Compassion pour le diable

Louis Catorze really has surpassed himself this time with his dark arts and sorcery.

It was 6pm and, once again, he had eaten around his pill leaving it untouched in his bowl, so I had no option but to dig it out from inside the Pill Pocket and Greco it to him. I decided to grab him whilst he was on our bed – better a static target than a moving, screaming one – and this was the sequence of events that unfolded that terrifying evening:

1. First Greco attempt: spat out.

2. Second attempt: spat out.

3. Third attempt: little sod not only spat it out but rolled on top of it. And there was no unrolling him.

Yes, I know that he only weighs 3.5kg (or thereabouts). Yes, I know that I weigh considerably more. But this is Catorze we are talking about; if he doesn’t want it to happen, it won’t.

4. Fake-stroking in an effort to make him unroll.

5. Purring but no unrolling.

6. More fake-stroking.

7. Purring but no unrolling.

Eventually I gave up and decided to go back downstairs. At this point Catorze decided to join me and stood up to stretch.

The pill was nowhere to be seen.

I. Looked. Everywhere. It was neither in the folds of the duvet, nor on the floor, nor stuck to Catorze’s fur (and I made sure of this, patting him down like a prison officer searching an inmate for a concealed shank). Rien, nichts, niente, nada.

THE SPOOKY LITTLE FREAK HAD MADE HIS PILL DISAPPEAR. And we still haven’t found it.

I am nowhere near competent enough to take on this kind of devilry. And Catorze knows this perfectly well.

“Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess mon nom.”

Avaler la pilule sans la mâcher

Two days ago, I posted about Louis Catorze happily eating his medication in Pill Pockets. Naturellement, as soon as that post went live – LITERALLY THAT SAME MORNING – he decided he wasn’t going to do it anymore.

Lately he has had some ravenously hungry moments, clearing serving after serving of food and then circling his empty bowl like a hungry shark with its eyes locked on an injured seal. So we were pretty confident that he would continue take his pills with no problems. But: nope.

Me, after the first pill failure: “This isn’t good. His Gabapentin pills need to be taken 12 hours apart, and we’ve stuffed that up now.”

Cat Daddy, without looking up from his laptop: “You’re going to have to Greco* him.”

Me: “But it’s two pills [the Gabapentin and the Prednisolone]. How do I Greco two pills? It’s bad enough Grecoing one.”

Cat Daddy, still not looking up from his laptop: “Yeah, it’s going to be a tough one for you.”

Well, thanks for that helpful input.

*If you are new to Le Blog, this link fully explains what “Greco” means: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/01/07/la-pilule-est-dure-a-avaler/

Worse yet, Le Roi had sloped off to have a nap under our bed. So not only would l have to go through the worst experience known to mankind, TWICE, but I would have to wriggle under the bed on my belly to drag Catorze’s arse out first.

Anyway, the deed was done in one shot. I think the poor little sod was so taken aback at the rude awakening that all he could manage in response was a little quack, like a duck. I flung both pills into his mouth at once, did the throat rubby thing and – merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges – it worked.

And, as soon as it was over, he decided that he WAS hungry after all and headed for his bowl. Luckily, because I know what a bastard he is, I had taken out the first set of pills just minutes beforehand – and what a good thing, too, because a double-pilled Roi on a full moon would just be too much.

Here he is, recovering from the trauma on his favourite lap:

The drugs don’t work. They just make him worse.

L’amour est le meilleur des médicaments

Louis Catorze has been on the reduced dosage of 2 x 25mg of Gabapentin a day for almost 2 weeks now, and he is showing no recurrence whatsoever of his symptoms.

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Better yet, he has started to eat Pill Pockets, so no more Greco-Romaning! Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges! (If you don’t know what Pill Pockets are, they are tiny, edible, plasticine-like cups into which you stuff pills before squishing them to seal the opening. No, Louis Catorze wouldn’t eat Pill Pockets before. But he does now. Are you all keeping up so far, Mesdames et Messieurs?)

Whilst I don’t like to criticise the one and only thing that is successfully getting medication into the little sod, the ingredients list makes me twitchy and uncomfortable. Wheat flour: bad. Mixed tocopherols: no idea what these are, but they sound bad. Dried corn syrup: basically sugar, so REALLY bad.

I never thought I would see the day when I willingly gave my boy wheat and sugar. Mind you, the manufacturers know their target market: desperate people like me who have no option because nothing else works. They could make Pill Pockets out of heroin and asbestos and, if it meant our cats would just eat the goddamn pills and spare our lives, I reckon most of us would still buy them.

All being well, pill-wise we only have the rest of May (2 per day) and the whole of June (1 per day) left. The end is in sight. That’s what’s keeping us going.

Le tricheur royal

Remember when Louis Catorze liked pâté de Bruxelles? Yeah, well, now he doesn’t. So we’re back to Greco-Romaning him again, and you all know what a cirque de merde that is. One of our friends witnessed it the other day and said, “Oh my God, that was absolutely HORRIBLE!” Erm, no blood was drawn and nobody died, which actually makes that a decent session. Wait till you see one of the bad ones, mon coco!

And I never thought I would use the words “Louis Catorze” and “clever” in the same sentence, but the little sod is finding more and more ingenious ways of avoiding his pill. His latest trick is to pretend he’s swallowed it, press his body against me for a fake cuddle and then silently spit the pill over my shoulder and into my hair.

I have coarse, curly hair so the pill remains stuck there for some time and, because I don’t notice it, I assume it has been swallowed. Obviously it dislodges itself eventually and falls onto the floor, but we didn’t think anything of it because we are quite used to seeing pills strewn about Le Château from failed Greco-Roman attempts. So Catorze has been able to get away with this treachery until now.

Le Roi’s little plan was finally foiled when Cat Daddy came home right after I’d just Greco-Romaned and cuddled notre cher ami, and he said, “There’s something in your hair.”

Quel. Fichu. Salaud.

So now I have to give my hair a good old shake after pilling time, just to be sure.

If I’m honest, the lies and deceit offend me far more than the non-pill-taking. “It’s a bit of a tragic day,” I said to Cat Daddy, “when the only cuddles you get from your cat are fake ones.”

Cat Daddy, not even glancing up from his laptop: “I wouldn’t know.”

Aïe.

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L’état d’urgence

We have a Code Noir at Le Château: Louis Catorze has started refusing his ham-wrapped Trojan Horse pills. Either he has cottoned onto our trick or he is bored of cured ham and, either way, we are well and truly dans la merde because it means that every single dose is now a Greco-Roman one.

Whilst our Greco-Roman technique is improving greatly with all the practice we’re having, it’s still not very nice to have to do it. And, upsettingly, we can see the effect that the increased Greco-Romans are having on Catorze’s demeanour: he is skittish and nervous around us, and yesterday he didn’t even come and greet us when we came home from work, which he usually does without fail. He has also taken to hiding when we get up in the morning and missing that first dose of the day. This means that we sometimes have to give him TWO doses after work – one when we get home and one before bed – and that makes us all even more anxious and stressed.

Well-meaning fellow cat freaks often ask us, “Have you tried hiding the pills in tuna / anchovies / chicken / prawns / cheese / Dreamies / Pill Pockets / [insert name of other irresistible, pill-disguising treat]?” YES, to all of the above. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a cat who doesn’t like food and therefore cannot be incentivised by it; if we never fed him again, EVER, he wouldn’t really care.

I really, really hope he gets past this, otherwise we will have to deploy the big guns: the £21-per-100g Brindisa jamón ibérico de bellota. Qu’est-ce qu’on va devenir? Or, should I say: ¿Qué va y ser de nos?

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Le Roi nous ignore

Quelle performance going to see the vet today.

10 minutes before the appointment time, when we should have been on our way there, we were chasing Louis Catorze around the house, Benny Hill style (younger followers: ask your parents), as he darted under furniture and refused to be caught.

We cornered him eventually but he screamed all the way there and whilst we sat in the waiting room. Cat Daddy then told me that he’d had a horrendous – and only partially-successful – Greco-Roman session this morning, which was probably why the little sod had been such a nightmare.

After greeting us with, “Louis is famous here – we’ve all been talking about him!” the vet told us that we could reduce his Gabapentin from 5 to 4 pills a day, but that we were to remain on 4 for a month. If all goes well, we may be able to reduce to 3 per day in early-to-mid April.

To be honest, we really had hoped he would be off the pills by then, because he has started to refuse Trojan Horses if the cured ham is 2 days old. (Yes, the previous cut-off point was 3 days. But that was before.)

He is also becoming fussier about the type of ham used, and the vet was in hysterics when Cat Daddy uttered the words, “He likes prosciutto di Parma and jambon de Bayonne, but not the jamón Serrano that I bought this week.”

Anyway, we’re now home and he’s still not talking to us. This is going to be a l-o-n-g evening.

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Où sont mes drogues?

Forget about the iceberg lettuce shortage: here at Le Château we’re going through the rather more desperate Gabapentin pill drought. There are none whatsoever in the whole of West London, and the vet isn’t sure when they will be able to get hold of any.

I received the bad news by phone whilst in a packed football stadium and never have I been more glad of the noise, because, to a casual eavesdropper, the conversation wouldn’t have sounded great: “No, I’ve never had any problem getting hold of pills before. Yes, I’ve ordered 100, but please may I make it 150 in case there’s a problem next time, too? No, I already have plenty of the powdered version, thank you. Yes, it’s definitely the pills that I want …”

Our situation with Louis Catorze is a bit like that film Speed, where they have to keep driving the bus at a minimum of 50 miles per hour otherwise it will blow up. If we don’t keep Catorze’s medication at a constant level, his symptoms are likely to come back … and there’s no way on earth I want to return to the bad old days of nightly yowling and hissing and a chewed, bleeding tail.

It’s a blessing that we at least have the powder, but administering it isn’t easy. For a start, Sa Majesté won’t eat it in jambon de Bayonne, I assume because, like garlic, its pungency increases when crushed, so he can smell it immediately. It’s too wispy and floaty to just throw into his open mouth, so I have to actually shove my fingers in … and there’s nothing more terrifying than having to touch the jaws and teeth of a snapping, hissing beast who wants me dead. And, although powder is harder to spit out than pills, the unpredictable consistency and the fact that Catorze fights like a brute mean there are far too many variables to be able to measure doses accurately: spillages on clothes, furniture, the floor, my hair and his fur, bits that remain stuck to my fingers, and so on. So I haven’t the faintest idea how much of the powder actually makes it into him.

Not that any of this seems to affect him long-term, though; his tail remains intact and he is continuing to eat, drink and pitter-patter happily about Le Château, unaware of all the stress he is causing us.

Cat Daddy: “He’s aware. Of course he’s aware. He just doesn’t give a shit.”

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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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L’amuse-bouche

As you are aware, the pilling has been going excruciatingly badly, with Louis Catorze becoming more and more adept at spitting out, clamping his jaws shut or being a menace in some other violent way.

Many people have suggested hiding the Gabapentin in food, but Louis Catorze doesn’t really like food – he can even take or leave Dreamies – so this wouldn’t be tempting enough. But, yesterday, I remembered that he was quite fond of the jamón Ibérico that Oscar the dog’s folks brought for us from their holiday. We haven’t given him any since, so it may have been a one-off fluke but … qui ose gagne, oui?

Cat Daddy pulled a face when I suggested wrapping a pill in jamón Ibérico. “What makes you think that would work? We’ve never given him jamón Ibérico, ever.”

Oh. Oops.

After the inevitable lecture I pleaded with him to at least try it, reminding him that a small spend versus thrice-daily torment was surely worth a punt. So off he went to the supermarket for the French equivalent, which is jambon de Bayonne, but there wasn’t any so he had to make do with Gabapentin con prosciutto di Parma.

Et nom de Dieu: THE LITTLE SOD ACTUALLY ATE IT.

Early this morning, he ate another dose.

And, all being well, he will keep eating them until he’s well again,

THIS IS LIFE-CHANGING. No more disturbed sleep! No more physical fights during unsociable hours! No more stressing about going on holiday and having our cat-sitter shredded to death! Should he end up needing medication for life, all we’d have to do is prepare a few hammy, druggy hors d’oeuvres in advance and notre ami will do the rest.

La vie n’est pas belle … but it’s certainly less merdique than it was previously.

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Les douze jours de Noël

It’s not been such a Bonne Année here at Le Château. In fact, it’s been an awful few days, with last night being especially horrific.

It was bad enough that Louis Catorze’s drugs count read just like The Twelve Days of Christmas: “Two-oo Gaba-pentin, two Zyl-kene, o-one Met-a-cam, and some Broad-line to treat the worms and fleeeeeas!”

However, after being Cône-free for a couple of days and showing mild, playful interest in the tail but nothing concerning, yesterday he lost his shit completely, attacking the tail tip until it bled. The out-of-hours vet – who knew exactly which cat I was talking about even before I gave my name – told us to increase his dose of Gabapentin to 3 a day. This dosage has just been confirmed by her colleague, whom we saw a few hours ago.

It’s looking distinctly possible that Louis Catorze has feline hyperesthesia. No, we hadn’t heard of it, either, and, when I read about it, I really didn’t think he would have it; it usually affects purebred cats (Catorze is as far from that as is felinely possible), plus it’s a brain disorder (still trying to establish the presence of one).

Apparently it’s a rare condition that causes cats to go psycho-eyed and attack the tail as if angry with it. Because treatment is drastic – heavy-duty, warning-carrying drugs for life – it tends to be diagnosed by first eliminating all other possibilities.

So, before feline hyperesthesia can be confirmed, our next steps are as follows:

1. Keep up with the 3 doses of Gabapentin a day
2. Le Cône must remain on whenever Louis Catorze is unsupervised (even if he’s only in the next room or under furniture)
3. Keep pumping Le Château with Feliway diffusers
4. A fun, new party powder called Nutracalm
5. A fungal test to rule out ringworm (done today, results in 2 weeks)
6. A steroid shot on Friday to rule out the possibility of his skin allergy resurfacing on his tail
7. A break from the Metacam as it’s not compatible with the steroid shot
8. An MRI scan, which will obliterate Le Royal Sick Fund like an atomic bomb (Merci à Dieu for Le Back-Up Fund, previously known as Le Holiday Fund)

It’s a good thing we love the little sod so much … and it’s wonderful to know that so many of you do, too. Thank you to everyone who has wished him well.

Here he is, behaving uncharacteristically well during tonight’s appointment:

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