La fin du traitement?

The citizens of the United Kingdom have spent the last couple of days taking in the government’s new pandemic advice. Which is as follows: “Go back to work. NOT ON THE TUBE, FOR GOD’S SAKE.”

Meanwhile, Louis Catorze has almost finished his course of steroids. And what a très grand relief this is because, as you know, they have turned him into a fireball of energy and a criminal genius, and we just can’t keep up with him.

Just like Bradley Cooper in that film about the blue pills, it’s as if the steroids allow Catorze to access the parts of his brain that he wasn’t accessing before (and, lets face it, that’s a lot of previously-untouched brain). He has become uncharacteristically cunning and resourceful and, avec Cône, managed to do a number of things that Côned cats should not be able to do, including – but not limited to – the following:

1. Scaling 2-metre fences.

2. Travelling across several gardens, covering more ground than we ever thought possible.

3. Opening doors.

4. Chasing foxes.

5. Losing the detachable part of Le Cône.

6. Losing Le whole Cône.

7. Discovering bizarre new ways of scratching himself, the most notable of which was by using the corners of Cat Daddy’s old vinyl album covers. (Please see below for a picture of Le Roi having just toppled Deep Purple’s Machine Head after being caught in the act.)

Catorze will have been on the pills, in various strengths, for almost twelve weeks in total. Had it been a few weeks longer, we probably could have asked him to join our pub quiz team and he would have nailed that tricky anagrams round. And, after a few months, he may well have become Prime Minister.

Me: “Who would you rather have as Prime Minister? Option 1: Boris Johnson. Option 2 …”

Cat Daddy, interrupting: “OPTION 2.”

So that’s settled, then.

“Rock et roll.”

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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Le jeu de cônes

Winter is coming – or, rather, it arrived yesterday – and the solstice is traditionally a period of celebration, joy and hope. Sadly I don’t feel especially celebratory or joyous at the moment, and the only thing I’m hoping for is that, one day, Louis Catorze will stop biting his darned tail. Regretfully, that day won’t be coming anytime soon.

Earlier this week, he was lucky enough to receive a SECOND gift of a soft Cône, this time in Extra Small size, from the same kind friend who sent the first one. And he has shown his gratitude by figuring out that soft Cônes can bend. Naturellement, he bit his tail and broke the skin again, forcing me to go to Pets At Home and buy an even wider, more rigid Cône (with padded edges to protect la gorge royale) for when we’re not supervising him.

He absolutely cannot bite his tail in the new Cône … but, with sufficient effort and the correct planetary alignment, he has discovered that he can get a paw to it. And, yesterday evening, he managed to get his claw stuck in his wound and couldn’t get it out. Fortunately I was with him so I was able to pull it out … but he was left with an ugly, gaping wound and a chunk of flesh hanging from his tail.

We took him to the vet this morning, hoping she would say that it was just a superficial scratch. But she thought it looked much worse than that and was concerned that he was still showing so much interest in his tail, so she recommended an X-ray to rule out any deeper problems. Luckily there was a slot available this morning so we were able to leave him there and collect him again this evening.

Sadly the X-ray revealed no damage to his tail. (I say “sadly” because I find inconclusive answers more frustrating than anything on earth; “It’s broken in 28 places”, whilst unpleasant, would at least have given us a starting point.)

And he will have to remain Côned for at least another week.

Our next options are as follows:

– A different type of painkiller whose name I forget, designed for neurological pain
– Feliway diffusers and an anti-anxiety supplement called Zylkene
– Another steroid shot, in case the reason for the original irritation is his old allergy inexplicably deciding to reappear on his tail
– All of the above

It’s a lot to take in. Cat Daddy and I are having a cup of tea, cuddling Catorze and trying to figure out what to do.

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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.

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.”

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.