Vivre un échec est pire que lutter

After the joys of the weekend, which included a wonderful visit from some of the Sun King’s pilgrims, today was Steroid Shot Day. And this is how it went:

– Brutal wrestle getting Louis Catorze into La Cage: check
– Yowling throughout the journey: check
– Kicking, hissing and clawing during the injection: check
– Silence all the way home (apart from the odd moment when Cat Daddy muttered, “Disgraceful behaviour”): check

And it seems that Le Roi has lost weight and is down to 3.22kg. We had noticed his appetite reducing in proportion to his increased trips outdoors for Oscar-baiting and suchlike, and we’ve had no reason to be unduly concerned. But we’ve been told to keep an eye on him and not let him get too skinny (which will be a challenge for a cat who doesn’t like food).

Then, when we got home, we realised that we had locked ourselves out of Le Château, so Cat Daddy waited outside our door with La Cage perched on the wall whilst I dashed around retrieving our spare keys from Cocoa the babysit cat’s family. During the wait, Cat Daddy got chatting to a random passer-by who commented on Louis Catorze’s “lovely face” (although, to be fair, it was getting dark outside at this point), and who revealed that all his cats had come from the same rescue as Catorze.

The little sod sat happily and serenely through the key kerfuffle and the compliments. Maybe one day he will do the same with the vet.

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(Thank you, Phil, for the fabulous photo showing my dear boy’s tooth impediment in its full glory.)

En (presque) parfaite santé

imageIt’s been a month and 2 days since Louis Catorze’s last steroid shot. Each shot is designed to last 3-4 weeks, but I have good news: it looks as if we may be able to stretch this one out for a little longer. His eye puffiness is minimal, he has barely any scabbiness on his chin and, best of all, the Greta Garbo mood doesn’t seem to have taken hold this time. Le Roi is still happy, dynamic, bothering the local urban wildlife and scenting the air with sweet, tangy lime wherever he goes.

So we have a few days’ reprieve until the next trip to the vet, and Louis Catorze will be spending this time mostly sleeping, chirping and meeting new pilgrims. He is very much looking forward to seeing tomorrow’s guests, who read about him online and thought, “An unphotogenic, itchy, stupid cat who does nothing? Yup, sounds worth a visit.”

La vie est belle

imageThe vet told us at the last visit that we would no longer need to give Louis Catorze his Atopica regularly. The steroid shot alone, it seems, is sufficient, with occasional use of Atopica only when things are really bad.

Obviously we were delighted at the prospect of no longer having to trap and medicate him, especially as, despite being thick, he was managing to develop a sixth sense about when it was coming. But we weren’t prepared for how quickly, and how dramatically, it would make a difference to the little sod.

Louis Catorze loved us anyway but, within a week or so of stopping the Atopica, he became visibly more affectionate and trusting. Now, when I reach for him to hug him, he no longer runs away. And he will even allow me to scoop him up for cuddles in the kitchen, which used to be the main assault area. (A tip if you’re trying to keep your cats off the kitchen work surfaces: place them on there to give them their medication. Do this just once and I can guarantee that they will stay off forever more.)

Whilst I still struggle inwardly with the fact that we’re giving him scary steroids, Louis Catorze’s quality of life is already clearly better (see tail for proof). And that makes us happier than you can possibly imagine.

 

Je suis légèrement moins drogué

Just a quick update on Louis Catorze’s most recent vet visit and steroid shot. (If nothing else Le Blog helps me to keep track of the dates of these things.)

We decided to take him today as we had noticed the skin around his inner eyes thickening, which is usually the danger sign that things are about to turn to merde again. Once again he yowled and whinged throughout the whole procedure, but we are happy to report that his ears have improved, so he doesn’t need the ear drops anymore. And, because we had taken him in before the itching had fully set in, the vet was able to give the little sod a reduced dose of the steroid shot.

We wondered whether the lower dose would mean less psycho behaviour. But we weren’t left wondering for long: the minute we got back, Louis Catorze dashed straight out to annoy Oscar the dog. Oh dear.

La panacée du Roi

“What a pity January is almost over, just as things were getting good,” said absolutely nobody, ever.

It’s a difficult month at the best of times, even when the sharply cold temperatures and bright white frost give a kind of feeling of newness and freshness. But this January, far from being sharply cold or frosty-bright white, has been especially grim: grey, damp, clammy and sluggish. I can’t wait for it to end.

Louis Catorze, however, couldn’t give a hoot either way.

All is going phenomenally well in his little world, which means, at least, that someone has had a positive month. His black cat mojo is bursting at the seams at the moment and he looks magnificent. Cat Daddy usually lets out a snort of contempt when I say this, deriding Catorze’s “drug-addled state” and muttering something about him only appearing attractive if you look from a long way off and squint a bit. But I don’t care how far away you have to stand or how he got this way: I’ll still take it.

Here he is, looking menacing and demonstrating the right hook that (possibly) knocked out his mystery opponent at Le Fight Club:

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It’s not just his physical appearance that has improved: everything about him just seems easier when he’s well. Even the medication and the Advocate, whilst not exactly fun, aren’t so bad, with the Post-Meds Sulk seemingly a thing of the past; whereas previously he would run away afterwards and hide for hours (or for the whole day, as he did on his first day with us when I crunched his tail under my knee by accident), now he comes back for cuddles.

He’s had a fair few visitors throughout January and he’s been on fine form for them all: sociable, affectionate and even happily allowing 3 kids aged 5 and under to simultaneously manhandle him. Poor Luther would have walked through hellfire to avoid such a thing – in fact, most normal cats would – but we all know, don’t we, that Louis Catorze is not a normal cat?

He’s due at the vet’s for his next steroid shot in a couple of weeks. I really hope this run of good luck holds out until then.

Le Lundi Bleu

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Today is Blue Monday, so called because it’s said to be the most depressing day of the year. Firstly, it’s a Monday (never good). Secondly, it’s a good week-and-a-bit before pay day for most people. And, lastly, it’s far enough from Christmas to make the holiday season a distant memory, but still some way off from the next major public holiday. For a while I thought I was going to have to add a fourth complication into the mix – something along the lines of, “It’s the day when well-meaning veterinary staff who are just doing their job are viciously mauled by psycho black cats” – but, luckily, we didn’t have to see the vet today after all. Génial!

Louis Catorze has been doing so well this week. He’s vocal, affectionate, energetic and, most importantly, he’s itching far less and his wounds are healing. And it seems that the vet was right about his willingness to be medicated increasing proportionally with how well he felt: administering his Atopica and ear drops is never going to be top of our list of favourite things to do, but it hasn’t been the purgatory that it was last week, either. So I called the vet, described his current condition and asked if he really needed to be put through the stress of another visit, and they said no. MERCI A DIEU.

So Blue Monday hasn’t been so blue for me after all. A day which I thought would end with pinning a screaming, struggling cat down on a table and watching helplessly as more money drained from his dwindling sick fund, has actually ended with me cuddling up on the sofa for movie night with a sweet, purry and affectionate little kitty. (I am talking about Louis Catorze in both instances, by the way. I don’t mean some random cat comes into my house to watch movies with me, delightful though it would be.)

 

Le diable en moi

Today’s trip to the vet was traumatic beyond belief. To be honest I could do with a week or two to allow my heartbeat to return to normal before writing about it but, if I don’t do it now, I shall wake up tomorrow and think I dreamed it all.

As expected, Louis Catorze needed another steroid shot – this time the longer-lasting one – and an antibiotic shot. But, after I reported seeing him shaking his head and shoving his back feet deep into his ears, the vet checked him as best she could under the circumstances* and said he would also need treatment for an ear infection.

(*I say this because the little sod really didn’t make it easy for her to check: he struggled, kicked and yowled so badly that I began to think we needed an exorcist, not a vet.)

The ear treatment process was twofold and, unfortunately, Louis Catorze writhed and complained like crazy throughout both parts, shaking the cleaning fluid and ear drops all over me, the vet and himself. And, because the whole ordeal had to be repeated on both ears, by the time it was over he was soaking wet and looked as if we’d tried to drown him. It was quite heartbreaking to see the fear and confusion in his face when the torment just didn’t ease up. The relentless attack of the cleaning solution followed by the ear drops followed by the antibiotic shot followed by the steroid shot terrified the poor sausage so much that he ran into his daddy’s arms and clung to him for dear life.

“How often do we need to give him the ear drops?” I asked, praying that the vet wouldn’t say “every day”.

“Ideally a couple of times a day …” she replied.

[Thudding sound from my sunken heart hitting the ground]

” … But I can see that it’s, erm, going to be a challenge,” she continued. “Maybe once the steroid kicks in and he’s a bit more comfortable, he won’t mind you doing it so much.”

Hmmm.

Anyway, Cat Daddy is now pouring himself a big glass of Merlot, Louis Catorze is having an apocalyptic sulk under the bed and I’m wondering how the heck I’m going to get the ear drops anywhere near him without him kicking me to death. We need to take him back to the vet in a week’s time so that they can check on his ears again, but I just don’t see them being able to do it unless they sedate the whole darned lot of us first.

Le miel des rois

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If you choose to be the slave to a special needs cat, one of the things you come to expect is life being brilliant one minute, then disintegrating into crud the next.

It’s been a tough week at Le Château. The return to work after Christmas and New Year is always difficult but I’ve been working very late every night, Cat Daddy has been working even later, and we didn’t see each other at all from Monday through to Friday. Louis Catorze has been wonderful company but, once again, because I’ve been leaving the (not brilliantly-lit) house in darkness and coming home in darkness, it’s been hard to keep track of his condition, although I’ve been aware of increased itching and fidgeting during the night. When I finally got to look at him properly in daylight on Saturday morning, I could see that the little sod’s chin area was bald and raw again.

It seems that the steroid shot, whilst undeniably improving things, isn’t the faultless magical potion that I wanted it to be, and that it has its limitations. Whereas his first injection gave him excellent results for a whole month even though it was only supposed to last a week, the second hasn’t been quite so effective. You know how a drinking session can get you completely plastered, but, the second time around, you need more booze to get to that same level? Well, this looks set to be exactly the same, except much less fun.

To make matters worse, having agreed that we would take Louis Catorze to the vet after we got back from the football, I realised too late that I’d got the vet opening hours completely wrong and that it was closed until Monday. Our options were to rush him to the emergency vet or sit it out until after the weekend, so we decided to go for the latter because the wound looked unpleasant but not horrendous, and because Catorze is still active, vocal and up-tailed, which I’m assuming means he doesn’t feel that bad.

I have received a lot of advice about what to do with him during the wait for the vet appointment, and one suggestion – which has also cropped up in the past – was to apply honey to the sore areas (thank you, Lisa). With Catorze being the way he is, this needed to be a very well-planned and strategic move, so I took my chance when he came in this morning from his all-nighter and scurried upstairs to join his daddy, who was still in bed.

And, naturellement, the only honey we had in the house was organic artisan New Zealand manuka honey. We’re talking honey that only rock stars and lottery winners could afford to buy, and we, being neither of those, only had it in our cupboard because Cat Daddy happened to meet the supplier at a trade show and they very kindly gave him a free sample. Gram for gram, this stuff costs more than cocaine or gold – and there I was, smearing it onto the skin of a wriggling, kicking, ungrateful little bastard of a cat.

Oh well – Louis Catorze is a king, I guess, which means that supermarket blended honey just won’t do. And, after the initial indignity was over, he was immediately happy again. Let’s hope this is enough to keep things under control until the vet visit.