Saint Jérôme et le lion

Louis Catorze started sneezing and snorting late on Friday evening, and this went on at regular intervals throughout the night. At first I thought he was coughing up hairballs, but he hardly ever has them because we are so rigorous with his brushing routine. Plus the sound was more nasal than throaty.

He seemed otherwise content – shouty, silly etc. – so, after checking his face and mouth and finding nothing untoward, I phoned the vet rather than taking him in, and I described his symptoms as “snorting, sniffing, lots of lip-licking and shaking his head as if trying to get something out of his nose or throat.” They confirmed my feeling that it wasn’t a medical emergency – possibly a seasonal allergy – and recommended a small amount of Piriton if he became too uncomfortable, but told me to monitor him and take him in on Monday if things didn’t settle.

Hay fever was probably the one, single ailment that Catorze had never had, and I couldn’t believe that we would now have to add it to his extensive list of problems. I ordered some allergen-busting beeswax candles online as I had run out, and I attempted a dose of Piriton but the combination of super-strong, spring-loaded syringe plus unhappy cat meant that it didn’t end very well. The little sod screamed bloody murder, writhed, clawed, drooled like a rabid wolf and then took off to hide in the Forbidden Greenhouse, wearing most of the Piriton on his face and chest.

After an uneventful afternoon, by evening things hadn’t settled at all: the gurning, spluttering and head-shaking were just as regular. As I went to bed, mentally preparing for the battering that Le Royal Sick Fund would take when I called out the emergency vet on a Sunday, I saw that Louis Catorze had followed me, still snuffling and staring at me as if pleading for help, so I decided to have one last go at checking his face. I put him between my knees, pulled his head right back … and caught sight of what looked like a grass seed sticking out of his right nostril. BINGO.

I tried to pull it out but the darned thing wasn’t budging, and Catorze was becoming increasingly agitated at my picking and poking. But I held on and persisted, finally succeeding in dislodging the offending item … and, to my horror, I saw that it wasn’t a grass seed at all, but a whole blade of grass (see photo, with a 20p coin for scale). Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: THE ENTIRE THING HAD BEEN UP HIS NOSE THE WHOLE TIME.

I cannot fathom how it could have got up there in the first place, let alone how it stayed there for 24 hours. I don’t think I could get a blade of grass to stay up my nose for more than a few minutes, even if I glued it there. But, thankfully, it’s out now. And, as soon as it was released, the ungrateful little weasel uttered not a word of thanks, instead pitter-pattering off to his papa for Boys’ Club cuddles.

The moral of this story: cats are ungrateful idiots. But we still move heaven and earth for them to be comfortable and happy, don’t we?

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Le Roi adore sa grand-mère

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My mum is staying for a few days and, because she’s broken her ankle, she is in our bedroom and we’re in the attic. (Mind you, being a typical mum and “not wanting to inconvenience us”, she offered to have the attic. Up an extra flight of stairs and on a mattress on the floor? With a bad ankle and crutches? Really, Maman?) Louis Catorze let out a sad yowl of confusion when he couldn’t find us last night but, once we’d called out to him and he understood who was where, all was well in his world once again.

Louis Catorze shared his love last night: I told my mum to keep her door shut in case he sat on her bad ankle, but, being the original Crazy Cat Lady whose genes have passed to the rest of us, she ignored me, left the door wide open and welcomed him in for cuddles instead. He sat on her stomach last night as she lay in bed, itched a bit, she nudged him to stop him itching, he itched a bit more, she nudged him again, and this went on until one or other of them fell asleep. Then he came up to join us.

I’m continuing with his morning play (despite the weirdness of sleeping with a toy fish on a string by the bed), although I think it’s going to be a while until I’m able to say that Louis Catorze is truly exercising. Cat Daddy came back from the bathroom mid-session and said, “There must be something wrong with his eyesight. No cat is THAT slow.” Sorry, but ours is. The vet pretty much said said so. I had his eyesight checked the last time we went, because I had exactly the same concerns, and it was fine.

I’ve booked his vaccinations for the 18th, and he will be having his skin scraping allergy test at the same time, to get the full horror over and done with in one go. I’m giving some thought to asking the vet about reconsidering his use of Atopica because, as well as making him grumpy, it’s clearly not serving its main purpose of keeping the allergy away. Also, despite it not being a steroid, nobody is quite sure about its prolonged use and subsequent side effects and, whilst I might take the chance for something that was working well, it seems senseless to risk his long-term health for such inconsistent results. He seems to fare better on plain old Piriton, especially in terms of his mood.

After all this time and money spent on tests and treatment, it would be somewhat ironic if his condition were kept in check with a £5 bottle from the pharmacy, wouldn’t it?

Le sanctuaire de câlin

I’ve really been missing my boy due to his under-bed Mega Sulks and, to add insulte to injury, the moments when we do see each other are far from being quality time; he gives me the suspicious sideways glare, I rack my brains to remember where I’ve concealed the loaded syringe, and THAT ALONE is enough to send him scooting back under the bed. The one place where he feels safe is on our bed, preferably lying like a furry, 2-man belt across both our waists (probably in an effort to pin us down and prevent us from going for the syringe), so today I wondered whether it could be worth trying to turn the bed into our special Sanctuaire de Cuddles throughout the day. Since he won’t come downstairs and do the Bill Withers and cocktails thing in the garden with me, why not take the initiative and invite him to join us in the place where he feels secure?

So Cat Daddy and I made an agreement that, in order to preserve the sanctity of the bedroom, we would never medicate Louis Catorze there; if we were truly desperate and felt it might be our only opportunity to get him, we would remove him from the bedroom first. Despite being pretty thick (Louis Catorze, I mean, not Cat Daddy), he knows his name and responds to it so, during my mid-morning lie-down (sounds rude but I do mean just lying down) I called him, not really expecting anything extraordinaire. However, he came shuffling out from under the bed, then THIS happened (please excuse the towels and crap on the bed):  I know! A rare treat, indeed! So, whilst my dear boy isn’t quite himself, at least I know where I can go if I want cuddles with him, and I’m delighted that he has even the slightest inclination to give them to me.

Le Roi se sauve: vive Le Roi!

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This summer holiday hasn’t quite been as I’d expected. I was so looking forward to 6 glorious weeks at Le Château with Louis Catorze, drinking cocktails in the garden with him at my feet, listening to “Just The Two Of Us” by Bill Withers, that kind of thing. For a very short while, that’s how it was. But as soon as Louis Catorze’s allergy kicked in, I lost my sweet, affectionate little boy to the evil clutches of the Forbidden Greenhouse and Le Rouleau Suisse. (The picture is a month old, taken before his Mega-Sulk started, because his allergy is too unpleasant to photograph.)

I made the decision to close the door to the Forbidden Bedroom containing Le Rouleau, which was tricky as it’s impossible to check whether or not he’s actually in Le Rouleau first. I had many failed attempts whereby I would spy him in the corridor and race him to the Forbidden Bedroom to shut the door, but he would always sense when I was on my marks and beat me to it, bouncing deftly over the boxes and into Le Rouleau before I could even clutch the door handle. Luckily, I’m just as stubborn as he, so I just kept up my attempts until, eventually, I succeeded. And, fortunately, it hasn’t driven him into the Forbidden Greenhouse, as I had feared: his New Sulking Spot of Choice is now under our bed, but I’m happier about this as it’s cleaner and has had a dust mite controller fizzing away for well over a month.

What also hasn’t helped his sulkiness is the fact that I’ve had to increase the frequency of his meds; not only does he déteste being medicated (and what cat doesn’t, apart from that white YouTube cat who happily laps up medicine from the end of the syringe as if it were liquid Dreamies?) but he knows when I’m even THINKING about it and makes himself scarce. He’s also learned to grit his teeth when I administer it, so that it looks set to be a successful session but in fact the liquid rebounds off his teeth and goes all over the floor. If you imagine that prank we all pretend we played as children (but in fact we weren’t clever enough to think of it) – the one where you cover the toilet bowl with taut cling film and wait for some unsuspecting person to pee – that’s EXACTLY what it’s like.

Repeat after me: “This cannot go on indefinitely … This cannot go on indefinitely …”

L’obscurité

Alas, no, I’m not talking about the moon anymore, but about Louis Catorze’s general temperament: his demeanour is blackening rapidly and, as ever, it appears to be proportional to the deterioration of his allergy (which I’ve not pictured as it’s pretty awful). The fur around his eyes is thinning, and the underside of his chin feels terrible: not just rough, but weepy and positively cavernous with scabs. (Sorry if you’re reading this over dinner.) When he scratches – which is pretty much all the time – he lets out his awful frustrated itch-yelp which is painful to hear. Happily it’s not QUITE as severe a flare-up as the one he had last winter, but it’s still enough to make him a miserable sod.

Although he’s very affectionate when we’re in bed (presumably because he knows we can’t medicate him whilst lying down), we barely see him these days, which is a pity as I’m on my summer holidays so I’m home all day. And, when we do see him, he eyes us with the suspicion reserved for someone who were about to assault him, and he skittishly edges past us and hides. His routine is to get up with us at around 8:30, eat, go out, then come back in and spend the rest of the day in his Secret Sulking Spot that we haven’t yet managed to locate. (I’ve looked in all the usual places – La Cage, the Forbidden Greenhouse, the suitcase, under beds – but to no avail.) Then we don’t see him again until bedtime, when he will reappear and snuggle up with us. That last point reassures me somewhat that he doesn’t totally hate us, but for most of the day it’s as if we don’t have a cat.

The only possible explanation for this recent allergic breakout is Louis Catorze’s illicit forays into the Forbidden Greenhouse; in fact, I am still mystified by the fact that dust didn’t register in either of his allergy tests despite the fact that he relapses EVERY TIME he comes into contact with it. The dust mite controllers are whirring away, the beeswax candles are burning, he’s being Atopicaed and Piritonned regularly (I need to up his Piriton, in fact, from a couple of times a week to twice a DAY, which is going to make me even less popular), yet it’s all a wasted effort if he sneaks past me and into the dustiest places I know.

So we’re powerless to do anything at the moment but take comfort in the fact that it will pass, and that he will snap out of it. I just hope that this will happen soon.

Où est mon stuff?


A text reminder to give Louis Catorze his flea treatment is only really helpful if you know where the treatment is. In fact, I have no idea where the vast majority of our stuff is. “Somewhere in the floor-to-ceiling jungle of cardboard boxes” is as good a guess as I can manage.

So my second piece of advice to anyone moving a cat, after “Build the house first”, is: Put all the cat’s stuff into the removal lorry first, even if you are moving the cat last. We thought we had been very clever, packing all his things together and keeping them till last when we moved “so that nothing gets lost”. However, the problem is that it gets put on the lorry last, but unloaded at the other end first. Then it gets boxed into a corner by all the other stuff that comes after it.

Yesterday we had to drag our very hungover selves to Pets At Home painfully early in the morning when we realised we couldn’t find Louis Catorze’s food – although, when we got home, the little sod refused to eat it – and now it looks as if we’re due another visit for his Advocate. His Atopica and Piriton were packed in the same place, as were the dust mite repelling devices and the anti-allergy beeswax candles, all of which we could really do with right now. Oh dear.

Despite our manque d’organisation, Louis Catorze is settling into Le Château much more quickly than I’d anticipated, and I think the fact that he’s physically well, with very little trace of his allergy, really helps. He’s happiest, unsurprisingly, when he’s released from his attic prison and has the run of Le Château, and we’ve had many tail-up moments. The next major thing for him will be negotiating the Tunnel of Terror, i.e. the cat flap that goes through a wall. Given that it took him 5 months to go through our previous, super-simple door cat flap just once, another couple of weeks to make a habit of it and a further 2 weeks to realise that he could come in as well as go out, this could be an interesting saga …

Le Roi va mieux: vive Le Roi!

 
Things are improving! Hurrah! The liquid Piriton seems to be having a positive physical effect on Louis Catorze, and his bald, itchy bits are slowly healing. Administering it, however, is the worst thing in the world, and there’s no way of doing it apart from a stealth attack and an undignified neck scruff. 

Whilst I love the taste of Piriton, to the point where I’ve considered using it as a crème de menthe substitute in a Sub Zero cocktail shot, I don’t think Louis Catorze agrees. His face after tasting suggests that he finds it rather like that concoction your hilarious university friends made on your birthday, when they put a shot of everything from the optics bar into one glass and made you drink it. It also doesn’t help matters that, despite not being the brightest, Louis Catorze knows when I’m loading the syringe, even if I go outdoors to do it; when I come back into the room/house, he’s already shifted into Battle Cat mode and is poised, ready to tear my soul out and send it to hell. This happens even if I don’t have the syringe on me, having hidden it elsewhere for later use AND washed my hands.

Offering treats as a bribe: he doesn’t like food, so no. 

Mixing medication into food: as above. In fact, when I once created some cute little tuna patties laced with Atopica, he gave me the resigned “Go home – you’re embarrassing yourself” look. 

Is this too much to hope for: a day when I no longer have to put him through this? Hurry up, test results!