Le pouvoir du pollen

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If you have ever suffered from hay fever, no doubt you will be fully aware of all the things you should and shouldn’t do: keep windows and doors shut, take a teaspoon of local honey a day (and, if you’re in London, Hen Corner honey is excellent: https://hen-corner-micro-bakery.myshopify.com/collections/london-honey), and so on. However, you may also wish to exercise caution if you decide to cuddle an outdoor cat in June.

A few days ago, Louis Catorze pitter-pattered in after spending most of the day out on the hunt, looking to grace the trophy cabinet (i.e. our bedroom floor) with another piece of silverware (i.e. a rodent). And, whilst it seems obvious now that furry-bodied cats would soak up airborne toxins like sponges, I didn’t think about it when I picked him up to cuddle him; it was like pressing my face into shards of glass.

The danger doesn’t stop there: we also allow Louis Catorze to sleep on our bed, spreading the evil allergens all over our pillows and sheets. And, yes, I accept that it’s not compulsory for him to sleep on the bed, and that we could shut him out of our bedroom, but he has slept with us ever since the first night he was with us, and I would feel sad breaking that habit. (Plus it enables us to keep him under surveillance, because we know what a troublemaker he is and we couldn’t trust him as far as we could spit.)

So … what to do about this? The only option is to give kitty regular damp towel rub-downs (preferably on a non-carpeted area) and, if you’re lucky, they might appreciate the cooling power of this procedure on a hot day. If they’re anything like Catorze, on the other hand, they will writhe, wail and wish you were dead … but your sensitive nostrils and stinging eyes will thank you, even if your cat won’t.

*Picture posed by the splendid Cocoa the babysit cat

 

 

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 miel des rois

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If you choose to be the slave to a special needs cat, one of the things you come to expect is life being brilliant one minute, then disintegrating into crud the next.

It’s been a tough week at Le Château. The return to work after Christmas and New Year is always difficult but I’ve been working very late every night, Cat Daddy has been working even later, and we didn’t see each other at all from Monday through to Friday. Louis Catorze has been wonderful company but, once again, because I’ve been leaving the (not brilliantly-lit) house in darkness and coming home in darkness, it’s been hard to keep track of his condition, although I’ve been aware of increased itching and fidgeting during the night. When I finally got to look at him properly in daylight on Saturday morning, I could see that the little sod’s chin area was bald and raw again.

It seems that the steroid shot, whilst undeniably improving things, isn’t the faultless magical potion that I wanted it to be, and that it has its limitations. Whereas his first injection gave him excellent results for a whole month even though it was only supposed to last a week, the second hasn’t been quite so effective. You know how a drinking session can get you completely plastered, but, the second time around, you need more booze to get to that same level? Well, this looks set to be exactly the same, except much less fun.

To make matters worse, having agreed that we would take Louis Catorze to the vet after we got back from the football, I realised too late that I’d got the vet opening hours completely wrong and that it was closed until Monday. Our options were to rush him to the emergency vet or sit it out until after the weekend, so we decided to go for the latter because the wound looked unpleasant but not horrendous, and because Catorze is still active, vocal and up-tailed, which I’m assuming means he doesn’t feel that bad.

I have received a lot of advice about what to do with him during the wait for the vet appointment, and one suggestion – which has also cropped up in the past – was to apply honey to the sore areas (thank you, Lisa). With Catorze being the way he is, this needed to be a very well-planned and strategic move, so I took my chance when he came in this morning from his all-nighter and scurried upstairs to join his daddy, who was still in bed.

And, naturellement, the only honey we had in the house was organic artisan New Zealand manuka honey. We’re talking honey that only rock stars and lottery winners could afford to buy, and we, being neither of those, only had it in our cupboard because Cat Daddy happened to meet the supplier at a trade show and they very kindly gave him a free sample. Gram for gram, this stuff costs more than cocaine or gold – and there I was, smearing it onto the skin of a wriggling, kicking, ungrateful little bastard of a cat.

Oh well – Louis Catorze is a king, I guess, which means that supermarket blended honey just won’t do. And, after the initial indignity was over, he was immediately happy again. Let’s hope this is enough to keep things under control until the vet visit.

J’adore le dopage

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I tend to write blog entries when a significant event has taken place, or, more usually, when Louis Catorze has done something stupid, but I’m writing this today because Cat Daddy made me.

Although we’re now sold on the idea of steroid shots for Le Roi – his fur and skin looked so much better immediately after the vet visit on Christmas Eve – it’s difficult dealing with the psychological aspects of going down this route. A lot of this, of course, is due to years of prejudice thanks to the media: most of us, when confronted with the word “steroid”, think of sporting drugs cheats and freakishly malformed bodybuilders. But, with so many animal and human medicines promoting themselves as “steroid-free”, it’s easy to make the assumption that steroids must, therefore, be bad. And the idea that we’ve agreed to pump them into our sweet boy every month, even though they make him feel better, takes some getting used to.

Yesterday morning I woke up at 4am after dreaming that Louis Catorze had stopped breathing due to steroid complications, and, worse yet, the little sod wasn’t around for me to reassure myself that he was fine. I woke Cat Daddy and asked him to go and look for him. He rolled over and muttered something unnecessarily discourteous.

That afternoon he and I had a long chat about why we had made the decision about the steroid shots (and why the heck I had woken him up), and he made me write down all the benefits “as a reminder, in case I punish myself later on after Louis is gone”. (As cat slaves we’re good at doing that, aren’t we, even though it’s pointless? I still agonise over Luther, who was run over, wishing I had fed him before he went out so that he might have missed that car by 5 minutes.)

So:

Pros of steroid shots:
1. Rapidly improved skin and fur
2. Dramatically reduced itching
3. Increased energy (and annoyingness)
4. More sociable behaviour
5. Civilised monthly trip to the vet, as opposed to brutal fight to the death 3 times a week
6. Giving him the shot would mean we could now go away at weekends if we wanted to (something we haven’t done since the little sod came to live with us, because we feel bad asking our neighbours to do battle with him in our absence)
7. NOT giving him the shot would be imposing a personal stance on him when he has no choice, like those poor cats who are made to eat vegan food (no problem with vegans personally, but forcing a vegan diet onto carnivorous animals is CRUEL)

Cons of steroid shots:
1. Questionable long-term effects (although this is the case for all medication – and the vet said that, provided we kept an eye on Louis Catorze’s organs via yearly blood tests, he should be fine)
2. Double the monthly cost of Atopica (not really a proper con as we have never held back, and would never hold back, from a treatment for Catorze because of money)

It doesn’t look so bad when presented that way, does it? I do know that we’re doing the right thing for him; I just wish my brain would catch up.

Partageons!

I was looking back through Le Blog yesterday morning and remembering when I started it; I had asked my brother-in-law, a journalist, for advice, worried that I would run out of ideas after a few weeks or months. His reply was, “If you do, that’s a sign that you chose the wrong subject matter.” Another friend later added, “The day you stop writing will be the day Louis stops doing stupid shit. So you should be fine for some time.” Thanks.

This is the third and longest-standing blog I’ve written; the first one fell by the wayside because I just got bored, and I had to stop the second one because l gave away lots of secrets and gossip about my then-workplace, and I would have been fired had anyone from work found out about it. I am still staggered that a plain black cat who doesn’t do a lot has inspired me to write so much over 6 months, and that he has attracted so many followers in various parts of the world. The new year got me thinking about the long-term future of Le Blog and where I wanted it to go, and I wondered this aloud to Cat Daddy. “He’s such an inspirational cat that the prospects are limitless,” said Cat Daddy. “His teachings are so profound and life-enriching; in fact, I see him rather like Gandhi, don’t you?”

“Are you, by any chance, being sarcastic?” I asked.

“We could get your blog made into a BBC drama series, with a spin-off website selling Louis Catorze merchandise,” he continued. “Imagine celebrities wearing “Je gratte, donc je suis” T-shirts. Imagine Louis Catorze on Piers Morgan’s TV show. The world needs to know about this amazing French cat!”

Yup. Sarcastic.

In actual fact, my only wishes for Le Blog have been to help other cats with a similar condition, to provide support to their human slaves, and, maybe one day, to have some medical whizz-person read what I’ve written and contact me with a cure for Louis Catorze. So I felt very hopeful yesterday when 2 people messaged me, saying, “My cat has those symptoms too.” An exchange of photos seemed to confirm this (see below for how the little sod looked this time last  year):

It’s very early days but I’m going to encourage them to follow Le Blog and hope that one of us will soon happen upon a solution that will help the others. I’m also going to shamelessly request that all of Louis Catorze’s followers please share, share, share Le Blog with vets, rescue centres, cat breeders, animal charities, anyone who cares, really. Share until people are sick of you and beg you to stop. You just never know when the right person will get in touch and utter the magic words, “My cat had the same condition and, after trying Magical Elixir X, is now completely fine.”