L’infirmier

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A couple of weeks ago I had a cortisone injection in my right shoulder, and yesterday I had another one in the left. (The hospital actually sent me a further letter inviting me for a third one, then realised their mistake when I pointed out that I only have 2 shoulders.)

My sister: “This means that 2/3 of your household are on steroids!”

After the injection you are supposed to rest at home for 48 hours, which has meant I’ve had to cancel a few things that had been planned for ages, including my mum’s birthday lunch, my friend’s 30th and a concert which was my anniversary gift to Cat Daddy. So he went out for the night, taking his friend as his anniversary date, and I was stuck indoors with Catorze. (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme.)

Now, I realise that a cosy night in with a cat may sound like a pleasant way of passing the time, but this is Catorze we’re taking about. For a start, I am only his 14th favourite human in the world (after Cat Daddy, ex-Houseguest Matt, Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy, Cocoa the babysit cat’s brother, Oscar the dog’s daddy, Bert the dog’s daddy, our friend Steve, our friend Phil, our friend Daniel, Krzysztof driving the Lemon van from Ocado, the man who fixed the dishwasher and those two trick-or-treating youths who came wearing clown masks and brandishing machine guns), so I don’t suppose staying home with me is top of his list of fun things to do. Also, cats instinctively know when you are ill but only about 8% of them actually give a shit, and this makes the patient more miserable.

Quelle surprise, then, when the little sod remained cuddled up on my knees all evening! THIS NEVER HAPPENS! And, when my pain got too bad and I decided to take myself off to bed, I called him from upstairs and he came running to join me. (This is one of the dog-like qualities that I love in him but, very often, when he arrives and sees that it’s just me and my stupid shit again, he turns around and leaves. This time he stayed for a brief cuddle.)

At 1:15am I was woken by the familiar sound of indistinct scrabbling (the feline version of a text from DHL, indicating that a delivery had been made). Nothing says “Get well soon, maman!” quite like blood all over the bedroom floor and a dead rat, especially when only having one functioning arm with which to clean up the mess.

I intend to take it easy for the rest of the weekend. I really hope that Catorze does, too.

Pas de nouvelles, pas de nouvelles

What an insane week it’s been at Le Château: I am back at work after a whole summer off, Cat Daddy has been away on business and is preparing to go again next week, we’ve had a dead mouse in the bathroom and Le Roi’s booster jabs were due today.

But the one piece of great news is that, because Louis Catorze is not any medication at the moment, he was able to go to our local vet and have a standard vaccine, rather than enduring a 90-minute round trip to the rescue centre vet for the special non-live vaccine that only they can supply. Until now he’s had to have that because Atopica isn’t compatible with standard booster injections and so, unsurprisingly, I opted for the 90-minute round trip rather than risk a freakishly psycho FrankenRoi. It feels like a luxury not to have to do that anymore.

“I wonder if the vet will compliment him on his appearance?” I shouted in the car, so that I could be heard over Catorze’s screaming. “He’s looking really good at the moment.”

“Yeah, but it’s all relative,” Cat Daddy yelled back. “Of all the cats that she sees, where do you think he would rank on a scale from 1 to 10?”

Silence, tumbleweed, crickets. Even Catorze shut up at that point.

Anyway, after Louis Catorze’s initial “Quoi? Here again? I thought we were done with this place?” everything went ok. He has beefed up to a whopping 3.49kg, which came as a surprise to the vet as cats usually LOSE weight during a break from steroids. There was the usual yelling and swearing (from him) when his ears were examined, and the procedure had to be aborted when he unveiled an ingenious new trick: bending forward and wedging his head between his thighs so that his ears were inaccessible. (Imagine a cat preparing to do a forward roll but not actually rolling, and just remaining in a tight ball. Little sod.)

We’re home now and the post-vet sulk appears to be a thing of the past, with Louis Catorze instantly forgiving us (or forgetting) and happily pitter-pattering about our feet. I hope this peace is a taste of the weekend to come; we could all do with it.

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Au secours!

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Having spoken to another lady whose cat has regular steroid shots, I have discovered that some shots just “take” well but others don’t. It seems there’s no reason for it, and that it’s just the way things are.

To give you a picture of exactly what I mean, imagine last month’s steroid shot as watered-down lager, whereas last week’s one is more like absinthe with a sprinkling of amphetamines. Louis Catorze is behaving just like a bloke doing shots on a stag night, all shouty and annoying, lurching around like he owns the world.

He hasn’t stopped screaming since the day after the shot, and has been waking us up early in the morning for no reason whatsoever. He has a ferocious appetite, the like of which I’ve never seen before. And I’ve just had to move darned fast to stop him from launching himself at my feet and embedding a layer of cat hair in my not-quite-dry nail varnish.

His thinning fur is filling out beautifully, he has no scabs and his coat looks thick and glossy, not that this is of any consequence as he’s constantly rolling in dirt (see picture) and covering himself in crud again. We’re exhausted from listening to him and from the lack of sleep and, quite frankly, at times we’re scared witless.

Please send ear plugs, a cattle prod and holy water to TW8 tout de suite.

On se méfie

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We decided not to bathe Le Roi after all.

Well … when I say “decided not to”, I mean “were too scared to”. You’ve read about The Vet Incidents, therefore you know full well what a horror he can be. So, instead, we asked the vet’s advice when we took the little sod for his monthly steroid shot yesterday.

Between all Louis Catorze’s whining, struggling and kicking, the vet suggested that we sponge him down with plain water if he became too grotty. She also added tactfully, “The only problem with washing cats is that some of them don’t tolerate it.” Which is polite vet speak for, “Try it, and you will die.” Oh dear.

In other vet news, the next fun medical event in Catorze’s life, in a couple of months’ time, will be a blood test to check how his body is handling the steroids. Our vet knows what to expect and is preparing her battle gear already.

Vivre un échec est pire que lutter

After the joys of the weekend, which included a wonderful visit from some of the Sun King’s pilgrims, today was Steroid Shot Day. And this is how it went:

– Brutal wrestle getting Louis Catorze into La Cage: check
– Yowling throughout the journey: check
– Kicking, hissing and clawing during the injection: check
– Silence all the way home (apart from the odd moment when Cat Daddy muttered, “Disgraceful behaviour”): check

And it seems that Le Roi has lost weight and is down to 3.22kg. We had noticed his appetite reducing in proportion to his increased trips outdoors for Oscar-baiting and suchlike, and we’ve had no reason to be unduly concerned. But we’ve been told to keep an eye on him and not let him get too skinny (which will be a challenge for a cat who doesn’t like food).

Then, when we got home, we realised that we had locked ourselves out of Le Château, so Cat Daddy waited outside our door with La Cage perched on the wall whilst I dashed around retrieving our spare keys from Cocoa the babysit cat’s family. During the wait, Cat Daddy got chatting to a random passer-by who commented on Louis Catorze’s “lovely face” (although, to be fair, it was getting dark outside at this point), and who revealed that all his cats had come from the same rescue as Catorze.

The little sod sat happily and serenely through the key kerfuffle and the compliments. Maybe one day he will do the same with the vet.

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(Thank you, Phil, for the fabulous photo showing my dear boy’s tooth impediment in its full glory.)

En (presque) parfaite santé

imageIt’s been a month and 2 days since Louis Catorze’s last steroid shot. Each shot is designed to last 3-4 weeks, but I have good news: it looks as if we may be able to stretch this one out for a little longer. His eye puffiness is minimal, he has barely any scabbiness on his chin and, best of all, the Greta Garbo mood doesn’t seem to have taken hold this time. Le Roi is still happy, dynamic, bothering the local urban wildlife and scenting the air with sweet, tangy lime wherever he goes.

So we have a few days’ reprieve until the next trip to the vet, and Louis Catorze will be spending this time mostly sleeping, chirping and meeting new pilgrims. He is very much looking forward to seeing tomorrow’s guests, who read about him online and thought, “An unphotogenic, itchy, stupid cat who does nothing? Yup, sounds worth a visit.”

Je suis légèrement moins drogué

Just a quick update on Louis Catorze’s most recent vet visit and steroid shot. (If nothing else Le Blog helps me to keep track of the dates of these things.)

We decided to take him today as we had noticed the skin around his inner eyes thickening, which is usually the danger sign that things are about to turn to merde again. Once again he yowled and whinged throughout the whole procedure, but we are happy to report that his ears have improved, so he doesn’t need the ear drops anymore. And, because we had taken him in before the itching had fully set in, the vet was able to give the little sod a reduced dose of the steroid shot.

We wondered whether the lower dose would mean less psycho behaviour. But we weren’t left wondering for long: the minute we got back, Louis Catorze dashed straight out to annoy Oscar the dog. Oh dear.

Le Roi nous fait chier

On dark, cold, moonless nights with howling winds, most people have the sense to remain indoors, especially if they’re not well. I, however, decided last night to leave the toasty-warm cocoon of Le Château and haul a protesting, itchy black cat to the vet for his steroid shot.

The vet is a lovely lady who is sweet to Catorze and talks to him gently in her cat lady voice, and, the last time we saw her, whilst he didn’t exactly behave impeccably, he did allow her to live. We were full of confidence about this visit as Le Roi is generally fine with injections; it’s the meticulous examination of orifices and membranes that he finds objectionable (can’t say I blame him), and that wasn’t on the agenda for the evening.

Luckily we’d got him there at about the right time, just as his condition was starting to turn but before it had reached the grimness of broken skin, weeping wounds and scabs. And that fact was pretty much the only positive.

Louis Catorze decided that, yes, he may well have tolerated les injections before, but that was before. This time he had changed his mind, struggling, kicking and hissing as if demonically possessed, with the three of us barely managing to contain him. The injection finally succeeded on the third or fourth attempt, with Louis Catorze fighting so hard that the needle came out bent at an angle. (I wanted a photo but refrained from asking in case it sounded insensitive.)

We couldn’t understand what had gone wrong. The vet suggested that perhaps Louis Catorze had been taken by surprise by the previous month’s shot, whereas this time he was recalling what had happened before and steeling himself for it. If this is true, it doesn’t bode well for what I had hoped would be dignified trips to the vet in lieu of thrice-weekly Atopica assaults. There is, apparently, the option of giving the injection under the skin as opposed to deep within the muscle (which is the painful bit), but it’s not as effective; if we’re bothering to drag his arse there and jab a needle into him, we may as well do it properly.

Little sod’s short-term memory appeared to work in his favour upon our return home; he trotted out of La Cage, up-tailed, and, ever since, has been happily pitter-pattering in and out of the house, annoying Oscar the dog, having cuddles on the bed and so on. I wish his treatment were as simple as his outlook on life.

La panacée du Roi

“What a pity January is almost over, just as things were getting good,” said absolutely nobody, ever.

It’s a difficult month at the best of times, even when the sharply cold temperatures and bright white frost give a kind of feeling of newness and freshness. But this January, far from being sharply cold or frosty-bright white, has been especially grim: grey, damp, clammy and sluggish. I can’t wait for it to end.

Louis Catorze, however, couldn’t give a hoot either way.

All is going phenomenally well in his little world, which means, at least, that someone has had a positive month. His black cat mojo is bursting at the seams at the moment and he looks magnificent. Cat Daddy usually lets out a snort of contempt when I say this, deriding Catorze’s “drug-addled state” and muttering something about him only appearing attractive if you look from a long way off and squint a bit. But I don’t care how far away you have to stand or how he got this way: I’ll still take it.

Here he is, looking menacing and demonstrating the right hook that (possibly) knocked out his mystery opponent at Le Fight Club:

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It’s not just his physical appearance that has improved: everything about him just seems easier when he’s well. Even the medication and the Advocate, whilst not exactly fun, aren’t so bad, with the Post-Meds Sulk seemingly a thing of the past; whereas previously he would run away afterwards and hide for hours (or for the whole day, as he did on his first day with us when I crunched his tail under my knee by accident), now he comes back for cuddles.

He’s had a fair few visitors throughout January and he’s been on fine form for them all: sociable, affectionate and even happily allowing 3 kids aged 5 and under to simultaneously manhandle him. Poor Luther would have walked through hellfire to avoid such a thing – in fact, most normal cats would – but we all know, don’t we, that Louis Catorze is not a normal cat?

He’s due at the vet’s for his next steroid shot in a couple of weeks. I really hope this run of good luck holds out until then.

Le diable en moi

Today’s trip to the vet was traumatic beyond belief. To be honest I could do with a week or two to allow my heartbeat to return to normal before writing about it but, if I don’t do it now, I shall wake up tomorrow and think I dreamed it all.

As expected, Louis Catorze needed another steroid shot – this time the longer-lasting one – and an antibiotic shot. But, after I reported seeing him shaking his head and shoving his back feet deep into his ears, the vet checked him as best she could under the circumstances* and said he would also need treatment for an ear infection.

(*I say this because the little sod really didn’t make it easy for her to check: he struggled, kicked and yowled so badly that I began to think we needed an exorcist, not a vet.)

The ear treatment process was twofold and, unfortunately, Louis Catorze writhed and complained like crazy throughout both parts, shaking the cleaning fluid and ear drops all over me, the vet and himself. And, because the whole ordeal had to be repeated on both ears, by the time it was over he was soaking wet and looked as if we’d tried to drown him. It was quite heartbreaking to see the fear and confusion in his face when the torment just didn’t ease up. The relentless attack of the cleaning solution followed by the ear drops followed by the antibiotic shot followed by the steroid shot terrified the poor sausage so much that he ran into his daddy’s arms and clung to him for dear life.

“How often do we need to give him the ear drops?” I asked, praying that the vet wouldn’t say “every day”.

“Ideally a couple of times a day …” she replied.

[Thudding sound from my sunken heart hitting the ground]

” … But I can see that it’s, erm, going to be a challenge,” she continued. “Maybe once the steroid kicks in and he’s a bit more comfortable, he won’t mind you doing it so much.”

Hmmm.

Anyway, Cat Daddy is now pouring himself a big glass of Merlot, Louis Catorze is having an apocalyptic sulk under the bed and I’m wondering how the heck I’m going to get the ear drops anywhere near him without him kicking me to death. We need to take him back to the vet in a week’s time so that they can check on his ears again, but I just don’t see them being able to do it unless they sedate the whole darned lot of us first.