Good news: Louis Catorze is now completely off the steroids.
Bad news: this has made absolutely zero difference to the level of psycho in his body, which remains unchanged. One of my friends told me that it took a few days for the effects of the steroids to leave the system. Erm, yeah, I don’t think we can wait that long.
Today I caught Sa Maj attempting to jump onto the top of the picture to his right (our left, below). No, there is absolutely nowhere to land apart from the 2cm edge of the picture or perhaps the string of autumn leaf fairy lights. But, yes, he was about to try it anyway.
Cat Daddy: “That’s REALLY worrying. You know how it would have ended, don’t you?”
I do: with a ripped piece of art and/or mangled fairy lights, a furious Cat Daddy and a kicked royal arse.
Cat Daddy: “And you know he’s only going to try it again when we’re out of the house, don’t you?”
I do. So what a good thing we’re not really allowed out at the moment. (Or maybe we are. Nobody knows for sure.)
Here is the little sod – who, incidentally, is not allowed to jump on top of the speakers – planning his next attempt:
The citizens of the United Kingdom have spent the last couple of days taking in the government’s new pandemic advice. Which is as follows: “Go back to work. NOT ON THE TUBE, FOR GOD’S SAKE.”
Meanwhile, Louis Catorze has almost finished his course of steroids. And what a très grand relief this is because, as you know, they have turned him into a fireball of energy and a criminal genius, and we just can’t keep up with him.
Just like Bradley Cooper in that film about the blue pills, it’s as if the steroids allow Catorze to access the parts of his brain that he wasn’t accessing before (and, lets face it, that’s a lot of previously-untouched brain). He has become uncharacteristically cunning and resourceful and, avec Cône, managed to do a number of things that Côned cats should not be able to do, including – but not limited to – the following:
1. Scaling 2-metre fences.
2. Travelling across several gardens, covering more ground than we ever thought possible.
3. Opening doors.
4. Chasing foxes.
5. Losing the detachable part of Le Cône.
6. Losing Le whole Cône.
7. Discovering bizarre new ways of scratching himself, the most notable of which was by using the corners of Cat Daddy’s old vinyl album covers. (Please see below for a picture of Le Roi having just toppled Deep Purple’s Machine Head after being caught in the act.)
Catorze will have been on the pills, in various strengths, for almost twelve weeks in total. Had it been a few weeks longer, we probably could have asked him to join our pub quiz team and he would have nailed that tricky anagrams round. And, after a few months, he may well have become Prime Minister.
Me: “Who would you rather have as Prime Minister? Option 1: Boris Johnson. Option 2 …”
Thank you so much to everyone who wished Louis Catorze a bon anniversaire and who donated to charitable causes in his honour. He had a great day, bouncing around, screaming and full of energy, although the bad weather meant we had to postpone some of the celebrations for this weekend. That said, he doesn’t know what a weekend is and, come to think of it, he doesn’t even know what a birthday is, so tant pis.
Cat Daddy also had a ball, managing to lose his phone after far too much white wine. He later found it in the garden, where he had left it after trying (and failing) to take the perfect Official 10th Birthday Portrait of Sa Maj. Cat Daddy also said lots of rude sweary words whilst watching the government’s daily briefing, then picked up his boy and murmured, “Sorry, Louis, for being angry on your birthday.”
Catorze had the unexpected birthday treat of being double-pilled by accident, receiving his whole day’s dose in one morning. Now, I know you are thinking I would have to be pretty stupid to double-pill a cat by accident. But I was tricked, as follows:
1. I placed the Trojan Horse Pill Pocket on Catorze’s plate but he refused to eat it.
2. I tried to persuade him about 739 times, but he continued to refuse.
3. I gave up and pilled him using the Greco-Roman method, leaving the first pill in his bowl (GROSSE ERREUR).
4. Little sod changed his mind and ate it immediately after being Greco-Romaned, when I wasn’t looking.
Had I been on holiday I most likely would have thought to remove the Trojan Horse from his bowl after pilling him but, because I am working full days from home, I have other things to do and I forgot. So now all pills not for immediate consumption locked away in the way one would lock away sharp knives or drain unblocker from small children.
We were supposed to have moved well into the tapering phase of Catorze’s medication by now but, because the silly sod scratched himself when we unCôned him, we had to increase his dose for a while. Tomorrow we will be reducing him from two pills to one pill a day but, now that I have told you that, I’m pretty sure he will do something to mess it up again.
This (below) is the kind of behaviour we have been having to deal with, both with and without the pills. At 10 years old he should be trying to slow down, right? Yeah, well, he isn’t.
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.
You’ve got to admire Louis Catorze’s positivity: even in Le Cône and with all the doors and windows shut, when he saw me coming with the Flamazine* the other day he still thought he could outrun me.
We had been granting him very limited and controlled Cône-free time behind closed (and locked) doors, to allow him to wash. Initially he would wash his sore bits too roughly, so Le Cône would be slapped back on after just a couple of minutes. But, over the last week, we had managed to progressively extend the Cône-free time and had worked our way up to a good hour or so.
However, the other night, on Cat Daddy’s watch, Le Cône was taken off and Sa Maj fell asleep on his daddy’s lap. But, after a few too many bottles glasses of Louis Latour (yes, it is an actual wine), Cat Daddy fell asleep, too. And sneaky Catorze took advantage of his daddy’s pass-out and now has a sore eye due to unsupervised over-zealous washing.
The wound is, no doubt, very itchy as it heals, so the little sod has resumed his efforts to scratch. He has also started to refuse the morning Piriton that he used to eat quite happily in a Pill Pocket.
Anyway, the new rule is: no unCôned time whilst intoxicated. And, although intoxication feels like the only way we can deal with all that’s going on in the world right now, it’s a sacrifice we are willing to make for our boy.
*Flamazine should not be ingested, so wash time cannot coincide with ointment time.
Louis Catorze’s biopsy results are in. And it seems that, whilst he appears to have ninety-nine problems, an autoimmune disease ain’t one.
Although the test can’t pinpoint the exact cause, it’s looking likely that he is triggered by one or more external allergens rather than by having something intrinsically wrong with his body. So, after many years of Cat Daddy muttering “Knowing him, he’s probably just allergic to himself”, this has now officially been declared unlikely.
This is further forward than we have ever been before with the little sod.
Here is a summary of the treatments that he had on Tuesday night:
1. Removal of biopsy stitches.
2. Antibacterial ointment (Flamazine) applied to his now-healing self-harm wounds.
3. A dose of Advocate alongside his Broadline to rule out a flea allergy, because the vet found traces of flea poo* in his fur. (Yes, I do flea-treat him every month. No, I have never missed a dose.)
4. A souped-up version of the month-long steroid shot, because now we know for sure that Catorze doesn’t have some freakish, as-yet-undiscovered-by-science-but-soon-to-be-named-after-him medical condition which could be worsened by steroids.
* FLEA POO. THE POO OF FLEAS. MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN NOW THAT I KNOW THIS IS A THING.
We have discussed with the vet the possibility of a hypoallergenic diet, but Catorze has been on Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish since May 2018, long before his symptoms reappeared, plus Lily’s Kitchen have written to me to confirm that all their recipes are hypoallergenic anyway. So Cat Daddy and I have agreed that we won’t implement a change of diet until later on, and only if all else fails. We have been guilty in the past of throwing too many solutions at Catorze and not really having any idea of which ones – if any – have worked, so I don’t think it’s a bad idea to be a little more measured this time around and to try one thing at a time.
The relatively newly-introduced Delicious Chicken, however, is off the menu, and my friend’s cat Boots will be the happy recipient of the brand new, unopened pack currently sitting in our cupboard. Even though he is a meaty monster and the last thing he needs is more food (see photo below for proof).
Anyway, the thought of flea poo has disgusted us so profoundly that we are now busily washing cushions and blankets on an extra-hot wash, and Cat Daddy is giving serious thought to replacing our fabric sofa with a leather one (and claiming the money back from Sa Maj’s sick fund).
We are hoping beyond hope that this will mark a turnaround in the little sod’s health.
My plan to make Louis Catorze a zero-waste kitty has reached an obstacle: spot-on flea treatment. Not only is the market fairly limited in terms of products – with some well known to be utterly useless – but not a single one is plastic-free. So it won’t be quite as simple as swapping brands, as we did with the little sod’s food.
Louis Catorze uses Broadline, which has the added benefit of also treating worms and therefore absolving us of the Greco-Roman death-wrestle when we try to get a worming pill into him. Each little vial comes individually wrapped in a plastic tray with a peel-off film cover. Whilst I can see why vets and pet shops would want such packaging for sterility, I wrote to the manufacturer to ask if there may be another option for at-home users.
The response – which, unbelievably, came from a lovely customer services lady named Cat – was that the packaging was needed to keep the product stable and to comply with some fancy-sounding European safety law.
(When I told others about Cat, very worryingly a couple of friends told me that the name must just be a coincidence, as if I genuinely thought the company might only recruit people with animal names or, worse, that I thought they had an actual cat managing their customer service enquiries.)
I wrote back to Broadline Cat and asked if they were doing anything to find an alternative to plastic. I understood about the product stability – after all, we wouldn’t want rancid chemicals to cause Catorze to mutate and turn into the scary Monsieur Hyde version of himself – but, given the ticking time bomb that is single-use plastic, I hoped that there might be another way. (Cat Daddy remarked that Catorze already IS the scary, mutant Monsieur Hyde version, and that a cocktail of putrid chemicals couldn’t possibly make things worse in that respect.)
Broadline Cat replied as follows:
“Please rest assured that Boehringer Ingelheim continuously look to make improvements where possible to improve our environmental impact. Whilst there is nothing more we can share currently on this particular area, we will ensure to raise this with global manufacturing and supply chain colleagues working on our environmental programmes.”
I don’t know what the solution is for packaging spot-on flea treatment. But I hope Broadline Cat will be true to her word and that they will continue to look for one.
Cat Daddy has been feeling a little sheepish and guilty for the last couple of days. This is not just because he didn’t believe me when I told him that Louis Catorze was bleeding, but also because he is now paranoid that he caused the injury through too-rough rough play.
Although this is highly unlikely, we have started to be a little more gentle with our poor boy. Unfortunately this is not mutual, as Catorze has been fighting like a rabid hell-hound every time I attempt to give him his eye ointment and, quite frankly, it’s a miracle that I haven’t accidentally stabbed him in the eye with the tube and made the injury worse. Being a cream rather than a watery liquid, it’s quite tricky to apply, even when one is not also holding down a writhing, screaming animal with the strength of 10 grizzly bears. If I don’t take off the lid in advance of the application it means I’m fumbling around trying to do it whilst also doing the Greco-Roman death-wrestle, but if I DO take off the lid in advance of the application, the little sod smells the ointment and does a runner.
Day 1 was not very successful as I was on target with the eye ointment but it splurged all over Catorze’s face as well. There was also the added stress of it being a Broadline day, so I had a total of THREE Greco-Roman death-wrestles to deal with that day. Day 2 was, sadly, much like Day 1. And on Day 3 I tried to reduce the pressure on the tube by 90% but this appeared to reduce the splurge by only about 0.3%. When the little sod came to offer forgiveness cuddles later on, he took me by surprise by approaching with completely noiseless pitter-pattering, and, as he jumped onto my stomach with no warning, my scream of, “JEEESUS, Louis!” sent him scuttling off again, making me feel like an absolute monster.
Tomorrow is Day 5. This really, really cannot end soon enough.
Yesterday evening Cat Daddy and I marked the end of Psychological Summer with some celebratory fizz in the garden, and all was going well until I wiped Louis Catorze’s weepy eyes with some tissue and discovered that one was oozing blood.
I am generally of the view that, if Catorze is well enough to eat, drink and scream, then he’s fine. But blood is never, ever good. Despite Cat Daddy’s protests that it was “probably just blackberry juice”, I rang the vet in a panic and booked a 6:30 appointment, then rang again and made a 6:50 appointment when the little sod did a runner and I realised that we wouldn’t be able to catch him in time for 6:30.
After barricading the cat flap so that he couldn’t escape back out again, cornering him and stuffing him into his pod, we took him, screaming, to the vet. Whilst Cat Daddy rolled his eyes and continued to mutter things about blackberry juice, the vet first tested for eye ulcers by dropping a scary fluorescent green liquid into Catorze’s eyes – to the sound of Cat Daddy’s giggles and daft questions about whether it would make Catorze glow in the dark – and then peered under his upper eyelids where she discovered that he had cut himself. I prayed that we wouldn’t have to do the Greco-Roman death-wrestle to shove medication down his throat, only to be told the horrifying news that we would have to shove it into his EYE instead. Twice a day, for 5 days. Oh. Seigneur. Dieu.
“Do you know how he might have cut his eye?” I asked.
“It could have been any number of things,” the vet replied. “Scratching himself, or catching it on something. Possibly a plant.”
Cat Daddy: “Could it have been a blackberry plant?”
[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]
Anyway, a few minutes and £44 later, we were back at Le Château finishing our fizz and Catorze was happily pitter-pattering around us. The only indication that we had been to the vet was Cat Daddy complaining about the almighty cost for such a tiny injury and still insisting that it was blackberry juice and not blood.
And, to make matters worse, I had a stressful evening and a fitful night’s sleep because Catorze later disappeared, which is unlike him; he now tends to forgive us quite quickly for vet visits and his days of Le Grand Mega-Sulk are long gone. I was terrified that he had reacted to the fluorescent green stuff and gone somewhere quiet to die, but I discovered this morning that we had forgotten to unbarricade the cat flap and so the poor little sod had been stuck outside all night. As I write this, Iam giving him guilt-cuddles on the sofa whilst I drink my morning teapigs tea, feeling like the second-worst human being ever (with Cat Daddy being the worst, for his refusal to believe me when I said I’d seen blood) and wondering how the flip I am going to hold him still and get this medication into his eye.
To prove a point to Cat Daddy: one of the pictures below is of what I wiped from Catorze’s eye, and the other is blackberry juice. Spot la différence?