Pas de nouvelles, pas de nouvelles

What an insane week it’s been at Le Château: I am back at work after a whole summer off, Cat Daddy has been away on business and is preparing to go again next week, we’ve had a dead mouse in the bathroom and Le Roi’s booster jabs were due today.

But the one piece of great news is that, because Louis Catorze is not any medication at the moment, he was able to go to our local vet and have a standard vaccine, rather than enduring a 90-minute round trip to the rescue centre vet for the special non-live vaccine that only they can supply. Until now he’s had to have that because Atopica isn’t compatible with standard booster injections and so, unsurprisingly, I opted for the 90-minute round trip rather than risk a freakishly psycho FrankenRoi. It feels like a luxury not to have to do that anymore.

“I wonder if the vet will compliment him on his appearance?” I shouted in the car, so that I could be heard over Catorze’s screaming. “He’s looking really good at the moment.”

“Yeah, but it’s all relative,” Cat Daddy yelled back. “Of all the cats that she sees, where do you think he would rank on a scale from 1 to 10?”

Silence, tumbleweed, crickets. Even Catorze shut up at that point.

Anyway, after Louis Catorze’s initial “Quoi? Here again? I thought we were done with this place?” everything went ok. He has beefed up to a whopping 3.49kg, which came as a surprise to the vet as cats usually LOSE weight during a break from steroids. There was the usual yelling and swearing (from him) when his ears were examined, and the procedure had to be aborted when he unveiled an ingenious new trick: bending forward and wedging his head between his thighs so that his ears were inaccessible. (Imagine a cat preparing to do a forward roll but not actually rolling, and just remaining in a tight ball. Little sod.)

We’re home now and the post-vet sulk appears to be a thing of the past, with Louis Catorze instantly forgiving us (or forgetting) and happily pitter-pattering about our feet. I hope this peace is a taste of the weekend to come; we could all do with it.

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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.

 

Où est mon argent?

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I have a week off work, and I was so looking forward to sleeping late and drinking tea in bed with my 2 boys. Sadly, Catorze had other plans.

This morning we were woken at 8:00 by yelling (not for any real purpose, just for fun), then again 30 minutes later by the postman banging on the door to deliver a package that wouldn’t fit through the letterbox. When I went back upstairs to bed, Cat Daddy rolled over and murmured sleepily, “What was in the package? Don’t tell me it was more shit for that bloody cat?”

I did as he asked and refrained from telling him.

The “shit for that bloody cat” turned out to be anti-flea treatment and a further supply of Atopica, accompanied by an invoice for £103. We’re quite used to seeing enormous Catorze-related bills, so I wasn’t too concerned by this initially. But, when I transferred the £103 from our savings account into my current account to pay the invoice, I realised that le royal sick fund had definitely seen healthier days.

During the reign of Luther – who was once described by the vet as “a picture of health” – the fund flourished and grew to in excess of £800, because Luther never needed veterinary treatment apart from his routine booster jabs. His little brother, on the other hand, halved the fund within 18 months, and now it contains under £300. When I told Cat Daddy how much was left, he called Louis Catorze a rude, unrepeatable name and grumpily agreed that we would need to double up the monthly standing orders going from our current accounts into the sick fund.

I realise that this must sound like a request for money, but rest assured that it really isn’t. So please don’t donate to us or collect money on our behalf*, firstly because we knew what we were getting into when we took Catorze on, but also because he is one of the lucky ones whose slaves can just about manage. I have already mentioned elsewhere on this blog that cats cost money, but it’s worth repeating – and, whilst I would never discourage anyone from taking on a special needs cat, anyone considering it needs to hear the harsh truth about the cost.

The good news is that, if you take on a cat with known medical issues, the rescue centre will almost always offer discounted or free aftercare treatment; for instance, we get reduced-price Atopica if we buy it from Louis Catorze’s ex-rescue (yes, the eye-watering sum of £103 INCLUDED our discount!). If you’re struggling with a new diagnosis for a sick kitty, it’s always worth approaching rescues and animal charities and asking about cost-price medication, even if your cat came from elsewhere.

*Lilly’s Legacy, on the other hand, is a rescue group that helps stray and missing cats and is in desperate need of funding. If you would like to make a donation to cats who are genuinely in need, their PayPal account address is lillyslegacy@hotmail.com

Le Lundi Bleu

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Today is Blue Monday, so called because it’s said to be the most depressing day of the year. Firstly, it’s a Monday (never good). Secondly, it’s a good week-and-a-bit before pay day for most people. And, lastly, it’s far enough from Christmas to make the holiday season a distant memory, but still some way off from the next major public holiday. For a while I thought I was going to have to add a fourth complication into the mix – something along the lines of, “It’s the day when well-meaning veterinary staff who are just doing their job are viciously mauled by psycho black cats” – but, luckily, we didn’t have to see the vet today after all. Génial!

Louis Catorze has been doing so well this week. He’s vocal, affectionate, energetic and, most importantly, he’s itching far less and his wounds are healing. And it seems that the vet was right about his willingness to be medicated increasing proportionally with how well he felt: administering his Atopica and ear drops is never going to be top of our list of favourite things to do, but it hasn’t been the purgatory that it was last week, either. So I called the vet, described his current condition and asked if he really needed to be put through the stress of another visit, and they said no. MERCI A DIEU.

So Blue Monday hasn’t been so blue for me after all. A day which I thought would end with pinning a screaming, struggling cat down on a table and watching helplessly as more money drained from his dwindling sick fund, has actually ended with me cuddling up on the sofa for movie night with a sweet, purry and affectionate little kitty. (I am talking about Louis Catorze in both instances, by the way. I don’t mean some random cat comes into my house to watch movies with me, delightful though it would be.)

 

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.

J’adore les stéroïdes

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It’s only been a few days since Louis Catorze’s trip to the vet, but already he is visibly better. His chin feels ugly as hell but it’s clearly healing, and the fur is filling out nicely around his eyes again. His spirits are also lifting, and he’s gradually getting back to being that sparky, chatty, annoying little sod that we know and love (and sometimes want to slap).

The difference in him is so pronounced that Cat Daddy and I have even been talking about the long-term use of steroids and whether they’re really so bad (especially given that the alternative is itchy skin, sore eyes and weeping open wounds). I am under no illusions that a cat like Louis Catorze will live to 20, or even 10, but I would far rather he live a shortish but happy life than a longer life of physical discomfort and depression. (Yes, he really does become depressed when his symptoms are at their worst.) A steroid shot every few months could even negate the need for his Atopica which, whilst non-steroid, is by no means without its long-term problems, too. And, of course, we wouldn’t have to trap, immobilise and syringe him every few days, which would be wonderful (especially as he has figured out how to wriggle free from my iron-fisted scruffing stranglehold – how he learned that is beyond me).

I never liked the idea of steroids before, but seeing my boy looking so much happier is starting to make me wonder. I guess it’s worth a bit of research and a conversation with the vet at some stage? If any of his followers have any steroid tales to tell, whether good or bad, I would love to hear them.

Du bon comportement

Yesterday we took Louis Catorze to the vet because we were worried about the state of his poor, shredded chin.

Luckily he was in a docile and malleable mood because the builders had been over and he’d spent the afternoon trying to snuggle them, so Cat Daddy had no difficulty getting him into La Cage. And, whilst at the vet’s, other than a mild amount of whimpering, Catorze actually behaved himself. No staff were violently assaulted, no blood was drawn, no dignity was lost (this time).

He needed an antibiotic shot, as I suspected, but also a steroid shot to try and calm the itching and inflammation. I don’t like the idea of steroids – in fact, I don’t really like medication, full stop – but it was either that or increase his Atopica syringings to once a day for a few weeks. The process of trapping and medicating him every 2 days is quite horrific as it is, plus the results we’ve seen so far from Atopica are reasonable but not great, so we really didn’t see the sense in imposing further trauma on him (and us).

An alternative to the steroid injection, the vet said, was a course of steroid tablets. Louis Catorze and tablets? Non, non et trois fois non.

There was barely a murmur from Le Roi on the way home and, when we released him from La Cage, astonishingly, he trotted happily out with his tail up. He then spent the rest of the evening cuddled up on the sofa with us. (Cat Daddy just read that bit over my shoulder and muttered, “Yeah, but it’s not gonna bring that £60 vet fee back, is it?” I can’t argue with that.)

I really hope that being such a good boy is a sign that Louis Catorze is feeling better.

Le Roi adore sa grand-mère

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My mum is staying for a few days and, because she’s broken her ankle, she is in our bedroom and we’re in the attic. (Mind you, being a typical mum and “not wanting to inconvenience us”, she offered to have the attic. Up an extra flight of stairs and on a mattress on the floor? With a bad ankle and crutches? Really, Maman?) Louis Catorze let out a sad yowl of confusion when he couldn’t find us last night but, once we’d called out to him and he understood who was where, all was well in his world once again.

Louis Catorze shared his love last night: I told my mum to keep her door shut in case he sat on her bad ankle, but, being the original Crazy Cat Lady whose genes have passed to the rest of us, she ignored me, left the door wide open and welcomed him in for cuddles instead. He sat on her stomach last night as she lay in bed, itched a bit, she nudged him to stop him itching, he itched a bit more, she nudged him again, and this went on until one or other of them fell asleep. Then he came up to join us.

I’m continuing with his morning play (despite the weirdness of sleeping with a toy fish on a string by the bed), although I think it’s going to be a while until I’m able to say that Louis Catorze is truly exercising. Cat Daddy came back from the bathroom mid-session and said, “There must be something wrong with his eyesight. No cat is THAT slow.” Sorry, but ours is. The vet pretty much said said so. I had his eyesight checked the last time we went, because I had exactly the same concerns, and it was fine.

I’ve booked his vaccinations for the 18th, and he will be having his skin scraping allergy test at the same time, to get the full horror over and done with in one go. I’m giving some thought to asking the vet about reconsidering his use of Atopica because, as well as making him grumpy, it’s clearly not serving its main purpose of keeping the allergy away. Also, despite it not being a steroid, nobody is quite sure about its prolonged use and subsequent side effects and, whilst I might take the chance for something that was working well, it seems senseless to risk his long-term health for such inconsistent results. He seems to fare better on plain old Piriton, especially in terms of his mood.

After all this time and money spent on tests and treatment, it would be somewhat ironic if his condition were kept in check with a £5 bottle from the pharmacy, wouldn’t it?

Le sanctuaire de câlin

I’ve really been missing my boy due to his under-bed Mega Sulks and, to add insulte to injury, the moments when we do see each other are far from being quality time; he gives me the suspicious sideways glare, I rack my brains to remember where I’ve concealed the loaded syringe, and THAT ALONE is enough to send him scooting back under the bed. The one place where he feels safe is on our bed, preferably lying like a furry, 2-man belt across both our waists (probably in an effort to pin us down and prevent us from going for the syringe), so today I wondered whether it could be worth trying to turn the bed into our special Sanctuaire de Cuddles throughout the day. Since he won’t come downstairs and do the Bill Withers and cocktails thing in the garden with me, why not take the initiative and invite him to join us in the place where he feels secure?

So Cat Daddy and I made an agreement that, in order to preserve the sanctity of the bedroom, we would never medicate Louis Catorze there; if we were truly desperate and felt it might be our only opportunity to get him, we would remove him from the bedroom first. Despite being pretty thick (Louis Catorze, I mean, not Cat Daddy), he knows his name and responds to it so, during my mid-morning lie-down (sounds rude but I do mean just lying down) I called him, not really expecting anything extraordinaire. However, he came shuffling out from under the bed, then THIS happened (please excuse the towels and crap on the bed):  I know! A rare treat, indeed! So, whilst my dear boy isn’t quite himself, at least I know where I can go if I want cuddles with him, and I’m delighted that he has even the slightest inclination to give them to me.

Le Roi se sauve: vive Le Roi!

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This summer holiday hasn’t quite been as I’d expected. I was so looking forward to 6 glorious weeks at Le Château with Louis Catorze, drinking cocktails in the garden with him at my feet, listening to “Just The Two Of Us” by Bill Withers, that kind of thing. For a very short while, that’s how it was. But as soon as Louis Catorze’s allergy kicked in, I lost my sweet, affectionate little boy to the evil clutches of the Forbidden Greenhouse and Le Rouleau Suisse. (The picture is a month old, taken before his Mega-Sulk started, because his allergy is too unpleasant to photograph.)

I made the decision to close the door to the Forbidden Bedroom containing Le Rouleau, which was tricky as it’s impossible to check whether or not he’s actually in Le Rouleau first. I had many failed attempts whereby I would spy him in the corridor and race him to the Forbidden Bedroom to shut the door, but he would always sense when I was on my marks and beat me to it, bouncing deftly over the boxes and into Le Rouleau before I could even clutch the door handle. Luckily, I’m just as stubborn as he, so I just kept up my attempts until, eventually, I succeeded. And, fortunately, it hasn’t driven him into the Forbidden Greenhouse, as I had feared: his New Sulking Spot of Choice is now under our bed, but I’m happier about this as it’s cleaner and has had a dust mite controller fizzing away for well over a month.

What also hasn’t helped his sulkiness is the fact that I’ve had to increase the frequency of his meds; not only does he déteste being medicated (and what cat doesn’t, apart from that white YouTube cat who happily laps up medicine from the end of the syringe as if it were liquid Dreamies?) but he knows when I’m even THINKING about it and makes himself scarce. He’s also learned to grit his teeth when I administer it, so that it looks set to be a successful session but in fact the liquid rebounds off his teeth and goes all over the floor. If you imagine that prank we all pretend we played as children (but in fact we weren’t clever enough to think of it) – the one where you cover the toilet bowl with taut cling film and wait for some unsuspecting person to pee – that’s EXACTLY what it’s like.

Repeat after me: “This cannot go on indefinitely … This cannot go on indefinitely …”