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.

La brosse royale (Partie 2)

Louis Catorze’s fancy new facial brush arrived during the week. And, although everyone is laughing at me for buying it, it’s been a big hit with Sa Maj.

My first choice was a sustainable brush with olive wood handle and pony hair bristles, but the reviewers said they “couldn’t get past the smell of horse” (shudder) so I went for the Aveda Tulasāra one with the recycled resin handle*. Because it’s designed for human use, the bristles are super-soft and should hopefully relieve the itching without hurting the little sod.

*I have no idea what Tulasāra means but, being a linguist, I really enjoyed typing an ā for the first time ever. I also don’t exactly know how one would recycle resin, but I expect the good folk at Aveda know what they’re doing.

Anyway, despite the fact that Cat Daddy almost had a seizure when I told him how much the brush cost – and I only told him the sale price, not what it cost before the reduction – he was, and continues to be, surprisingly happy to administer the treatment to his boy.

Here they are enjoying a special moment (pre-biopsy) at Boys’ Club Wellness Spa:

Le royal facial treatment

Catorze’s brush is from, erm, lookfantastic.com. And, yes, I do get the irony.

La brosse royale (Partie 1)

Since Louis Catorze’s skin problem returned, Cat Daddy and I have been very strict about brushing him every day. The brush is quite firm so we don’t actually brush his face with it as such, but we hold it up and let him decide how hard – if at all – he wishes to rub his face against it.

On a couple of occasions, he has pressed/hurled himself against the brush with such ferocity that it has alarmed us. I even videoed it once (mainly because I didn’t think anyone would believe me) and it’s quite gut-wrenching viewing, with scraping sounds akin to fingernails down a chalk board. Yet we trusted him to instinctively know what was best for him and to manage it accordingly. This was a massive mistake because, earlier in the week, the yelp happened.

Yes: the little sod actually brushed himself to the point of pain. This is not good.

So now the brush is strictly for body use only, and the moral of this story is that, however bad your judgement may be, it will always be better than that of a not-very-bright cat. And I really should have known better, because this is the same silly sod who picks fights with dogs and foxes, who heads for hotter-than-the-sun greenhouses during heatwaves and who rolls in the middle of the road for fun.

On a more positive note, I have ordered a brand new brush just for his face, and I can’t wait for it to arrive.

I know. Had Teenage Me known that Forties Me would be excited about the arrival of my cat’s new facial brush, I would have had a serious word with myself.

#cantbetrusted

FURminateur 3: Le Soulèvement du Roi

Louis Catorze has utterly acquiesced during brushing and FURmination. Obviously my eardrums and my nerves will be thanking him/my lucky stars/the Goddess for this. But I am cross beyond belief that he chose to be good at the worst moment possible: when I was trying to demonstrate to a friend what a horror he was.

Me: “Watch this.” [I pick up his FURminator and assume the vice-like Stranglehold of Death. Catorze is totally fine with this. This has never happened before, EVER.]

My friend: “He doesn’t seem to mind too much.”

Me: “Yeah, but watch this!” [I start FURminating. Catorze sits in complete silence, statue-still except for a few nuzzles of the FURminator, and lets me get on with it.]

My friend: “He still seems fine.”

Me: “Yeah, but watch THIS!” [I FURminate more vigorously although, obviously, not so much so that the little sod is in discomfort. Catorze flops onto his back, rolls, stretches and purrs.]

My friend: “Erm …”

Me: “For crying out loud. Look! LOOK!” [Silence, apart from the sounds of the FURminator on Catorze’s happy rump, and him purring and loving every moment.]

My friend: “Maybe he wasn’t really that bad before. Maybe you’ve just misremembered it.”

Me, ceasing FURmination: “Oh, forget it.”

So the little sod has gone from absolutely hating being brushed/FURminated to loving it, which is good. But, no doubt, my friends will all think I am stupid or a liar.

“Or a stupid liar,” Cat Daddy pipes, helpfully.

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.