Les feux d’artifice

So now we know why The Day of the Dead is so called: in the days after our Halloween festivities, none of us were fit for anything. Including Louis Catorze:

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Sadly we never managed to get the little sod to pose with a pumpkin for his official Halloween portrait. However, Cat Daddy had a chat with his boy before the merriment started, reminding him that it was his time to shine, and it would appear that some of this actually registered in the dim recesses of the royal non-brain. Seemingly oblivious to Marilyn Manson blasting out behind him through enormous speakers, Louis Catorze relaxed on his chaise longue all evening, purring and slow-blinking away, happily let Cat Daddy scoop him up and present our vampire-fanged Halloween kitty to each group of visitors, then pitter-pattered back to his chaise to wait for the next group. We can’t think of many cats who would have gone along with this.

Bonfire Night will be upon us this weekend, which means more chaos and disruption and a flurry of warnings posted on social media by animal behaviourists and veterinary practices. Louis Catorze has already been put to the test by fireworks on all sides of Le Château, every evening since the weekend before Halloween, and his response has been … to tip his head to one side, listen intently, then go about his regular cat business as if nothing were amiss. Sometimes he even goes out to investigate (at The Back, of course: The Front is still on lockdown as I don’t consider the season to be fully stupid-cat-safe yet).

I know: we are INCREDIBLY lucky that he is so accepting of fireworks, and this is one of those moments when a lack of fear/brains has its benefits.

If your cat is the stressy sort, I genuinely feel for you. Easier said than done, I know, but even the stupid ones pick up on our worry, so try as much as you can not to stress on their behalf. I hope that creating a relaxed atmosphere at home – Feliway, catnip for kitty and a hefty glass of bourbon for yourself – will help to ease things.

Les douze jours de Noël

It’s not been such a Bonne Année here at Le Château. In fact, it’s been an awful few days, with last night being especially horrific.

It was bad enough that Louis Catorze’s drugs count read just like The Twelve Days of Christmas: “Two-oo Gaba-pentin, two Zyl-kene, o-one Met-a-cam, and some Broad-line to treat the worms and fleeeeeas!”

However, after being Cône-free for a couple of days and showing mild, playful interest in the tail but nothing concerning, yesterday he lost his shit completely, attacking the tail tip until it bled. The out-of-hours vet – who knew exactly which cat I was talking about even before I gave my name – told us to increase his dose of Gabapentin to 3 a day. This dosage has just been confirmed by her colleague, whom we saw a few hours ago.

It’s looking distinctly possible that Louis Catorze has feline hyperesthesia. No, we hadn’t heard of it, either, and, when I read about it, I really didn’t think he would have it; it usually affects purebred cats (Catorze is as far from that as is felinely possible), plus it’s a brain disorder (still trying to establish the presence of one).

Apparently it’s a rare condition that causes cats to go psycho-eyed and attack the tail as if angry with it. Because treatment is drastic – heavy-duty, warning-carrying drugs for life – it tends to be diagnosed by first eliminating all other possibilities.

So, before feline hyperesthesia can be confirmed, our next steps are as follows:

1. Keep up with the 3 doses of Gabapentin a day
2. Le Cône must remain on whenever Louis Catorze is unsupervised (even if he’s only in the next room or under furniture)
3. Keep pumping Le Château with Feliway diffusers
4. A fun, new party powder called Nutracalm
5. A fungal test to rule out ringworm (done today, results in 2 weeks)
6. A steroid shot on Friday to rule out the possibility of his skin allergy resurfacing on his tail
7. A break from the Metacam as it’s not compatible with the steroid shot
8. An MRI scan, which will obliterate Le Royal Sick Fund like an atomic bomb (Merci à Dieu for Le Back-Up Fund, previously known as Le Holiday Fund)

It’s a good thing we love the little sod so much … and it’s wonderful to know that so many of you do, too. Thank you to everyone who has wished him well.

Here he is, behaving uncharacteristically well during tonight’s appointment:

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Le patient français

It has been 2 days since the X-ray and Louis Catorze is continuing to obsess with his tail, presumably because the claw puncture wound from the other night has irritated him even further.

Watching him interact with it is the most bizarre thing imaginable; he can be unaware of it one moment and, the next, the red mist descends and he just HAS to try and kill it. If we are with him, a cuddle and a gentle warning are usually enough to distract him. But we can almost hear the cogs whirring away as he thinks, “You can’t keep watch over moi forever.”

And, of course, the real problem is when we’re not in the same room with him, or when we’re asleep. That’s when he really goes for it, with a full-on fight punctuated by those awful raspy screams that we have grown to know and hate.

We have decided to try the Zylkene calming supplement, which is a white powder that you sprinkle onto food, to see if it has any effect on Louis Catorze’s tail obsession. Bearing in mind that white powder dusted over dark brown food looks ridiculously obvious, I was fully expecting to be met with the “Go home: you’re embarrassing yourself” look, but, astoundingly, Le Roi did eat a little.

We have also studded the house with Feliway diffusers in the same way that Transylvanians would use crucifixes. They’re everywhere, silently churning out odourless, invisible clouds of happy gas that will make our boy better (we hope).

The vet told us that these new measures would take a few days to kick in, and that any changes would be subtle. But, if the alternative is tail amputation (unfortunately, yes, this has been mentioned), we’re willing to give anything a try.

We will keep you updated and, in the meantime, we wish you a wonderful and peaceful Christmas weekend. Your love and support of the little sod mean the world to us.

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Le jeu de cônes

Winter is coming – or, rather, it arrived yesterday – and the solstice is traditionally a period of celebration, joy and hope. Sadly I don’t feel especially celebratory or joyous at the moment, and the only thing I’m hoping for is that, one day, Louis Catorze will stop biting his darned tail. Regretfully, that day won’t be coming anytime soon.

Earlier this week, he was lucky enough to receive a SECOND gift of a soft Cône, this time in Extra Small size, from the same kind friend who sent the first one. And he has shown his gratitude by figuring out that soft Cônes can bend. Naturellement, he bit his tail and broke the skin again, forcing me to go to Pets At Home and buy an even wider, more rigid Cône (with padded edges to protect la gorge royale) for when we’re not supervising him.

He absolutely cannot bite his tail in the new Cône … but, with sufficient effort and the correct planetary alignment, he has discovered that he can get a paw to it. And, yesterday evening, he managed to get his claw stuck in his wound and couldn’t get it out. Fortunately I was with him so I was able to pull it out … but he was left with an ugly, gaping wound and a chunk of flesh hanging from his tail.

We took him to the vet this morning, hoping she would say that it was just a superficial scratch. But she thought it looked much worse than that and was concerned that he was still showing so much interest in his tail, so she recommended an X-ray to rule out any deeper problems. Luckily there was a slot available this morning so we were able to leave him there and collect him again this evening.

Sadly the X-ray revealed no damage to his tail. (I say “sadly” because I find inconclusive answers more frustrating than anything on earth; “It’s broken in 28 places”, whilst unpleasant, would at least have given us a starting point.)

And he will have to remain Côned for at least another week.

Our next options are as follows:

– A different type of painkiller whose name I forget, designed for neurological pain
– Feliway diffusers and an anti-anxiety supplement called Zylkene
– Another steroid shot, in case the reason for the original irritation is his old allergy inexplicably deciding to reappear on his tail
– All of the above

It’s a lot to take in. Cat Daddy and I are having a cup of tea, cuddling Catorze and trying to figure out what to do.

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