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.

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.