En vie et en forme

I am at that in-between stage of testing negative and being just about well enough to go back to school, yet still feeling run-down and exhausted. And, bizarrely, the most lingering of my Covid symptoms is that I am craving salt in all its forms. Cheese, crisps, salted nuts, even pure grains of salt twisted straight from the shaker into my mouth, whatever … just give me ALL THE SALT.

Naturellement, Louis Catorze has decided that now is a good time to demand non-stop play.

I found this out when he creepy-stared at me one morning, at a time when I knew that his bowl and his water were full, and I was already in his favourite room. So it couldn’t possibly be any of those things. When I couldn’t stand it anymore and shuffled around to get up, taking longer than usual on account of being slow and ill, the little sod went to the other sofa, looked underneath it, then stared at me again.

It turned out that he’d flicked his toy under the sofa and couldn’t reach it. Of course, when I retrieved it for him, again taking an unacceptably long time, he didn’t want it anymore and, instead, wanted to play with his pink tassel on a string.

I have pointed out the following to him:

1. I am not well.

2. It’s autumn, so most normal cats are calming the heck down and spending more time sleeping.

3. He’s an old boy, so he should be calming the heck down and spending more time sleeping.

Each point was met with a non-committal “Mwah” and he continued to play. And, like a complete idiot, I continued to engage with it.

At least the little sod is full of energy and enjoying life. I wish I could say the same of myself.

EDIT: Cat Daddy has now tested positive. And so the cirque de merde continues.

Enjoying a lovely autumn sunset in true Catorzian style.

La chance d’être un chat noir

Hallowe’en is over for another year. Louis Catorze had an absolute blast, and luckily we only had to manage one (1) escape out at The Front, just a minute or two after sunset.

The little sod was on top form for his big weekend. In fact, come to think of it, he has been on top form ever since autumn started. This is somewhat unusual for him; although we often refer to his rising psycho levels during La Saison du Chat Noir, his skin and fur are usually at their best in the summer. However, this June, July and August, he appeared to get worse, not better, forcing us to continue his steroid treatment through the summer for the first time. And, despite the drugs, he still managed to look like something that had just crawled out from under a bridge, to the point where we had to be VERY careful of escapes out at The Front in case some well-meaning citizen scooped him up and took him to an animal rescue.

At this point we resigned ourselves to the fact that age was catching up with him, and that autumn would, most likely, see him deteriorate further still. However, in actual fact the reverse happened and he smartened up. His gross dandruff, which had started to return since we stopped the beauty oil, has disappeared, he’s started to gain weight (3.27kg now), and his fur is thick and glossy.

It could be the Orijen, or the daily blastings with the purifying beeswax candles (yes, I’m still doing that). Most likely it’s the drugs. But Sa Maj has never spent an autumn looking this good. Whatever the reason, we will take it.

Hallowe’en may have come to an end, but let’s hope it’s not the end of this black kitty’s run of good luck.

Off to seek more mischief and bullshittery.

Presque le début du printemps

When I was looking back over past blog entries the other day (as I sometimes do, in an “Oh my God, did he really do that or was it just some awful dream?” type of way), I remembered that, this time last year, Louis Catorze was Côned.

Naturellement, I am desperately hoping that we won’t have to adopt the same horrible measures again, and I can’t seem to stop myself from neurotically studying photos of Louis Catorze this time last year, searching for a sign that he is better now than he was then. And I think he is. It’s very hard to tell, because he can look pretty normal in some light and utterly awful in others. Plus, last year, he’d also had his skin biopsy which added a further layer of itchy complication into the mix. But, this time, we acted a lot more quickly to introduce/up the steroids, so hopefully that will be enough.

That said, knowing him, he will probably find some new and unexpected way of sabotaging our efforts. He usually does.

Anyway, Catorze certainly isn’t acting like a sick cat. In fact, even Cat Daddy commented that the little sod had been having a fine old time outside, gadding about in the Zone Libre and enjoying the early spring. It would have been nice had he done this on that Wednesday afternoon instead of screaming through my podcast for a whole hour, but tant pis.

One of Catorze’s favourite things to do is sitting on Oscar the dog’s summer house roof. We are certain that he misses his old sparring partner, and that he goes there to look for him.

“Où est mon ami?”

Partager, c’est sympa

Good news: Thursday’s Clap for our Carers went without public incident.

Bad news: Catorze bided his time until after the clap to cause discord of a different kind. He took advantage of the fact that Cat Daddy remained outside chatting – and, yes, when I saw Catorze pitter-patter towards the door I did yell at Cat Daddy to shut it, but he was too slow – and he tried to get into That Neighbour’s house. The poor man apparently had quite a time fighting the little sod away from his front door, and Cat Daddy had to intervene. Oh dear.

In happier news, yesterday was Friday, which meant that our usual weekly doorstep food collection took place. To show his deep regret for causing a scene during last week’s clap, Catorze kindly agreed to donate his Lily’s Kitchen Delicious Chicken to the food bank.

He had originally promised it to his buddy Boots, but I am not sure when I will be able to see Boots and, in the meantime, the food was just sitting in the cupboard. Never fear, though: I will be giving Boots and his brother Antoine some alternative treats when I do finally see them. So he needn’t be concerned about missing out on food (although he does appear to worry about this an awful lot).

If you are in a position to donate food or money to your local food bank, I am sure they would be very grateful. Our donations are sent here: https://www.hounslowfoodbox.org.uk

Here is Catorze, despatching his parcel with lots of love:

“Bon voyage! Go make some other kitties happy!”

Les mains sales (Partie 2)

I am sure that you already knew this, Mesdames et Messieurs, but hand sanitising gel and cats don’t mix. In short, it’s because the former contains alcohol and/or tea tree and the latter are prolific lickers (especially of things that we don’t want them to lick).

If you’ve had to use hand sanitising gel during an unavoidable trip out, it might be a good idea to wash your hands normally with hot water and soap or hand wash – not with more gel – before you stroke your pets. Admittedly it’s unlikely that you would transfer enough gel for them to do themselves serious damage, but we have enough to deal with right now without having to add vet visits into the mix.

We use liquid soap from Scent Trail (see link below), who are kind enough to custom-make a fragrance-free version especially for Louis Catorze. They are a small U.K. business who are very mindful of animal welfare, and I am sure that they would appreciate any orders at this time.


Ugly hands need washing, too.

Les petites pilules irrégulières

I don’t know whether collecting Louis Catorze’s medication from the vet is something that most would class as an “essential journey” but, yesterday – BEFORE the announcement from our esteemed leader, I might add – it was essential to us.

The little sod’s next steroid shot is due in the first week of April and, because we have no idea what state the world will be in by then, we contacted the vet to ask about a tablet version that we could administer at home. Catorze is quite hit and miss when it comes to pills – sometimes he will happily eat them in a Pill Pocket, sometimes he won’t – but we can’t risk injection time coming around and us not being allowed to leave the house.

We walked the seven minutes or so to the vet practice just before 6pm, when we knew the streets would be quieter, having paid for the pills over the phone beforehand. When we arrived, the nurse put down the bottle on the doorstep and I picked it up after she had closed the door. It’s all quite surreal and strange, like some post-apocalyptic horror film, and the ominous sense of dread increased in triplicate when I realised that it wasn’t just one or two pills but a course of two a day, for two weeks. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Here is Catorze, using his quarantine time to project some very artistic shadow shapes with Le Cône. Please stay safe, everyone.

And that’s why they call him the Sun King.

28 jours plus tard

We can’t believe that today marks four weeks of Louis Catorze being Côned, when it was only supposed to be a day or two. Nor can we believe how much life has changed because of Le Cône and its limitations. Our usual Catorzian tasks, which used to take seconds, now take considerably longer, or require constant supervision, or both. Plus there are now additional tasks that didn’t exist before.

In order to deal with all this, Cat Daddy and I organised a rota: he manages the Day Shift from whenever he wakes up until 6pm, we both share the Evening Shift from 6pm until around 10:30pm and then I take over the Night Shift.

For the last four weeks, my days have looked like this:

1. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual.

2. Trojan Horse pill (for Catorze, I mean).

3. Assisted breakfast at the special height-adjusted feeding station. (I have mixed success when it comes to getting him to eat breakfast, so I often have to leave handover notes for the Day Shift stating that I failed dismally and asking him to reattempt the task.)

4. Water glass is filled to almost-overflowing to accommodate Le Cône. (Again, there is mixed success in actually getting him to drink from it.)

5. Supervised time in the exercise yard.

6. Itch-relieving neck rubs and Aveda Tulasāra facial brushing sessions. (For the first fortnight, Catorze would wake me every 2-3 hours for these.)

7. Eye-cleaning with warm water and one of my nieces’ old baby muslins. Catorze welcomes this about as much as he would appreciate being waterboarded.

8. Ointment application to what’s left of his self-harm facial wounds. Again, the patient is not massively receptive to this.

9. I go to work, leaving handover notes for the Day Shift.

10. Day Shift staff sends me photos of various madcap antics.

11. I go home and we both share the Evening Shift. I often walk into the house to find Catorze on his daddy’s lap and the pair of them rocking out to Pink Floyd or suchlike.

Now, of course, my days will look just as they did above from points 1 to 8 onwards. But point 9 will most likely involve wrestling Catorze off me as he clambers all over my laptop and screams bloody murder, whilst my video-taught students stare in through the screen and giggle.

It has been a testing few weeks, but we hope that normal life can resume soon. Well, as normal as can be in these strange times.

Below are some of the handover messages exchanged with the Day Shift. We have named it “Who wrote it: cat owner or medical professional?”

Le Cône est de retour (encore une fois)

It’s been almost 5 days since we declared a Code Rouge state of emergency and deployed Le Cône to save Louis Catorze from his worst enemy: himself. So much has happened but here’s a brief synopsis:

Monday: The vet suggests that we Cône Catorze for a day or so.

Tuesday: We take off Cône for about 90 seconds and he manages to scratch and cut through his skin again. Cône goes back on.

Wednesday: I try removing Cône once more, this time for about 12 seconds, and the same thing happens. We decide to keep it on for another day.

Thursday: Little sod seems much better and appears to have stopped scratching, so I swap Cône for a more comfortable and yielding soft Cône. He sneaks off somewhere and scratches himself into a worse state than ever. Hard Cône goes back on.

Friday: Cat Daddy takes him back to the vet. Another steroid shot, this time the month-long one, is booked for Monday.

We had completely forgotten how much hard work it is to have a cat in a Cône and to manage all the inevitable life adjustments. It also doesn’t help that Catorze is such a shite.

His firm Cône is well-designed, with a front part that de-Velcros off for feeding, but kitty needs to be ready to eat the moment it comes off. If they’re not, and you leave them at length with the front part detached, the weight of the heavier back part makes it swing back to front, and then they can’t eat. And, of course, this is where Catorze won’t play ball.

When we straighten Le Cône to allow him to eat or drink, he no longer wants to do either of those things. Then, when his Cône swings the wrong way around again, he decides that he DOES want to eat and drink after all. So we straighten his Cône, and he changes his mind again. You get the picture. Much of our week has been spent tearing our hair out over this.

Le Cône is pictured below, in detached mode and with the detachable segment just visible on the wooden chest in the background. Our model is sporting a size XS (which will surprise absolutely nobody).

If you are interested in the same Cône that was given to us by the lovely Marc from Katzenworld (THANK YOU, MARC), I have attached a link at the bottom of this post.

The next size up should fit a guinea pig


Le mot C

Things are developing here at Le Château faster than I can write. I had an entirely different entry ready to post today, but I have had to make changes following recent events. Please feel free to mute us (if, indeed, that is a thing on WordPress) or to unfollow if the updates become a nuisance, but it really helps me in terms of record-keeping to write and post in real time about Louis Catorze’s health.

Yesterday, when we came home from a day out, Cat Daddy and I noticed that Catorze’s face was a little redder, but not alarmingly so. However, in the couple of hours after our return, he disappeared off to scratch himself to smithereens and reappeared looking like the victim of an acid attack. So we took another trip to see the vet.

Although we had initially said no to repeating the steroid shot in case it exacerbated any fungal infection, the vet felt that this level of deterioration was unlikely to be of fungal origin. In any case our priority was definitely to control the itching, so we went ahead with the second shot. Once again Catorze went stark raving psycho, screaming bloody murder and scratching both Cat Daddy and the nurse (not the same lady that he scratched before, and I can’t decide whether this is good because he hasn’t made the same person suffer twice, or bad because he’s doubled his victim count in the space of a few days).

Anyway, he is now under house arrest and we have had to deploy Le Cône. I really didn’t want to have to do this, but we haven’t had much choice; as he clearly can’t be trusted not to scratch, if we were to leave him sans Cône he would pretty soon have no face or ears left.

The saddest thing about him being Côned is that he doesn’t become skittish or aggressive around us but wearily compliant, like a prisoner of war so broken down that he finally resigns himself to his fate. He is more affectionate and needy than usual, presumably because not being able to fully see around him makes him uneasy and therefore he needs to be near us to feel safe.

I wish we could make him understand that he will always be safe with us.

“Je déteste Le Cône.”

La peau de chagrin

It’s been a tricky week here at Le Château.

Louis Catorze’s scabby facial skin condition, from which he has been free for YEARS, has suddenly returned, turning him from moderately scruffy to FrankenRoi in a matter of days.

Despite our best efforts, we still don’t exactly know why this happens to him. We can only imagine that, this time around, it’s due either to some foul substance with which he has come into contact outside, or to his recent penchant for sleeping in a dusty old gym bag under our bed despite having an extensive selection of anti-allergy beds at his disposal.

We were all set to take him to the vet but, inexplicably, he was dramatically better the next day, so we didn’t. But then, mid-week, he looked worse again, even though we had taken great pains to reinstate the Code Rouge État d’Urgence measures as follows:

1. Daily brushing (for reasons unknown, despite the fact that we only brush his body, it appears to improve his facial skin too)

2. A ban on Catorze entering our bedroom unsupervised (when he is likely to creep under the bed unnoticed)

3. At least an hour a day spent in a room with an air-purifying beeswax candle (and, thanks to Cocoa the babysit cat’s mamma, who makes them, we have a healthy stash)

Anyway, Cat Daddy took him to the vet on Thursday, where he was given a week-long steroid shot and instructions to return for a month-long one if there was no improvement.

Unfortunately steroid shots are known to turn cats absolutely manic and, as you are aware, Catorze’s starting point is already somewhat concerning. I came home that evening to frenetic, up-tailed pitter-pattering around and off-the-scale screaming, and Sa Maj wolfed down his dinner in one sitting without a single crumb to spare. This has never happened before.

Please send him both get-well and behave-yourself vibes, in equal measure, so that he is back to his majestic self in time for his Official 10th Birthday Portrait sittings.

A little poorly, but still a massive pain in the arse

Les services de secours

Yesterday a certain someone had to go for their booster jabs and, because Cat Daddy had the car and Uber won’t accept such short journeys, I had to carry the little sod there and back in his transportation pod.

It’s only a 5-minute walk but Louis Catorze’s screaming makes it highly stressful and embarrassing. And not only did I have to deal with that, but I also had to navigate us around an unacceptably large number of crottes de chien(s?) on the way. Dog walkers of TW8, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. Clean up your* shit, for goodness’ sake. The rest of us shouldn’t have to swerve around it as if dodging land mines.

*Yes, YOUR shit. Your dog is unable to pick it up, bag it and bin it him/herself, which makes it YOUR responsibility.

Anyway, this time we saw a lovely new vet whom we hadn’t seen before, and she said she’d never seen a cat so “vocal”. This isn’t the first time that the veterinary staff have pointed this out; in fact, I was once told that I needn’t have bothered ringing the bell when I arrived because they could hear Catorze’s screaming from every part of the building.

The vet also said she had checked through his notes before our appointment and “hadn’t expected quite so many of them”. I had almost forgotten about the bad old days when he was at the vet’s so often that I almost took him and a sleeping bag and moved in there, and that awful Christmas when we saw more of the veterinary staff than of our family and friends. So it’s très positive indeed that he hasn’t needed to go there in a while, not counting the time we thought he had a tick and/or Lyme disease when it was just a lump of crud stuck to his fur: https://louiscatorze.com/2018/06/24/le-syndrome-de-munchhausen/

Getting Catorze out of his pod was quite a challenge; he clung onto the inside for all he was worth and refused to let go, so the vet and I had to tug-of-war him out. He was relatively good during the eye and ear check, the thermometer and the weigh-in (although still screamed his lungs out) but totally lost his shit when he had his injection and hissed at both me and the vet. He couldn’t wait to get back into his pod and dived in as soon as I unzipped it.

For the first time ever, Sa Maj has broken the 3.5kg barrier and is now 3.62kg. And it seems that those extra 12g make all the difference, because I pinged my back badly carrying him home. I was worried that I would have to call Oscar the dog’s folks or even That Neighbour to come and carry the pod the rest of the way, but luckily I managed to grit my teeth, soldier on and finish the job. Our neighbours are the most wonderful and patient people and would have helped without hesitation, but I can’t think of anything more awkward than having to approach them and say, “You know that animal who torments you and ruins your peace and quiet? How do you fancy carrying him home so that he can continue doing it?”

Catorze is absolutely fine, having forgotten about his ordeal already. Mine, however, is just beginning.

Il faut cultiver notre jardin

The spring equinox is here, which means brighter days and a renewed sense of joie de vivre. And, as if to mark this theme of vitality and optimism, someone or something has puked in our vegetable patch, right on the bit where we plant our salad leaves and kale. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Believe me, I thought it, too, and it was also the first thing Cat Daddy said upon discovering it (right after all the swearing). But, disgusting though this is, when you have just one animal who eats pretty much just one thing, you soon get to know what their regurgitated food looks like. This was much too copious and too, erm, orange to have been produced by Louis Catorze. I know his brew like I know my own name and, trust me, this ain’t his. 

So, thoughts? The only other possible culprits are: 

  1. Foxes (highly likely) 
  2. Badgers (unlikely but not impossible)
  3. Other cats (seemingly likely but we never see any in our garden, ever, so I am a little sad at the idea that they don’t come to befriend Catorze yet they make the effort to come here to vomit)

As with most other things that go on at Le Château, I don’t suppose we will ever find out the truth. In the meantime, I shall be praying for rain to wash everything away and buying my salad leaves from the supermarket. 

This picture is of Sa Maj sunning himself and rocking out to the Rolling Stones during Boys’ Club, because, obviously, I wasn’t going to post a photo of the vomit. 


De l’eau pour tous

After a suggestion from one of my lovely blog followers, I have been putting a bowl of hot water in each of the rooms most frequented by Sa Maj in the hope that the extra moisture in the air might help his eyes. 

When we first adopted him we were told that he only drank from glasses, and that under no circumstances would he drink from a bowl. “I’m sure he’ll use a bowl eventually, when he gets thirsty enough,” I replied cheerfully. He didn’t. So we had no option but to provide him with his own special glass. (Well, it was either that or have him randomly drink from any receptacle that he came across, which is asking for trouble.)

Naturellement, after a lifetime of refusing to drink from a bowl, the sudden presence of bowls from which we DON’T want him to drink has made him decide that he might be interested after all. And the only thing that stops him from doing it – apart from me taking my phone from my pocket to catch him in the act – is using hot water straight from the kettle which, despite being the best for adding moisture to the air, comes with its own, obvious problems. (Don’t worry: we are fully aware that Sa Maj is stupid enough to scald himself, so we ensure that we are around to keep him under Suicide Watch. Once the water has cooled and he is no longer under surveillance, no doubt he has a good old slurp and renders this experiment a complete waste of time.)

Cat Daddy has also kicked and/or threatened to kick more bowls of water than I can count. So, between the two of them, the men of the household are doing their best to make sure that this whole thing fails dismally. 

Me: “We could always buy him a plug-in air humidifier?”

Cat Daddy: “[Hysterical laughter followed by unrepeatable comments peppered with rude words.]”

Fortunately Catorze continues to remain in good spirits and is utterly unbothered by his condition. In the meantime, we shall keep topping up the boiling water in the hope that it does him good. 


Toute maladie peut être soignée mais la sottise est incurable

Louis Catorze’s above-eye fur is thinning, and the skin around his eyes is starting to look a little thick and leathery. Given that these signs often indicate a resurgence of all his old problems, this makes me very anxious indeed. I am also somewhat baffled as he has been well for such a long time, and I cannot imagine what could have triggered this. 

We have had the central heating cranked up unusually high lately, and, historically, his issues have been worse in cold weather. But, other than that, there have been no changes whatsoever in anything we have done. He is eating exactly the same food, and everything in his environment is as it has always been.

He is perfectly fine in every other way – eating, drinking, screaming and sprinting around the house with bulging psycho eyes whilst chasing imaginary prey (or at least I hope it’s imaginary) – so I guess he can’t be THAT unwell. But, to be on the safe side, I am turning the heating down when I can, even if this means the rest of us are cold. 

Cat Daddy, shivering in two jumpers and a blanket: “[Unrepeatable mutterings.]”

Please keep your fingers crossed for him – Catorze, I mean, not Cat Daddy – and let’s all hope that it’s nothing rather than something.