Regretfully, this year my usual arsenal of weapons doesn’t seem to have made much of a dent in my hay fever, despite me preparing myself early. The start of the season was delayed, but I feel that it was the same for everyone. And it is now in full swing.
If you suffer from hay fever and have outdoor cats, it may help to wipe them down. The best way of doing this is with a damp towel, but Louis Catorze isn’t a fan of this. So, instead, a good old brush every evening gets rid of cruddy, gross fur and means that he scatters much less pollen onto our furniture and bedding. Brushing regularly also has the added benefit of improving the soreness around his eyes (we have no idea how, but it does).
Cat Daddy thinks that keeping Catorze off our beds would be much more effective, and he probably has a point, but I would rather know where Catorze is at night than wonder if he’s scrapping with Donnie, goading foxes, harassing neighbours or, most likely. doing a bit of each.
Here is Sa Maj, about to be brushed by Cat Daddy. Unlike his previous grooming devices, including the FURminator, he absolutely loves this brush, which Oscar the dog gave him for his 10th birthday. Because he has the short-term memory of a swatted gnat and doesn’t remember what the brush is for, he runs when he sees it coming … but, once the brushing starts, he flops onto his back and purrs like a revving motorbike.
My hay fever symptoms started early this year – 20th May rather than the typical 1st June – and, somehow, my regular management methods didn’t seem to be as effective as they were last year.
Then I discovered that I’d had the foresight to write myself a reminder last July in the Notes section of my phone, but not the sense to actually read it. This reminder informed me that there is an extra hay fever supplement that I usually take but, somehow, I had completely forgotten it this year.
Naturellement I did not have enough of a supply to last me through this year’s hay fever season, so I went online to buy some more. And I discovered that the company selling it had a 20% off sale … which had ended the day before I read my note.
In a happy twist to this tragic tale, I bought more product and, as if by magic, they applied the 20% discount anyway! Hurrah! So now I am fully armed, although I am over a month late in taking everything together.
And I have now set myself a reminder to read my reminder next spring. Whatever next: setting reminders to read reminders of reminders? Oh dear. It’s all downhill from here, isn’t it?
5. Brushing Louis Catorze regularly to rid his fur of pollen and whatever other indescribable allergenic and non-allergenic shite that he has rolled in
The grooming device that Louis Catorze received from Oscar the dog for his birthday is quite the most amazing thing.
It appears to have some sort of magical static force field that sucks the loose fur from the little sod’s undercoat and holds it between the rubber teeth until I pull it out. I have no idea how it does its job – my limited knowledge of Physics tells me that it shouldn’t work – but it does.
Best of all, Catorze LOVES it. And, because the device is soft and pliable, I don’t need to worry about one careless move slashing his skin, in the way I had to with the FURminator, and I can just brush away with carefree abandon. The little sod purrs happily through our brushing sessions; no screaming, no Greco-Roman death-wrestling, just one happy Roi.
Here he is (below) after an especially intense sitting that yielded three handfuls of fur (pictured), and a further two handfuls came later that day. He looked like a different cat afterwards, and probably lost at least 1/3 of his body weight in the process.
Me: “Look at him! Doesn’t he look smart?”
Cat Daddy: “No. Not one bit. Why do you keep saying that?”
Me: “His fur! Can’t you see that it looks smoother and shinier?”
Cat Daddy: “Oh, right. I thought you meant “smart” as in “intelligent”.”
I hope any hay fever sufferers are managing their symptoms. Don’t forget to wipe/brush down your outdoor pets as part of your routine.
Hurrah! Someone has FINALLY acknowledged what I have been saying for years: hay fever sufferers, wipe down your cats!
And, somehow, I can’t help singing that mantra in my head to the tune of “Spice Up Your Life” by the Spice Girls (younger followers, ask your parents):
"Pollen in the air WIPE DOWN YOUR CATS In your nose and in your hair WIPE DOWN YOUR CATS People everywhere WIPE DOWN YOUR CATS ..." and so on
Wiping down is easier said than done if your pet goes in and out about 738 times a day, as Louis Catorze does. So we try and grab him just before we go to bed as he usually comes up with us and settles across our stomachs like a two-person, living belt, no doubt shedding pollen with every movement. Naturellement he isn’t the greatest fan of being wiped down but, because of the difference it makes to my itchy eyes and to Cat Daddy’s scratchy throat, the little sod is just going to have to suck it up. Plus it’s preferable to bathing him, which would require sedatives (for us as well as for Catorze).
Thank you to both Spa de Sal and Hen Corner for their hay fever advice and for their fight against the evil pollen of TW8. Details of their wonderful products – a health-boosting salt spa experience (no, I haven’t taken Sa Maj there, but I would if I could) and lovely London honey – can be found here:
As if Mother Nature flips a switch the moment the calendar changes from May to June, hay fever season is now upon us and I have gone from having zero symptoms to moderate ones. Cat Daddy doesn’t know it yet but we have invested in a ton of allergen-busting beeswax candles, because we had used up the ones left over from the time that we thought Louis Catorze had hay fever when, in fact, he had a blade of grass stuck up his nose. (If you missed out on that joyous tale, here it is:)
We have also bought of those electric rechargeable lighter things for our beeswax candles. It’s much nicer to use than the old-style, nail-splitting, blister-giving, butane-filled monstrosities and (we hope) less wasteful than wooden matches. And poor Catorze is terrified of it.
Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: he won’t even flinch at loud rock music, other cats, dogs, foxes, marauding youths in Hallowe’en costumes and (we imagine) masked men wielding bolt cutters, but he is scared stiff of the rather pleasant, gentle fizzing emitted by this device. He can hear it from wherever he is in the house and runs for the hills.
I now turn on the kitchen taps to drown out the sound. And, as I am using both electricity AND water when lighting each candle, the electric lighter is no longer the eco option that I had hoped, even if I do catch all the water and make use of it.
But you know, don’t you, that you would do exactly the same, if not more, for your feline overlords’ comfort? So, for now, both the candles and the water-bearing shall continue. And, with any luck, the purifying powers of the beeswax candles will benefit Sa Maj as well as us.
Here is the little sod after the last candle-lighting, having fled upstairs and taken refuge in, erm, a bag:
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.”
Louis Catorze started sneezing and snorting late on Friday evening, and this went on at regular intervals throughout the night. At first I thought he was coughing up hairballs, but he hardly ever has them because we are so rigorous with his brushing routine. Plus the sound was more nasal than throaty.
He seemed otherwise content – shouty, silly etc. – so, after checking his face and mouth and finding nothing untoward, I phoned the vet rather than taking him in, and I described his symptoms as “snorting, sniffing, lots of lip-licking and shaking his head as if trying to get something out of his nose or throat.” They confirmed my feeling that it wasn’t a medical emergency – possibly a seasonal allergy – and recommended a small amount of Piriton if he became too uncomfortable, but told me to monitor him and take him in on Monday if things didn’t settle.
Hay fever was probably the one, single ailment that Catorze had never had, and I couldn’t believe that we would now have to add it to his extensive list of problems. I ordered some allergen-busting beeswax candles online as I had run out, and I attempted a dose of Piriton but the combination of super-strong, spring-loaded syringe plus unhappy cat meant that it didn’t end very well. The little sod screamed bloody murder, writhed, clawed, drooled like a rabid wolf and then took off to hide in the Forbidden Greenhouse, wearing most of the Piriton on his face and chest.
After an uneventful afternoon, by evening things hadn’t settled at all: the gurning, spluttering and head-shaking were just as regular. As I went to bed, mentally preparing for the battering that Le Royal Sick Fund would take when I called out the emergency vet on a Sunday, I saw that Louis Catorze had followed me, still snuffling and staring at me as if pleading for help, so I decided to have one last go at checking his face. I put him between my knees, pulled his head right back … and caught sight of what looked like a grass seed sticking out of his right nostril. BINGO.
I tried to pull it out but the darned thing wasn’t budging, and Catorze was becoming increasingly agitated at my picking and poking. But I held on and persisted, finally succeeding in dislodging the offending item … and, to my horror, I saw that it wasn’t a grass seed at all, but a whole blade of grass (see photo, with a 20p coin for scale). Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: THE ENTIRE THING HAD BEEN UP HIS NOSE THE WHOLE TIME.
I cannot fathom how it could have got up there in the first place, let alone how it stayed there for 24 hours. I don’t think I could get a blade of grass to stay up my nose for more than a few minutes, even if I glued it there. But, thankfully, it’s out now. And, as soon as it was released, the ungrateful little weasel uttered not a word of thanks, instead pitter-pattering off to his papa for Boys’ Club cuddles.
The moral of this story: cats are ungrateful idiots. But we still move heaven and earth for them to be comfortable and happy, don’t we?
If you have ever suffered from hay fever, no doubt you will be fully aware of all the things you should and shouldn’t do: keep windows and doors shut, take a teaspoon of local honey a day (and, if you’re in London, Hen Corner honey is excellent: https://hen-corner-micro-bakery.myshopify.com/collections/london-honey), and so on. However, you may also wish to exercise caution if you decide to cuddle an outdoor cat in June.
A few days ago, Louis Catorze pitter-pattered in after spending most of the day out on the hunt, looking to grace the trophy cabinet (i.e. our bedroom floor) with another piece of silverware (i.e. a rodent). And, whilst it seems obvious now that furry-bodied cats would soak up airborne toxins like sponges, I didn’t think about it when I picked him up to cuddle him; it was like pressing my face into shards of glass.
The danger doesn’t stop there: we also allow Louis Catorze to sleep on our bed, spreading the evil allergens all over our pillows and sheets. And, yes, I accept that it’s not compulsory for him to sleep on the bed, and that we could shut him out of our bedroom, but he has slept with us ever since the first night he was with us, and I would feel sad breaking that habit. (Plus it enables us to keep him under surveillance, because we know what a troublemaker he is and we couldn’t trust him as far as we could spit.)
So … what to do about this? The only option is to give kitty regular damp towel rub-downs (preferably on a non-carpeted area) and, if you’re lucky, they might appreciate the cooling power of this procedure on a hot day. If they’re anything like Catorze, on the other hand, they will writhe, wail and wish you were dead … but your sensitive nostrils and stinging eyes will thank you, even if your cat won’t.
*Picture posed by the splendid Cocoa the babysit cat
Oh dear. Louis Catorze’s right eye is starting to look bald and puffy around the edges. I don’t know why this is happening just as we make some headway in cleaning up the dust, but I suspect it’s because he has managed to slip past me and into the Forbidden Greenhouse on a few occasions. (Unfortunately we’ve discovered that the greenhouse door won’t shut: the hinges have rusted and wedged it firmly open, and not even Cat Daddy has managed to shift it. Plus there are numerous missing or broken panes of glass so, even if we did manage to close the door, Louis Catorze would still be able to get in.)
We’ve still not located his Piriton, so today I had to schlep to the pharmacy to get more. Fortunately I have had more luck finding the beeswax candles, which – provided they are 100% beeswax, as mine are – clean the air as they burn and are said to reduce asthma and allergies; I myself have found them very helpful during the hay fever season, and, on a couple of occasions, they have even encouraged Louis Catorze out of La Cage after one of his Post-Itch Sulks. Regular tealight candles – the kind that you buy in bulk from the supermarket – are made of paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum refining and which begins life as gross sludge at the bottom of a crude oil barrel. Then, in our misguided belief that we are setting a romantic and sensual mood, we set fire to it and send its toxins pumping into our homes and our lungs – lovely.
So I’ve tracked down the beeswax candles, but where on earth am I supposed to put them so that Louis Catorze can reap the maximum benefit? Yesterday he spent the ENTIRE day in the suitcase in our spare room, but it doesn’t seem remotely sensible to leave candles unattended in a room containing lots of brittle cardboard boxes and a stupid cat. Alternatively there’s the Forbidden Greenhouse, but I’m highly put off by the idea of being seen by the neighbours and having to explain why I’m leaving candles there. “Oh, they’re for my allergic cat.” Right.
In the end I lit one in the living room and opened all the doors, hoping that its pollutant-killing magical beam would somehow spread through Le Château. If nothing else, there’s something very calming and hypnotic about watching a candle flame flickering and dancing. So, at best, this will have a positive effect on my boy and, at worst, it will make no difference but I will be so relaxed that I won’t care.
Cat Daddy keeps telling me how pointless it is to worry about Louis Catorze’s test results until they’re in. I know he’s right, but wasting time on pointless shit is my speciality. In fact, I sometimes tell others, as a joke, that I was born with a brain abnormality that makes me press on with stupid decisions and acts despite knowing full well how stupid they are, and it’s shocking how many people don’t appear that surprised.
My cat mamma instincts tell me that Louis Catorze is allergic to some, or all, of the following substances, in order of severity and with the most severe first:
Pollen of some sort (most likely grass)
Feathers (from pillows and duvets as opposed to birds – Louis Catorze couldn’t and wouldn’t catch a bird even if you dipped him in bird seed and flung him into an aviary)
The paper on which they print tabloid newspapers and tone-lowering gossip magazines
Himself (in the same way that bodies reject donor organs)
Food (all types ever created, natural and processed, meat- and plant-based, raw and cooked, feline and human)
Having spent a Roi’s ransom on dust mite murder weapons, I’m kind of hoping for no.1. But, having convinced Cat Daddy that I absolutely have to buy posh, scent-free skincare products “to act as a control and help monitor the flare-ups” I’m also hoping for rank outsider no.7, simply because it will require me to make no changes whatsoever and to continue buying Dermalogica products in the name of being a loving cat mamma. (“Why, yes, Cat Daddy, that price is perfectly normal for such a highly-specialised product. Do you want our boy to get better or not?”)
I am desperate to find out whether one of my 10 suspects will be guilty as charged, or whether the culprit will be something else entirely. I can’t believe that, soon, the wondering and speculating will be over!