Là où l’air est doux

After Louis Catorze’s biopsy confirmed that his skin problems are due to an external allergen, I decided that beeswax candles should become a permanent fixture here at Le Château. Have a look at this link if you fancy finding out more about their air-purifying qualities: https://candles.lovetoknow.com/Beeswax_Candle_Health_Benefits

We usually get our beeswax candles from Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma, but her beeswax is a very precious, seasonal, small-batch product. So, because her candles aren’t available all year round, we tend to save them for special days. And, after a number of hits and misses with other ready-made beeswax candles, I decided to have a go at making my own for everyday use.

Now, I had some reservations about doing this, for the following reasons: firstly, and most significantly, I don’t have a great record of handmade things turning out well. Secondly, many years ago, I had a horrible work colleague who made candles, and this was a hobby that the 25-year-old me regarded as deeply uncool. Whenever she was mean to me, my friend Jamie would attempt to cheer me up by saying, “Don’t be upset. She’s an idiot. Plus she makes candles for fun. FOR FUN.”

(Incidentally, karma gave her a hefty slap around the chops during one summer heatwave. All her carefully-crafted candles, stored away in her hot attic, melted together into one massive, waxy lump, resulting in inconvenience and mess for her, and the biggest laugh imaginable for me and Jamie. Revenge isn’t always a dish best served cold; sometimes searing heat will do just fine.)

Never before did I imagine I would now be doing that very same deeply uncool hobby. But here we are. And it’s all Catorze’s fault.

Cat Daddy: “You’re making candles? You used to ridicule your friend for doing that.”

Me: “SHE WAS NOT MY FRIEND.”

Cat Daddy: “And you laughed at her when she put her candles in the attic and they all melted.”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets, then giggles from me]

Oh, come on. Anyone who claims not to find that funny is either a liar or dead inside.

Anyway, pictured below is my first attempt at a rolled candle using a Lammasy harvest-coloured natural beeswax sheet. Also pictured are the ten wicks that I ordered, which I imagined would be, erm, approximately as long as an average candle, but each one turned out to be 5 METRES LONG. So everyone I know will be receiving handmade beeswax candles for birthdays and Christmas for the next 734 years. Whether they want them or not.

It’s hard to know whether Catorze approves, as his “I approve” face is the same as his “Just go away and die” face, but I shall assume the former even though it’s most likely the latter.

So far I have used about 20cm of wicking. Only another 49m 80cm to go.
Beeswax sheets. Weirdest things ever.
Quality control test, part 1.
Quality control test, part 2.

I know that you don’t need to be told about not leaving pets unsupervised with burning candles, but it’s worth repeating. Especially if you have a pet who is known for doing exactly the opposite of what you want.

Le cinéma, c’est vraiment magique

Les grandes vacances sont ici! And this means that Movie Night at Le Château, which often falls by the wayside during a normal working week, will happen more often.

Our Movie Night preparation always consists of the same ritual: lighting a relaxing soy candle (Louis Catorze can’t get enough of Scent Trail candles – http://www.scent-trail.co.uk/ourshop/ – and even tries to nuzzle them through the packaging), gathering an assortment of snacks and dragging Catorze’s arse from wherever he is for some enforced togetherness.

I realise how selfish that sounds, and that others would probably leave their poor cat in peace and let them decide if and when they wanted to partake in Movie Night. But the thing is that we know the little sod better than he knows himself: he WANTS to join us, but he just doesn’t realise it.

Louis Catorze is only capable of dealing with what’s in front of him and he needs constant reminders to do everything, from eating to drinking to going outside to cuddling, because he seems to lack the natural instinct and the brain power to think of doing these things himself. And, once reminded, even if it’s not the thing he intended to do at the time, he’s perfectly happy about it.

This is proven by the fact that, when Cat Daddy drags Louis Catorze in to join us for Movie Night, despite the indignity of being scooped up in one hand and poured onto the sofa, HE STAYS. It’s as if a switch flips in his brain and he recalls how much fun it is. And he remains with us, purring away, until I go to bed, when he pitter-patters upstairs with me, snuggles me until I fall asleep, then pitter-patters back downstairs to join his daddy for Boys’ Club.

And, if anyone is wondering about Louis Catorze’s preferred viewing genre, he’s partial to a bit of horror. Would we throw him to the zombies to save ourselves? Probably … although I suspect that, on account of the lack of brains, they would throw him back.

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Le Roi est content: vive Le Roi!

This week we seem to have been disproportionately busy with pointless things. Firstly, I excitedly took delivery of a mystery parcel, only to discover that it was the beeswax candles that I had ordered to combat the hay fever that Louis Catorze doesn’t have.

And, secondly, after a whole day spent trying to capture the sneezing and wheezing on video so that the vet could see it, I have had the embarrassment of telling them to ignore said video on account of the fact that Catorze wasn’t unwell: he had just snorted a blade of grass.

The good news, however, is that the little sod’s Gabapentin taper is going brilliantly, and he has managed to defy the odds and get down to 1 x 25mg every other day. The vet is surprised and delighted that we have managed to keep it under control with such a low dose, which isn’t typical of the other cats on his feline hyperesthesia forum. And he is continuing to eat Pill Pockets, so the Greco-Roman combat is well and truly a thing of the past. So, if this positive snap continues, hopefully the meds will be completely gone by August and he will be able to have a nice, substance-free summer (apart from the steroid jabs).

Here is a very rare shot of Catorze snuggling ME, rather than his daddy, on our outdoor sofa, the day after l’extraction de l’herbe. I like to think of this as his way of saying, “Merci, Maman.”

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L’obscurité

Alas, no, I’m not talking about the moon anymore, but about Louis Catorze’s general temperament: his demeanour is blackening rapidly and, as ever, it appears to be proportional to the deterioration of his allergy (which I’ve not pictured as it’s pretty awful). The fur around his eyes is thinning, and the underside of his chin feels terrible: not just rough, but weepy and positively cavernous with scabs. (Sorry if you’re reading this over dinner.) When he scratches – which is pretty much all the time – he lets out his awful frustrated itch-yelp which is painful to hear. Happily it’s not QUITE as severe a flare-up as the one he had last winter, but it’s still enough to make him a miserable sod.

Although he’s very affectionate when we’re in bed (presumably because he knows we can’t medicate him whilst lying down), we barely see him these days, which is a pity as I’m on my summer holidays so I’m home all day. And, when we do see him, he eyes us with the suspicion reserved for someone who were about to assault him, and he skittishly edges past us and hides. His routine is to get up with us at around 8:30, eat, go out, then come back in and spend the rest of the day in his Secret Sulking Spot that we haven’t yet managed to locate. (I’ve looked in all the usual places – La Cage, the Forbidden Greenhouse, the suitcase, under beds – but to no avail.) Then we don’t see him again until bedtime, when he will reappear and snuggle up with us. That last point reassures me somewhat that he doesn’t totally hate us, but for most of the day it’s as if we don’t have a cat.

The only possible explanation for this recent allergic breakout is Louis Catorze’s illicit forays into the Forbidden Greenhouse; in fact, I am still mystified by the fact that dust didn’t register in either of his allergy tests despite the fact that he relapses EVERY TIME he comes into contact with it. The dust mite controllers are whirring away, the beeswax candles are burning, he’s being Atopicaed and Piritonned regularly (I need to up his Piriton, in fact, from a couple of times a week to twice a DAY, which is going to make me even less popular), yet it’s all a wasted effort if he sneaks past me and into the dustiest places I know.

So we’re powerless to do anything at the moment but take comfort in the fact that it will pass, and that he will snap out of it. I just hope that this will happen soon.

La cire d’abeilles


Oh dear. Louis Catorze’s right eye is starting to look bald and puffy around the edges. I don’t know why this is happening just as we make some headway in cleaning up the dust, but I suspect it’s because he has managed to slip past me and into the Forbidden Greenhouse on a few occasions. (Unfortunately we’ve discovered that the greenhouse door won’t shut: the hinges have rusted and wedged it firmly open, and not even Cat Daddy has managed to shift it. Plus there are numerous missing or broken panes of glass so, even if we did manage to close the door, Louis Catorze would still be able to get in.)

We’ve still not located his Piriton, so today I had to schlep to the pharmacy to get more. Fortunately I have had more luck finding the beeswax candles, which – provided they are 100% beeswax, as mine are – clean the air as they burn and are said to reduce asthma and allergies; I myself have found them very helpful during the hay fever season, and, on a couple of occasions, they have even encouraged Louis Catorze out of La Cage after one of his Post-Itch Sulks. Regular tealight candles – the kind that you buy in bulk from the supermarket – are made of paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum refining and which begins life as gross sludge at the bottom of a crude oil barrel. Then, in our misguided belief that we are setting a romantic and sensual mood, we set fire to it and send its toxins pumping into our homes and our lungs – lovely.

So I’ve tracked down the beeswax candles, but where on earth am I supposed to put them so that Louis Catorze can reap the maximum benefit? Yesterday he spent the ENTIRE day in the suitcase in our spare room, but it doesn’t seem remotely sensible to leave candles unattended in a room containing lots of brittle cardboard boxes and a stupid cat. Alternatively there’s the Forbidden Greenhouse, but I’m highly put off by the idea of being seen by the neighbours and having to explain why I’m leaving candles there. “Oh, they’re for my allergic cat.” Right.

In the end I lit one in the living room and opened all the doors, hoping that its pollutant-killing magical beam would somehow spread through Le Château. If nothing else, there’s something very calming and hypnotic about watching a candle flame flickering and dancing. So, at best, this will have a positive effect on my boy and, at worst, it will make no difference but I will be so relaxed that I won’t care.

Où est mon stuff?


A text reminder to give Louis Catorze his flea treatment is only really helpful if you know where the treatment is. In fact, I have no idea where the vast majority of our stuff is. “Somewhere in the floor-to-ceiling jungle of cardboard boxes” is as good a guess as I can manage.

So my second piece of advice to anyone moving a cat, after “Build the house first”, is: Put all the cat’s stuff into the removal lorry first, even if you are moving the cat last. We thought we had been very clever, packing all his things together and keeping them till last when we moved “so that nothing gets lost”. However, the problem is that it gets put on the lorry last, but unloaded at the other end first. Then it gets boxed into a corner by all the other stuff that comes after it.

Yesterday we had to drag our very hungover selves to Pets At Home painfully early in the morning when we realised we couldn’t find Louis Catorze’s food – although, when we got home, the little sod refused to eat it – and now it looks as if we’re due another visit for his Advocate. His Atopica and Piriton were packed in the same place, as were the dust mite repelling devices and the anti-allergy beeswax candles, all of which we could really do with right now. Oh dear.

Despite our manque d’organisation, Louis Catorze is settling into Le Château much more quickly than I’d anticipated, and I think the fact that he’s physically well, with very little trace of his allergy, really helps. He’s happiest, unsurprisingly, when he’s released from his attic prison and has the run of Le Château, and we’ve had many tail-up moments. The next major thing for him will be negotiating the Tunnel of Terror, i.e. the cat flap that goes through a wall. Given that it took him 5 months to go through our previous, super-simple door cat flap just once, another couple of weeks to make a habit of it and a further 2 weeks to realise that he could come in as well as go out, this could be an interesting saga …