Boire! Garçons!

A couple of years ago, I posted about the many voices of Louis Catorze.

I can now report that the little sod has a new sound, a kind of irritated “Prrr-owww!” chirp that he emits only during grooming, either when I try to flip him or when I brush his fur in the wrong direction. I always do the latter to loosen any stray hairs and crud before brushing him normally, and he gives me the “Prrr-owww!” every time.

I took that to mean he doesn’t like the feeling of this on his fur, which is fair enough as it must be like us brushing our hair from tip to root instead of vice versa. However, one fine day, this happened:

What. The. Absolute. HELL?

I know. We have never seen anything like it, either. And, astoundingly, the silly sod did this to himself. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: he happily washed his own fur in a thousand wrong directions, making himself look like Father Jack from Father Ted* after being put through a spin cycle and then dropped from a great height, but heaven forbid should I do one or two rogue strokes with the brush. I always thought the idea of cats washing was to smooth themselves and make their fur look and feel better. Who the flip does this?

*Younger followers: ask your parents AND look for Father Ted on YouTube. You will not be disappointed.

If I deserve the “Prrr-owww!” for my minor brush transgression, what kind of sound does justice to this self-administered apparence débraillée? A growl? An air-raid siren? Although I’m pretty sure that, if I asked Cat Daddy for his least favourite sound in the world, he would tell me it were Catorze’s normal voice.

Les poils emmêlés

Not long after the Louis Catorze’s vet appointment, during which we didn’t mention the mats on account of them having long gone, I discovered these:

His evil eye is on the other side.

These quite literally sprang up overnight and, during the few days leading up to me spotting these, he showed no indication of struggling to groom or any such thing. Clearly it was time to deploy the Dematting Rake again … and, naturellement, that was when Catorze decided that he was going to lie on that side of his body (his right) forever more.

Usually he favours lying on his right side around 70% of the time, so getting to these mats was always going to be a challenge. However, when I really, really needed him to lie on his left side, he firmly decided that he wasn’t going to do it, ever again.

Cat Daddy refuses to believe that one cannot flip a cat who doesn’t want to be flipped, and thinks it’s just me being pathetic. Not long ago, when he was brushing Catorze on his lap, he tapped the royal rump with the brush, gently said, “Come on, Louis, let’s flip you” and the bastard cat happily obliged, purring away. When I try it, the little sod turns himself into a dead weight and gives me a new type of scowly meow which I’ve never heard before and which has been invented just for this purpose (more about that another time).

After several days of sitting pointlessly with the Rake at my side, at long last I had a result when the little sod suddenly acquiesced and lay on his left side, matted side up.

The mats were gone. Nothing, niente, nichts and nada.

No doubt evil Catorze wants me to be left wondering if I had dreamed the whole episode, so merci à Dieu for photographic evidence. That said, somehow it still feels as if he has won this battle.

Bastard cat.

Un trou dans le noir

Just as I was starting to think Louis Catorze didn’t have QUITE enough things wrong with him, the little sod decided to develop this inexplicable bald patch:

What on earth …?

For a while I ignored it, thinking perhaps I just hadn’t beaten the oatmeal out of him properly. But he is fastidiously clean, and there is no way he would have intentionally left crud on his person. Many cats have bald patches as a result of stress over-grooming but, despite the little sod’s numerous problems, he has never really done this kind of thing. Apart from, erm, that time in 2016-2017 when he had feline hyperesthesia and he chewed his tail to pieces.

My theories are as follows:

1. He caught himself on a sticking-out twig.

2. He was a little over-zealous in grooming off whatever crud he’d rolled in (plant sap, snail juice, fox poo, take your pick).

3. A parakeet finally had enough of his nonsense, flew down and pecked him. (Not content with fighting the pigeons and the squirrels, Cat Daddy has now also declared a fatwa on the parakeets and Catorze is valiantly and loyally fighting his papa’s corner.)

I had planned to ask the vet about the bald patch when we went for Catorze’s steroid shot but, because the little sod had been doing so well health-wise, we haven’t been yet. But now I guess we don’t have any choice.

So the agenda for our appointment is as follows:

1. Steroid shot.

2. Collect Broadline.

3. Mats.

4. Bald patch.

No doubt there will be more items by the time the appointment takes place. And I have started building myself a fort to hide from the deluge of Unrepeatable Expletives. (From Cat Daddy, I mean, not from the vet.)

Awaiting the next set of instructions from The Mothership.

La farine d’avoine

Louis Catorze’s dandruff has been deteriorating, and I noticed that it looked especially bad just before a friend was due to visit. We couldn’t have him looking scaly and gross in front of visitors so I tried to brush it out, but each brush stroke seemed to just dredge up more crud. I then decided to deploy the colloidal oatmeal powder.

This was probably the right idea. However, I should have executed it a lot better.

Rather than tipping out the powder and letting him roll around in it or his own accord, for whatever stupid reason I decided, instead, to tip it straight from the pack onto his body whilst he lay on my lap. Instead of the light dusting for which I had hoped, huge lumps of oatmeal fell out, each one breaking into a zillion pieces when it hit la personne royale. Each one of those zillion pieces then hit me, breaking into a further zillion pieces as they did so.

Extracting the oatmeal most certainly was not a piece of cake.

The next twenty minutes or so were spent chasing a white cat around the living room and attempting to brush/beat the oatmeal out of him. It only half-worked. When my friend arrived, rather than being dandruff-free, Catorze was still grey in some areas and peppered with both dandruff AND oatmeal, and I was worried that his attempts to groom it off would leave him with stomach cramps or constipation. Luckily this turned out not to be the case, and, because our friend knows the little sod very well, she didn’t bat an eyelid when we said there had been “an oatmeal incident”.

Post-groom mess.

We can’t think of any reason why Catorze’s skin would suddenly deteriorate and, as with the mats, we will check with the vet just in case. Happily, Le Roi is utterly unfazed by it and is continuing to live his best life.

Le salon de coiffure

What the flamin’ flip is all this?

Ugh.
Ugh.
Ugh.

More mats, that’s what. They are materialising from nowhere, like crop circles. It’s almost as if simply being touched by a matty hair is enough to mattify a previously-normal hair, a bit like turning into a zombie when another zombie bites you.

The largest of the three mats quite literally appeared overnight. As in, there was no trace of it in the evening and then, suddenly, the next morning, it was there. I am puzzled and concerned, yet also strangely satisfied that I am getting such good value out of the Dematting Rake.

Apparently there are many reasons for an older cat not grooming efficiently, including arthritis, bladder issues and simply not being as bendy as they were when they were younger. Dental problems are also listed as a reason, although l’m pretty certain that Louis Catorze no longer has them. And it’s just as well, because this was the advice given by one website:

“If they have a painful mouth, they obviously won’t want to use their mouth to groom their fur, causing them to become more matted. Like people, cats need dental cleaning and regular mouth care. If you can, start brushing your cat’s teeth.”

BRUSHING YOUR CAT’S TEETH. Nope, nope and thrice nope.

Anyway, since removing these mats (with some difficulty, I might add), more have appeared, as has Catorze’s unsightly dandruff, and all I can do is continue brushing and raking. To be on the safe side, I’m going to tell the vet about them when we go for his next steroid shot.

Hopefully this is all part of a general spring-summer purge and not a sign of anything more ominous.

This kind of crazy caper probably doesn’t help.

La vengeance des nœuds

Merde. We have just experienced MatGate 2.0. And, once again, the TWO mats in question were at the undesirable end of la personne royale:

“ … There’s a mat on mi kitty, what ammm I gonna do? …

I don’t know whether these were new mats, or leftovers from the previous ones which I thought I’d removed but hadn’t. Either way, I have had to deploy the Dematting Rake again. This time the mats were stubborn beyond belief and our mutual friend was not happy with my efforts to remove them. And I don’t think I will ever recover from the fact that the larger mat was coated in some sort of transparent, dried crud which TOUCHED MY HAND. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he had sat on a snail, the only animal too slow to move out of the way of his arse.

This one was HARD WORK.

I know that mats are not unusual for cats, but these two recent incidents are Catorze’s ONLY incidents. What could possibly make a once-unmatty cat suddenly develop them after twelve years? Does it mean that, in his old age, he is becoming less and less able to groom his arse end, despite being lithe and kittenish in every other way? That said, if it’s taken twelve years for us to see any signs of his advancing years, the little sod has had a pretty good run.

Cat Daddy: “It’s just his runtiness. It’s all part of being the runt of the litter.”

Me: “Awww. You think he was the runt of the litter?”

Cat Daddy: “Oh my God. You DON’T think he was the runt of the litter?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Anyway, I don’t suppose it matters as long as Catorze has his entourage at hand to fix the problem (which we have, in time for his birthday so, hopefully, he will be presentable for his party). And that is exactly as it should be for a Sun King.

Matty cat.

UPDATE: since writing this post I have found yet another mat, again at the arse end. And this one was STICKY. Ugh.

Des souvenirs dorment dans cette chevelure

Louis Catorze had his steroid shot yesterday. There was the usual Benny Hill-style chase when putting him into his transportation pod and, as I was leaving, Cat Daddy – who was in the middle of a massive DIY session – asked me to pop into the hardware shop on the way back and buy a lightbulb and two little transponder-type things.

Catorze screamed all the way through his examination, but the vet confirmed that all was well and that he was “looking good”. He fell deathly silent as we went into the hardware shop then, as the shopkeeper spoke, the screaming resumed.

The shopkeeper was startled and looked outside, thinking there was some altercation taking place.

Me: “Oh, that’s just my cat.”

Shopkeeper: “Sorry?”

Me: “My cat is in this bag.”

Him: “There’s a cat?”

Me: “Yes.”

Him: “IN THE BAG?”

Me: “Erm, yes.”

Him: “…”

I should have explained that I’d come straight from the vet, instead of just saying “My cat is in this bag”, but I didn’t think of it at the time. So now the shopkeeper thinks I am the kind of weirdo who goes shopping with her screaming cat. And I can never go back to that shop again.

Although Catorze is in good health, his body is still spewing out fur. Clumps of it are drifting around Le Château like tumbleweed rolling through the American west.

A few days before the vet appointment, we had a Code Gris emergency on our hands. And by “on our hands”, I actually mean “on Catorze’s arse”. This (see below) started out as a few tiny strands of grey undercoat sticking out from his fur and I left it, imagining that, at some point, it would just come off by itself.

It didn’t. In fact, over the course of just a couple of days, it grew.

What in the world …?

My sister: “It’s a mat. You can get special mat combs that get them out.”

Me: “Could I not just use scissors?”

Her: “Do you trust him to hold still and not injure you or himself?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets]

Narrator: “And so she bought the special mat comb.”

Anyway, the comb arrived the next day, and it seems that someone in the marketing department felt that its appearance wasn’t quite scary enough, so they named it the Dematting Rake. RAKE.

Ouch.

Catorze sat on my lap and, astoundingly, was happy to let me hack away at his arse end with this device, only emitting the occasional squeak when I accidentally pulled too hard. Perhaps he felt uncomfortable and knew that whatever I was doing had to be better than living with the mats? It was quite the feat but, eventually, I managed to loosen and remove the TWO horrible knots:

The mats, alongside my customary £1 coin for scale.

So Le Roi is now a mat-free zone. And I have something fun and unique to tell my students when they ask me what I did during my holidays.

What a time to be alive.

The Catorzian arse, sans mats.

Les poils de la bête

Merci à Dieu: the Easter holidays are here. And it looks as if I will be spending them brushing, because Louis Catorze is shedding fur. A lot of fur. His tiny body is producing more fur than I can handle, a bit like that old fable about the machine that churns out salt forever because the person forgets the magic word to make it stop.

Yesterday I managed to extract a huge handful of fur from one side of him.

Cat Daddy: “Why only one side?”

Me: “I couldn’t brush the other side.”

Him: “Why not?”

Me: “He was lying on it.”

Him: “So just flip him!”

Me: “I couldn’t. He refused to be flipped.”

Him: “He’s 3kg!”

Me: “HE REFUSED TO BE FLIPPED.”

Cat Daddy has probably only had to force Catorze to do things against his will about four times, versus my countless times. So, really, he should be taking my word for it regarding Catorze’s flippability, or lack thereof.

Anyway, I’m brushing him 862 times a day (that’s sessions, not individual brush strokes) and it’s not enough. No number in the world would be enough; every time I do it, it’s as if I have never done it before. And I am pretty sure that, if I kept brushing indefinitely and didn’t stop, the fur would just keep coming until, eventually, I would be left with a bald, screaming skeleton.

Here he is, sitting in the tarragon (again), looking wonderfully soft. And so he should, after all my efforts:

“Brush moi.”
“Then brush moi again. And again.”

UPDATE: since the above photos were taken, Cat Daddy has devised a plan and put it into action. Will these lethal shanks solve the problem, or just move it elsewhere?

Sit on THIS, Sa Maj!

La poudre à cheveux

I have bought some dry shampoo powder for Louis Catorze, since his bath in our neighbours’ building dust had such a lovely effect on his fur. So, just like the proper French aristocracy back in the day, the little sod will be strutting around his Château with powdered hair.

Because Catorze is so sensitive, I decided against a ready-made product with a long list of ingredients and, instead, I’ve chosen a pure colloidal oatmeal powder. I have no idea what “colloidal” means but it sounds medicinal enough without being TOO medicinal, if you get what I mean. (Cat Daddy: “Not really.”)

The only thing is: how do I apply it? When he went to our neighbours’ house and came back caked in dust, I imagine he rolled it in of his own accord rather than having the builders rub it into him – although the latter would have been funnier – so I am more inclined to scatter it on the floor and wait. Yet all internet advice about dry-shampooing cats suggests putting poor kitty in the bath (!) and assaulting him with handfuls of powder, which would be absolutely hellish for all concerned.

So the pack of colloidal oatmeal is just sitting in the cupboard until I decide how to use it. Any suggestions would be gratefully welcomed.

“Bathe moi if you dare.”

Les fissures de la fourrure

I am going back to school this week. (Please note: “back to school”, not “back to work”. I have been at work this whole time.) Although I am looking forward to a little normality, I will to have to relearn the following:

– Driving

– Wearing shoes

– Using a pen and paper (teachers and students: remember pens and paper?)

– Talking to people without yelling at them to mute

– Styling my whole hair, as opposed to just styling the front bits that people see during video calls

Speaking of hair (kind of), Louis Catorze’s fur cracks are becoming more and more pronounced. I love cats’ fur cracks. Explaining what they are is absolutely impossible, so I have attached a photo of the ones that Catorze has always had on his weird tail:

It’s not normal. We know.

Nobody quite knows what makes some cats’ fur crack and others’ not but it seems to be a plushy cat phenomenon, rather than one affecting sleek cats. I had always believed that fur cracks, like energy in Physics, could not be created or destroyed – a cat either had them or didn’t – but not so anymore: Louis Catorze used to only have fur cracks on his tail, but now he has them on his body, too, and his fur appears to become much thicker when he is on the steroids. It’s all very strange, but then we have come to expect “strange” as far as he’s concerned.

Here are Catorze’s drug-induced bodily fur cracks, looking more peculiar than ever as they pulse up and down with his breathing and making him look like some Vernian monster from the deep. As with the above photo, please excuse the dust; either he had rolled in crud, or he was shedding crud, or possibly both:

I want to stop looking but I can’t.

Les poils sont de retour

Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of when Louis Catorze came to live with us. Or, as Cat Daddy puts it, “Six years of him and his stupid shite” (and he may have a point but I don’t imagine they’ll be putting that on the front of greeting cards anytime soon).

And, to mark this auspicious occasion, we have good news: his ear fur is growing back.

Obviously we love the little sod whatever his physical appearance but bald ears are vulnerable ears, so we are both relieved and delighted that they are returning to normal. He could even be fully furred by the time he poses for his Hallowe’en 2020 Official Portrait, which is très important this year with it also being a full moon.

We have no idea why the fur is coming back – in fact, we are at a loss as to why it even disappeared in the first place – BUT IT’S COMING BACK. If you compare these two photos (below) from 22nd June and 13th July, there is definite fine-yet-visible regrowth, n’est-ce pas?

Le velours noir

Louis Catorze’s ears are now almost completely bald, and they look more like pigs’ ears than ever before.

Cat Daddy is convinced that the sunblock somehow “killed the hair follicles” so, even though this is highly unlikely, I stopped applying it just to see what would happen. But I think he has continued to lose fur even without the block, and now he looks like this:

“Où sont les poils?”

Although it looks highly unattractive, Catorze’s skin is not sore or inflamed and, in fact, he doesn’t even seem to know or care that the fur has gone. It’s certainly not bad enough to require a vet visit now but, if he’s still bald in September, I will be sure to mention it when I take him in for his booster jabs. Not that I really need to mention it, as it’s plain for all to see.

Fingers crossed that this is just a temporary blip, and that the little sod will be fully-furred soon.

Le bras roux

The fur around Louis Catorze’s slowly-regrowing tattoo sleeve has turned a reddish-brown.

The first time I saw it, my heart almost stopped because I thought it was sunburn, and I felt like the worst person in the world for not thinking to protect my poor boy’s bald arm from the sun. (He would have looked ridiculous with bright white ears AND a bright white arm, but I don’t suppose it would have done him any harm. And that wasn’t meant to rhyme.)

However, as you can see from the picture, it’s not even the tattoo sleeve area itself that’s turned brown, but the fur around it. And it’s only this leg. He doesn’t have brown fur anywhere else on his body.

HOW has this happened?

All possible explanations welcome, although nobody has ever really been able to explain the enigma that is Le Roi so I don’t suppose it’s time to start now.

Terracotta arm-y.

Poil par poil, toute la barbe viendra

When quarantine began, I saw an internet meme (I hate that stupid word and am actually glad that my autocorrect changes it to the much more civilised “même”) that read, “We are three weeks away from knowing everyone’s true hair colour.”

It’s now MONTHS since we went anywhere near a hair salon, and somehow I have come off worse than Cat Daddy: my hair looks like a haystack, with highlights have faded to an ugly, brassy yellow, whereas he is rocking the Keir Starmer sweepover and is looking mighty fine.

My hair salon have been posting lots of videos and tips on social media, with their advice being, “Try to focus not on the colour, but on keeping your hair in good condition.” Erm, yeah, I think that ship has well and truly sunk, too.

Louie Catorze, on the other hand, looks better now than he did when lockdown started (which, frankly, isn’t difficult as he looked terrible before). His facial fur has now fully grown back, and he looks just like a normal black cat, except smaller and toothier.

His arm fur – which was shaved to inject the sedative for his biopsy – is taking a little longer to regrow, but we rather like the look of it. We refer to it as his tattoo sleeve and Cat Daddy pretends that it makes his boy look tough and thuggish, even though we both know that this couldn’t be further from the truth and that he’s actually a sweet little daddy’s boy who loves cuddles.

This picture of him was taken last month, and I love everything about it: the blue sky, his glossy fur and the glimpse of tattoo sleeve that hints at the obstacles that he has overcome (and, due to him having the attention span of a gnat, completely forgotten).

Très pleased with himself.