Joyeux anniversaire, Maman

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Whilst most people spend their birthday morning having champagne in bed, I spent mine reading the instructions of 2 different medications, preparing them and then delivering them to a struggling, kicking bastard of a cat. And, to add to the pressure, we had guests so it was all performed in front of a live audience.

To make matters EVEN worse: one medication requires a 0.3ml dose and the other 0.9ml; one is a simple pipette and the other an utterly suctionless syringe; one states “with food” which makes things tricky because Louis Catorze doesn’t have a specific meal time and, in fact, doesn’t even really like food; one smells like a toddler’s sugar-vomit (not that I have ever been unfortunate enough to experience this, but I imagine it’s just the same). I could go on but I won’t.

Eventually I did the deed, with only a moderate amount of medication spilling onto the kitchen worktop, onto my clothes and (possibly) into my cup of tea. My sister comforted me by remarking that I shouldn’t stress about getting every drop into the cat and that, if any of it managed to fly in his vague direction, that was an achievement. My 3-year-old nephew’s observation, once Le Roi had scarpered: “I think he liked it!” Erm, were you actually WATCHING, kiddo?

Louis Catorze headed straight outside for a mega-sulk in the rain – yes, he would rather be outside getting soaked than be anywhere near me. And, rather than offering to help shoulder the burden, Cat Daddy helpfully added, “I think you might as well carry on being the person that does the meds. I mean, he hates you anyway, so it won’t make any difference.”

La loi de l’emmerdement maximum

How to make your cat sick: brag to all your friends about how well he is. Sod’s Law – or, in this case, Little Sod’s Law – decrees that all will turn to merde after that.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and my family had arranged to come over today for a 2pm birthday lunch at our favourite pub. So, naturellement, Louis Catorze picked 1:30pm to start walking with a limp, shaking his back right foot and swearing at anyone who tried to take a closer look at it.

Whilst I would have been ok with leaving it until the next day given that the little sod was moderately content and not in the worst agony, the vet isn’t open on Sundays. And I didn’t dare leave it until Monday in case it was something awful. So Cat Daddy drew the short straw and agreed to take him to the only available appointment today, which was right in the middle of our lunch.

Usually we are seen on time and are out of the vet’s within 15 minutes. Not today. When Cat Daddy got there there was a dog and a cat in the queue ahead of him, and Louis Catorze managed to rouse the cat into some sort of angry rap battle during the long wait. When that cat was seen, he turned out to be a complicated case and wasn’t out for ages.

The good news is that Louis Catorze only has a minor cut on his foot. The bad news is that Cat Daddy had to pay £80 for the treatment and missed his main course at my birthday lunch. And the even worse news is that we have to give Catorze 2 lots of medication by syringe (an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory) a total of 3 times a day for a week. This is quite a horrifying thought, not only because he will shred us to pieces but because we haven’t had to assault him with medication for some time now. The trust that had started to build up over the last few months will now be gone in an instant, and he will probably never come near us again.

And oh my goodness: I have just checked the medication, and one of them is a weird powder that has to be transformed into a liquid. So I’ll need to perform some sort of spooky alchemy before I can even give the darned thing to him.

Please wish me luck. I’m really going to need it.

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J’adore le dopage

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I tend to write blog entries when a significant event has taken place, or, more usually, when Louis Catorze has done something stupid, but I’m writing this today because Cat Daddy made me.

Although we’re now sold on the idea of steroid shots for Le Roi – his fur and skin looked so much better immediately after the vet visit on Christmas Eve – it’s difficult dealing with the psychological aspects of going down this route. A lot of this, of course, is due to years of prejudice thanks to the media: most of us, when confronted with the word “steroid”, think of sporting drugs cheats and freakishly malformed bodybuilders. But, with so many animal and human medicines promoting themselves as “steroid-free”, it’s easy to make the assumption that steroids must, therefore, be bad. And the idea that we’ve agreed to pump them into our sweet boy every month, even though they make him feel better, takes some getting used to.

Yesterday morning I woke up at 4am after dreaming that Louis Catorze had stopped breathing due to steroid complications, and, worse yet, the little sod wasn’t around for me to reassure myself that he was fine. I woke Cat Daddy and asked him to go and look for him. He rolled over and muttered something unnecessarily discourteous.

That afternoon he and I had a long chat about why we had made the decision about the steroid shots (and why the heck I had woken him up), and he made me write down all the benefits “as a reminder, in case I punish myself later on after Louis is gone”. (As cat slaves we’re good at doing that, aren’t we, even though it’s pointless? I still agonise over Luther, who was run over, wishing I had fed him before he went out so that he might have missed that car by 5 minutes.)

So:

Pros of steroid shots:
1. Rapidly improved skin and fur
2. Dramatically reduced itching
3. Increased energy (and annoyingness)
4. More sociable behaviour
5. Civilised monthly trip to the vet, as opposed to brutal fight to the death 3 times a week
6. Giving him the shot would mean we could now go away at weekends if we wanted to (something we haven’t done since the little sod came to live with us, because we feel bad asking our neighbours to do battle with him in our absence)
7. NOT giving him the shot would be imposing a personal stance on him when he has no choice, like those poor cats who are made to eat vegan food (no problem with vegans personally, but forcing a vegan diet onto carnivorous animals is CRUEL)

Cons of steroid shots:
1. Questionable long-term effects (although this is the case for all medication – and the vet said that, provided we kept an eye on Louis Catorze’s organs via yearly blood tests, he should be fine)
2. Double the monthly cost of Atopica (not really a proper con as we have never held back, and would never hold back, from a treatment for Catorze because of money)

It doesn’t look so bad when presented that way, does it? I do know that we’re doing the right thing for him; I just wish my brain would catch up.

Du bon comportement

Yesterday we took Louis Catorze to the vet because we were worried about the state of his poor, shredded chin.

Luckily he was in a docile and malleable mood because the builders had been over and he’d spent the afternoon trying to snuggle them, so Cat Daddy had no difficulty getting him into La Cage. And, whilst at the vet’s, other than a mild amount of whimpering, Catorze actually behaved himself. No staff were violently assaulted, no blood was drawn, no dignity was lost (this time).

He needed an antibiotic shot, as I suspected, but also a steroid shot to try and calm the itching and inflammation. I don’t like the idea of steroids – in fact, I don’t really like medication, full stop – but it was either that or increase his Atopica syringings to once a day for a few weeks. The process of trapping and medicating him every 2 days is quite horrific as it is, plus the results we’ve seen so far from Atopica are reasonable but not great, so we really didn’t see the sense in imposing further trauma on him (and us).

An alternative to the steroid injection, the vet said, was a course of steroid tablets. Louis Catorze and tablets? Non, non et trois fois non.

There was barely a murmur from Le Roi on the way home and, when we released him from La Cage, astonishingly, he trotted happily out with his tail up. He then spent the rest of the evening cuddled up on the sofa with us. (Cat Daddy just read that bit over my shoulder and muttered, “Yeah, but it’s not gonna bring that £60 vet fee back, is it?” I can’t argue with that.)

I really hope that being such a good boy is a sign that Louis Catorze is feeling better.

Le Roi est rapide: vive Le Roi!

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We had Louis Catorze at “Bonjour” … or so we thought. I lured him into bed with fake cuddles whilst Cat Daddy snuck downstairs and placed some mineral water bottles in front of the cat flap to stop him running out. When I knew that the syringe was loaded and ready (which was communicated in code by text message), I herded Louis Catorze downstairs like a sheepdog with a gaggle of geese. (Is it even possible to “herd” just one animal? Oh well. I did.)

Louis Catorze trotted unsuspectingly towards the cat flap, where Cat Daddy waited with the syringe hidden behind his back. Then, as if somehow alerted to what was about happen, he gathered speed, whipping past Cat Daddy’s ankles and leaving him clumsily grabbing at thin air, shimmied around/through (I couldn’t say which preposition were more appropriate, as it happened too fast) our mineral water barricade and escaped into the safety of the garden. Before we could even say “le petit salaud”, he had scooted to the end of the garden where, alas, he was foiled by the clothes horse. Cat Daddy promptly caught up with him and got him well and good.

“Oh well,” said a friend, when I recounted the tragic tale later on. “It’s not as if you have to do this very often. It’s only once a month, isn’t it?”

“Erm, no. Two to three times a WEEK,” I replied.

“Oh!” she gasped, taking an extra deep breath. “In that case, you should be better at it by now, especially if he’s as thick as you say. It’s a bit embarrassing that you were both almost outwitted by a stupid cat.”

Thanks. YOU come and medicate him next time, then.

Le sanctuaire de câlin

I’ve really been missing my boy due to his under-bed Mega Sulks and, to add insulte to injury, the moments when we do see each other are far from being quality time; he gives me the suspicious sideways glare, I rack my brains to remember where I’ve concealed the loaded syringe, and THAT ALONE is enough to send him scooting back under the bed. The one place where he feels safe is on our bed, preferably lying like a furry, 2-man belt across both our waists (probably in an effort to pin us down and prevent us from going for the syringe), so today I wondered whether it could be worth trying to turn the bed into our special Sanctuaire de Cuddles throughout the day. Since he won’t come downstairs and do the Bill Withers and cocktails thing in the garden with me, why not take the initiative and invite him to join us in the place where he feels secure?

So Cat Daddy and I made an agreement that, in order to preserve the sanctity of the bedroom, we would never medicate Louis Catorze there; if we were truly desperate and felt it might be our only opportunity to get him, we would remove him from the bedroom first. Despite being pretty thick (Louis Catorze, I mean, not Cat Daddy), he knows his name and responds to it so, during my mid-morning lie-down (sounds rude but I do mean just lying down) I called him, not really expecting anything extraordinaire. However, he came shuffling out from under the bed, then THIS happened (please excuse the towels and crap on the bed):  I know! A rare treat, indeed! So, whilst my dear boy isn’t quite himself, at least I know where I can go if I want cuddles with him, and I’m delighted that he has even the slightest inclination to give them to me.

Le Roi va mieux: vive Le Roi!

 
Things are improving! Hurrah! The liquid Piriton seems to be having a positive physical effect on Louis Catorze, and his bald, itchy bits are slowly healing. Administering it, however, is the worst thing in the world, and there’s no way of doing it apart from a stealth attack and an undignified neck scruff. 

Whilst I love the taste of Piriton, to the point where I’ve considered using it as a crème de menthe substitute in a Sub Zero cocktail shot, I don’t think Louis Catorze agrees. His face after tasting suggests that he finds it rather like that concoction your hilarious university friends made on your birthday, when they put a shot of everything from the optics bar into one glass and made you drink it. It also doesn’t help matters that, despite not being the brightest, Louis Catorze knows when I’m loading the syringe, even if I go outdoors to do it; when I come back into the room/house, he’s already shifted into Battle Cat mode and is poised, ready to tear my soul out and send it to hell. This happens even if I don’t have the syringe on me, having hidden it elsewhere for later use AND washed my hands.

Offering treats as a bribe: he doesn’t like food, so no. 

Mixing medication into food: as above. In fact, when I once created some cute little tuna patties laced with Atopica, he gave me the resigned “Go home – you’re embarrassing yourself” look. 

Is this too much to hope for: a day when I no longer have to put him through this? Hurry up, test results!