Croisons les doigts …

5EF3EADF-1D92-4DCF-9CFF-6045FAB00153At the weekend, whilst we were lying in bed giving him cuddles, Louis Catorze chased his tail again.

We let him do it, just to see how long it would go on (happily it was no more than a few seconds) and to see if we could ascertain whether it was playful or something more sinister, but we couldn’t tell. In fact, we didn’t even really know what we were looking out for; I had this idea that sharp pounces were playful and that smoother, more seamless chasing were sinister but there’s no science in that.

Catorze has been Gabapentin-free and doing well for 2 months now, so it would be devastating beyond belief for him to start displaying symptoms again. Please send the little sod your good wishes: not so much “get well” but “don’t you DARE get sick again.”

Le Roi est content: vive Le Roi!

This week we seem to have been disproportionately busy with pointless things. Firstly, I excitedly took delivery of a mystery parcel, only to discover that it was the beeswax candles that I had ordered to combat the hay fever that Louis Catorze doesn’t have.

And, secondly, after a whole day spent trying to capture the sneezing and wheezing on video so that the vet could see it, I have had the embarrassment of telling them to ignore said video on account of the fact that Catorze wasn’t unwell: he had just snorted a blade of grass.

The good news, however, is that the little sod’s Gabapentin taper is going brilliantly, and he has managed to defy the odds and get down to 1 x 25mg every other day. The vet is surprised and delighted that we have managed to keep it under control with such a low dose, which isn’t typical of the other cats on his feline hyperesthesia forum. And he is continuing to eat Pill Pockets, so the Greco-Roman combat is well and truly a thing of the past. So, if this positive snap continues, hopefully the meds will be completely gone by August and he will be able to have a nice, substance-free summer (apart from the steroid jabs).

Here is a very rare shot of Catorze snuggling ME, rather than his daddy, on our outdoor sofa, the day after l’extraction de l’herbe. I like to think of this as his way of saying, “Merci, Maman.”

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L’amour est le meilleur des médicaments

Louis Catorze has been on the reduced dosage of 2 x 25mg of Gabapentin a day for almost 2 weeks now, and he is showing no recurrence whatsoever of his symptoms.

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Better yet, he has started to eat Pill Pockets, so no more Greco-Romaning! Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges! (If you don’t know what Pill Pockets are, they are tiny, edible, plasticine-like cups into which you stuff pills before squishing them to seal the opening. No, Louis Catorze wouldn’t eat Pill Pockets before. But he does now. Are you all keeping up so far, Mesdames et Messieurs?)

Whilst I don’t like to criticise the one and only thing that is successfully getting medication into the little sod, the ingredients list makes me twitchy and uncomfortable. Wheat flour: bad. Mixed tocopherols: no idea what these are, but they sound bad. Dried corn syrup: basically sugar, so REALLY bad.

I never thought I would see the day when I willingly gave my boy wheat and sugar. Mind you, the manufacturers know their target market: desperate people like me who have no option because nothing else works. They could make Pill Pockets out of heroin and asbestos and, if it meant our cats would just eat the goddamn pills and spare our lives, I reckon most of us would still buy them.

All being well, pill-wise we only have the rest of May (2 per day) and the whole of June (1 per day) left. The end is in sight. That’s what’s keeping us going.

Le tricheur royal

Remember when Louis Catorze liked pâté de Bruxelles? Yeah, well, now he doesn’t. So we’re back to Greco-Romaning him again, and you all know what a cirque de merde that is. One of our friends witnessed it the other day and said, “Oh my God, that was absolutely HORRIBLE!” Erm, no blood was drawn and nobody died, which actually makes that a decent session. Wait till you see one of the bad ones, mon coco!

And I never thought I would use the words “Louis Catorze” and “clever” in the same sentence, but the little sod is finding more and more ingenious ways of avoiding his pill. His latest trick is to pretend he’s swallowed it, press his body against me for a fake cuddle and then silently spit the pill over my shoulder and into my hair.

I have coarse, curly hair so the pill remains stuck there for some time and, because I don’t notice it, I assume it has been swallowed. Obviously it dislodges itself eventually and falls onto the floor, but we didn’t think anything of it because we are quite used to seeing pills strewn about Le Château from failed Greco-Roman attempts. So Catorze has been able to get away with this treachery until now.

Le Roi’s little plan was finally foiled when Cat Daddy came home right after I’d just Greco-Romaned and cuddled notre cher ami, and he said, “There’s something in your hair.”

Quel. Fichu. Salaud.

So now I have to give my hair a good old shake after pilling time, just to be sure.

If I’m honest, the lies and deceit offend me far more than the non-pill-taking. “It’s a bit of a tragic day,” I said to Cat Daddy, “when the only cuddles you get from your cat are fake ones.”

Cat Daddy, not even glancing up from his laptop: “I wouldn’t know.”

Aïe.

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Le pâté royal

Good news: after the vet advised us to try a mix of different meats to disguise Louis Catorze’s Gabapentin, we have discovered that he will eat it if it’s hidden in pâté de Bruxelles.

Bad news: we only discovered this after enduring this torturous journey:

Tuna pâté: non
Mackerel pâté: non
Mousse de canard: non
Chicken forestier pâté: non
Chicken liver pâté: non
Pâté de campagne: non
Pâté d’Ardennes: non
Reduced fat pâté d’Ardennes: HELL, non (ok, I admit that this one was a stupid idea, but we ordered it by accident on Ocado and thought it might be worth a punt)
Pâté de Bruxelles: OUI

Further bad news: he won’t eat it unless we also press a layer of his Acana Pacifica biscuits into the pâté.

If you imagine the Gabapentin being the Earth’s core, the pâté being the soft magma and the Acana Pacifica being the crust, you get an idea of how the finished structure is composed. And, once assembled, it looks rather like one of those 1970s mirrored disco balls, except much smaller. And, erm, made of meat.

It’s all a bit absurd. But our place is not to question: our place is just to nod and agree to everything that the Sun King wants.

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L’état d’urgence

We have a Code Noir at Le Château: Louis Catorze has started refusing his ham-wrapped Trojan Horse pills. Either he has cottoned onto our trick or he is bored of cured ham and, either way, we are well and truly dans la merde because it means that every single dose is now a Greco-Roman one.

Whilst our Greco-Roman technique is improving greatly with all the practice we’re having, it’s still not very nice to have to do it. And, upsettingly, we can see the effect that the increased Greco-Romans are having on Catorze’s demeanour: he is skittish and nervous around us, and yesterday he didn’t even come and greet us when we came home from work, which he usually does without fail. He has also taken to hiding when we get up in the morning and missing that first dose of the day. This means that we sometimes have to give him TWO doses after work – one when we get home and one before bed – and that makes us all even more anxious and stressed.

Well-meaning fellow cat freaks often ask us, “Have you tried hiding the pills in tuna / anchovies / chicken / prawns / cheese / Dreamies / Pill Pockets / [insert name of other irresistible, pill-disguising treat]?” YES, to all of the above. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a cat who doesn’t like food and therefore cannot be incentivised by it; if we never fed him again, EVER, he wouldn’t really care.

I really, really hope he gets past this, otherwise we will have to deploy the big guns: the £21-per-100g Brindisa jamón ibérico de bellota. Qu’est-ce qu’on va devenir? Or, should I say: ¿Qué va y ser de nos?

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Je pue, donc je suis

IMG_8739Louis Catorze, who used to smell of fresh, zingy lime with a hint of blossom, now smells like a dead sheep that’s been left out in the rain.

I think I preferred him before.

Even Cat Daddy commented, “He’s been smelling really catty lately. Had you noticed?” Yes. It’s pretty hard not to.

It’s not a hygiene problem; Louis Catorze has always been scrupulously clean and, even during his maximum security Côning period, we were usually able to release him for long enough to groom himself properly. It seems to be more of a physiological issue, with the horrible smell emanating from his pores rather than being trapped on the surface of his fur. The only new things that we’ve introduced into his routine in the last few months are, erm, the salty cured meat and the copious amounts of prescription drugs. So it’s probably both of those things.

Whilst perfumed products for cats are generally a no-no, for those suffering from feline hyperesthesia it’s even more important that their environment is kept toxin-free, so there’s no hope of dousing him in something fragrant to get rid of the smell. And, of course, we can’t stop the pills, nor can we stop the red meat as it’s our only hope of him taking the pills, so it looks as if we’re stuck with the stench.

Cat Daddy’s final word on the matter: “He doesn’t know from one day to the next whether he’s going to get prosciutto di Parma, jambon de Bayonne or jamón Serrano. Maybe his digestive system is confused and just doesn’t know what to do with itself anymore.”

The struggle is real, Mesdames et Messieurs.

 

Le Roi nous ignore

Quelle performance going to see the vet today.

10 minutes before the appointment time, when we should have been on our way there, we were chasing Louis Catorze around the house, Benny Hill style (younger followers: ask your parents), as he darted under furniture and refused to be caught.

We cornered him eventually but he screamed all the way there and whilst we sat in the waiting room. Cat Daddy then told me that he’d had a horrendous – and only partially-successful – Greco-Roman session this morning, which was probably why the little sod had been such a nightmare.

After greeting us with, “Louis is famous here – we’ve all been talking about him!” the vet told us that we could reduce his Gabapentin from 5 to 4 pills a day, but that we were to remain on 4 for a month. If all goes well, we may be able to reduce to 3 per day in early-to-mid April.

To be honest, we really had hoped he would be off the pills by then, because he has started to refuse Trojan Horses if the cured ham is 2 days old. (Yes, the previous cut-off point was 3 days. But that was before.)

He is also becoming fussier about the type of ham used, and the vet was in hysterics when Cat Daddy uttered the words, “He likes prosciutto di Parma and jambon de Bayonne, but not the jamón Serrano that I bought this week.”

Anyway, we’re now home and he’s still not talking to us. This is going to be a l-o-n-g evening.

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La part des serviteurs

Good news: we now have Gabapentin pills!

Bad news: Sa Majesté has started to refuse jambon de Bayonne that has been frozen and thawed.

And, if I’m honest, it’s not really working for me, either, because, once it’s been defrosted, it’s almost impossible to get it to stick around the pill. So bulk-buying and storing in the freezer is now no longer an option; it really is either fresh packs, newly-opened, or Greco-Roman pill delivery.

This means that we have been buying a LOT of cured ham, of which Le Roi only eats a small amount per pack before turning his nose up at its unacceptable lack of freshness. Fortunately we like cured ham, so we have been eating the leftovers ourselves. That’s right, Mesdames et Messieurs: WE EAT OUR CAT’S REJECTED FOOD.

The little sod has also got to recognise the sound of the pills rattling in the jar, and he runs when he hears it. So I have had to start turning the taps on every time I dispense the pills but, as a friend pointed out, pretty soon he will get wise to the sound of the taps and I will need another sound to drown that out, then another sound to drown THAT out, and so on. Taps today, but what tomorrow? A marching band and low-flying aircraft were just two of my friend’s suggestions (and she was only half-joking).

It’s becoming more and more clear who wears the crown in Le Château.

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Où sont mes drogues?

Forget about the iceberg lettuce shortage: here at Le Château we’re going through the rather more desperate Gabapentin pill drought. There are none whatsoever in the whole of West London, and the vet isn’t sure when they will be able to get hold of any.

I received the bad news by phone whilst in a packed football stadium and never have I been more glad of the noise, because, to a casual eavesdropper, the conversation wouldn’t have sounded great: “No, I’ve never had any problem getting hold of pills before. Yes, I’ve ordered 100, but please may I make it 150 in case there’s a problem next time, too? No, I already have plenty of the powdered version, thank you. Yes, it’s definitely the pills that I want …”

Our situation with Louis Catorze is a bit like that film Speed, where they have to keep driving the bus at a minimum of 50 miles per hour otherwise it will blow up. If we don’t keep Catorze’s medication at a constant level, his symptoms are likely to come back … and there’s no way on earth I want to return to the bad old days of nightly yowling and hissing and a chewed, bleeding tail.

It’s a blessing that we at least have the powder, but administering it isn’t easy. For a start, Sa Majesté won’t eat it in jambon de Bayonne, I assume because, like garlic, its pungency increases when crushed, so he can smell it immediately. It’s too wispy and floaty to just throw into his open mouth, so I have to actually shove my fingers in … and there’s nothing more terrifying than having to touch the jaws and teeth of a snapping, hissing beast who wants me dead. And, although powder is harder to spit out than pills, the unpredictable consistency and the fact that Catorze fights like a brute mean there are far too many variables to be able to measure doses accurately: spillages on clothes, furniture, the floor, my hair and his fur, bits that remain stuck to my fingers, and so on. So I haven’t the faintest idea how much of the powder actually makes it into him.

Not that any of this seems to affect him long-term, though; his tail remains intact and he is continuing to eat, drink and pitter-patter happily about Le Château, unaware of all the stress he is causing us.

Cat Daddy: “He’s aware. Of course he’s aware. He just doesn’t give a shit.”

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