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 …”
Yet another good-news-bad-news dichotomy, as has become typical of Louis Catorze. The good news is that I’ve found his Secret Sulking Spot. The bad news is that it’s in the grubbiest and most inaccessible corner of the one room we haven’t yet unpacked, amidst the dust sheets that protected our pictures when Tom the decorator was working. The worst bit is that the silly cat hasn’t simply been sleeping ON the dust sheets: he appears to have fashioned himself a sort of Sulking Swiss Roll, with himself as the jam/cream filling and the dust sheets as the sponge. I’m surprised he hasn’t suffocated.
For the love of God, WHY? Why does everything that’s bad for him seem to hold such magnetism, especially as the house is full to the roof with far more comfortable, non-allergic (and bloody expensive) options? The obvious solution is to shut the door to that room until it’s cleared, but I’m concerned that that will only drive him to the forever-accessible Forbidden Greenhouse which is worse. I really do despair of this cat.
His scabby chin is, unsurprisingly, still scabby, and his balding eyes are getting worse. He continues to scratch ferociously and emit his horrible itch-yelp, and I can’t rub his chin to relieve the itching as the silly sod has broken the skin and it’s all weeping and sore. All our efforts seem futile at the moment, yet I know that keeping up with the dust mite mass genocide strategies really cannot do any harm, so keep up I must.
We’ve been here before, and it has passed. That’s what I must keep telling myself, however bleak things may look.
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.
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.
Somebody is banned from the gross, dusty greenhouse, and that somebody’s name starts with “L” and ends with “ouis Catorze”. Can you guess who it is? Little sod’s eyes have been looking leathery and weepy again, so the greenhouse is now officially out of bounds. (I told him this the other day but he ignored me, sneakily bypassing my human blockade and escaping out of the bathroom window via the toilet cistern.) I don’t know where he’s going to go for his daytime mega-nap, but that’s his problem to fix.
Curiously, he wasn’t TOO bad with the dust from all the building work going on, which got me wondering whether inorganic dust from freshly-sanded walls could somehow be more sterile, and therefore more tolerable, than organic dust teeming with stale cobwebs and the remains of dead flies? In fact … don’t cobwebs pretty much come from a spider’s arse? Ugh.
Anyway, it was the perfect time to FINALLY find Louis Catorze’s bioenergetics remedy, which consists of a liquid to drop into his drinking water and a bioenergetics pendant to place in his bedding. He tends to sleep with us at night so I will be putting the pendant in our bed, much to Cat Daddy’s amusement – although, if he and I also emerge from this exercise glossy-haired and smooth-skinned thanks to the pendant’s magical force field, he will be forced to mange his mots.
Whether you believe in alternative medicine or not, something about the pendant is drawing Louis Catorze. I left them both on the bed this morning about 5cm apart, and my boy had his back to the pendant. This is how I found them when I returned:
Cat Daddy keeps telling me how pointless it is to worry about Louis Catorze’s test results until they’re in. I know he’s right, but wasting time on pointless shit is my speciality. In fact, I sometimes tell others, as a joke, that I was born with a brain abnormality that makes me press on with stupid decisions and acts despite knowing full well how stupid they are, and it’s shocking how many people don’t appear that surprised.
My cat mamma instincts tell me that Louis Catorze is allergic to some, or all, of the following substances, in order of severity and with the most severe first:
- Dust mites
- Pollen of some sort (most likely grass)
- Feathers (from pillows and duvets as opposed to birds – Louis Catorze couldn’t and wouldn’t catch a bird even if you dipped him in bird seed and flung him into an aviary)
- Cheap, highly-scented, mass-produced skincare products
- The paper on which they print tabloid newspapers and tone-lowering gossip magazines
- Himself (in the same way that bodies reject donor organs)
- Food (all types ever created, natural and processed, meat- and plant-based, raw and cooked, feline and human)
Having spent a Roi’s ransom on dust mite murder weapons, I’m kind of hoping for no.1. But, having convinced Cat Daddy that I absolutely have to buy posh, scent-free skincare products “to act as a control and help monitor the flare-ups” I’m also hoping for rank outsider no.7, simply because it will require me to make no changes whatsoever and to continue buying Dermalogica products in the name of being a loving cat mamma. (“Why, yes, Cat Daddy, that price is perfectly normal for such a highly-specialised product. Do you want our boy to get better or not?”)
I am desperate to find out whether one of my 10 suspects will be guilty as charged, or whether the culprit will be something else entirely. I can’t believe that, soon, the wondering and speculating will be over!