Le Roi fleurit: vive Le Roi!

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I haven’t posted about Louis Catorze’s allergy for ages, and I’m delighted to say that this is because I haven’t needed to: Sa Majesté is doing exceptionally well.

He was due to have his steroid injection on 11th June, having had the previous one on 11th May, but we have been able to let it lapse – as per the vet’s advice – because he hasn’t shown any symptoms. He is a little fidgety and scratchy, but the rescue informed us when we adopted him that he would always be that way, even when well. You simply wouldn’t know he were a special needs cat: his fur is glossy, his eyes are healthy, he has no scabs, and he’s full of shouty, annoying energy. He’s also extra obsessed with his daddy at the moment and won’t leave him alone; yesterday Cat Daddy said, “Watch this” then sat down, counted down from 3, and Catorze came hurtling from wherever he was in the house and flung himself onto his lap.

We haven’t done anything different in terms of Le Roi’s treatment, except for brushing him more regularly (a miserable experience for us all, but it has to be done). We have, in fact, been a little LESS stringent with many things, for instance I haven’t treated the fabric furnishings with anti-bacterial spray for a while, and I have even sneaked in a few scented hair products (for me, not for him). And the little sod has shown no reaction whatsoever to our laziness/vanity other than to show positive progress.

It would be great to be able to get to 11th July, making it 2 whole calendar months between injections. But, even if we don’t, we’ll happily take 7 weeks and a few days.

La vie est belle

imageThe vet told us at the last visit that we would no longer need to give Louis Catorze his Atopica regularly. The steroid shot alone, it seems, is sufficient, with occasional use of Atopica only when things are really bad.

Obviously we were delighted at the prospect of no longer having to trap and medicate him, especially as, despite being thick, he was managing to develop a sixth sense about when it was coming. But we weren’t prepared for how quickly, and how dramatically, it would make a difference to the little sod.

Louis Catorze loved us anyway but, within a week or so of stopping the Atopica, he became visibly more affectionate and trusting. Now, when I reach for him to hug him, he no longer runs away. And he will even allow me to scoop him up for cuddles in the kitchen, which used to be the main assault area. (A tip if you’re trying to keep your cats off the kitchen work surfaces: place them on there to give them their medication. Do this just once and I can guarantee that they will stay off forever more.)

Whilst I still struggle inwardly with the fact that we’re giving him scary steroids, Louis Catorze’s quality of life is already clearly better (see tail for proof). And that makes us happier than you can possibly imagine.

 

Le Roi nous fait chier

On dark, cold, moonless nights with howling winds, most people have the sense to remain indoors, especially if they’re not well. I, however, decided last night to leave the toasty-warm cocoon of Le Château and haul a protesting, itchy black cat to the vet for his steroid shot.

The vet is a lovely lady who is sweet to Catorze and talks to him gently in her cat lady voice, and, the last time we saw her, whilst he didn’t exactly behave impeccably, he did allow her to live. We were full of confidence about this visit as Le Roi is generally fine with injections; it’s the meticulous examination of orifices and membranes that he finds objectionable (can’t say I blame him), and that wasn’t on the agenda for the evening.

Luckily we’d got him there at about the right time, just as his condition was starting to turn but before it had reached the grimness of broken skin, weeping wounds and scabs. And that fact was pretty much the only positive.

Louis Catorze decided that, yes, he may well have tolerated les injections before, but that was before. This time he had changed his mind, struggling, kicking and hissing as if demonically possessed, with the three of us barely managing to contain him. The injection finally succeeded on the third or fourth attempt, with Louis Catorze fighting so hard that the needle came out bent at an angle. (I wanted a photo but refrained from asking in case it sounded insensitive.)

We couldn’t understand what had gone wrong. The vet suggested that perhaps Louis Catorze had been taken by surprise by the previous month’s shot, whereas this time he was recalling what had happened before and steeling himself for it. If this is true, it doesn’t bode well for what I had hoped would be dignified trips to the vet in lieu of thrice-weekly Atopica assaults. There is, apparently, the option of giving the injection under the skin as opposed to deep within the muscle (which is the painful bit), but it’s not as effective; if we’re bothering to drag his arse there and jab a needle into him, we may as well do it properly.

Little sod’s short-term memory appeared to work in his favour upon our return home; he trotted out of La Cage, up-tailed, and, ever since, has been happily pitter-pattering in and out of the house, annoying Oscar the dog, having cuddles on the bed and so on. I wish his treatment were as simple as his outlook on life.

Le Roi de la jungle

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Le Roi was thoroughly spoiled at the weekend by his visitors from Switzerland and is still basking from the glow of the wonderful time that he had. There were gifts, there were cuddles, there were endless photographs, and somehow, through the toys he was given, he seems to have rediscovered his joie de vivre. He is truly a pleasure to be around at the moment (apart from at 4am this morning, when I wanted to strangle him).

He seems to be spending more time in the garden here than he ever did at Le Palais. I’m not sure whether it’s liking the feel of the extra soil under his little feet, or the fact that he has encountered zero other cats so he feels like the true Roi du Château, but he is often out there, just sitting in the flowerbed and watching butterflies and bugs go by.

The prospect of making our garden more Catorze-compliant looks as if it’s going to be more troublesome than we’d originally anticipated, because the list of plants that are toxic to cats is IMMENSE (thank you to Suzanne for providing the list):

http://icatcare.org/advice/poisonous-plants

If you have a cat and you also have some of these plants, don’t panic: apparently they only really pose a problem if your cat is stupid enough to roll in them or chew them. Unfortunately, ours is.

The most easily identifiable was the hydrangea (the pink one to the right of the photo), to which, naturellement, Louis Catorze is irresistibly drawn; he has even been known to shelter under it during storms. (Most cats would just come indoors, but ours is a bit different.) Luckily that was easy to remedy as the plant is in a pot, so it was moved to The Front where Louis Catorze isn’t allowed to go. We have quite a few euphorbia dotted around, which will go as soon as my mum is able to come over and dig them up for her own garden.

We had intended to have beautiful amethyst wisteria cascading down the walls of the house at both The Front and The Back but, having seen that it’s on the list, those plans are shot to pieces and we will now only be able to have it at The Front. Wisteria is Cat Daddy’s favourite plant in the world, so he was most displeased by this, and he spent yesterday afternoon gazing mournfully at garden websites and muttering stuff under his breath. (I couldn’t hear what he was muttering, but it seems he was channelling the spirit of the Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet – I think I heard her name a few times.)

We don’t really know enough about plants to know whether we have anything else that’s on the list, so I guess that will be a super-long-term work in progress, especially as new things spring up as the seasons change and we have no idea what’s going to appear over the next year or so. If you are a gardener and you think you can spot any offenders in my photo, please let me know.

La cuisine canadienne

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Louis Catorze’s fancy new food has arrived, and I have successfully destroyed the receipt so that Cat Daddy will never know how much it cost. When I was ordering it I made the mistake of reading the description to Cat Daddy, and he was so aghast that he spat tea all over his laptop. “Imported from Canada?” he spluttered. “IMPORTED? FROM CANADA? He’s a cat!” Then I reminded him that he was the one who instructed the builders to put an extra pillar in the kitchen just so that Louis Catorze could have a feeding station, and he shut up.

There are many types of cat food on the market, and deciding which are good and which aren’t is down to personal choice, but there are 2 ingredients that I really feel cats could do without:

  1. Grains. They don’t do anything for cats – nor for humans, come to think of it.
  2. Sugar. Just NO. Quite frankly, I would rather give Louis Catorze heroin than sugar.

My boy has the added problem of needing to avoid rabbit, flax, fennel and egg, which appear in a surprising number of foods. So, whilst it may seem absurd that we’re on a constant mission to reduce the miles travelled by our own food when our cat’s food has been flown from across the world, trying to find one without the troublemaking ingredients really wasn’t that easy. Acana Pacifica was virtually the only one.

When getting your cat to eat a new food, apparently the trick is to mix it in gradually with the old one; not only is kitty less liable to get an upset stomach, but this also means that the little sod is less likely to refuse it after all the pains you have taken to find it. So I did exactly this with Louis Catorze – 10% new food to 90% old food to start with – and I was met with the “And what the hell is THIS shit?” look.

Oh dear. What are the chances of a cat who doesn’t like food, eventually getting hungry enough to eat food he has previously refused?


Le rouleau suisse

Yet another good-news-bad-news dichotomy, as has become typical of Louis Catorze. The good news is that I’ve found his Secret Sulking Spot. The bad news is that it’s in the grubbiest and most inaccessible corner of the one room we haven’t yet unpacked, amidst the dust sheets that protected our pictures when Tom the decorator was working. The worst bit is that the silly cat hasn’t simply been sleeping ON the dust sheets: he appears to have fashioned himself a sort of Sulking Swiss Roll, with himself as the jam/cream filling and the dust sheets as the sponge. I’m surprised he hasn’t suffocated.

For the love of God, WHY? Why does everything that’s bad for him seem to hold such magnetism, especially as the house is full to the roof with far more comfortable, non-allergic (and bloody expensive) options? The obvious solution is to shut the door to that room until it’s cleared, but I’m concerned that that will only drive him to the forever-accessible Forbidden Greenhouse which is worse. I really do despair of this cat.

His scabby chin is, unsurprisingly, still scabby, and his balding eyes are getting worse. He continues to scratch ferociously and emit his horrible itch-yelp, and I can’t rub his chin to relieve the itching as the silly sod has broken the skin and it’s all weeping and sore. All our efforts seem futile at the moment, yet I know that keeping up with the dust mite mass genocide strategies really cannot do any harm, so keep up I must.

We’ve been here before, and it has passed. That’s what I must keep telling myself, however bleak things may look.

Le Roi s’en fiche: vive Le Roi!

Louis Catorze is pretty unconcerned about all the fuss and furore caused by his test results. Here he is, displaying his best “pretty unconcerned” look:


However, he’s also looking super-healthy, with glossy fur, virtually no scabs or broken skin, and bald patches that are slowly filling in. And he’s chatty, chirpy, swishy-tailed and full of energy. Something we’re doing is working for him right now; let’s hope it continues to do so for as long as possible.

We’ve had no news as yet from the vet about the skin scraping, so I’ve been looking into other possibilities. Some very kind friends recommended a bioenergetics company who analyse animal hair samples and prescribe a toxin-free remedy, so I’ve been in touch with them and requested a testing kit. The best thing about the remedy is that it can be dropped into Louis Catorze’s drinking water or onto his skin, as opposed to being syringed into his mouth after terrifying the life out of him with a surprise attack. Sometimes it’s all about the delivery: the best cure in the world is no good to me if violence and bloodshed are involved.

At £100 this remedy is not cheap but it has to be worth a go, just in case the western medicine route sends us down another dead end. I’m not sure if Cat Daddy will agree as he thinks alternative therapies are for hippy-dippy airheads who eat fairy dust and pink sparkles; that said, he never reads this, so I might just try it anyway and see how long it takes him to find out.

Où sont les résultats?

Cat Daddy keeps telling me how pointless it is to worry about Louis Catorze’s test results until they’re in. I know he’s right, but wasting time on pointless shit is my speciality. In fact, I sometimes tell others, as a joke, that I was born with a brain abnormality that makes me press on with stupid decisions and acts despite knowing full well how stupid they are, and it’s shocking how many people don’t appear that surprised.

My cat mamma instincts tell me that Louis Catorze is allergic to some, or all, of the following substances, in order of severity and with the most severe first:

  1. Dust mites
  2. Pollen of some sort (most likely grass)
  3. Feathers (from pillows and duvets as opposed to birds – Louis Catorze couldn’t and wouldn’t catch a bird even if you dipped him in bird seed and flung him into an aviary)
  4. Me
  5. Water
  6. Air
  7. Cheap, highly-scented, mass-produced skincare products
  8. The paper on which they print tabloid newspapers and tone-lowering gossip magazines
  9. Himself (in the same way that bodies reject donor organs)
  10. Food (all types ever created, natural and processed, meat- and plant-based, raw and cooked, feline and human)

Having spent a Roi’s ransom on dust mite murder weapons, I’m kind of hoping for no.1. But, having convinced Cat Daddy that I absolutely have to buy posh, scent-free skincare products “to act as a control and help monitor the flare-ups” I’m also hoping for rank outsider no.7, simply because it will require me to make no changes whatsoever and to continue buying Dermalogica products in the name of being a loving cat mamma. (“Why, yes, Cat Daddy, that price is perfectly normal for such a highly-specialised product. Do you want our boy to get better or not?”)

I am desperate to find out whether one of my 10 suspects will be guilty as charged, or whether the culprit will be something else entirely. I can’t believe that, soon, the wondering and speculating will be over!

Le Roi va mieux: vive Le Roi!

 
Things are improving! Hurrah! The liquid Piriton seems to be having a positive physical effect on Louis Catorze, and his bald, itchy bits are slowly healing. Administering it, however, is the worst thing in the world, and there’s no way of doing it apart from a stealth attack and an undignified neck scruff. 

Whilst I love the taste of Piriton, to the point where I’ve considered using it as a crème de menthe substitute in a Sub Zero cocktail shot, I don’t think Louis Catorze agrees. His face after tasting suggests that he finds it rather like that concoction your hilarious university friends made on your birthday, when they put a shot of everything from the optics bar into one glass and made you drink it. It also doesn’t help matters that, despite not being the brightest, Louis Catorze knows when I’m loading the syringe, even if I go outdoors to do it; when I come back into the room/house, he’s already shifted into Battle Cat mode and is poised, ready to tear my soul out and send it to hell. This happens even if I don’t have the syringe on me, having hidden it elsewhere for later use AND washed my hands.

Offering treats as a bribe: he doesn’t like food, so no. 

Mixing medication into food: as above. In fact, when I once created some cute little tuna patties laced with Atopica, he gave me the resigned “Go home – you’re embarrassing yourself” look. 

Is this too much to hope for: a day when I no longer have to put him through this? Hurry up, test results! 

Le Roi est de retour!

The vet called at about 7:30 last night to let us know there had been a cancellation, so Cat Daddy took Louis Catorze in this morning for his blood test. I felt quite guilty not feeding him but, because he doesn’t really like food, rather than bugging me, he just watched me eat my own breakfast and slow-blinked politely. The photo above shows him mid-blink (please excuse the surrounding laptops, wires and crap – cropping the photo did virtually nothing to improve it).

The veterinary nurse had previously told Cat Daddy that they would try pinning Louis Catorze down again, “using more people” (more than 4!) and resorting to the sedative only if that didn’t work. We told them that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES was that to happen, and that they were to bypass the brute force and go straight for the sedative; some will disagree with this, I know, but, when a 3kg cat suddenly develops the strength of a grizzly bear and 4 people can’t contain him, it’s because he’s terrified and fearing for his life. I thought, and still think, that sedation was the kinder option.

And, having raced home like a nutter to see my boy, I’m happy to report that he’s fine: eating, drinking, trotting around with his tail up and rubbing gross hairs and cat arse all over our (once-)clean ironing. It seems that he’s already forgotten what happened: one of the joys of having a thick cat!

So we’re £345 poorer but the results will be back next week, and I’m going to be like an annoying child in the run-up to Christmas, fidgeting, calendar-watching and willing the days to pass. In the meantime, I’m to give Louis Catorze 5ml of liquid Piriton twice a day, “whenever he feels itchy”. So that’ll be all the time, then. But … not today. Today is all about cuddles and enjoying Dreamies irresponsibly.