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.

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.

Partageons!

I was looking back through Le Blog yesterday morning and remembering when I started it; I had asked my brother-in-law, a journalist, for advice, worried that I would run out of ideas after a few weeks or months. His reply was, “If you do, that’s a sign that you chose the wrong subject matter.” Another friend later added, “The day you stop writing will be the day Louis stops doing stupid shit. So you should be fine for some time.” Thanks.

This is the third and longest-standing blog I’ve written; the first one fell by the wayside because I just got bored, and I had to stop the second one because l gave away lots of secrets and gossip about my then-workplace, and I would have been fired had anyone from work found out about it. I am still staggered that a plain black cat who doesn’t do a lot has inspired me to write so much over 6 months, and that he has attracted so many followers in various parts of the world. The new year got me thinking about the long-term future of Le Blog and where I wanted it to go, and I wondered this aloud to Cat Daddy. “He’s such an inspirational cat that the prospects are limitless,” said Cat Daddy. “His teachings are so profound and life-enriching; in fact, I see him rather like Gandhi, don’t you?”

“Are you, by any chance, being sarcastic?” I asked.

“We could get your blog made into a BBC drama series, with a spin-off website selling Louis Catorze merchandise,” he continued. “Imagine celebrities wearing “Je gratte, donc je suis” T-shirts. Imagine Louis Catorze on Piers Morgan’s TV show. The world needs to know about this amazing French cat!”

Yup. Sarcastic.

In actual fact, my only wishes for Le Blog have been to help other cats with a similar condition, to provide support to their human slaves, and, maybe one day, to have some medical whizz-person read what I’ve written and contact me with a cure for Louis Catorze. So I felt very hopeful yesterday when 2 people messaged me, saying, “My cat has those symptoms too.” An exchange of photos seemed to confirm this (see below for how the little sod looked this time last  year):

It’s very early days but I’m going to encourage them to follow Le Blog and hope that one of us will soon happen upon a solution that will help the others. I’m also going to shamelessly request that all of Louis Catorze’s followers please share, share, share Le Blog with vets, rescue centres, cat breeders, animal charities, anyone who cares, really. Share until people are sick of you and beg you to stop. You just never know when the right person will get in touch and utter the magic words, “My cat had the same condition and, after trying Magical Elixir X, is now completely fine.”

 

 

Santé!

Do cats have an OFF button? Or, at the very least, a LOW POWER button? Louis Catorze is driving us crazy with his naughtiness at the moment.

His lust for play has reignited, and he’s started to let out little “Waaah!” sounds as he chases his toy. If he sees us in the kitchen through the patio doors, he refuses to use the cat flap and screams to be let in. He can be frighteningly convincing, pawing at the glass and looking utterly fearful for his life yet, if we ignore the little weasel for long enough – usually a minute or two – he will come in of his own accord, up-tailed, chirpy and smug, as if saying, “Et voilà! I didn’t need you after all.” He’s also starting to go out for longer at night, as his big brother Luther used to do, and rolls in just before my alarm goes off, soaking wet, shrieking in my ear and with that vile, stomach-churning wet dog smell. Yuck.

His eyes now look exactly like the eyes of a normal cat, with no leathery, bald bits. The horrible under-chin scabs are disappearing, with fur growing back. And I suspect his annoyingness is down to the fact that he’s happier and feeling much better. So, in all, things are looking up for the little sod.

This time last year he looked like crap and was sad, and the year before he was even worse, so I’m excited beyond belief at the prospect of Louis Catorze’s first festive season, to my knowledge, in good health. Here he is, drinking to that!

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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.

La tristesse durera

If Louis Catorze and I were a celebrity couple, we’d have broken up ages ago due to “Conflicting Work Schedules”; we’re simply not home and awake for long enough, and at the same time, to really make the most of each other. However, today, most unusually, he actually wanted to hang out with me during the day. And, because this was the first time in ages that I could look at him in proper daylight (the lighting in Le Château, like Le Roi himself, is not the brightest), I got to see the shocking state of his dear little face. Look away now if you’re in any way squeamish.

His under-chin area is a mass of what looks like both dried and partially-dried blood, and I suspect it needs cleaning but I daren’t try myself for fear of making it worse. Every so often he rubs his chin against my knuckles and whimpers, presumably because it hurts, and, the last time he did this, he rubbed so vigorously that the skin broke and clear fluid went all over my hand. Quite frankly this made me feel ill, but I’d rather he scratched in a controlled way against my soft fingers than in a frenzied way with his sharp claws whilst itch-yelping. Ugh. The sacrifices we make for our “pointless pieces of fur” (which is what Cat Daddy calls Louis Catorze when he’s cross with him).

The only reason I’m not rushing him to an emergency vet right now is because, inexplicably, he’s purring, relaxed and happy to be around me. In fact, he won’t leave me alone. But I think he’s going to have to go to the vet at some point next week.

Please wish him – and the poor veterinary staff – good luck.

On peut détruire ce qu’on a écrit, mais on ne peut pas le déécrire

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Poor Catorze isn’t looking so good these days. His right eye has lost so much fur all the way around that he looks like Alex Delarge from A Clockwork Orange. And, last night, the dreadful itch-yelp returned; this is the ear-splitting sound that he makes when he scratches and breaks the skin.

We’re doing everything as we did in September/October, when he was looking his best, so we have no idea whatsoever why things have turned to merde now. It’s frustrating beyond belief. But the good news is that it’s not affecting his mood in the way it has before; although he’s lost a little of his Chat Noir sparkle, he still manages to find the inclination to cuddle us on the sofa in the evenings. And he has taken to having Post-Meds Cuddles with Cat Daddy whenever he medicates him (whereas I just get claws and teeth when it’s my turn).

We have tried so hard to find a pattern to Louis Catorze’s flare-ups and have failed so far, but this will be the third November in a row which has seen a downturn in his condition. (He wasn’t with us in November 2013 but, having seen the awful photos taken in January 2014, it would make sense that November was around the time things began to slide, to reach their nadir 2 months later.)

There is clearly something in the house or the winter environment that is less present at other times of the year and, whatever it is, it was present both at Le Palais and at his previous foster home too. I just wish I knew what the heck it could be.