Plus sucré que le sucre

With the grotesque sugar glutton-fest upon us (Easter, I mean, not The Great British Bake-Off), I thought it apt to mention that the sweetener xylitol is making an appearance in more and more foods. And, whilst it can be good for humans, it’s fatal to animals.

Now, dogs aren’t the most discerning diners, as I have found out from living next door to Oscar the dog. So, as a dog owner, one automatically adopts the practice of not leaving food lying around. With cats, it’s a little trickier. They’re not naturally drawn to foods containing xylitol but, because Louis Catorze, in particular, is a fastidious groomer, and because I use the raw powdered xylitol on a daily basis, I watch every stray granule.

A few weeks ago I spilled some xylitol on my head. (Long story, and so stupid that you wouldn’t believe me even if I told you.) Without thinking, I ruffled my hair to brush out all the bits and sent a fine mist of xylitol all over our mutual friend, who was on my lap. Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Cat Daddy wasn’t home at the time (hence why Catorze was on my lap) so I plunged into a complete blind panic. Should I put Le Roi under the shower? What if the heat and the water somehow melted the grains into a sweet paste which glued itself to his fur? Should I brush it all out? What if I didn’t get all the bits out? How would I know the difference between the grains of xylitol and the absolutely identical grains of unknown crud in which Catorze is often covered after rolling around outside? Should I taste them to find out? (Eurgh. What was I thinking? The panic was making me lose my mind. And, in any case, once the suspect granule was off his body, it no longer mattered what it was. NO TASTING.)

As you know, Sa Maj does not like being brushed, so it was no surprise to discover that he also doesn’t like being pinned down by my knee and having bits picked off him. But it was worth the lateness to work, the bleeding eardrums and the psychological trauma to know that my boy didn’t have a single grain of anything potentially toxic about his person by the time I had finished.

So all is now well with the world: Catorze survived me sprinkling his body with fatally toxic grains and I managed to make his body a xylitol-free zone without resorting to picking bits off his fur and eating them. I also wrote to the plastic-free company from whom I bought the product to tell them to put a clearer warning on their packaging in case others spilled it when decanting (although I didn’t tell them that I spilled it on my head) and didn’t know the dangers. And they replied within minutes and said that they would.

Below is a picture of Sa Maj’s fur after the unfortunate incident. Xylitol, outdoor crud or gross skin flakes? Luckily I picked off every last bit so that we wouldn’t have to find out. 

*Obviously if your pet has consumed xylitol, or even if you think they may have done so but you aren’t sure, get them to a vet très rapidement. 

Le meilleur assaisonnement

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Phase Deux has begun, and I have decided to tip the Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish into the refillable dispenser along with the Acana Pacifica. I am hoping that, rather like putting a vanilla pod or lavender sprig into a pot of sugar, the Lily’s Kitchen will infuse the Acana Pacifica with its irresistible goodness, resulting in a certain fussy little sod eating both. And this would spell the end of my wearisome sessions with the John Lewis stone pestle and mortar. 

So far, it seems to be working.

Cat Daddy: “It’s nothing WHATSOEVER like infusing sugar with vanilla or lavender. What rubbish.”

Me: “Have you ever infused sugar with vanilla or lavender?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “Well, be quiet, then.”

(I didn’t tell him that I have never done it, either.)

Anyway, the ratio of food in the dispenser is probably about 9 parts Acana Pacifica to 1 part Lily’s Kitchen. After a couple of weeks on this, I will buy more Lily’s Kitchen to balance out the ratio a little more (but hopefully not enough to activate the puke switch). And, thereafter, every fortnight or so, I will continue to add more Lily’s Kitchen to ensure as seamless a transition as possible for Louis Catorze.

Cat Daddy again, in his nobody-gives-a-shit voice: “What will the next ratio be? 8 parts Acana Pacifica to 2 parts Lily’s Kitchen? Or will you go for the more gradual transition of 8.5 parts Acana Pacifica to 1.5 parts Lily’s Kitchen? I bet you’ll have the whole of the Cat Internet in suspense over that cliffhanger.”

I am not happy about the sarcasm. But I am glad he has established that there is a Cat Internet. 

L’amour est le meilleur des médicaments

Louis Catorze has been on the reduced dosage of 2 x 25mg of Gabapentin a day for almost 2 weeks now, and he is showing no recurrence whatsoever of his symptoms.

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Better yet, he has started to eat Pill Pockets, so no more Greco-Romaning! Merci à Dieu et à tous ses anges! (If you don’t know what Pill Pockets are, they are tiny, edible, plasticine-like cups into which you stuff pills before squishing them to seal the opening. No, Louis Catorze wouldn’t eat Pill Pockets before. But he does now. Are you all keeping up so far, Mesdames et Messieurs?)

Whilst I don’t like to criticise the one and only thing that is successfully getting medication into the little sod, the ingredients list makes me twitchy and uncomfortable. Wheat flour: bad. Mixed tocopherols: no idea what these are, but they sound bad. Dried corn syrup: basically sugar, so REALLY bad.

I never thought I would see the day when I willingly gave my boy wheat and sugar. Mind you, the manufacturers know their target market: desperate people like me who have no option because nothing else works. They could make Pill Pockets out of heroin and asbestos and, if it meant our cats would just eat the goddamn pills and spare our lives, I reckon most of us would still buy them.

All being well, pill-wise we only have the rest of May (2 per day) and the whole of June (1 per day) left. The end is in sight. That’s what’s keeping us going.

La cuisine canadienne

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Louis Catorze’s fancy new food has arrived, and I have successfully destroyed the receipt so that Cat Daddy will never know how much it cost. When I was ordering it I made the mistake of reading the description to Cat Daddy, and he was so aghast that he spat tea all over his laptop. “Imported from Canada?” he spluttered. “IMPORTED? FROM CANADA? He’s a cat!” Then I reminded him that he was the one who instructed the builders to put an extra pillar in the kitchen just so that Louis Catorze could have a feeding station, and he shut up.

There are many types of cat food on the market, and deciding which are good and which aren’t is down to personal choice, but there are 2 ingredients that I really feel cats could do without:

  1. Grains. They don’t do anything for cats – nor for humans, come to think of it.
  2. Sugar. Just NO. Quite frankly, I would rather give Louis Catorze heroin than sugar.

My boy has the added problem of needing to avoid rabbit, flax, fennel and egg, which appear in a surprising number of foods. So, whilst it may seem absurd that we’re on a constant mission to reduce the miles travelled by our own food when our cat’s food has been flown from across the world, trying to find one without the troublemaking ingredients really wasn’t that easy. Acana Pacifica was virtually the only one.

When getting your cat to eat a new food, apparently the trick is to mix it in gradually with the old one; not only is kitty less liable to get an upset stomach, but this also means that the little sod is less likely to refuse it after all the pains you have taken to find it. So I did exactly this with Louis Catorze – 10% new food to 90% old food to start with – and I was met with the “And what the hell is THIS shit?” look.

Oh dear. What are the chances of a cat who doesn’t like food, eventually getting hungry enough to eat food he has previously refused?