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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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?

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“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?

Nous sommes trop ennuyeux pour notre chat

It seems I have written a new instruction manual on how to be the worst person on the face of the planet. It goes something like this:

1. If your cat chases his tail, laugh at him.
2. If he keeps doing it, laugh some more.
3. If he does it for several hours through the night, curse him for being such a shit.
4. Don’t bother to actually check his tail unless he bites it so hard that he yelps, at which point you may discover that he has eaten it down to the skin.
5. Make an appointment at the vet’s, then get home late due to an accident on the motorway and miss the appointment.

“Don’t worry,” said Cat Daddy. “I’m sure he still loves you as much as he did before. Mind you, that wasn’t really a lot, was it?”

Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.

Anyway, we finally made it to the vet this evening, and the good news is that she found no sign of injury. “He doesn’t seem to be in pain when I touch the tail,” she said. “He’s yelling a lot, but then he yells a lot when he comes here, anyway, doesn’t he?”

More silence, tumbleweed, crickets.

We were advised to keep an eye on Louis Catorze’s tail over the next few days. The vet then shocked the life out of us by telling us that, in the event of it not deteriorating physically, the tail-chasing was more likely to be boredom-related and that we were to give Catorze more stimulation.

This hit me and Cat Daddy like a punch in the guts. So … we are not interesting enough for Sa Majesté.

To make matters worse, I know that, when I attempt to play with him, he declines in favour of toys that he can use on his own. So it seems that Louis Catorze has been trying to tell us for some time that we’re dull, and now we have just paid £25 for the joy of being told the same thing again.

We’re too boring for our cat. What d’you think about that?

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J’adore hurler

It’s February! Hurrah! We haven’t yet experienced enough days of the month to justify me being so happy about it, but the fact that it’s no longer January is good enough for me.

Something about the shift from winter to spring, imperceptible though it is, has given us all a much-needed burst of renewed energy. Cat Daddy and I have resolved to spend more time outdoors, sorting out the garden, going on walks, that kind of thing. Louis Catorze, on the other hand, has decided to put all his efforts into yelling at every possible opportunity.

Most cats yell when they’re hungry; however, given that Louis Catorze doesn’t like food, this cannot possibly be the reason for him. Despite the fact that he has the whiney voice of a spoilt child who has been told to go to bed, sometimes his yelling is very cute. 6am, however, isn’t one of those times.

His first yell tends to be when he rolls in from his outdoor all-nighter, 15 incredibly annoying minutes before my alarm. He pitter-patters downstairs with me, watches me dish up his food, then promptly ignores it and goes outside. Purpose of yell: unknown.

There’s a bit of a racket upon my return home after work, too, which I expect is because he’s been alone all day. Purpose of yell: welcome-home greeting / “about bloody time” type of retort.

He reserves the worst of it for the evening, when he wants us to hurry up in the kitchen and settle with him on the sofa. He pitter-patters to the living room doorway, yells, pitter-patters back to us and yells some more. If we ignore him, he does it again and again until we do what he wants, all the while his tail pointing up. Purpose of yell: wanting snuggles / utter selfishness.

This photo was taken a couple of nights ago, right after I gave into his vociferous demands and followed him into the living room. The smug little sod immediately settled on my blanketed lap, all puffed up and proud that he’d got his way, and gazed at me with his weird, glassy, extra-terrestrial eyes.

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Given that a shouty, up-tailed Roi is a happy Roi – and his scab-free face seems to confirm this – we’re inclined to just let him get on with it. (Whatever “it” might be; your guess is as good as ours.)

Quelles montagnes russes!

“A true Catorzian rollercoaster” is perhaps the best way to describe this week.

Tuesday was just AWFUL. I spent the whole day feeling excruciatingly guilty about putting my poor boy through such stress at the vet’s, and the day closed with a very sticky Louis Catorze whimpering under the bed after Cat Daddy was a little over-zealous with the ear drops. Wednesday appeared somewhat more promising when I was greeted after work with happy squeaks and an up-tail, and Louis Catorze even had the energy to go outside to wind up Oscar the dog next door. When he came back in, Cat Daddy nodded discreetly towards the bottle of ear drops and said, “Let’s get him now” … and, the second he heard that, Catorze spun around on his paws and went straight back out again.

“Shit – he knows,” said Cat Daddy. “But he’ll come back eventually.”

He didn’t.

We waited and waited. It started to rain and he still didn’t return. When it rained harder, he wedged himself into the tunnel in the wall which connects his cat flap with the outside world and sheltered there, keeping an eye on us, keeping dry but firmly and decisively NOT coming in. Eventually I gave up and went to bed, thinking, “I bet he’ll wait 5 minutes and then join me, just to be an annoying little sod.”

I was wrong. He waited 1 minute.

Of course the stupid ear drops weren’t within reach, and I didn’t dare get out of bed to fetch them because I knew Catorze would then take off. So I texted Cat Daddy, who was downstairs watching the football, and asked him to bring them up to me. No reply. I then phoned him. Still no reply. Eventually he managed to tear himself away from the match to get a drink and, when I heard him open the living room door, I seized my chance and yelled at him to check his phone. These words had barely tumbled from my mouth when Louis Catorze dived under the bed, where he remained for the rest of the night.

I usually start a new year full of energy, hope and optimism. This time, however, we’re just 2 weeks in and already I’m exhausted after being toyed with by a cat (and a thick one at that). I don’t know whether to be glad that the weekend is upon us, or scared out of my mind at the prospect of 48 whole hours with the smug little tail-aloft psycho.

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