Le Grand Changement de Nourriture (Plan B Partie 2)

It pains me to admit this after Sammypuss and Alex were kind enough to send TWO bowls, but double-bowling just isn’t working out for Louis Catorze.

He has no issue with the bowls themselves, but he is utterly flummoxed by the presence of two. Not only does this put him off eating the new food, but he is also unsure of his old, familiar food AND HIS PILLS. Anything that deters him from his pills has to be addressed, because we don’t want to have to add Grecoing to the list of Grand Changement problems.

More worryingly, there has been some bizarre behaviour in response to the two bowls. As well as sitting and staring at them with the level of suspicion usually reserved for unexploded bombs, Sa Maj has been approaching them at a strange angle and eating with his body contorted awkwardly through the legs of the stool* that sits around/above his feeding station. This is something that we have never seen before, and watching it has been quite uncomfortable.

*Incidentally, the stool is not the problem. He has always happily eaten underneath it – in fact, he has never NOT eaten underneath it.

Cat Daddy’s Helpful Comment of the Day: “The PDSA are probably used to normal cats who do normal things. They won’t have come across one as weird as Louis.” Sadly, on this occasion, he may have a point.

We then decided to take a risky deviation from the PDSA’s guidance, offering Catorze both his old food and the Plan B food in one bowl. If mixing makes a cat think their familiar food has been poisoned, perhaps a distinct pile of each one in the same bowl would demonstrate that, although they look and smell different, they are both edible? Well, it made perfect sense to me. Which most likely meant it wouldn’t make any sense to Catorze, but it had to be worth a go.

I had some success with the first attempt, and he ate a small amount from each pile. Naturellement, after eating, there was some mixage between the two foods, so I pushed the pellets apart again to form two distinct piles. When I later refilled, once again he ate a little from each pile.

Although this is HUGE progress, we still have some way to go; the next phase involves the bigger deal of 50-50 servings of each food, so it would be premature to celebrate now. Or, as Cat Daddy put it, “There’s still time for him to f*** it up.”

The pubs are open again, as from today. I fear that, if I go into one, I may never come out again.

Before eating: Lily’s Kitchen at the top, Canagan at the bottom (garnished with a Pill Pocket).
After eating: Youpi!

Les jeux de faim

Since the vet gave Louis Catorze an appetite-stimulating pill, he has been perma-hungry and perma-screamy. But, because of Ocado Zoom’s dismal failure to deliver, he has no food. This is not an optimal combination.

So I have spent both the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 hand-sifting through dried cat food pellets and painstakingly separating the small golden ones from the large brown ones, like a downtrodden PA to the stars arranging the M&Ms into colour order for my OCD rock star boss. And it has been every bit as awful as it sounds, especially as I am going to run out very shortly and I don’t know what to do if my next plan doesn’t work.

Worse yet, Catorze has been pacing up and down as I sift, screaming at me to hurry the hell up. Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu: I thought his normal screaming was bad, but this new medication has turned him utterly demented. The only thing that stops him, of course, is me getting my phone out to video him. Then, when I put down my phone, he starts again, and obviously I can’t film and sift at the same time so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Luckily I have had my beloved husband, Cat Daddy, at my side throughout this grim process, supporting me with helpful comments such as “Well, he never asked for his food to be changed in the first place” and “He’s being like this because he’s picking up on the tension from YOU”.

After seriously considering making Catorze eat the New Year’s Eve Branston pickle (see previous post), we continued our search for LITERALLY ANY high-protein fish-only food which would arrive quickly, and this was not as straightforward as it may seem: even Amazon don’t have anything suitable that they can deliver before next week. Eventually we managed to order some Thrive (the same product that Ocado Zoom didn’t deliver) from Zooplus and it will arrive in 1-3 working days but, in the meantime, I shall be sifting.

I have discovered that singing whilst sifting serves the dual purpose of making the task about 0.1% less boring and helping to drown out Catorze’s infernal screaming. And, interestingly, there are many songs that work well if the lyrics are adapted. My personal favourite is “Sifting the night away” (Sam Cooke), apart from the line that goes “Everybody’s feeling great”, because obviously that’s not what’s happening here: Catorze is ravenous and also infuriated at what a slow and inefficient sifter I am, and Cat Daddy and I just want him to shut up.

I hope your 2021 is going better than ours.

Panning for gold.

Une nouvelle année, des nouvelles conneries

2021 is here. And, whilst most Londoners were sitting at home wondering what tier we might be in today, Cat Daddy and I were taking Louis Catorze to the vet. Yes, again.

Although Catorze’s skin is looking much better, so much so that we have reduced his steroid pills to one a day, his appetite has been down lately. I didn’t call this in sooner because nothing else suggested that he might be unwell: he has been alert, playful and full of energy. The day before the vet appointment, he even broke into the attic crawl space, thrashed around like a psychopath and, somehow, managed to switch on the light. Until then I’d had no idea that this space even had a light.

We have seen Catorze approach his feeding station only to stare at his bowl as if it were some alien life form, then stare at us. Because he’s so odd anyway, it’s hard to know whether something is wrong or whether he’s just being his usual stupid self but, as he’s lost weight, we thought it best to have him checked.

As bad luck would have it, instead of our usual vet, our appointment was with the vet who saw Catorze when I thought he had a tick and it turned out to be just a lump of crud stuck to his fur. He’s perfectly nice, but I was so embarrassed by that incident that I had hoped never to have to see him again. So how typical that the last dregs of accursed 2020 would find us face to face again, after more than two years of avoiding him (and doing a fine job, I might add).

In the waiting room, I chatted to the daddy of a black Labrador called Dexter. Apparently Dexter had been “trying to bark at all the cats coming in but, being just a puppy, he doesn’t have a voice yet” (his daddy’s exact words). One look at Catorze, however, and he found it. It was throaty, deep and deafening. And clearly Dexter’s daddy had seen enough horror movies to know that, if the dog is unhappy with someone or something, that’s a signal to get the hell out.

Anyway, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with Catorze, and his weight loss (from 3.71kg on 23rd November to 3.29kg now) is because he’s gone off his new food. Yes, he ate it happily at first, but this is Sa Maj we’re talking about; nobody knows why he does the stupid things he does. Cat Daddy and I are very disappointed as we love everything about the Cool Cat Club, and we so wanted this to work. Hopefully they will understand that this isn’t a reflection on their product, and that cats are just imbeciles.

By the time we got home, Catorze’s vet-administered appetite-stimulating pill had kicked in. But, once again, he went to his plate and just sniffed and stared. Then, when I sifted through his 30-70 mix of old and new food, giving him the pellets of old food only, he ate them.

So then we had a problem, because his old food has been discontinued.

After frantically panic-Googling high-protein cat food I discovered that Thrive have a dry food product, although none of the sellers were able to deliver anytime soon. The fastest and cheapest delivery was, unbelievably, on Ocado Zoom, a grocery delivery service for disorganised brats who want stuff within the hour. I remember once laughing at a friend for using this service, and no doubt she will giggle when she learns that I, too, joined the throng of disorganised brats.

Unfortunately the pack of Thrive was 50p below the minimum order quantity, so I asked Cat Daddy if we could add anything else to the order. Apparently we needed, erm, Branston pickle. (Non-Brits: ask your British friends.) I was concerned that the driver would wonder what special kind of disorganised brats we must be to need Branston pickle and to need it RIGHT NOW, and I was right to be worried because, when the delivery arrived, it contained Branston pickle and nothing else.

The evening was topped off by Catorze putting his best efforts into screaming his guts out whilst I was on the phone to Ocado Zoom asking what had gone wrong. The poor lady on the phone was saying, “Oh my God, your hungry cat! I can hear him! I feel so bad!”

Whilst the rest of the world reflects, dreams big and sets goals, all we want in 2021 is for our cat to eat the bloody food. Any food. NO, NOT THE OBSOLETE FOOD, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE.

Bonne Année from the little sod.

Le club des chats cool

I have been spending some time researching new food for Louis Catorze. Some lines of investigation have proven to be, erm, less successful than others:

Not ready for Catorze? Welcome to my world.

I emailed one promising new brand to ask a question about their food and, to my astonishment, they replied telling me they loved Catorze’s blog. At the time I was a few Crémants down and I thought, “Wow, I must be drunker than I thought, because I don’t even remember telling them about Le Blog.” When I checked back through my email to them, I realised that I hadn’t.

This must mean one of the following:

1. They are the sort of people who Google their customers’ cats’ names (which, frankly, is absolutely great and makes me want to buy from them irrespective of what their food is like).

2. Catorze’s infamy is spreading faster than Covid (which is, erm, not so not great).

Cat Daddy, being a marketer, decided to Google “Louis Catorze”, just out of curiosity. He had expected to only find results relating to the human Sun King, and perhaps a helpful note from the good folk at Google saying, “Did you mean Louis Quatorze?” But, instead, he discovered this:

Cat Daddy: “Oh my God. Louis is the top result of the Google search. People pay millions for this!”

Anyway, now that we can visibly see Sa Maj getting better, we have decided to give this company a chance. They’re called The Cool Cat Club, which is something of an irony as Catorze is about the least cool thing there is, and the Groucho Marxist in me would question any club willing to accept the little sod as a member, but tant pis. The good news is that they appear to have everything that the pre-takeover Lily’s Kitchen used to have – high protein, no grain or nasty fillers, compostable packaging – plus they donate food to cat rescues with every purchase. We’re excited.

Yes, we are excited about cat food. This probably means we ought to get out more, but at least we can use lockdown as an excuse.

If you fancy checking out the potential new suppliers of la cuisine royale, here they are: http://thecoolcatclub.com

L’alimentation royale

So Mercury Renegade (as Cat Daddy thought it was called) is over, and the white supremacist cult leader has been toppled. Not a bad week, and don’t we all deserve it after the cirque de merde that has been 2020 so far?

Meanwhile, here at Le Château, it’s all about the monarchy and a certain someone’s food. Not long after Lily’s Kitchen were taken over by Nestlé Purina, I wrote to them to ask whether the acquisition would result in any changes their ingredients or formulations.

A lady called Kat (I’m not joking) replied with the following words:

“Please let me assure you that Lily’s Kitchen remains a stand-alone business with the same fantastic team and purpose. We won’t be making any changes to the high-quality ingredients we use or the way we do things – the support we now have from Nestlé Purina means we can continue to grow, and ensure as many pets as possible around the world can enjoy our proper food.”

Now, had I been talking to one of my wily students, I would have said, “Nice try, but you’ve not fully answered the question.” But it didn’t occur to me to think that someone from lovely Lily’s Kitchen would try to double-cross me.

When I opened a pack of Fisherman‘s Feast (formerly Fabulous Fish) for the first time, I noticed the completely different colour (dark brown new formula versus yellow old):

No changes, my arse.

I wrote back to Lily’s Kitchen regarding the colour change, all the while continuing to feed it to Catorze as I had nothing else. This time it was Kate who replied to tell me that the recipe now includes chicken stock – a change that was in the pipeline pre-takeover, so they say – which accounts for the darker colour.

This was not good news. I realise that it won’t seem like a big deal if you own a normal, healthy cat, but now isn’t the time to be messing with Catorze’s food. Especially as the vet once told us that a change in protein (from, say, fish to chicken) could be enough to trigger an allergic reaction.

And I know, I know: it’s my responsibility to check the ingredients panels. But, after reading that first message from Kat, I didn’t think I would need to. Now, of course, I am kicking myself for being so stupid. I can imagine my wily students in this situation, smirking at me and saying, “But we didn’t actually lie as such.” YOU DIDN’T TELL ME THE WHOLE TRUTH, EITHER.

Cat Daddy and I then made an emergency dash to Pets at Home to see if they had any old Fabulous Fish left. They didn’t … but we were able to find some old stock of Marvellously Mature for older cats, which is poultry-free (but not for long: be warned that the new formulation, called Senior Recipe, contains turkey). In a blind panic, we bought the entire stock to tide us over whilst we decide what to do next. Do we want to wait until Catorze is well again, and gradually phase in the new Fisherman’s Feast with the old Marvellously Mature? Or should we cut our losses and find a supplier whom we can actually trust?

Anyway, the twofold moral of this story is as follows:

⁃ Read the small print.

⁃ Do not trust anyone, even if their name contains some form of the word “cat”.

Le banquet du pêcheur

Lily’s Kitchen have renamed Fabulous Fish as Fisherman’s Feast. I know. I’ll just pause for a minute or two to let that bombshell sink in.

This is such a big deal that even Cat Daddy has an opinion on it.

Cat Daddy: “I like Fabulous Fish much better than Fisherman’s Feast.”

Me: “So do I.”

Him: “I mean, it’s not actually a fisherman’s feast at all, is it?”

Me: “It isn’t.”

Him: “No fisherman would want to eat that.”

Me: “They wouldn’t.”

According to Lily’s Kitchen the formulation remains unchanged, so Louis Catorze should be able to continue to enjoy it as normal. But we are mildly irked by the name change, especially as the dogs’ version of the same food is called Salmon Supper, which is far more accurate and dignified than Fisherman’s Feast.

Luckily Catorze remains unaffected by this life-changing news, plus we decant the food into a dispenser before it reaches him, anyway, so nobody need know. Here is the little sod’s assiette royale, on his spring-summer serving mat, waiting for him to tuck in:

“What a feast!” said no fisherman ever.

Pourtant on a le même vieux gruau

When we saw the vet last week and discussed changes in the home that could have triggered Louis Catorze’s problem, she suggested that we stop the Delicious Chicken food for a while.

Cat Daddy is rather cross about this as we only bought a brand new pack of Delicious Chicken two days before the vet appointment. But, because he is a huge advocate of cutting down on meat consumption to save the planet, he is also delighted that he and his boy can form a special little pescatarian club together.

Yes, I know: what’s missing in their lives is their own club.

I checked the ingredients lists of both the Fabulous Fish and the Delicious Chicken at the weekend, and virtually the only differences are, erm, the fish and the chicken. Even the minuscule trace ingredients are more or less consistent between the variants. But, according to the vet, cats can react to the protein in foods, and changing from fish to chicken or vice versa can be sufficient to trigger symptoms. The huge gauntlet of allergy testing that Catorze underwent at the rescue appeared to indicate that his issues were NOT food-related but, since it’s a change that we can deliver with zero effort, we have decided that it has to be worth a try.

So the little sod is back to just one type of food for the moment. But we may allow him a few slivers of jambon de Bayonne on 30th April as a birthday treat.

Picture taken last Tuesday; the more recent ones are not pretty.

La tête de mort

We have just discovered that the fall of the print pattern on the fabric of Louis Catorze’s igloo makes the hanging fish look like a sideways-on severed zombie head wearing some sort of scuba diving headgear. And, the more we stare at it, the more we wonder how on earth we could have failed to notice it before.

Cat Daddy winced and shuddered when I pointed it out. But I rather love it that, just as we thought Louis Catorze couldn’t be any creepier, he adds an extra layer, intentionally or otherwise. I’m pretty sure that, if he were human, hanging the heads of dead scuba divers at the entrance to his home would be just his kind of thing. Maybe he would even wear one of the heads as a hat, as that guy from Con Air did and as he is attempting to do in this picture. (Yes, he is actually sitting with the fish resting on his head.)

As they say on the internet: once seen, it cannot be unseen. You’re welcome.

Le chat aime le poisson, mais il n’aime pas se mouiller les pattes

Not long ago, Cat Daddy and I decided to have a Fish Week at Le Château, because we love fish – I always choose it in a restaurant – but don’t eat enough of it. Now, most cats would think this were the best thing on earth and would hover around at cooking time, yowling, sniffing and generally being a pest. However, because Louis Catorze can take or leave food, Fish Week passed him by completely unnoticed. 

His big brother Luther would never have let us get off so lightly; Luther loved seafood so much that it was actually listed on his rap sheet at the rescue. I recall wondering at the time why a food preference were important enough to pass onto potential adopters, but I later discovered that they were actually trying to warn us: “Likes prawns” was, in fact, code for “Will kill you to get to them.”

This was proven by The Fish Pie Incident aka HaddockGate, which my sister also witnessed, and about which she can now only talk in a hushed whisper. There were also further incidents, such as the time that I had to leave the house and eat my prawn salad in the car because Luther was harassing me so badly. He had never used a cat flap before but learned in about 0.3 seconds because I stood on the other side, waving a piece of sea bass.

Fish Week would have been all Luther’s dreams come true. No such luck with his petit frère: look at this, quite frankly, FREAKISH non-reaction to a salmon and gruyère fish cake. (The paw, incidentally, was NOT reaching out for the fish cake: Catorze was in this position anyway when I plonked the bowl down in front of him. I even left the room to fetch my cup of tea and, when I returned, both fish cake and cat were as I had left them.) Luther, on the other hand, would have swum through molten lava for this.

We’re not exactly short of evidence that the little sod isn’t normal (reason: #becauseRoi). But this just tops the lot. 

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Rien ne sert de courir

And behold: Phase Trois is under way!

I never thought this day would come – mainly because I imagined I would have throttled the little sod long before we reached this point – but we have a carefully-calibrated* 6:4** ratio of Acana Pacifica to Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish. AND LOUIS CATORZE IS EATING IT. 

*(Too much Lily’s Kitchen accidentally tipped in)

**(Was meant to be 7:3 – see above)

When I began Phase Une I bought only the smallest pack of Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish, for fear of Catorze rejecting it. But now I have been able to buy the largest and best-value size, safe in the knowledge that it won’t go to waste AND that I can just toss the packaging into our compost. What’s more, we were able to walk to Pets at Home and carry it home (on the hottest afternoon of the week, with poor Cat Daddy as the load-bearing packhorse) rather than ordering online and having it arrive in cardboard, bubble wrap or, worse, those awful polystyrene Wotsit things that won’t be recycled and that spread everywhere like an STD of the parcel world. 

(Cat Daddy wanted to know why I was writing about STDs in a cat blog but, as he hates the polystyrene Wotsits as much as I do, he will understand when he reads this.)

I was also about to say that we have successfully avoided activating the puke switch so far, due to the gradual transition, but things are already going unsettlingly well and I daren’t tempt fate. So I shall avoid any talk of the puke switch. NOBODY MENTION THE PUKE SWITCH.

Phew. I think I just about saved myself there.