Regretfully, this year my usual arsenal of weapons doesn’t seem to have made much of a dent in my hay fever, despite me preparing myself early. The start of the season was delayed, but I feel that it was the same for everyone. And it is now in full swing.
If you suffer from hay fever and have outdoor cats, it may help to wipe them down. The best way of doing this is with a damp towel, but Louis Catorze isn’t a fan of this. So, instead, a good old brush every evening gets rid of cruddy, gross fur and means that he scatters much less pollen onto our furniture and bedding. Brushing regularly also has the added benefit of improving the soreness around his eyes (we have no idea how, but it does).
Cat Daddy thinks that keeping Catorze off our beds would be much more effective, and he probably has a point, but I would rather know where Catorze is at night than wonder if he’s scrapping with Donnie, goading foxes, harassing neighbours or, most likely. doing a bit of each.
Here is Sa Maj, about to be brushed by Cat Daddy. Unlike his previous grooming devices, including the FURminator, he absolutely loves this brush, which Oscar the dog gave him for his 10th birthday. Because he has the short-term memory of a swatted gnat and doesn’t remember what the brush is for, he runs when he sees it coming … but, once the brushing starts, he flops onto his back and purrs like a revving motorbike.
My hay fever symptoms started early this year – 20th May rather than the typical 1st June – and, somehow, my regular management methods didn’t seem to be as effective as they were last year.
Then I discovered that I’d had the foresight to write myself a reminder last July in the Notes section of my phone, but not the sense to actually read it. This reminder informed me that there is an extra hay fever supplement that I usually take but, somehow, I had completely forgotten it this year.
Naturellement I did not have enough of a supply to last me through this year’s hay fever season, so I went online to buy some more. And I discovered that the company selling it had a 20% off sale … which had ended the day before I read my note.
In a happy twist to this tragic tale, I bought more product and, as if by magic, they applied the 20% discount anyway! Hurrah! So now I am fully armed, although I am over a month late in taking everything together.
And I have now set myself a reminder to read my reminder next spring. Whatever next: setting reminders to read reminders of reminders? Oh dear. It’s all downhill from here, isn’t it?
5. Brushing Louis Catorze regularly to rid his fur of pollen and whatever other indescribable allergenic and non-allergenic shite that he has rolled in
The grooming device that Louis Catorze received from Oscar the dog for his birthday is quite the most amazing thing.
It appears to have some sort of magical static force field that sucks the loose fur from the little sod’s undercoat and holds it between the rubber teeth until I pull it out. I have no idea how it does its job – my limited knowledge of Physics tells me that it shouldn’t work – but it does.
Best of all, Catorze LOVES it. And, because the device is soft and pliable, I don’t need to worry about one careless move slashing his skin, in the way I had to with the FURminator, and I can just brush away with carefree abandon. The little sod purrs happily through our brushing sessions; no screaming, no Greco-Roman death-wrestling, just one happy Roi.
Here he is (below) after an especially intense sitting that yielded three handfuls of fur (pictured), and a further two handfuls came later that day. He looked like a different cat afterwards, and probably lost at least 1/3 of his body weight in the process.
Me: “Look at him! Doesn’t he look smart?”
Cat Daddy: “No. Not one bit. Why do you keep saying that?”
Me: “His fur! Can’t you see that it looks smoother and shinier?”
Cat Daddy: “Oh, right. I thought you meant “smart” as in “intelligent”.”
I hope any hay fever sufferers are managing their symptoms. Don’t forget to wipe/brush down your outdoor pets as part of your routine.
As if Mother Nature flips a switch the moment the calendar changes from May to June, hay fever season is now upon us and I have gone from having zero symptoms to moderate ones. Cat Daddy doesn’t know it yet but we have invested in a ton of allergen-busting beeswax candles, because we had used up the ones left over from the time that we thought Louis Catorze had hay fever when, in fact, he had a blade of grass stuck up his nose. (If you missed out on that joyous tale, here it is:)
We have also bought of those electric rechargeable lighter things for our beeswax candles. It’s much nicer to use than the old-style, nail-splitting, blister-giving, butane-filled monstrosities and (we hope) less wasteful than wooden matches. And poor Catorze is terrified of it.
Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: he won’t even flinch at loud rock music, other cats, dogs, foxes, marauding youths in Hallowe’en costumes and (we imagine) masked men wielding bolt cutters, but he is scared stiff of the rather pleasant, gentle fizzing emitted by this device. He can hear it from wherever he is in the house and runs for the hills.
I now turn on the kitchen taps to drown out the sound. And, as I am using both electricity AND water when lighting each candle, the electric lighter is no longer the eco option that I had hoped, even if I do catch all the water and make use of it.
But you know, don’t you, that you would do exactly the same, if not more, for your feline overlords’ comfort? So, for now, both the candles and the water-bearing shall continue. And, with any luck, the purifying powers of the beeswax candles will benefit Sa Maj as well as us.
Here is the little sod after the last candle-lighting, having fled upstairs and taken refuge in, erm, a bag:
If you have ever suffered from hay fever, no doubt you will be fully aware of all the things you should and shouldn’t do: keep windows and doors shut, take a teaspoon of local honey a day (and, if you’re in London, Hen Corner honey is excellent: https://hen-corner-micro-bakery.myshopify.com/collections/london-honey), and so on. However, you may also wish to exercise caution if you decide to cuddle an outdoor cat in June.
A few days ago, Louis Catorze pitter-pattered in after spending most of the day out on the hunt, looking to grace the trophy cabinet (i.e. our bedroom floor) with another piece of silverware (i.e. a rodent). And, whilst it seems obvious now that furry-bodied cats would soak up airborne toxins like sponges, I didn’t think about it when I picked him up to cuddle him; it was like pressing my face into shards of glass.
The danger doesn’t stop there: we also allow Louis Catorze to sleep on our bed, spreading the evil allergens all over our pillows and sheets. And, yes, I accept that it’s not compulsory for him to sleep on the bed, and that we could shut him out of our bedroom, but he has slept with us ever since the first night he was with us, and I would feel sad breaking that habit. (Plus it enables us to keep him under surveillance, because we know what a troublemaker he is and we couldn’t trust him as far as we could spit.)
So … what to do about this? The only option is to give kitty regular damp towel rub-downs (preferably on a non-carpeted area) and, if you’re lucky, they might appreciate the cooling power of this procedure on a hot day. If they’re anything like Catorze, on the other hand, they will writhe, wail and wish you were dead … but your sensitive nostrils and stinging eyes will thank you, even if your cat won’t.
*Picture posed by the splendid Cocoa the babysit cat
Oh dear. Louis Catorze’s right eye is starting to look bald and puffy around the edges. I don’t know why this is happening just as we make some headway in cleaning up the dust, but I suspect it’s because he has managed to slip past me and into the Forbidden Greenhouse on a few occasions. (Unfortunately we’ve discovered that the greenhouse door won’t shut: the hinges have rusted and wedged it firmly open, and not even Cat Daddy has managed to shift it. Plus there are numerous missing or broken panes of glass so, even if we did manage to close the door, Louis Catorze would still be able to get in.)
We’ve still not located his Piriton, so today I had to schlep to the pharmacy to get more. Fortunately I have had more luck finding the beeswax candles, which – provided they are 100% beeswax, as mine are – clean the air as they burn and are said to reduce asthma and allergies; I myself have found them very helpful during the hay fever season, and, on a couple of occasions, they have even encouraged Louis Catorze out of La Cage after one of his Post-Itch Sulks. Regular tealight candles – the kind that you buy in bulk from the supermarket – are made of paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum refining and which begins life as gross sludge at the bottom of a crude oil barrel. Then, in our misguided belief that we are setting a romantic and sensual mood, we set fire to it and send its toxins pumping into our homes and our lungs – lovely.
So I’ve tracked down the beeswax candles, but where on earth am I supposed to put them so that Louis Catorze can reap the maximum benefit? Yesterday he spent the ENTIRE day in the suitcase in our spare room, but it doesn’t seem remotely sensible to leave candles unattended in a room containing lots of brittle cardboard boxes and a stupid cat. Alternatively there’s the Forbidden Greenhouse, but I’m highly put off by the idea of being seen by the neighbours and having to explain why I’m leaving candles there. “Oh, they’re for my allergic cat.” Right.
In the end I lit one in the living room and opened all the doors, hoping that its pollutant-killing magical beam would somehow spread through Le Château. If nothing else, there’s something very calming and hypnotic about watching a candle flame flickering and dancing. So, at best, this will have a positive effect on my boy and, at worst, it will make no difference but I will be so relaxed that I won’t care.
Cat Daddy keeps telling me how pointless it is to worry about Louis Catorze’s test results until they’re in. I know he’s right, but wasting time on pointless shit is my speciality. In fact, I sometimes tell others, as a joke, that I was born with a brain abnormality that makes me press on with stupid decisions and acts despite knowing full well how stupid they are, and it’s shocking how many people don’t appear that surprised.
My cat mamma instincts tell me that Louis Catorze is allergic to some, or all, of the following substances, in order of severity and with the most severe first:
Pollen of some sort (most likely grass)
Feathers (from pillows and duvets as opposed to birds – Louis Catorze couldn’t and wouldn’t catch a bird even if you dipped him in bird seed and flung him into an aviary)
The paper on which they print tabloid newspapers and tone-lowering gossip magazines
Himself (in the same way that bodies reject donor organs)
Food (all types ever created, natural and processed, meat- and plant-based, raw and cooked, feline and human)
Having spent a Roi’s ransom on dust mite murder weapons, I’m kind of hoping for no.1. But, having convinced Cat Daddy that I absolutely have to buy posh, scent-free skincare products “to act as a control and help monitor the flare-ups” I’m also hoping for rank outsider no.7, simply because it will require me to make no changes whatsoever and to continue buying Dermalogica products in the name of being a loving cat mamma. (“Why, yes, Cat Daddy, that price is perfectly normal for such a highly-specialised product. Do you want our boy to get better or not?”)
I am desperate to find out whether one of my 10 suspects will be guilty as charged, or whether the culprit will be something else entirely. I can’t believe that, soon, the wondering and speculating will be over!