Mourir debout ou vivre au genoux?

Cat Daddy and I could not be more relieved that Louis Catorze’s recent problems were caused by his patellar luxation and not by some other heinous thing. That said, having now researched his condition, we are not quite sure what we will be able to do about it on a day-to-day basis.

For the moment, the recommended treatment from our vet is just pain relief. And – merci au bon Dieu – because he is eating his Pill Pockets quite happily, this has not been a problem so far. However, online advice also recommends “limiting exercise and access to running and jumping”.

I don’t tend to take online advice and, if I did, I would only have three words for this particular snippet: Not. Gonna. Happen.

Now, if Catorze were a normal cat, he would be taking it easy at his age and trying not to do too much. But he’s not. Quite the opposite. Everything he does is everything that’s inadvisable for his condition and, short of locking him up, I don’t know how we can stop him.

Apparently surgery could be an option, although the advice is “the sooner the better”. Now, if they’re referring to the severity of the patellar luxation, Catorze would probably be a good candidate as he is only at the lowest level. However, if they mean age, at ten years old I fear it might be too late. Catorze is an old boy with the constitution of a swatted gnat, so I can’t see him recovering well from surgery.

Plus: six weeks of cage rest? Catorze, sitting quietly in a cage? Nope. We would need ALL THE SEDATIVES. And maybe we would even give some to him.

Anyway, he still looks frightful with bald patches and crusty eyes. But his knee has behaved itself well since last weekend and has only caved in once (for about four seconds). And Cat Daddy had to eat his lunch standing up the other day because Catorze was being such a pest – clambering all over him, purring, screaming – so I guess this means the little sod is doing ok.

On his favourite lap.

Manger comme un Roi

Louis Catorze is now on two sets of pills – Prednisolone and Gabapentin – twice a day. And the little sod is happily eating them in Pill Pockets. He doesn’t seem to be acting any differently although, with this combination being the equivalent of smoking weed and taking amphetamines together, most likely they cancel one another out.

His food changeover is going well. (Well, it’s about time something did, n’est-ce pas?) He loved Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish when we switched him to there from Acana Pacifica, but he loves the Cool Cat Club food even more.

To prevent him from picking it away from the rest of his food, I started to bury the precious nuggets of Cool Cat Club food under a pile of Marvellously Mature. But the little sod was one step ahead of me, and he dug it out like a tiny, toothy truffling pig. So I mixed the foods together in the dispenser, rather like a trail mix type thing, in the hope that this would help the two flavours to combine and that Catorze would be too stupid to know which was which.

It worked. He ate both. Then he sat at our feet for the next half hour, alternating between creepy, statue-still, bug-eyed staring and ear-bleedingly excruciating screaming.

Me: “What’s WRONG with him?”

Cat Daddy: “He does this to me all the time when you’re at work.”

Me: “Yes, but what does he want? It surely can’t be more food? He doesn’t like food. He’s never liked food.”

When I got up to move away from him because he was giving me the creeps, he ran to his empty plate. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

In the six years that he has lived with us (Cat Daddy: “Dear God, is that all it it’s been?”) he has been on three different brands of food, each one ditched for various reasons. The Cool Cat Club is the fourth and it certainly seems to be ticking all the boxes so far, so let’s hope it’s the one to stay.

Nothing marvellous or mature about this.

De bonnes nouvelles

Thank you for sending your good wishes to Louis Catorze.

The little sod has had a weird leg-kicky tick – the same leg that stopped working on Sunday – for some time now. We’ve never done anything about it because it’s never bothered him. And, a few weeks ago, I happened to catch it on video just by chance.

I sent the video to the vet in advance of our appointment on Monday morning, to see whether it might be linked to Sunday’s events. However, I really, really should have checked the video before sending it, and I didn’t.

20 seconds into the 30-second video, my voice can be heard (in response to Catorze’s screaming) saying, “What’s the matter with you? Meow twice if it’s something urgent, meow once if you’re just being a massive [rude name].”

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Thank goodness the Apple Gods were on my side: the video was too long to send, and so it never left my Outbox. It was during editing that I realised my error and so was able to send a PG-rated version. PHEW.

Cat Daddy: “Well, if you use that sort of language to talk about him, you’re going to get caught out.” (Says he who isn’t exactly known for his gentlemanly vocabulary, most of it much worse than the word I’d used in the video.)

However, right after I’d planned and scheduled Monday’s blog post (but before our appointment), Catorze’s leg went again, twice. On one of those occasions I was able to film it and, although it was 46 seconds of pure torture watching our poor boy howling in anguish, at least I had something of significance to show the vet.

It seems that his problem is most likely due to his patellar luxation aka dodgy knees (originally diagnosed a few years ago, when his French chat-sitteur saw that he was limping:

Apparently this was evident in the video because Catorze was able to hold up his leg rather than dragging it behind him. So it’s back to the Gabapentin for a few days, and he has to remain on the higher dose of steroids until he starts looking better. What a huge relief to know that it’s joint-related and not some horrendous neurological disorder requiring trips to TW3 on the animal bus and endless tests.

And a lady who was in the Dog Area of the waiting room with her Border Terrier puppy complimented Catorze on his swish transportation pod, which was very nice indeed.

Anyway, the moral of this story is: always film pets acting out of character, however difficult it may be to remember in the heat of the moment. As well as avoiding the “Well, he looks fine to me” scenario, making you look like a complete idiot when your pet won’t perform at the surgery, video evidence helps the vet and could save a lot of time, money and stress.

The picture below was taken an hour or so before the appointment, when Catorze heard a squirrel outside. And, after coming home from the appointment, he was straight into the Zone Libre to annoy the foxes, then over a 2-metre fence to bid a jaunty bonjour to That Neighbour. So I can see his recovery being, erm, a greater challenge than expected (or wanted).

Dodgy knee? Quel dodgy knee?

Problème sur problème

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Louis Catorze had some sort of “episode”. I don’t know exactly what to call it, but it has never happened before and I hope someone will tell us that it happens to all cats.

At 5am, Catorze did his usual walk up the bed to scream in my face. He then whined and collapsed onto my stomach, and I had to grab his hindquarters to stop him from sliding off the bed.

When I turned on the light, the little sod was holding his right leg strangely and appeared to have lost use of it. I am cross with myself for not taking the advice that I always give to others when their pets have funny turns – which is to film them in order to have evidence to show the vet – but I just didn’t think of it.

After around 15-20 minutes of the little sod whining, hissing and struggling to right his body, and me stroking him and feeling utterly useless, he was fine again. And I will now have to explain everything verbally to the vet which is never as good as them seeing it. I would not want him to lose control of his body in some inopportune situation e.g. whilst sneaking into a fox hole to steal decomposing animal parts, or whilst sitting atop Twiggy the greyhound’s fence.

His face is not looking great, either. His eyes are very puffy and sore, and he has cut the inside of his left ear (most likely through over-scratching). The fact that he left the boiler repair man alone on Saturday, instead of annoying the hell out of him, is a huge indicator that all is not well. And, would you believe, just as I was about to phone the emergency vet to tell them about the leg thing, Catorze strolled in from The Back with a swollen, only-partially-open eye. It hadn’t looked that way an hour earlier.

The emergency vet lady told us that, since Catorze’s legs were now fine and he was behaving normally, we didn’t need to rush him in immediately. However, we will take him into our local branch tomorrow (Monday) and, by the time you read this, we will hopefully have been to the appointment.

At least we will get good value out of the visit, with two problems to deal with at once. Although, knowing Catorze, it’s highly likely that he will create a third between now and then.

Photo taken just after Problème 1, and an hour or two before Problème 2. Please don’t let there be a Problème 3.

L’odeur du diable

The boiler repair man came on Friday. Cat Daddy had to leave the house to collect me from work right after he arrived, and when we came home we were a little concerned to see him sitting outside in his van. Luckily he had just popped out to grab his laptop and hadn’t been forced out by a certain someone’s incessant screaming. In fact, Louis Catorze slept through most of his visit, I suspect because the poor little sod is not feeling well. He is now on the higher dose of two pills per day, but clearly it will take a couple of days to kick in.

In other news, a few days ago I managed to make Catorze gag, which is some achievement (not to mention quite the role reversal).

Now, I can explain:

My necklace had become stuck in my hair. Even after hacking away with scissors and finally freeing the darned thing, there were strands of hair wound so tightly around the chain that no amount of picking would remove them. So I had the genius idea of, erm, holding the chain over a flame and burning the hairs off.

Burning hair, as we know, isn’t the most pleasant smell. But Cat Daddy was outside and therefore wouldn’t have noticed, plus the stench would be relatively short-lived as there wasn’t THAT much hair stuck, so I did it.

Sadly I forgot about poor little Catorze asleep on the sofa in the same room. As the smell wafted in his direction, the little sod woke up, stretched … and gagged. It is probably the single most hilarious sound I have ever heard.

Catorze is happy to wrap his chops around birds, mice, dried rats that foxes have killed and saved for later, and fresh rats that he killed and carried up to our bedroom. Yet burning hair, it seems, is just beyond the pale.

Cat Daddy fell about laughing when I told him, and he is desperate for me to burn more hair just to get the gag on video. I won’t, because it seems a bit mean. However, there’s no telling what he’ll do when I’m at work, and I’m not sure I can trust him …

(Picture actually features a yawn, not the gag, but it did look remarkably like this.)

An artist’s impression of the gag.

Cool pour les chats

Louis Catorze’s Cool Cat Club sample pack has arrived, and they very kindly upgraded his delivery to Next Day at no extra cost so that he could have it quickly.

The package came accompanied by this lovely note from Paul:

Très cool.

We want to take things slowly with the new food because Catorze is a sensitive little thing and, back in the day, he used to be quite prone to vomiting (although it was quite funny that time he did it all over Cat Daddy’s side of the bed WHILST WE SLEPT, leaving my side completely untouched). Ideally we would change his food in the summer, when his health problems seem to mysteriously disappear, but we don’t have enough of his old food to last that long, nor do we have any chance of getting more as it’s being discontinued. We’re going to have to do it sometime, and it might as well be now.

For the moment, it’s just a light sprinkling of the Cool Cat Club food on top of a normal serving of Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature, with the proportions progressively shifting over the next month or so.

And, happily, so far so good. In fact, so far TOO good: the little sod skilfully plucked the Cool Cat Club pieces from his plate and ate those first, with the Marvellously Mature eaten much later. I would struggle to be this dexterous in the time he had, even with a magnifying glass and a pair tweezers, so God knows how he did it with his gallumping idiot jaws.

Cat Daddy, without looking up from his laptop: “Fascinating. Are you going to blog about that?” (He thought I was joking when I said yes.)

If you fancy trying out the Cool Cat Club yourself, and you use Sa Maj’s referral link to subscribe, you will earn ten food pouches for less fortunate kitties:

Toujours drogué, plein d’énergie

After doing well for a couple of weeks, Louis Catorze isn’t looking so good right now.

We started tapering down his steroids to one a day on 1st November and to alternate days from 8th November. He was fine for that first week but, during the second, his itchiness and bald patches crept back. So he is now back on one pill a day.

We had hoped for him to be drug-free by now, so it’s a little disappointing. And the little sod has been somewhat subdued. However, being unwell hasn’t stopped him from being a massive idiot.

One night he did a real number on Cat Daddy by disappearing at The Front on his watch, although this serves Cat Daddy right for letting him out when he was too drunk to monitor the situation properly.

I went downstairs at 3am to find out why Cat Daddy hadn’t come to bed and why all the lights were on, and I discovered him on the sofa, having dozed off with the window open and then woken up with no idea of whether Catorze was in or out. So he had been sitting there, shivering, for about two hours, waiting for him to come in.

Incidentally, the little sod WAS in, and had been under our bed the whole time.

And, last week, Cat Daddy made the grim discovery of TWO bird corpses in the garden, with much of the flesh eaten away. This kind of thing is not Catorze’s MO but he cannot be fully eliminated from our enquiries; even if he didn’t do the eating, stealing someone else’s tasty morsel, just for fun, is right up his street. We suspect that that’s what he did with the curly-haired rat four years ago ( and he would absolutely be stupid/rude enough to creep into the same fox hole and steal their dinner a second time.

Worse yet, when Cat Daddy went to dispose of the evidence in the park bin, he came across That Neighbour. Not only is That Neighbour a prolific local activist who would have regarded this as fly-tipping but we have already bumped into him many times when disposing of Catorze’s kills, and each time we have had to stage elaborate theatrics to hide our actions. So, after exchanging pleasantries for longer than is appropriate when one party is clutching a plastic bag containing decomposing animal parts, Cat Daddy had to divert his route and pretend he was walking to the supermarket, and consequently a one-minute job ended up taking him about half an hour.

Here is Catorze, being his usual self and giving not a single hoot about the trouble he’s causing:

Absolute muppet.

Chat échaudé craint l’eau chaude

Our boiler has packed up. We’re not sure what’s gone wrong but our shower and taps run hot for two minutes, then cold for two minutes, then hot for two minutes, and so on. Not the end of the world compared to many people’s struggles right now but not especially helpful, either.

When Cat Daddy called the repair man, he agreed to come on two conditions:

1. Social distancing is to be maintained at all times throughout his visit (fine)

2. No pets (erm ….)

This is what Le Roi thinks of point 2.

Cat Daddy: “Oh dear. I’m afraid we have a cat.”

Repair man: “That’s ok. Most cats run away from me, so that won’t be a problem.”

Cat Daddy: “…”

Cat Daddy: “…”

Cat Daddy: “Yes, I’m sure ours will do the same.”

Me, to Cat Daddy, later that day: “Why did you say that? You know it’s a lie.”

Cat Daddy: “I didn’t have a choice. If I’d told the truth, the repair man would have refused to come.”

This is true. Merde.

If you have followed Le Blog for any length of time, you will be fully aware that Catorze’s record for leaving visiting tradespeople in peace is pretty atrocious. Take a look at the links at the bottom of the page if you don’t believe me.

Having lied to the repair man to trick him into coming into our house during a pandemic, we now have to figure out what the heck to do with Catorze whilst the work is being done. Shutting him in a room would be awful because of the screaming. But leaving him free to go on the rampage just doesn’t bear thinking about. Cat Daddy is sorely tempted to kick him out at The Front and hope he doesn’t go harassing neighbours or passers-by, or pulling off squirrels’ tails. Not ideal, by any means, but what else do we do?

Let’s hope that thoughts, prayers and copious amounts of neat vodka will get us through.

Le club des chats cool

I have been spending some time researching new food for Louis Catorze. Some lines of investigation have proven to be, erm, less successful than others:

Not ready for Catorze? Welcome to my world.

I emailed one promising new brand to ask a question about their food and, to my astonishment, they replied telling me they loved Catorze’s blog. At the time I was a few Crémants down and I thought, “Wow, I must be drunker than I thought, because I don’t even remember telling them about Le Blog.” When I checked back through my email to them, I realised that I hadn’t.

This must mean one of the following:

1. They are the sort of people who Google their customers’ cats’ names (which, frankly, is absolutely great and makes me want to buy from them irrespective of what their food is like).

2. Catorze’s infamy is spreading faster than Covid (which is, erm, not so not great).

Cat Daddy, being a marketer, decided to Google “Louis Catorze”, just out of curiosity. He had expected to only find results relating to the human Sun King, and perhaps a helpful note from the good folk at Google saying, “Did you mean Louis Quatorze?” But, instead, he discovered this:

Cat Daddy: “Oh my God. Louis is the top result of the Google search. People pay millions for this!”

Anyway, now that we can visibly see Sa Maj getting better, we have decided to give this company a chance. They’re called The Cool Cat Club, which is something of an irony as Catorze is about the least cool thing there is, and the Groucho Marxist in me would question any club willing to accept the little sod as a member, but tant pis. The good news is that they appear to have everything that the pre-takeover Lily’s Kitchen used to have – high protein, no grain or nasty fillers, compostable packaging – plus they donate food to cat rescues with every purchase. We’re excited.

Yes, we are excited about cat food. This probably means we ought to get out more, but at least we can use lockdown as an excuse.

If you fancy checking out the potential new suppliers of la cuisine royale, here they are:

L’arrivée du canapé

Our new Sofology sofa and matching footstool* are here. They were supposed to arrive between 12pm and 4pm last Tuesday, in pieces, but, naturellement, they arrived at 7pm, fully assembled, and the delivery people couldn’t get the sofa through the door. So they had to take it apart, bring it indoors and then reassemble it, during which time Louis Catorze escaped out at The Front.

It turned out that the reason they were late was because the original van was involved in an accident – not screeching to a halt to avoid running over a black cat, I might add – and written off, so they’d had to unload all the furniture from one van to another. And, after leaving us at 7:45pm, they still had three more deliveries to do. Mercury Retrograde has a lot to answer for.

We went for the two-and-a-half seater in Dakota Brown. I thought Cat Daddy was joking when he said “two-and-a-half seater” but that’s genuinely what it’s called, and it suits us perfectly because we are a family of two and a half. (Catorze is so small that he only counts as a half.) The three-seater sofa would just about have fitted but, after measuring, Cat Daddy discovered that it would only leave his boy with a narrow thoroughfare to his Sureflap. And, naturellement, we couldn’t have that.

Anyway, both boys are happy, so all is well with the world. And, better yet, if you take out Sofology’s five-year warranty at £157, they will repair or replace the sofa if there is any damage, including cat scratches. That said, this is Catorze we’re talking about. We all know, don’t we, that he will respect the sofa for every single day of the next five years, then slash it to smithereens and dump gross, oozing rodent corpses on it the day after the warranty expires.

Different sofa, same shite.

*Here is the original story of how we purchased our furniture from cat-loving Ish:

L’alimentation royale

So Mercury Renegade (as Cat Daddy thought it was called) is over, and the white supremacist cult leader has been toppled. Not a bad week, and don’t we all deserve it after the cirque de merde that has been 2020 so far?

Meanwhile, here at Le Château, it’s all about the monarchy and a certain someone’s food. Not long after Lily’s Kitchen were taken over by Nestlé Purina, I wrote to them to ask whether the acquisition would result in any changes their ingredients or formulations.

A lady called Kat (I’m not joking) replied with the following words:

“Please let me assure you that Lily’s Kitchen remains a stand-alone business with the same fantastic team and purpose. We won’t be making any changes to the high-quality ingredients we use or the way we do things – the support we now have from Nestlé Purina means we can continue to grow, and ensure as many pets as possible around the world can enjoy our proper food.”

Now, had I been talking to one of my wily students, I would have said, “Nice try, but you’ve not fully answered the question.” But it didn’t occur to me to think that someone from lovely Lily’s Kitchen would try to double-cross me.

When I opened a pack of Fisherman‘s Feast (formerly Fabulous Fish) for the first time, I noticed the completely different colour (dark brown new formula versus yellow old):

No changes, my arse.

I wrote back to Lily’s Kitchen regarding the colour change, all the while continuing to feed it to Catorze as I had nothing else. This time it was Kate who replied to tell me that the recipe now includes chicken stock – a change that was in the pipeline pre-takeover, so they say – which accounts for the darker colour.

This was not good news. I realise that it won’t seem like a big deal if you own a normal, healthy cat, but now isn’t the time to be messing with Catorze’s food. Especially as the vet once told us that a change in protein (from, say, fish to chicken) could be enough to trigger an allergic reaction.

And I know, I know: it’s my responsibility to check the ingredients panels. But, after reading that first message from Kat, I didn’t think I would need to. Now, of course, I am kicking myself for being so stupid. I can imagine my wily students in this situation, smirking at me and saying, “But we didn’t actually lie as such.” YOU DIDN’T TELL ME THE WHOLE TRUTH, EITHER.

Cat Daddy and I then made an emergency dash to Pets at Home to see if they had any old Fabulous Fish left. They didn’t … but we were able to find some old stock of Marvellously Mature for older cats, which is poultry-free (but not for long: be warned that the new formulation, called Senior Recipe, contains turkey). In a blind panic, we bought the entire stock to tide us over whilst we decide what to do next. Do we want to wait until Catorze is well again, and gradually phase in the new Fisherman’s Feast with the old Marvellously Mature? Or should we cut our losses and find a supplier whom we can actually trust?

Anyway, the twofold moral of this story is as follows:

⁃ Read the small print.

⁃ Do not trust anyone, even if their name contains some form of the word “cat”.

L’horloge magique

During half term I decided I’d finally had enough of terrible sleep (due in part to checking my phone clock multiple times through the night to see how many hours of sleep were left; don’t pretend you don’t do it yourselves). So I treated myself to one of those Lumie Bodyclock things that wake you up to soft light and gentle sounds.

Now, we aren’t the most proficient when it comes to electronics. I am good at following instructions yet still can’t get said apparatus to function. Cat Daddy is rather less adept and considerably less patient, often throwing the item across the room and using Unrepeatable Expletives of the Worst Kind. And at half term it was still Mercury Retrograde so, during a week of zero success with electronics*, my expectations of figuring out this device were quite low.

*Cat Daddy’s bike light malfunctioned, his electric razor kept switching itself on and wouldn’t stay switched off and, to top it all off, his phone accidentally posted four unicorns on the food bank volunteers’ WhatsApp group, most of whose members he doesn’t know (although they now know who he is):

These, plus other unicorns in different poses, are now among Cat Daddy’s “frequently used” emojis.

I made it 60% of the way through the the Lumie Bodyclock’s installation process without mishap. Then, when selecting my alarm sound, I was met with some interesting and bizarre options. Click on “Sounds” on this link for the full list and to try them out in front of your cats:

Naturellement I was drawn to the kitten sound although, when testing it, it sounded like a disconcertingly aggressive kitten and I already have one of these who wakes me up. But I was intrigued by the goats – and by the kind of people who would want to be woken up by them – and so I couldn’t resist trying it on the clock to see whether it was as comedic as I imagined.

It was.

Then, of course, I couldn’t turn off the goaty sound. And an outraged, screaming Louis Catorze came barging in to find out why I had allowed farmyard animals to enter his Château.

Anyway, the next morning I was woken up by dreadful white noise and not by the tropical birds that I’d wanted. (White noise is the default sound and has its own button which overrides everything else, so no doubt I’d pressed it by mistake at some stage.) And Catorze, who was with me at the time, did not approve. But at least I know that it works. And the wake-up light gives Catorze some interesting shadows and an almost Steampunk look:

Sa Maj loves a bit of retro-futurism in the morning.

Une fête magnifique

Full Moon Hallowe’en is over. And this time is the saddest of times, because we have a whole year to wait until the next Hallowe’en and NINETEEN YEARS until the next full moon one.

But what a time was had. (And it’s just as well because, as from 5th November, the axe will be falling on the U.K. and we will be locked down for a month.)

Oscar the dog’s folks have always been astonishingly good sports when it comes to festivities, but on Saturday night they surpassed even their own high standards by coming to our barbecue dressed as Louis Catorze. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: all three of them, DRESSED AS CATORZE. Dog Mamma and Dog Sister even had fangs. And the Dog Family also brought a “Pin the Tail on Louis” game, which was a close competition but Cat Daddy just edged me out by a few pesky millimetres, making him the overall winner on the night:

An excellent likeness: chapeau to Dog Sister.

We really couldn’t have wished for a more perfect night: a sumptuous Hallowe’en barbecue cooked by Cat Daddy, great fun with the Dog Family’s quiz and entertainment, all within the confines of The Rules and, unbelievably, no misbehaviour from Catorze. (This was due in part, I’m sure, to the fact that we weren’t repeatedly opening our door to trick-or-treaters and therefore his opportunities to cause trouble at The Front were severely limited.) However, next Hallowe’en is also set to be a special one because it coincides with the end of British Summer Time. So we will have an extra hour of the best day in the world.

And, would you believe, Sa Maj is already fully booked for the whole of the 2021 Hallowe’en weekend, and has been for some time. It’s a sad day when your cat is more popular than you but, at the same time, we’re used to it.

The Dog Family made us this delicious chocolate torte, based on Catorze’s two favourite activities: catching rodents and bringing about the apocalypse.