L’ennemi externe

Louis Catorze’s biopsy results are in. And it seems that, whilst he appears to have ninety-nine problems, an autoimmune disease ain’t one.

Although the test can’t pinpoint the exact cause, it’s looking likely that he is triggered by one or more external allergens rather than by having something intrinsically wrong with his body. So, after many years of Cat Daddy muttering “Knowing him, he’s probably just allergic to himself”, this has now officially been declared unlikely.

This is further forward than we have ever been before with the little sod.

Here is a summary of the treatments that he had on Tuesday night:

1. Removal of biopsy stitches.

2. Antibacterial ointment (Flamazine) applied to his now-healing self-harm wounds.

3. A dose of Advocate alongside his Broadline to rule out a flea allergy, because the vet found traces of flea poo* in his fur. (Yes, I do flea-treat him every month. No, I have never missed a dose.)

4. A souped-up version of the month-long steroid shot, because now we know for sure that Catorze doesn’t have some freakish, as-yet-undiscovered-by-science-but-soon-to-be-named-after-him medical condition which could be worsened by steroids.

* FLEA POO. THE POO OF FLEAS. MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN NOW THAT I KNOW THIS IS A THING.

We have discussed with the vet the possibility of a hypoallergenic diet, but Catorze has been on Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish since May 2018, long before his symptoms reappeared, plus Lily’s Kitchen have written to me to confirm that all their recipes are hypoallergenic anyway. So Cat Daddy and I have agreed that we won’t implement a change of diet until later on, and only if all else fails. We have been guilty in the past of throwing too many solutions at Catorze and not really having any idea of which ones – if any – have worked, so I don’t think it’s a bad idea to be a little more measured this time around and to try one thing at a time.

The relatively newly-introduced Delicious Chicken, however, is off the menu, and my friend’s cat Boots will be the happy recipient of the brand new, unopened pack currently sitting in our cupboard. Even though he is a meaty monster and the last thing he needs is more food (see photo below for proof).

Anyway, the thought of flea poo has disgusted us so profoundly that we are now busily washing cushions and blankets on an extra-hot wash, and Cat Daddy is giving serious thought to replacing our fabric sofa with a leather one (and claiming the money back from Sa Maj’s sick fund).

We are hoping beyond hope that this will mark a turnaround in the little sod’s health.

This Boots is made for eating.

Les envahisseurs doivent mourir

Good news: Louis Catorze has something new to take his mind off his health woes.

Bad news: WE HAVE A MOUSE IN OUR LIVING ROOM.

The phrases “This is the last thing we need” and “You couldn’t make this shit up” were INVENTED for this household. And this is probably my punishment for laughing at Puppy Mamma that time when she was taking garden refuse to the tip and a mouse jumped out of the sack of wisteria trimmings and ran riot in her car.

Now, how on earth a Côned cat – who is only allowed outdoors under supervision – could possibly bring in a mouse is beyond me. I imagine it’s more likely that this mouse just randomly wandered in but, all the same, I wouldn’t put anything past Catorze.

Anyway, this is how the farcical events unfolded from around 7am on Monday:

1. I catch sight of the invader beast not long after Catorze’s morning feed.

2. I attempt to draw Catorze’s attention to the invader beast. Catorze, who is half-Côned and washing his arse, is utterly oblivious.

3. I debate whether to unCône Catorze or to wake Cat Daddy, and I finally decide upon the latter. Cat Daddy is highly displeased but comes to my aid armed with, erm, a beer tankard and a chopping board.

4. Cat Daddy pulls out furniture and boxes and lifts things (mainly cat toys) off the floor but, each time, the wily mouse darts elsewhere and evades capture.

5. Catorze finally stops washing his arse and spots the mouse. Cat Daddy suggests unCôning him to see if he will catch it. Cône comes off.

6. Catorze immediately starts scratching. Cône goes back on.

7. Cat Daddy eventually manages to corner the mouse among the wires under the television unit.

8. Catorze takes a flying leap across the floor and under the unit, Cône and all, and lands squarely on top of the wires, dislodging Cat Daddy’s hands and allowing the mouse to run free once again.

9. Cat Daddy declares that “it’s all too much: first Boris Johnson, then Coronavirus and now this” and goes back to bed.

Our living room remains in disarray, with furniture all over the place, and the mouse is still at large. And, despite not being very well, Catorze is dutifully keeping watch. You have to admire his tenacity, even though I can’t think of a less efficient rodent sentinel than a Côned cat.

This is going to be a long week.

“À gauche, Papa! Non, à droite!”

Le Roi se détruit

Whilst the rest of the world is worrying about other things, our greatest concern is the fact that Louis Catorze cannot be trusted with Le Cône in half-mode (i.e. with the detachable front part removed).

Everything can be fine for a while, with Catorze appearing to heal well. Then we stupidly let our guard down and leave him half-Côned and unsupervised, during which time he finds bizarre and inventive ways of scratching himself until he bleeds. We don’t even know what these ways are because the crafty little sod is so secretive about them, and we don’t realise he’s done it until it’s too late.

On Saturday we went to the butcher and the baker (although not, on this occasion, the candlestick maker), leaving Catorze home alone and half-Côned with no problem. Then, when Puppy Mamma came over and we were about to leave for the football, he was hovering around his feeding station but Le Cône had swung the wrong way around, preventing him from eating. So I straightened it … AND HE STARTED TO EAT.

Now, Le Cône has been designed with normal cats in mind, and we all know that they would eat as soon as they were able. But this is Catorze we’re talking about; he lost 200g in the first week of Côning – and has maintained this loss ever since – because of his refusal to eat when given the chance. Very, very occasionally, the planets and the stars align so that his desire to feed coincides with my availability to help, and this was one of those rare and precious moments. My gratitude for this far outweighed any precautionary measures – especially as, the previous day, he had only eaten a total of about a teaspoonful of biscuits – so, instead of wrenching him from his food and full-Côning him, I thanked the Goddess and all her angels above and left him to eat.

Quelle. Grosse. Erreur.

When we returned 2 and a half hours later, he had managed to mutilate himself immeasurably (photos too awful to post).

Puppy Mamma gave him a good check whilst I held him and, incredibly, his stitches were still intact. Even more incredibly, he wasn’t distressed – although I certainly was – so we didn’t rush him to the emergency vet that night. However, we did call our regular vet and send photos as soon as they opened this morning. They have advised against any further steroid shots until the biopsy results are in, but they have prescribed Piriton pills for the itching – which will have to be administered either using the Greco-Roman method (brute force) or the Trojan Horse (hidden in some jambon de Bayonne) – and a topical cream for his sore patches.

Cat Daddy and I have agreed that full-Côning – with only occasional supervised half-Côning moments for eating and drinking – is the only way forward. It’s not very pleasant having to choose between having him thin and hungry or bleeding and infected, but the former just about wins.

Here he is, enjoying the last few moment of the unsupervised half-Cône before disaster struck:

Probably only pretending to be asleep. Not to be trusted.

La brosse royale (Partie 2)

Louis Catorze’s fancy new facial brush arrived during the week. And, although everyone is laughing at me for buying it, it’s been a big hit with Sa Maj.

My first choice was a sustainable brush with olive wood handle and pony hair bristles, but the reviewers said they “couldn’t get past the smell of horse” (shudder) so I went for the Aveda Tulasāra one with the recycled resin handle*. Because it’s designed for human use, the bristles are super-soft and should hopefully relieve the itching without hurting the little sod.

*I have no idea what Tulasāra means but, being a linguist, I really enjoyed typing an ā for the first time ever. I also don’t exactly know how one would recycle resin, but I expect the good folk at Aveda know what they’re doing.

Anyway, despite the fact that Cat Daddy almost had a seizure when I told him how much the brush cost – and I only told him the sale price, not what it cost before the reduction – he was, and continues to be, surprisingly happy to administer the treatment to his boy.

Here they are enjoying a special moment (pre-biopsy) at Boys’ Club Wellness Spa:

Le royal facial treatment

Catorze’s brush is from, erm, lookfantastic.com. And, yes, I do get the irony.

Le Roi se rétablit

Louis Catorze returned on Wednesday afternoon from his jolly day out at the vet’s TW3 branch. And he was rather more annoyed with Cat Daddy (as he’s the one who dropped him off and collected him) than with me, so I made the most of the very rare opportunity to be the favourite human, for a change. This lasted a whopping minute and a half before normal service resumed.

Le Roi has had biopsies from 4 areas of his face and is looking very battle-scarred as a result. He has to go back to the vet next week to have the stitches removed. Until then we must be even more vigilant with him than ever before, because we discovered – the hard way – that he can scratch his stitches when we take the front section off Le Cône.

We also have to give him 4ml of Metacam a day with food and, as you are well aware, he wasn’t that bothered about food even when he was fully well. So getting Metacam into a grumpy cat who never liked food very much anyway, who is experiencing post-op appetite loss and who would, most likely, go on hunger strike just to get back at us, is going to be quite some challenge.

We will, of course, update you in 3-5 days’ time when the results come in. In the meantime, to cheer us up a little, here is a picture (taken before Sa Maj’s troubles started) which is my ace of spades in response to anyone who refuses to believe how daft he is. Yes, he did spend 5 whole minutes staring out of a closed shutter:

“Où est mon royaume?”

Les pies bavardes

Louis Catorze went back to see the vet yesterday evening, but they decided against the month-long steroid shot as the previous ones haven’t been quite as effective as they’d hoped.

So the next step is the skin biopsy plus a couple of other things that can’t be done when he’s conscious because of his bad behaviour e.g. claw-clipping (just trimming the sharp ends to prevent him from cutting himself, not claw removal, obviously), an ear examination, a more in-depth eye check, and whatever else they feel the need to do. To be honest we’re at that point where we’re happy to let them take advantage of him being unconscious and do whatever they want.

Cat Daddy is going to drop him off on Wednesday morning and he will take the Special Animal Bus to TW3 and be back for collection in the afternoon, by which time they should also have his fungal culture test results.

Catorze is frustrated beyond measure at still having to wear Le Cône. But the one small silver lining of being Côned is that one can only get into limited amounts of trouble. (Yes, I realise that, ideally, one should not be able to get into any trouble whatsoever, but this is Catorze that we’re talking about.)

It was That Neighbour’s birthday last week and he was able to celebrate in peace without having to investigate God-awful screaming outside his window and then escort the offender off the premises. And Oscar the dog must be thoroughly punch-pleased that he can enjoy his garden without Catorze giving him grief, although he would perhaps be less impressed to know that his humans had come round to give love and cuddles to his nemesis at the weekend. (THANK YOU, Dog Family, for being the best people ever.)

We have been letting Catorze outside at The Back for short periods – under supervision, of course, and during daylight hours – which is one little piece of normality for him amidst all this horror. Le Cône prevents him from jumping over fences and from shimmying through gaps, so we know that he can’t possibly leave the garden. Yet, despite the fact that he always returns to the back door within minutes, it seems that this is the weak link enabling him to get into Limited, rather than No, Trouble.

Here he is having just finished annoying the magpies, who voiced their displeasure very clearly indeed:

“Je ne comprends pas, Madame Pie.”

Une chatte doit être deux choses: classe et fabuleuse

Attention all units: there is a new black French cat on the block! Such cheering news indeed after all the recent drama at Le Château.

This is Chanel, who is Cocoa the babysit cat’s new sister. And Cocoa has been a fantastic big brother, welcoming her and patiently tolerating her zany kitten behaviour. Here she is, looking utterly angelic and sweet, although we are not fooled in the slightest and are fully aware that all kittens are psychopaths:

“Je vais manger ton âme.”

So that makes a total of three black cats at our end of the street: Cocoa, Louis Catorze and now Chanel. And there is another one who lives at the other end, and who is probably blamed for most of Catorze’s rubbish, whose name we don’t yet know.

One could view this phenomenon in one of two ways:

1. Our street is the luckiest in TW8 (quite likely).

2. The Chat Noir Army of Darkness is multiplying and, one of these days/nights, they will overpower us and take over the world (considerably more likely).