L’alpha et l’oméga

Louis Catorze’s skin has been looking scaly and dandruffy lately, so the vet recommended an Omega 3 supplement called Nutramega. I was sure Cat Daddy would disapprove but, when he saw the information leaflet, he asked me why on earth we hadn’t bought them before.

To be honest, I don’t really know why. Over the years there have been so many things going on with Catorze – the worst being tail-chewing to the point of drawing blood, requiring through-the-night attention – that, perhaps, a glossy coat seemed a luxury rather than a priority. Plus the thought of adding another pill to his arsenal of medication didn’t appeal, especially as he is so awful at taking them. But at least we have them now, and we are determined to give them a shot.

The supplements, although not huge, are too big to encase inside a Pill Pocket for tiny Catorze. So I have to make a hole with a cocktail stick (younger followers: ask your parents), squeeze half of the fishy, gel-like contents into the well of a Pill Pocket, like a vol-au-vent (younger followers: ask your grandparents) and reserve the part-squeezed capsule to do the same thing again the next day.

The vet knows what Catorze is like so, initially, I bought ten days’ supply as an experiment. Having seen his reaction to two bowls, I needed to be sure that he wouldn’t go bonkers at the sight of two Pill Pockets, too. But – MERCI À DIEU – he ate them. This is right up there with stigmata and weeping statues in terms of miracles.

Cat Daddy, in a deadpan voice and without looking up from his gardening catalogue: “Amazing.”

I now have to open FIVE packs for him every day, the others being the Pill Pockets, the Prednisolone pills and, of course, the two different foods. But, despite everything, the little sod is worth it.

In this photo he has just discovered that the Nutramega information leaflet smells of vet:

Not impressed.

C’était une journée d’avril froide et claire …

The pubs are now open, although I have to be honest: whilst outdoor dining in April seemed like a nice idea once upon a time, the reality is pretty grim. I have had a couple of outdoor meet-ups so far, and it’s just too cold. And, when I’ve suggested to the other person that we wait until we’re allowed indoors before we meet again, they have agreed without hesitation.

Cat Daddy and his boozy pub mates are still doing their Friday Zoom evenings, and they are very likely to continue even when restrictions are lifted. Louis Catorze attends the meetings every week without fail, sometimes screaming, sometimes just sitting on his papa’s lap and happily absorbing the male voices. The last time they met, the talk was mostly about vaccines and who has had which one. (Tim has had the Pfizer and the others have all had the AstraZeneca, thank you for asking.)

The group has recently decided to form a gentlemen’s book club, and Cat Daddy has been re-reading his favourite novel of all time – Nineteen Eighty-Four – in preparation for the next meeting. Or, rather, he has been TRYING to re-read it, but unfortunately it’s a firm “Non” from Catorze; the minute Cat Daddy sits down with his book, Le Roi is in his face, screaming, staring creepily and demanding attention. Both Cat Daddy and I had hoped that, since I’m home for the holidays, perhaps the little sod might want to spend some time with me instead, but apparently it’s a “Non” to that, too.

If Cat Daddy takes his book outside, Catorze follows him. It’s almost like the constant surveillance described in Nineteen Eighty-Four itself, and I imagine that, had the Thought Police used Catorzian pestering as an enhanced interrogation technique, they would have succeeded in getting anyone to confess to anything. In fact, I can see “Catorzian” being used in the future in the same context as Orwellian, dystopian and all the other undesirable -ians.

This is what it’s like when Big Brother is, quite literally, watching you:

He wants to be loved AND understood. One out of two isn’t bad.
The best books are those that tell you what you know already.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan B Partie 3)

Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges: Louis Catorze is eating food. And it’s food that I want him to eat, not some heinous, cheap, 90%-sawdust rubbish that he’s chosen just to spite me.

It’s been a couple of days since we started putting half a portion each of new and old food into his bowl – sometimes with the halves top and bottom with a horizontal split, like the Earth’s hemispheres, sometimes with a vertical split and the halves left and right, and sometimes in a pleasing yin-yang formation, just for fun – and he has eaten every portion served. And, the other day, when Cat Daddy was drunk and accidentally served him the new food on its own, he ate that, too.

I cannot even BEGIN to articulate how happy this makes me. Unless you have been through it, you will never understand how stressful it is when a cat won’t eat, especially when they’re not even ill (which can be cured) but just being a shite (which can’t). And it’s even worse when you have helpful folk on the sidelines saying things like “He’ll get hungry enough eventually”* and “I don’t see why you can’t just keep giving him his old food”**.

*No, he won’t.

**Which part of “His old food is discontinued” don’t you understand?

I appreciate that some cats will eat absolutely anything put in front of them. If you have one of those, lucky you. We don’t.

The two foods are still served in distinct piles, and I haven’t dared to mix them because this failed the last time, after weeks of us believing it to be going fine. I don’t want the little sod suddenly realising on Day 14 that there is a new food in his bowl and then being difficult. So, after every meal, I go to his plate and re-sort any mixed bits into separate piles again. Yes, it must seem somewhat over the top. But I would rather do this than have Catorze abort the mission at the eleventh hour, and then we would have to start this tedious process ALL OVER AGAIN.

Anyway, Catorze remains utterly unconcerned by the trouble he has been causing. Here he is, having just, erm, ripped a page out of Cat Daddy’s old road atlas and fashioned it into a pillow for himself:

Erm …
Why?

Le banquet britannique

However purgatorial Le Grand Changement may be, at least Louis Catorze doesn’t know about THIS (see link):

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/worlds-most-expensive-cat-food-9228686

A 2kg bag of this food, called British Banquet and containing caviar and lobster, would set you back a cool £249.99 (two hundred and forty-nine pounds and ninety-nine pence).

However, according to the manufacturer’s website – where I browsed just out of curiosity, I might add, and not because I was giving this food any genuine consideration – British Banquet was only available briefly during 2016 as a limited-edition product. They now only stock their standard range, still très fancy by most people’s standards and something I am not ruling out should I require a Plan D.

Now, anyone who has ever met a cat will know that, if they taste something new and wonderful, they reject their boring, everyday food. In fact, even if they DON’T taste something new and wonderful, some of them still reject their boring, everyday food, just for fun, then decide to like it again after we’ve spent a fortune on other food. I cannot imagine any cat sampling British Banquet and then settling for some inferior substitution afterwards, so what did people do after the production run came to an end? Rich, hunger-striking British kitties must have gone through cycle after cycle of Grand(s) Changement(s) in 2017, with their frustrated humans crying into their Cristal and praying for the little sods to JUST EAT SOMETHING, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

Anyway, here is Catorze, not quite living the lifestyle of £249.99 food but still acting as if he were:

La vie est belle.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan B Partie 2)

It pains me to admit this after Sammypuss and Alex were kind enough to send TWO bowls, but double-bowling just isn’t working out for Louis Catorze.

He has no issue with the bowls themselves, but he is utterly flummoxed by the presence of two. Not only does this put him off eating the new food, but he is also unsure of his old, familiar food AND HIS PILLS. Anything that deters him from his pills has to be addressed, because we don’t want to have to add Grecoing to the list of Grand Changement problems.

More worryingly, there has been some bizarre behaviour in response to the two bowls. As well as sitting and staring at them with the level of suspicion usually reserved for unexploded bombs, Sa Maj has been approaching them at a strange angle and eating with his body contorted awkwardly through the legs of the stool* that sits around/above his feeding station. This is something that we have never seen before, and watching it has been quite uncomfortable.

*Incidentally, the stool is not the problem. He has always happily eaten underneath it – in fact, he has never NOT eaten underneath it.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “The PDSA are probably used to normal cats who do normal things. They won’t have come across one as weird as Louis.” Sadly, on this occasion, he may have a point.

We then decided to take a risky deviation from the PDSA’s guidance, offering Catorze both his old food and the Plan B food in one bowl. If mixing makes a cat think their familiar food has been poisoned, perhaps a distinct pile of each one in the same bowl would demonstrate that, although they look and smell different, they are both edible? Well, it made perfect sense to me. Which most likely meant it wouldn’t make any sense to Catorze, but it had to be worth a go.

I had some success with the first attempt, and he ate a small amount from each pile. Naturellement, after eating, there was some mixage between the two foods, so I pushed the pellets apart again to form two distinct piles. When I later refilled, once again he ate a little from each pile.

Although this is HUGE progress, we still have some way to go; the next phase involves the bigger deal of 50-50 servings of each food, so it would be premature to celebrate now. Or, as Cat Daddy put it, “There’s still time for him to f*** it up.”

The pubs are open again, as from today. I fear that, if I go into one, I may never come out again.

Before eating: Lily’s Kitchen at the top, Canagan at the bottom (garnished with a Pill Pocket).
After eating: Youpi!

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan B Partie 1)

Plan A has come to an end, and it has been somewhat mixed. (Non-Brits: if your British friends ever use the adjective “mixed”, it’s bad news and you should make them some tea immediately.)

We tried for almost a week for those three days of happy eating and, regretfully, what Catorze demonstrated was more like occasional, reluctant nibbling; of the dozen tasting menu portions served over the week, the little sod only ate two at the start and then no more.

When Plan B arrived I hand-fed him a couple of pellets as an experiment, and he ate them. When I did the same thing with some Plan A pellets immediately afterwards, he refused. Which was pretty conclusive proof that he just DOESN’T LIKE PLAN A.

At that point we decided to bin it and move to Plan B.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day, to Catorze: “Poor Louis. Life’s been hard for you, hasn’t it, with two bowls and two foods to choose from? It must be confusing for an old, thick boy like you.”

Catorze: “Mwah.”

Anyway, Plan B is Canagan Scottish Salmon, which claims to “excite even the fussiest of felines” (please, Goddess, let this be true). The recipe also calls itself “perfect for your feline friend”; obviously Catorze considers himself my imperial sovereign and commander rather than my friend, so we haven’t told him about that bit.

I sense chaos, anarchy and more sleepless nights ahead. We will keep you informed of our progress (or lack thereof).

Catorze’s ancestors ate this? I didn’t know they went for Scottish salmon in the land of fire and brimstone, but … ok.

Le bol d’abondance

We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends: Louis Catorze’s ami, Sammypuss, has very kindly sent the little sod another bowl to replace the evil black saucer. So Le Grand Changement can now continue with two bowls that Catorze likes, rather than with one that he likes and one that he hates.

I spent ages trying to find another matching bowl by myself, but I was only able to find it in two places: one was eBay, priced at £16 for the bowl and £20 for delivery – and it was just a single item, so I couldn’t buy multiple bowls to get full value for money from the delivery charge – and the other was some place that I can’t even remember anymore, priced at £200 for a set of twelve. Neither option appealed, and luckily Sammypuss was kind enough to lend a hand to his troubled comrade, with the help of his amazing Cat Daddy, Alex.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “But he used to eat perfectly happily from that black saucer.” That was YEARS ago. We cannot reasonably expect a cat as silly as Catorze not only to recall what he did in 2016 (or whenever it was), but also to repeat it when we want him to.

Anyway, removing Satan’s saucer from the equation surely cannot do any harm? Sincèrement merci, Sammypuss et Alex.

Sammypuss the saviour.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan A Partie 2)

According to the PDSA, the cat must have “happily eaten the new food for at least three days” before moving onto the next stage involving increasing the amount of new food and decreasing the old.

I assume by this that Catorze needs to have eaten most, or all, of the Thrive served over a three-day period. Cat Daddy, however, thinks it just means SOME consumption on each of the three days. My sister says “Whatever is normal for your cat” which could mean anything or nothing, since Catorze wouldn’t know “normal” if it kicked him up the arse.

As we didn’t seem to be making progress with Plan A, I decided to make arrangements for Plan B. And, whilst purchasing Plan B, I took the liberty of also acquiring the wherewithal for Plan C, after a MONUMENTAL search to find one website that sold both. Trust me, this took some doing, given Sa Maj’s very exacting requirements.

Cat Daddy said I should have waited until seeing the results of Plan A before investing the kingly sums of £5.99 and £6.99 respectively in Plans B and C. However, had I done that, as well as paying twice for delivery, we would have been rapidly running down our last pack of Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature – of which there were precious few left in the world the last time I dared to look – in the time it took for each Plan to arrive.

Anyway, within hours of me placing the order for Plans B and C, naturellement Catorze decided that he would comply with Plan A after all.

Plan B and Plan C will arrive tomorrow and, most likely, will just sit uselessly in Catorze’s food cupboard. That said, we know full well, don’t we, that the minute we donate them to nicer less fortunate cats elsewhere, Catorze will stage a brand new French Revolution and stop complying with Plan A.

And, to add to our woes, the little sod’s skin is looking worse than ever, so he was back to the maximum dose of two steroid pills per day as from yesterday. We don’t know how this could have happened. We have been doing EVERYTHING right.

I know, it’s exhausting to read all this. Imagine how we feel having to live with it.

Incidentally, I’m still not drinking; after the success of Dry February and Dry March, I’ve decided to try for Dry April, too. I’m not sure whether a couple of bottles of Crémant would make this situation worse … or much, much better.

Enjoying his kingdom whilst we scrabble around like idiots trying to feed and heal him.

Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan A Partie 1)

Although we are not Christians, Cat Daddy and I are praying for an Easter miracle: I have decided to bring forward Le Grand Changement since I am home to monitor the proceedings properly. Cat Daddy is, of course, home all the time, but this is a situation that requires the organised, responsible human, not the naughty one.

Plus, after reading the PDSA link properly (see previous post), I realise that it’s a two-week process from start to finish. Since we’re down to our last pack of Lily’s Kitchen, this gives us very little wriggle room should our mutual friend appear to cooperate throughout and then inexplicably change his mind on Day 14.

The PDSA tell us to place a normal serving of old food alongside a very small serving of new food, each in a separate bowl (see below). After the débâcle when I broke Catorze’s favourite one, I wasn’t going to confuse the daft sausage by introducing yet ANOTHER plate in the space of a few weeks, so I thought I might try, instead, to harness his dislike of the black saucer and use it to push him towards the new food.

Anyway, here are the two plates pictured at 7am on the first day:

Sammypuss bowl: Thrive (top) and Pill Pocket (bottom). Satan’s saucer: Lily’s Kitchen Marvellously Mature.

Catorze ate the pill quite early on, but barely touched either set of food until around 10pm, when he ate the lot. For his next two meals, however, he ate most of the Lily’s Kitchen and absolutely none of the Thrive. Apparently this kind of caper is normal for a new food trial, not that this helps us particularly.

Cat Daddy: “He’s confused by the two plates. We should put the two foods onto one plate.”

Me: “Not only did that not work last time, but we didn’t even realise it wasn’t working until weeks into it.”

Cat Daddy: “Well, if he doesn’t eat, he’ll die. Tough shit.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.

Incidentally, I do have both a Plan B and a Plan C in mind should Plan A not work out, but I can see us running the whole alphabetic gauntlet and still getting nowhere.

La nouvelle nouvelle assiette (Partie 2)

Merci à Dieu: the Easter holidays are here!

As from last Saturday, Louis Catorze was switched down to the lowest dose of pills (one every other day). And, five days later, the silly sod scratched himself. So he is now back up to one pill per day.

However, he is eating from the bowl gifted by his cher ami Sammypuss. This is good news. Cat Daddy, might I add, is not helping matters with remarks such as, “Poor boy. You’ve had to deal with so much since SOMEBODY broke your favourite bowl.” (Cat Daddy has broken 724 things in the house whereas I’ve only broken about three, but tant pis.)

I have sought bowl-fussiness advice from a number of friends and the general theme of replies has been, “My cat only cares about the food and doesn’t give a hoot about what it’s served in.” With the exception of a few cats who aren’t keen on plastic bowls, absolutely none of my friends have had experience of a cat being so particular as to hesitate to eat their familiar food from a different vessel. This makes me very nervous indeed, because I had hoped to try out the PDSA’s idea of serving the old and the new food in two – TWO – separate bowls.

Most advice regarding changing a cat’s food suggests mixing the old and the new together and progressively increasing the proportion of the latter, but this didn’t work the last time. However, the PDSA’s plan is different, the idea being “to introduce them to the idea that this strange new substance with a different smell and texture has something to do with food”:

https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/kittens-cats/changing-your-cats-food

I can see the logic in that concept; perhaps Catorze didn’t eat the previous mixture because he didn’t understand why his familiar old food suddenly smelled different. I don’t like to think of him being SO stupid that he didn’t realise it was still edible but, regretfully, I think he actually is.

However, my decision to try this out took place before the destruction of Catorze’s favourite bowl and the lawlessness that ensued. I now have to make the decision of whether to put his new food into his Sammypuss bowl and the old food into a(nother) different one, or vice versa. The first option makes by far the most sense, but then I am also trying to second-guess the most illogical and mercurial mind ever to exist.

It’s utterly nonsensical that I even have to think about this, but then “utterly nonsensical” is exactly what he does.

What’s with this reading matter? Is he planning to sue me for criminal damage?