quite yet.)

*Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, animal owners, but, if your pet is Côned for any period of time, you can be certain that they will have attempted to clean their lower portions at some stage, and therefore there will be ANIMAL ARSE ON LE CÔNE.

Cat Daddy’s ideas were:

1. Clean Le Cône, then put it back on Catorze immediately, whether or not it were fully dry (nope).

2. One of us could physically restrain him during the time it took to dry (HELL, nope).

The other option – and the worst of the lot – was, of course, to just leave it without cleaning, and there was no way I would allow that to happen, especially in the midst of an antibacterial product famine.

So I bought a second Cône. And Catorze wore it whilst the other was drying.

It was £10.80 very, very well spent indeed.

Enjoying some fully-Côned and chaperoned time in the exercise yard.