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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Le jeu de cônes

Winter is coming – or, rather, it arrived yesterday – and the solstice is traditionally a period of celebration, joy and hope. Sadly I don’t feel especially celebratory or joyous at the moment, and the only thing I’m hoping for is that, one day, Louis Catorze will stop biting his darned tail. Regretfully, that day won’t be coming anytime soon.

Earlier this week, he was lucky enough to receive a SECOND gift of a soft Cône, this time in Extra Small size, from the same kind friend who sent the first one. And he has shown his gratitude by figuring out that soft Cônes can bend. Naturellement, he bit his tail and broke the skin again, forcing me to go to Pets At Home and buy an even wider, more rigid Cône (with padded edges to protect la gorge royale) for when we’re not supervising him.

He absolutely cannot bite his tail in the new Cône … but, with sufficient effort and the correct planetary alignment, he has discovered that he can get a paw to it. And, yesterday evening, he managed to get his claw stuck in his wound and couldn’t get it out. Fortunately I was with him so I was able to pull it out … but he was left with an ugly, gaping wound and a chunk of flesh hanging from his tail.

We took him to the vet this morning, hoping she would say that it was just a superficial scratch. But she thought it looked much worse than that and was concerned that he was still showing so much interest in his tail, so she recommended an X-ray to rule out any deeper problems. Luckily there was a slot available this morning so we were able to leave him there and collect him again this evening.

Sadly the X-ray revealed no damage to his tail. (I say “sadly” because I find inconclusive answers more frustrating than anything on earth; “It’s broken in 28 places”, whilst unpleasant, would at least have given us a starting point.)

And he will have to remain Côned for at least another week.

Our next options are as follows:

– A different type of painkiller whose name I forget, designed for neurological pain
– Feliway diffusers and an anti-anxiety supplement called Zylkene
– Another steroid shot, in case the reason for the original irritation is his old allergy inexplicably deciding to reappear on his tail
– All of the above

It’s a lot to take in. Cat Daddy and I are having a cup of tea, cuddling Catorze and trying to figure out what to do.

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