Croisons les doigts …

5EF3EADF-1D92-4DCF-9CFF-6045FAB00153At the weekend, whilst we were lying in bed giving him cuddles, Louis Catorze chased his tail again.

We let him do it, just to see how long it would go on (happily it was no more than a few seconds) and to see if we could ascertain whether it was playful or something more sinister, but we couldn’t tell. In fact, we didn’t even really know what we were looking out for; I had this idea that sharp pounces were playful and that smoother, more seamless chasing were sinister but there’s no science in that.

Catorze has been Gabapentin-free and doing well for 2 months now, so it would be devastating beyond belief for him to start displaying symptoms again. Please send the little sod your good wishes: not so much “get well” but “don’t you DARE get sick again.”

Le bonheur est une drogue dure

Christmas has been and gone, and we have made it to those weird in-between days when nobody quite knows what to do with themselves.

December has been a trying month: we have had to cope with stubborn colds, Cat Daddy’s scary Christmas lights set to “epilepsy mode”, and seeing the vet more often than we have seen all our friends and family put together … and, through it all, Louis Catorze is still chasing his tail.

The Zylkene calming supplement – or “Louis Catorze’s party powder”, as Cat Daddy naughtily calls it, and which can be seen decorating the edges of Le Cône – has made some difference; the little sod has been going for his tail slightly less often, and with slightly less ferocity. But, unfortunately, this difference isn’t significant enough to allow us to permanently dispense with Le Cône.

img_8461

We went back to the vet today, and she was surprised at how long it was taking for his wound to heal. A few squeezes and pinches to the tail – and a hiss from Sa Majesté – revealed that there was still a problem there. Rather than going for the steroid shot, which would delay the healing even further, the vet prescribed a neurological painkiller which only exists in tablet form. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: we are going to have to pill the little sod twice a day for 2 weeks.

“You could try wrapping the pill in this special paste, to get him to eat it,” the vet suggested, demonstrating how to do it. Louis Catorze stared at the unappetising pellet and gave each of us in turn his “And what the heck is THIS pile of merde?” look.

In the end she had to pill him using the traditional method of brute force and a prayer. It didn’t look pleasant and there is no chance in hell of us succeeding.

I am usually pretty poor at predicting the future, but I can see that my January 2017 will involve tears, anguish and lacerations to the hands.

Le patient français

It has been 2 days since the X-ray and Louis Catorze is continuing to obsess with his tail, presumably because the claw puncture wound from the other night has irritated him even further.

Watching him interact with it is the most bizarre thing imaginable; he can be unaware of it one moment and, the next, the red mist descends and he just HAS to try and kill it. If we are with him, a cuddle and a gentle warning are usually enough to distract him. But we can almost hear the cogs whirring away as he thinks, “You can’t keep watch over moi forever.”

And, of course, the real problem is when we’re not in the same room with him, or when we’re asleep. That’s when he really goes for it, with a full-on fight punctuated by those awful raspy screams that we have grown to know and hate.

We have decided to try the Zylkene calming supplement, which is a white powder that you sprinkle onto food, to see if it has any effect on Louis Catorze’s tail obsession. Bearing in mind that white powder dusted over dark brown food looks ridiculously obvious, I was fully expecting to be met with the “Go home: you’re embarrassing yourself” look, but, astoundingly, Le Roi did eat a little.

We have also studded the house with Feliway diffusers in the same way that Transylvanians would use crucifixes. They’re everywhere, silently churning out odourless, invisible clouds of happy gas that will make our boy better (we hope).

The vet told us that these new measures would take a few days to kick in, and that any changes would be subtle. But, if the alternative is tail amputation (unfortunately, yes, this has been mentioned), we’re willing to give anything a try.

We will keep you updated and, in the meantime, we wish you a wonderful and peaceful Christmas weekend. Your love and support of the little sod mean the world to us.

img_8424

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.

img_8419

Le vilain petit canard

I didn’t want to say this until I was sure I wasn’t imagining it, but … Louis Catorze has been doing the bird-chatter noise at his tail. I must admit that, from some angles, the shaved bits make it look like the head of a duckling or a baby emu, but surely nobody is THAT daft?

And he has discovered that, if he curls up into a ball, he can reach the tip of his tail to bite it. So the soft Cône, being wider than the plastic one, is back.

Because the little sod managed to wriggle out of it the last time, we have had to become very inventive with our knotting and create something at the more severe end of the knot spectrum. I experimented with the few knots that I could recall from my Girl Guides days until my mum tutted impatiently, snatched Le Cône from my hands and whipped up a hangman’s noose-style Knot of Death that, frankly, terrified me. Had we known about this knot as kids, we would never have played up.

Obviously the danger of Catorze strangling himself is very much on our minds so not only is he under house arrest, but he is also under room arrest and under round-the-clock accidental-suicide watch. Like a dangerous inmate in a maximum security penitentiary, he goes nowhere unaccompanied.

The good thing is that he is much happier with the soft Cône. He would be happier still with no Cône at all but, alas, it’s never going to happen: he has proven, time and time again, that he cannot be trusted during Cône-free breaks, however short. So, although it might not seem that way, it’s easier and kinder to give him the drastic death-knot around the neck and assign him a 24-hour guard.

And, between us, Cat Daddy, Houseguest Matt and I are on it.

img_8365

Le Cône est de retour

We have had a stressful few days at Le Château.

The mascara worked like a dream when freshly applied but, when it wore off, we were back to square one again. And, when I came home on Wednesday night, the tail-chasing and throaty yowling were worse than ever, at which point I discovered that Louis Catorze had gnawed the crap out of his tail.

I called the out-of-hours vet, who told me to give him some Metacam and make an appointment for the next day. So Cat Daddy cancelled his morning’s meetings and took him in.

It turns out he had a minor tail injury which was concealed by his fur, and that’s what was troubling him. Unfortunately all his biting has both worsened this AND given him a new injury on a different part of his tail that was fine before.

Obviously this isn’t great, but it certainly beats the previous theories that he might have had a mental disorder (how exactly does one treat such a thing?) or that we were too boring (again, I have no idea how to fix this; 44 years on the planet and I’m not about to suddenly become fun now).

Despite being walloped with the quadruple whammy of antibiotics, painkillers, a shaved tail and Le dreaded Cône, Le Roi is reasonably content and comfortable now and, more importantly, he can no longer bite his tail. And, because he can’t use the cat flap whilst wearing Le Cône, I had the surreal experience of sleeping in the kitchen with him last night, so that I could let him in and out, and throughout the night I had the privilege of constant cuddles. (Cat Daddy had shut the bedroom door and Houseguest Matt was out, but still: CUDDLES! FOR ME!)

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send messages of support.

img_8367

Peins-la en noir

Cat Daddy and I have spent a disturbing amount of time monitoring Louis Catorze to try and understand his tail-chasing habit. And, yes, this has been just as dull as it sounds, with the exception of the unsettling moment when he actually HISSED at his own tail.

The strange thing is that Catorze doesn’t appear to be going for his tail in response to anything physical. It seems that the SIGHT of the white bony bit – which stands out against his black fur – is what triggers him, perhaps because he thinks something is stuck to his tail, or because he thinks the white blob is a worm or a bug. And this is most odd as he’d surely have had to go for the tail a few times in the first place, in order to thin the fur and expose the white bony bit?

img_8268

“Which do you think came first: the tail-chasing or the white bony bit?” I asked Cat Daddy.

“I don’t know,” he replied curtly, not even looking up from his laptop, “but I bet historians and scientists the world over are agonising over it.”

Sigh.

“It’s right up there with all the other ‘Which came first?’ debates: the chicken or the egg, life on earth or a habitable environment …” Cat Daddy’s voice trailed off, his eyes remaining down.

I thanked him for his insightful comment and bade him good day – although I couldn’t resist Googling both the chicken and the egg and the life on earth thing, as soon as I left the room.

The question now is: what do we do about it? Short of colouring the white bony bit with black marker pen – Cat Daddy’s idea, and he wasn’t joking – we can’t think of a single feasible solution.

Are there any historians or scientists out there? A little help, s’il vous plaît?