Le Roi se détruit

Whilst the rest of the world is worrying about other things, our greatest concern is the fact that Louis Catorze cannot be trusted with Le Cône in half-mode (i.e. with the detachable front part removed).

Everything can be fine for a while, with Catorze appearing to heal well. Then we stupidly let our guard down and leave him half-Côned and unsupervised, during which time he finds bizarre and inventive ways of scratching himself until he bleeds. We don’t even know what these ways are because the crafty little sod is so secretive about them, and we don’t realise he’s done it until it’s too late.

On Saturday we went to the butcher and the baker (although not, on this occasion, the candlestick maker), leaving Catorze home alone and half-Côned with no problem. Then, when Puppy Mamma came over and we were about to leave for the football, he was hovering around his feeding station but Le Cône had swung the wrong way around, preventing him from eating. So I straightened it … AND HE STARTED TO EAT.

Now, Le Cône has been designed with normal cats in mind, and we all know that they would eat as soon as they were able. But this is Catorze we’re talking about; he lost 200g in the first week of Côning – and has maintained this loss ever since – because of his refusal to eat when given the chance. Very, very occasionally, the planets and the stars align so that his desire to feed coincides with my availability to help, and this was one of those rare and precious moments. My gratitude for this far outweighed any precautionary measures – especially as, the previous day, he had only eaten a total of about a teaspoonful of biscuits – so, instead of wrenching him from his food and full-Côning him, I thanked the Goddess and all her angels above and left him to eat.

Quelle. Grosse. Erreur.

When we returned 2 and a half hours later, he had managed to mutilate himself immeasurably (photos too awful to post).

Puppy Mamma gave him a good check whilst I held him and, incredibly, his stitches were still intact. Even more incredibly, he wasn’t distressed – although I certainly was – so we didn’t rush him to the emergency vet that night. However, we did call our regular vet and send photos as soon as they opened this morning. They have advised against any further steroid shots until the biopsy results are in, but they have prescribed Piriton pills for the itching – which will have to be administered either using the Greco-Roman method (brute force) or the Trojan Horse (hidden in some jambon de Bayonne) – and a topical cream for his sore patches.

Cat Daddy and I have agreed that full-Côning – with only occasional supervised half-Côning moments for eating and drinking – is the only way forward. It’s not very pleasant having to choose between having him thin and hungry or bleeding and infected, but the former just about wins.

Here he is, enjoying the last few moment of the unsupervised half-Cône before disaster struck:

Probably only pretending to be asleep. Not to be trusted.

Le mot C

Things are developing here at Le Château faster than I can write. I had an entirely different entry ready to post today, but I have had to make changes following recent events. Please feel free to mute us (if, indeed, that is a thing on WordPress) or to unfollow if the updates become a nuisance, but it really helps me in terms of record-keeping to write and post in real time about Louis Catorze’s health.

Yesterday, when we came home from a day out, Cat Daddy and I noticed that Catorze’s face was a little redder, but not alarmingly so. However, in the couple of hours after our return, he disappeared off to scratch himself to smithereens and reappeared looking like the victim of an acid attack. So we took another trip to see the vet.

Although we had initially said no to repeating the steroid shot in case it exacerbated any fungal infection, the vet felt that this level of deterioration was unlikely to be of fungal origin. In any case our priority was definitely to control the itching, so we went ahead with the second shot. Once again Catorze went stark raving psycho, screaming bloody murder and scratching both Cat Daddy and the nurse (not the same lady that he scratched before, and I can’t decide whether this is good because he hasn’t made the same person suffer twice, or bad because he’s doubled his victim count in the space of a few days).

Anyway, he is now under house arrest and we have had to deploy Le Cône. I really didn’t want to have to do this, but we haven’t had much choice; as he clearly can’t be trusted not to scratch, if we were to leave him sans Cône he would pretty soon have no face or ears left.

The saddest thing about him being Côned is that he doesn’t become skittish or aggressive around us but wearily compliant, like a prisoner of war so broken down that he finally resigns himself to his fate. He is more affectionate and needy than usual, presumably because not being able to fully see around him makes him uneasy and therefore he needs to be near us to feel safe.

I wish we could make him understand that he will always be safe with us.

“Je déteste Le Cône.”

L’infirmier

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A couple of weeks ago I had a cortisone injection in my right shoulder, and yesterday I had another one in the left. (The hospital actually sent me a further letter inviting me for a third one, then realised their mistake when I pointed out that I only have 2 shoulders.)

My sister: “This means that 2/3 of your household are on steroids!”

After the injection you are supposed to rest at home for 48 hours, which has meant I’ve had to cancel a few things that had been planned for ages, including my mum’s birthday lunch, my friend’s 30th and a concert which was my anniversary gift to Cat Daddy. So he went out for the night, taking his friend as his anniversary date, and I was stuck indoors with Catorze. (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme.)

Now, I realise that a cosy night in with a cat may sound like a pleasant way of passing the time, but this is Catorze we’re taking about. For a start, I am only his 14th favourite human in the world (after Cat Daddy, ex-Houseguest Matt, Cocoa the babysit cat’s daddy, Cocoa the babysit cat’s brother, Oscar the dog’s daddy, Bert the dog’s daddy, our friend Steve, our friend Phil, our friend Daniel, Krzysztof driving the Lemon van from Ocado, the man who fixed the dishwasher and those two trick-or-treating youths who came wearing clown masks and brandishing machine guns), so I don’t suppose staying home with me is top of his list of fun things to do. Also, cats instinctively know when you are ill but only about 8% of them actually give a shit, and this makes the patient more miserable.

Quelle surprise, then, when the little sod remained cuddled up on my knees all evening! THIS NEVER HAPPENS! And, when my pain got too bad and I decided to take myself off to bed, I called him from upstairs and he came running to join me. (This is one of the dog-like qualities that I love in him but, very often, when he arrives and sees that it’s just me and my stupid shit again, he turns around and leaves. This time he stayed for a brief cuddle.)

At 1:15am I was woken by the familiar sound of indistinct scrabbling (the feline version of a text from DHL, indicating that a delivery had been made). Nothing says “Get well soon, maman!” quite like blood all over the bedroom floor and a dead rat, especially when only having one functioning arm with which to clean up the mess.

I intend to take it easy for the rest of the weekend. I really hope that Catorze does, too.

Le silence du Roi

Louis Catorze has a swish, new transportation pod. One of the pictures below is of that very pod. The other shows a pod that is far more appropriate for him given his chequered history when it comes to being transported, but Pets at Home don’t appear to stock it. And I suspect that the armed guards would have cost extra.

Cat Daddy: “He doesn’t need a new transportation pod. The old pod is fine.”
Me: “But I find it hard to carry the old pod, the way he fights and flips.”
Cat Daddy: “He doesn’t fight and flip when I take him. He behaves perfectly well for me.”

Well, that’s delightful news. Thanks.

Anyway, the new pod is super-stylish and considerably more fitting for a Sun King than his old one. It’s not often that we encounter his comrades or adversaries in the vet’s waiting room but, when we do, we want to look the part, n’est-ce pas?

On Friday we decided that it would be a good idea to give Le Roi a preventative steroid shot before going on holiday, as he was starting to get a bit scratchy and we didn’t want his gouvernante française to have problems. The triangular – rather than square/rectangular – profile of the new pod makes it very easy to carry by my side, even with my neck and shoulder problems, so, for the first time ever, I was able to walk to the appointment.

Sadly, the ergonomic shape and Chanel-inspired quilting did nothing to alleviate the screaming. Catorze hollered his lungs out all the way there, and, because we were walking, the screams echoed through the neighbourhood as opposed to being confined to the car. Even the workmen, who were digging up the road, stopped what they were doing to look at us. And, upon arrival, le fichu salaud was so noisy in the waiting room that the two ladies who came in after us, with their nice, quiet cats, decided that they would rather sit in the Dog Area than in the Cat Area with us, completely messing up the vet’s new apartheid system.

We feel a bit bad for our French cat-sitter as the steroid shots usually turn our boy rather manic and psycho, but better that than to have him scratch himself to bleeding point and require a trip to the vet in our absence.

There won’t be any blog posts for a short while, unless we see any cute cats on holiday, or unless we hear that Louis Catorze has done something especially impressive or horrific. Please keep well until our return, and continue to obey your furry overlords at all times.

 

 

Le Roi progresse: vive Le Roi!

Louis Catorze had his follow-up with the vet on Friday, and she was pleased to see that he has stopped attacking his tail. The tenderness and scabs have gone, and the tail is only looking moderately freakish now.

We are to keep up with the Gabapentin for at least a couple more months – he’s been on 5 pills a day for a week or so, as 4 didn’t quite seem to be keeping the tail-chasing under control – and part of the “aggressive treatment” stipulated by the specialist includes continuing the steroid shots alongside the pills, so Louis Catorze had one of those, too. It seems that a “more is more” approach is preferable and that, if in doubt, we’re to be heavy-handed with the treatment; if symptoms creep back, there is apparently a chance that the sensitivity could spread to other parts of the tail and even up the spine. And we definitely don’t want that.

Because Le Roi has been such a good boy without Le Cône – we even got away with it one day when he gave us both the slip and was unCôned and on the rampage for 12 whole hours – he is now allowed to be without it when we’re with him. But, the minute he’s unsupervised, it’s back on. I have been chided by people in the past for Côning him, on the grounds that it stresses him out, but … Cône stress or a chewed, bleeding tail? Had you seen the latter (photo too ugly to post here) or heard his pitiful cries of pain, believe me, you would choose Le Cône, too.

Although the appointment went well, we came away with one piece of sad news: the vet is leaving the practice to do voluntary work (probably with nicer and more grateful animals) in the Caribbean and to travel around Central America. She has lots of great colleagues who have been wonderful to Louis Catorze, but she knows him best and was our favourite. We have a couple of weeks to plan a leaving present for her; Cat Daddy suggested slipping Catorze into her backpack as a surprise (“There will barely be any extra weight”), but I was thinking more along the lines of some Sun King merchandise. Nothing says “Au revoir et bonne chance” quite like a t-shirt or sweatshirt bearing his face, as a reminder of the yowls, hisses and kicks that the poor vet has endured at the paws of her patient préféré.

The only question now is which of my 1,423 Roi photos to choose. I rather like this one:

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J’ai 99 problèmes mais un cône n’en fait pas partie

Louis Catorze has been doing so much better this week.

On Monday morning he managed to escape outside without his Cône – despite the cat flap being both locked and physically barricaded and all windows being shut – and he hid in the cat flap tunnel for 15 minutes whilst a frantic, late-for-work Cat Daddy hunted for him. Whilst this was incredibly annoying, when Louis Catorze behaves like a salaud sournois it usually means he is feeling good.

We have progressively been allowing him more and more extended Cône-free time whilst we’re home, which, in itself, has been massive progress. However, yesterday he had his first full day and night sans Cône, and I am delighted to report that he hasn’t attacked his tail once since Saturday night. This has meant that we’re now able to remove Le Cône completely and allow him free access to the cat flap again.

There are still moments when he eyes his tail distrustfully, as if to say, “Excuse-moi? What ARE you?” and, occasionally, he taps it curiously. But then he loses interest and leaves it alone.

We are due to see the vet on Friday, when we will stop the Gabapentin – as per her instructions – so that we can ascertain whether it’s that or the steroid shot that has brought about his dramatic improvement. I’m terrified of relinquishing a system that seems to be working for him, but I understand why we need to know.

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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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Le Roi fleurit: vive Le Roi!

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I haven’t posted about Louis Catorze’s allergy for ages, and I’m delighted to say that this is because I haven’t needed to: Sa Majesté is doing exceptionally well.

He was due to have his steroid injection on 11th June, having had the previous one on 11th May, but we have been able to let it lapse – as per the vet’s advice – because he hasn’t shown any symptoms. He is a little fidgety and scratchy, but the rescue informed us when we adopted him that he would always be that way, even when well. You simply wouldn’t know he were a special needs cat: his fur is glossy, his eyes are healthy, he has no scabs, and he’s full of shouty, annoying energy. He’s also extra obsessed with his daddy at the moment and won’t leave him alone; yesterday Cat Daddy said, “Watch this” then sat down, counted down from 3, and Catorze came hurtling from wherever he was in the house and flung himself onto his lap.

We haven’t done anything different in terms of Le Roi’s treatment, except for brushing him more regularly (a miserable experience for us all, but it has to be done). We have, in fact, been a little LESS stringent with many things, for instance I haven’t treated the fabric furnishings with anti-bacterial spray for a while, and I have even sneaked in a few scented hair products (for me, not for him). And the little sod has shown no reaction whatsoever to our laziness/vanity other than to show positive progress.

It would be great to be able to get to 11th July, making it 2 whole calendar months between injections. But, even if we don’t, we’ll happily take 7 weeks and a few days.

Au secours!

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Having spoken to another lady whose cat has regular steroid shots, I have discovered that some shots just “take” well but others don’t. It seems there’s no reason for it, and that it’s just the way things are.

To give you a picture of exactly what I mean, imagine last month’s steroid shot as watered-down lager, whereas last week’s one is more like absinthe with a sprinkling of amphetamines. Louis Catorze is behaving just like a bloke doing shots on a stag night, all shouty and annoying, lurching around like he owns the world.

He hasn’t stopped screaming since the day after the shot, and has been waking us up early in the morning for no reason whatsoever. He has a ferocious appetite, the like of which I’ve never seen before. And I’ve just had to move darned fast to stop him from launching himself at my feet and embedding a layer of cat hair in my not-quite-dry nail varnish.

His thinning fur is filling out beautifully, he has no scabs and his coat looks thick and glossy, not that this is of any consequence as he’s constantly rolling in dirt (see picture) and covering himself in crud again. We’re exhausted from listening to him and from the lack of sleep and, quite frankly, at times we’re scared witless.

Please send ear plugs, a cattle prod and holy water to TW8 tout de suite.

On se méfie

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We decided not to bathe Le Roi after all.

Well … when I say “decided not to”, I mean “were too scared to”. You’ve read about The Vet Incidents, therefore you know full well what a horror he can be. So, instead, we asked the vet’s advice when we took the little sod for his monthly steroid shot yesterday.

Between all Louis Catorze’s whining, struggling and kicking, the vet suggested that we sponge him down with plain water if he became too grotty. She also added tactfully, “The only problem with washing cats is that some of them don’t tolerate it.” Which is polite vet speak for, “Try it, and you will die.” Oh dear.

In other vet news, the next fun medical event in Catorze’s life, in a couple of months’ time, will be a blood test to check how his body is handling the steroids. Our vet knows what to expect and is preparing her battle gear already.