Les mots sont la plus puissante drogue

img_8679Louis Catorze has been sans Cône for a few weeks now, and I’m elated to report that he hasn’t gone for his tail once in that time.

We have even been able to leave him unsupervised (for a few minutes at first, then for progressively longer periods) and he has behaved himself in our absence. When we come home from work we still systematically check his tail for telltale signs of attack – dampness, thinning fur, gushing rivers of blood, that kind of thing – but there have been none whatsoever.

Keeping him Côned and under house arrest for almost 24 hours a day wasn’t much fun. It was obvious why he hated it – after all, none of us would want to live with something like that around our neck – but the fact that his vision, hearing, balance and feeding were all compromised by Le Cône went beyond mere inconvenience: it made him insecure, vulnerable and clingy. And, whilst the twisted, selfish part of me rather enjoyed having my boy constantly at my side, requesting to be picked up and sleeping squashed between us, the fact that he didn’t feel 100% safe without us made us sad.

Now all that is behind him and he’s going in and out freely, chasing bugs, antagonising magpies and sending Oscar the dog completely ballistic. It has been very tempting to relax on the pilling now that he’s doing so well, but the instructions were very clear: we are to bombard him with Gabapentin and then wean him off very gradually. And we’re due to see the vet at the end of the month, so that they can confirm when we may start cutting down and advise us on how to do it safely.

Sadly I know the horror of coming off heavy-duty medication, even when tapering down very gradually: when I came off Tramadol after my spinal surgery, I was hysterical and homicidal for weeks. Given that Louis Catorze was already both of those things even before the pills, I dread to think what weaning off will do to him … but we’re ready for it.

 

Eureka!

Earlier this week the vet sent Louis Catorze’s dossier to a neurological specialist at the Royal Veterinary College, and they are highly suspicious that he is displaying signs of feline hyperesthesia. Of the 7,000 animals that they see every year only 4 cats have this condition, so to know that our boy is one of the 4 is shocking yet somehow not surprising.

Cat Daddy and I were actually delighted upon learning the news, which may seem inappropriate for such a rare and complicated condition with no official test or cure, but, to be honest, it was a relief just to have an answer. After 2 and a half years of red herrings, blind alleys and inconclusive test results, we feel fortunate to have a starting point.

We have just been back to the vet for the full debrief and it looks as if the next few weeks are going to be hard, mainly because the specialist’s instructions are for Catorze to be Côned very strictly: we’re talking almost 24 hours a day, with Cône-free time only allowed if he is eating or drinking under supervision or if he is on our laps. (He has rediscovered his tail again lately and, unfortunately, the longer it takes to heal, the more his neurological condition will cause it to send “Viens m’attaquer!” signals to his brain.)

In the light of this recent diagnosis we are now NOT to stop the Gabapentin, but to continue with it at the higher dose of 4 x 25mg pills per day, and this may be given either separately in 4 doses or 2 in the morning, 1 after work and 1 before bed. It’s been a few days since we started to deploy the prosciutto-wrapped pills – which Cat Daddy has, rather brilliantly, collectively nicknamed “The Trojan Horse” – and what a stroke of luck that Louis Catorze has bouffed virtually every single one. You cannot imagine how much easier our lives are because of this.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has supported us to this point. Despite everything, we still feel very lucky, and we will keep you updated in the hope that our experience may help others.

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Où est mon argent?

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I have a week off work, and I was so looking forward to sleeping late and drinking tea in bed with my 2 boys. Sadly, Catorze had other plans.

This morning we were woken at 8:00 by yelling (not for any real purpose, just for fun), then again 30 minutes later by the postman banging on the door to deliver a package that wouldn’t fit through the letterbox. When I went back upstairs to bed, Cat Daddy rolled over and murmured sleepily, “What was in the package? Don’t tell me it was more shit for that bloody cat?”

I did as he asked and refrained from telling him.

The “shit for that bloody cat” turned out to be anti-flea treatment and a further supply of Atopica, accompanied by an invoice for £103. We’re quite used to seeing enormous Catorze-related bills, so I wasn’t too concerned by this initially. But, when I transferred the £103 from our savings account into my current account to pay the invoice, I realised that le royal sick fund had definitely seen healthier days.

During the reign of Luther – who was once described by the vet as “a picture of health” – the fund flourished and grew to in excess of £800, because Luther never needed veterinary treatment apart from his routine booster jabs. His little brother, on the other hand, halved the fund within 18 months, and now it contains under £300. When I told Cat Daddy how much was left, he called Louis Catorze a rude, unrepeatable name and grumpily agreed that we would need to double up the monthly standing orders going from our current accounts into the sick fund.

I realise that this must sound like a request for money, but rest assured that it really isn’t. So please don’t donate to us or collect money on our behalf*, firstly because we knew what we were getting into when we took Catorze on, but also because he is one of the lucky ones whose slaves can just about manage. I have already mentioned elsewhere on this blog that cats cost money, but it’s worth repeating – and, whilst I would never discourage anyone from taking on a special needs cat, anyone considering it needs to hear the harsh truth about the cost.

The good news is that, if you take on a cat with known medical issues, the rescue centre will almost always offer discounted or free aftercare treatment; for instance, we get reduced-price Atopica if we buy it from Louis Catorze’s ex-rescue (yes, the eye-watering sum of £103 INCLUDED our discount!). If you’re struggling with a new diagnosis for a sick kitty, it’s always worth approaching rescues and animal charities and asking about cost-price medication, even if your cat came from elsewhere.

*Lilly’s Legacy, on the other hand, is a rescue group that helps stray and missing cats and is in desperate need of funding. If you would like to make a donation to cats who are genuinely in need, their PayPal account address is lillyslegacy@hotmail.com

Les résultats, Partie 2

Louis Catorze’s remedy from the bioenergetics company arrived just before the move but, along with a lot of other stuff, it’s trapped among boxes in the living room and I can’t get to it. Luckily he’s doing really well at the moment, both physically and in spirit, so I haven’t needed it desperately. The analysis that accompanied it was like a foreign language to me, as was the letter explaining it. The one bit that I did understand, however, was: “Please allow 4-5 working days before calling us to discuss the readings”, so presumably I’m not the only one.

I called them today, and it seems that my cat defies both conventional AND alternative medicine: once again, he displayed sensitivity to certain substances, but not strongly enough to be causing such extreme symptoms. The bioenergetics lady said she couldn’t understand it at all. So Louis Catorze is a weirdo on many levels (although we kind of suspected this anyway).

Anyway, the offending substances are:

  • Egg yolk
  • Flax seed
  • Rabbit (not a concern as the chances of him catching one are slim-to-zero)
  • Fennel (I know he’s royalty, but really?)
  • Pigeon and chicken droppings
  • Feathers (the only one which didn’t come as a surprise to me, as he’s so much better when he’s kept away from the now-deceased Forbidden Feather Duvet)

The bioenergetics lady also confirmed receipt of my emails containing his medical history and the dreaded photos which I once swore I would never show to another living soul: the ones taken in January 2014 by Louis Catorze’s then-foster mamma, which show his allergy at its absolute worst. I had warned the bioenergetics lady beforehand that these photos were upsetting viewing, thinking that, as a professional who dealt regularly with this kind of thing, she’d have seen much worse. Unfortunately her response was: “Quite shocking.” Oh dear.

So I now need to get a move on in terms of clearing all those boxes and locating his stuff, so that I can start giving him the remedy.

I also spoke to the vet at the ex-rescue centre, who told me that they would be able to do the skin scraping test at the same time as the vaccination. Louis Catorze is not due there until mid-August, so he will have a good few weeks to settle into Le Château before being disrupted again. Poor thing probably has many more mountains to climb until he’s fully better, but it’s really good to feel that things are moving and that we’re taking active steps to find that solution.