Le tricheur royal

Remember when Louis Catorze liked pâté de Bruxelles? Yeah, well, now he doesn’t. So we’re back to Greco-Romaning him again, and you all know what a cirque de merde that is. One of our friends witnessed it the other day and said, “Oh my God, that was absolutely HORRIBLE!” Erm, no blood was drawn and nobody died, which actually makes that a decent session. Wait till you see one of the bad ones, mon coco!

And I never thought I would use the words “Louis Catorze” and “clever” in the same sentence, but the little sod is finding more and more ingenious ways of avoiding his pill. His latest trick is to pretend he’s swallowed it, press his body against me for a fake cuddle and then silently spit the pill over my shoulder and into my hair.

I have coarse, curly hair so the pill remains stuck there for some time and, because I don’t notice it, I assume it has been swallowed. Obviously it dislodges itself eventually and falls onto the floor, but we didn’t think anything of it because we are quite used to seeing pills strewn about Le Château from failed Greco-Roman attempts. So Catorze has been able to get away with this treachery until now.

Le Roi’s little plan was finally foiled when Cat Daddy came home right after I’d just Greco-Romaned and cuddled notre cher ami, and he said, “There’s something in your hair.”

Quel. Fichu. Salaud.

So now I have to give my hair a good old shake after pilling time, just to be sure.

If I’m honest, the lies and deceit offend me far more than the non-pill-taking. “It’s a bit of a tragic day,” I said to Cat Daddy, “when the only cuddles you get from your cat are fake ones.”

Cat Daddy, not even glancing up from his laptop: “I wouldn’t know.”

Aïe.

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L’ascension du Roi

Easter weekend at Le Château? Oh, y’know: eating too much chocolate, drinking too much wine, the Sun King going out and then returning home smelling of recreational drugs, that kind of thing …

We could tell that he smelled different as soon as he jumped onto the sofa with us – not lime, nor (thank goodness) that awful catty stench, but a sweetish, herby aroma that we couldn’t quite place. Then, when we finally realised, neither of us wanted to be the one to say it first.

So it seems that either Louis Catorze roams further than we thought … or one of our closer neighbours is naughtier than we realised.

Although I cannot stop myself from eyeing everyone’s houses suspiciously as I walk down the street and wondering if it could be them, I can’t say I’m that bothered about what people do in their own homes. My only concern is that the little sod has been entering people’s houses uninvited, which is rather rude and not how we have raised him to be. And, judging by the smell of his fur, he has definitely been sitting downwind of the smoke at length, so surely the smokers would notice his presence and kick his arse out of their house? Or perhaps they do notice him but each person thinks they are hallucinating, and so nobody mentions the cannabis cat? With his glassy eyes and protruding fangs, Louis Catorze could EASILY be mistaken for the product of someone’s drug-altered mind, rather like a creepier version of the Absinthe fairy.

Anyway, short of actually asking neighbours outright (“Hello! You look like the sort of person who enjoys a smoke …”), I don’t suppose there is anything we can do to find out who the mystery herb user is, nor can we stop mannerless Catorze from breaking and entering. So I guess we can add this to the forever-expanding list of unsolvable Roi mysteries.

Here he is, during his glory days of party powder use. It’s an old photo yet somehow very appropriate …

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Où sont mes drogues?

Forget about the iceberg lettuce shortage: here at Le Château we’re going through the rather more desperate Gabapentin pill drought. There are none whatsoever in the whole of West London, and the vet isn’t sure when they will be able to get hold of any.

I received the bad news by phone whilst in a packed football stadium and never have I been more glad of the noise, because, to a casual eavesdropper, the conversation wouldn’t have sounded great: “No, I’ve never had any problem getting hold of pills before. Yes, I’ve ordered 100, but please may I make it 150 in case there’s a problem next time, too? No, I already have plenty of the powdered version, thank you. Yes, it’s definitely the pills that I want …”

Our situation with Louis Catorze is a bit like that film Speed, where they have to keep driving the bus at a minimum of 50 miles per hour otherwise it will blow up. If we don’t keep Catorze’s medication at a constant level, his symptoms are likely to come back … and there’s no way on earth I want to return to the bad old days of nightly yowling and hissing and a chewed, bleeding tail.

It’s a blessing that we at least have the powder, but administering it isn’t easy. For a start, Sa Majesté won’t eat it in jambon de Bayonne, I assume because, like garlic, its pungency increases when crushed, so he can smell it immediately. It’s too wispy and floaty to just throw into his open mouth, so I have to actually shove my fingers in … and there’s nothing more terrifying than having to touch the jaws and teeth of a snapping, hissing beast who wants me dead. And, although powder is harder to spit out than pills, the unpredictable consistency and the fact that Catorze fights like a brute mean there are far too many variables to be able to measure doses accurately: spillages on clothes, furniture, the floor, my hair and his fur, bits that remain stuck to my fingers, and so on. So I haven’t the faintest idea how much of the powder actually makes it into him.

Not that any of this seems to affect him long-term, though; his tail remains intact and he is continuing to eat, drink and pitter-patter happily about Le Château, unaware of all the stress he is causing us.

Cat Daddy: “He’s aware. Of course he’s aware. He just doesn’t give a shit.”

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Les drogues dures

You know that moment when you think you’ve been super-organised ordering your cat’s medication in advance, then you realise that you only have enough to last 1 more day? Yes, THAT.

Luckily I have some human Gabapentin capsules that will suffice in the meantime. (Don’t panic: animal Gabapentin basically IS human Gabapentin, and this is ok to do in an emergency.) But the only problem is that Louis Catorze’s usual pills are 25mg, whereas the capsules are 350mg. So I need to do some nifty mathematics. Erm … 350 by 25, to the power of … erm … multiplied by the square root of … something … oh Seigneur Dieu. This is why I’m a blogger and not a mathematician.

Not only that, but capsules mean wayward, uncontrollable powder as opposed to solid, predictable pills. So here I am, cutting up Gabapentin for my cat with my John Lewis credit card, like the most middle-class addict imaginable. You really couldn’t make this up (and here’s a photo to prove that I’m not):

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Now: how to Greco-Roman a powder substance into a writhing, screaming, blood-letting bastard of a cat?

Au secours!

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Having spoken to another lady whose cat has regular steroid shots, I have discovered that some shots just “take” well but others don’t. It seems there’s no reason for it, and that it’s just the way things are.

To give you a picture of exactly what I mean, imagine last month’s steroid shot as watered-down lager, whereas last week’s one is more like absinthe with a sprinkling of amphetamines. Louis Catorze is behaving just like a bloke doing shots on a stag night, all shouty and annoying, lurching around like he owns the world.

He hasn’t stopped screaming since the day after the shot, and has been waking us up early in the morning for no reason whatsoever. He has a ferocious appetite, the like of which I’ve never seen before. And I’ve just had to move darned fast to stop him from launching himself at my feet and embedding a layer of cat hair in my not-quite-dry nail varnish.

His thinning fur is filling out beautifully, he has no scabs and his coat looks thick and glossy, not that this is of any consequence as he’s constantly rolling in dirt (see picture) and covering himself in crud again. We’re exhausted from listening to him and from the lack of sleep and, quite frankly, at times we’re scared witless.

Please send ear plugs, a cattle prod and holy water to TW8 tout de suite.

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.