FURminateur 2: Le Dernier Jugement

Good grief. Louis Catorze looks disgusting. It seems that the FURmination a few days ago has stimulated his skin to release some sort of crud, and now he is all speckled and dandruffy. He looks just like he did when I accidentally poured xylitol all over him, and it’s so foul that Cat Daddy is threatening to bathe him. 

He doesn’t appear to me remotely bothered by the speckles but, for obvious reasons, it bothers us. We would all far rather have a non-dandruffy cat than a dandruffy one, wouldn’t we? 

FURminator users: please tell me that this won’t happen EVERY time I FURminate, and that it’s just a little first-time-user glitch?

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Hasta la vista, les poils

MERCI to everyone who sent good wishes to Louis Catorze on his birthday. It was difficult to know what to buy for a cat who already has everything, so we decided to treat him to some jambon de Bayonne (of which he ate two scraps, then looked at the third as if it were poison and walked away) and a FURminator. 

Cat Daddy: “Sorry, what? FURminator? FURRR-minator?”

Cat Daddy again: “And can you not write that WE gave him jambon de Bayonne and a FURminator? [He says the word “FURminator” in his Alan-Rickman-as-the-Sheriff-of-Nottingham voice.] YOU did this. I honestly couldn’t care less.”

If you have ever had a sheddy pet, it’s highly likely that you will know what a FURminator is: a special grooming implement designed to remove pet hair more effectively than a standard brush. It may seem a bizarre choice of gift for a cat who can’t stand being brushed, but the device is supposed to remove so much loose hair upon each brushing that, overall, progressively fewer sessions are required. So, really, it’s a gift to myself as well as to Catorze. 

The FURminator comes in different sizes – we purchased “Smallest Creature Possible”, of course – and in both long- and short-haired variants. I must say I was cynical about how much fur it would remove – a brush is a brush, after all, and I imagined all brushes to be created equal – but the FURminator is in a class of its own. Below is the amount of fur that I would ordinarily have extracted from a whole-body brushing session with the little sod’s old brush, but the FURminator removed this from just an eighth of his body. That said, I can see the device being quite sharp if not used properly, so I would advise you to test it out on your own skin (seriously) to ascertain how much pressure is more like a massage than a scratch, and adjust pressure on kitty accordingly.

As we are fairly certain that there is a link between regular grooming sessions and Sa Maj’s skin condition, it will be interesting to see how his health progresses with regular FURmination. We’ll be back.

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Cent coups de brosse avant d’aller dormir

Today is National Hairball Awareness Day. (I’m deadly serious. Google it if you don’t believe me.) And, ironically, I am writing this after another joyless session of brushing Louis Catorze. Ugh. Bizarrely, he now only fights half-heartedly rather than with the strength of ten angry grizzly bears, yet he still screams like a banshee during our torturous sessions. And, just like the otherworldly Irish harbinger of death, I fear that there may well be some truth in his prophecy because the sound of his screams makes me want to kill either him or myself.

If he hates being brushed, why has he eased up on the struggling? Or, if has grown to tolerate it, why scream? Seeing a cat lying on his back, his body language showing that he is grudgingly accepting the brush but his voice screaming itself stupid, is quite the most absurd sight imaginable. That said, nothing about this strange cat has ever truly made sense, so I don’t suppose it’s about to start now.

Sadly there is no video available because I need three hands to be able to restrain, brush and film at the same time, and Cat Daddy refuses point-blank to help in any way. (“I’m not being part of this nonsense” is a more polite version of what he said.) So, instead, here is a picture of Sa Maj looking uncharacteristically … well … majestic. It’s hard to believe that a beast who can appear so serene in pictures can also suddenly morph in an instant into a screaming psychopath.

La coiffure du Roi

Louis Catorze is in full-on moult mode which, of course, means we have to brush him at least once a day, more if possible. And you know how vile he is when being brushed. 

The screaming is pretty awful but I am now used to it. What’s more daunting is the sheer never-endingness of the task, with handfuls of fur coming out with each session. If I were to carry on forever, at some stage I would have no cat left, just a pair of fangs and a handful of bald, quivering flesh. And yet the fur keeps coming. It defies every law of science that a cat can keep losing fur indefinitely and not run out. 

I have started brushing him the wrong way first (i.e. tail to head) to loosen any crud, before then doing it the right way. This is quite effective but he really doesn’t like it at all, and it makes him look as if he has been tumble-dried. On one recent occasion he kicked free of the Stranglehold of Death and escaped outside, before I had managed the rectifying right-way brush, and he didn’t look anything like a cat nor, indeed, like any creature identifiable by zoology. 

Cat Daddy: “What. Have. You. DONE?”

Sa Maj will be turning 9 at the end of the month. Something tells me that the Birthday Fairy may be delivering him some much-needed fancy new grooming-related apparatus, as I think that trying to tackle the problem with his existing brush is like trying to stem a tsunami with a sheet of blotting paper*. 

*Younger followers: ask your parents. 

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La brosse infernale

We are usually only obsessively meticulous about brushing Louis Catorze during the warmer months, when he moults and scratches a lot. But, because his skin and fur are generally much healthier when he is brushed regularly, we decided to step up his grooming régime a few weeks ago, at around the same time that we started the hot water steam thing.

The good news is that handfuls of fur come off his body when he is brushed, which surely HAS to make a positive difference to his skin health, yes? The bad news is that he still loathes being brushed, which means I have to grit my teeth and adopt the Stranglehold of Death before I can get the brush anywhere near him. Needless to say, these now-daily sessions of torture leave me drained, pained and bleeding from the eardrums, and I wish we didn’t have to do them.

My mum told a long time ago that, when you brush your cat, you should leave the brushed-out clumps of hair in the garden because birds use them to line their nests. This didn’t seem very likely – after all, my mum also tells me that you can get cancer from plastic water bottles that have been left overnight in the car – but a couple of reliable fellow cat freaks have confirmed that it is, indeed, a thing. So, much to Cat Daddy’s disgust, I have been doing my civic duty by emptying the contents of Catorze’s brush outside, and the very thin silver lining to the dire grooming sessions was that at least the birds would benefit from it all.

Below is a picture of a clump of Catorze’s brushed-out hair from at least two weeks ago. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: IT IS STILL IN THE GARDEN. I really thought that there would be a few takers for some warm kitty fur, given that we remain in the depths of winter. But it seems not.

Cat Daddy: “Ha! The birds of TW8 would rather freeze than go near his shitty fur. Not even the rats want it.”

Oh dear. It’s a good thing Sa Maj is utterly unaware of his fur not meeting the exacting standards of the local wildlife. And, even if he were aware, I don’t suppose he would be remotely bothered.

De l’eau pour tous

After a suggestion from one of my lovely blog followers, I have been putting a bowl of hot water in each of the rooms most frequented by Sa Maj in the hope that the extra moisture in the air might help his eyes. 

When we first adopted him we were told that he only drank from glasses, and that under no circumstances would he drink from a bowl. “I’m sure he’ll use a bowl eventually, when he gets thirsty enough,” I replied cheerfully. He didn’t. So we had no option but to provide him with his own special glass. (Well, it was either that or have him randomly drink from any receptacle that he came across, which is asking for trouble.)

Naturellement, after a lifetime of refusing to drink from a bowl, the sudden presence of bowls from which we DON’T want him to drink has made him decide that he might be interested after all. And the only thing that stops him from doing it – apart from me taking my phone from my pocket to catch him in the act – is using hot water straight from the kettle which, despite being the best for adding moisture to the air, comes with its own, obvious problems. (Don’t worry: we are fully aware that Sa Maj is stupid enough to scald himself, so we ensure that we are around to keep him under Suicide Watch. Once the water has cooled and he is no longer under surveillance, no doubt he has a good old slurp and renders this experiment a complete waste of time.)

Cat Daddy has also kicked and/or threatened to kick more bowls of water than I can count. So, between the two of them, the men of the household are doing their best to make sure that this whole thing fails dismally. 

Me: “We could always buy him a plug-in air humidifier?”

Cat Daddy: “[Hysterical laughter followed by unrepeatable comments peppered with rude words.]”

Fortunately Catorze continues to remain in good spirits and is utterly unbothered by his condition. In the meantime, we shall keep topping up the boiling water in the hope that it does him good. 

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La panacée du Roi

“What a pity January is almost over, just as things were getting good,” said absolutely nobody, ever.

It’s a difficult month at the best of times, even when the sharply cold temperatures and bright white frost give a kind of feeling of newness and freshness. But this January, far from being sharply cold or frosty-bright white, has been especially grim: grey, damp, clammy and sluggish. I can’t wait for it to end.

Louis Catorze, however, couldn’t give a hoot either way.

All is going phenomenally well in his little world, which means, at least, that someone has had a positive month. His black cat mojo is bursting at the seams at the moment and he looks magnificent. Cat Daddy usually lets out a snort of contempt when I say this, deriding Catorze’s “drug-addled state” and muttering something about him only appearing attractive if you look from a long way off and squint a bit. But I don’t care how far away you have to stand or how he got this way: I’ll still take it.

Here he is, looking menacing and demonstrating the right hook that (possibly) knocked out his mystery opponent at Le Fight Club:

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It’s not just his physical appearance that has improved: everything about him just seems easier when he’s well. Even the medication and the Advocate, whilst not exactly fun, aren’t so bad, with the Post-Meds Sulk seemingly a thing of the past; whereas previously he would run away afterwards and hide for hours (or for the whole day, as he did on his first day with us when I crunched his tail under my knee by accident), now he comes back for cuddles.

He’s had a fair few visitors throughout January and he’s been on fine form for them all: sociable, affectionate and even happily allowing 3 kids aged 5 and under to simultaneously manhandle him. Poor Luther would have walked through hellfire to avoid such a thing – in fact, most normal cats would – but we all know, don’t we, that Louis Catorze is not a normal cat?

He’s due at the vet’s for his next steroid shot in a couple of weeks. I really hope this run of good luck holds out until then.