L’écureuil a été reconnu non coupable

I returned home from Halloweekend-by-the-sea on Sunday afternoon and, apart from Cat Daddy accidentally double-pilling Louis Catorze on Friday (and then wondering why he was so bouncy and show-offy during the Zoom call with his pub mates), the weekend passed sans incident in TW8.

Yesterday I took Catorze to the vet. Unusually, there was total silence from the patient on the walk over to the surgery. Then, when we arrived at the door, he shifted to demonic possession mode: thrashing around inside his transportation pod, Exorcist-style growling, the works.

This time I was allowed into the waiting room (avec masque, of course). But, regretfully, this meant enduring the embarrassment of looking them in the face and telling them that my cat might have been punched in the face by a squirrel AND that I’d given him drugs without prior authorisation. And I can now confirm that the common belief that a face mask conceals smiles/laughter is very much a myth.

Anyway, it seems that his allergy is the more likely culprit than squirrel rage, and that we were right to pill him. We have to continue for the next five days, and, after that, reduce to every other day for ten days and add an eye ointment. Not DROPS, which fall conveniently where you want them to and spread effortlessly across the whole eye, but OINTMENT, which comes in a squeezy tube and has to be smeared on/in. It defies all science (thick creams simply cannot go into eyes) and all common sense (nobody in their right mind would stick their finger into the eye of a screaming, writhing, clawed animal with the strength of ten angry bears), but we are in what they call an Option-Free Zone. Cat Daddy and I might have to do Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who ends up with that torturous task.

The secondary post-vet news is that Catorze now tips the scales at 3.8kg, his heaviest to date, yet it’s still within his healthy range so nothing to worry about.

Cat Daddy: “[Unrepeatable, fat-shaming expletives]”

This photo, taken last Wednesday, was what prompted our vet appointment, but Sa Maj is starting to look a little better now:

Sore little sod. But still loving life.

Le vétérinaire, c’est le bon dieu

I have been back at school for just over a week. My hands are drier than desert sand due to all the washing. None of my school shoes fit, having being abandoned since March, and I’m forced to wear them in again as if they were new shoes. The school roof leaked during lockdown, which dissolved the labels off the science chemical bottles and now nobody knows what’s what. And the top floor – regretfully, where my classroom is situated, next to the science labs – bears the stench of damp, decay and death. But, apart from that, everything has been fine.

Meanwhile at Le Château, a certain someone went for their annual booster jabs yesterday. Any pet owner will know what a joyous occasion this is.

This is how the sequence of events unfolded:

1. Woke up to find Louis Catorze lying on top of me, which is most unusual, and realised then that I had not locked Sureflap to keep him in. (Had we purchased snazzy new model with hub, this could have been done from our phones.) Lay trapped under Catorze knowing that if I so much as THOUGHT TOO HARD about locking Sureflap, little sod would read my mind and dart out before I could even blink.

2. Successfully managed to beat him downstairs and lock Sureflap.

3. Catorze couldn’t get out. Whining started. Ignored him and drank tea.

4. Bagged him up in transportation pod.

5. Set off for appointment, telling Catorze things like, “It’s going to be fine. We’ve got this.” Because whining fell silent at that point and transportation pod doesn’t look at all like an animal carrier, people in park heard/saw me and most likely thought I was talking to myself, like those motivational guru ladies who stand in front of the mirror and tell themselves “I am a warrior woman” every day.

6. Whining restarted. Although quieter than screaming, psychologically it’s much, much worse. Screaming animal = unhinged or has rabies = not your fault. Whining animal = in torment = you are an animal abuser.

7. Arrived at vet practice and handed over Catorze like a bag of heroin. (We aren’t allowed in with the animals, so we have to mask up and hand them over to another masked person as if doing a drugs drop.)

8. Whilst waiting outside, briefly imagined what vets are like when we’re not present. Wondered whether they morph into Cruella de Vil. Visualised vet brandishing massive squirty syringe and yelling at Catorze, “And this is for all those times you clawed my staff and kicked them in the face, you little shit!”

9. Vet returned bagged Roi and informed me that he had been “very well-behaved”. Unsure whether she meant “compared to most cats” or “by his own abysmally low standards”. Thought it best not to ask.

10. Walked home in silence, wondering whether vet might have swapped Catorze for a psychotic changeling. Decided that psychotic changeling would be less trouble, and kept walking.

11. Walked past about seven or eight dogs in park, who took one look at transportation pod and started barking all at once. Realised that I probably had the right cat.

12. Arrived home and Catorze had forgotten how to use Sureflap again.

This is what I brought home from the appointment. Catorze or psychotic changeling?

Yup: looks legit to me.

Seul son ongle sait où se gratter

Last week the vet confirmed that we may start giving Louis Catorze his steroid pills. This was a huge relief to us because the little sod was hell-bent on scratching, and outwitted us every time we tried to stop him.

I had reached the stage where I couldn’t make my morning pot of tea unless he was within sight, because he had found a new scratching apparatus somewhere in the house (and we still don’t know where). And, on one occasion, he vanished into thin air during his exercise yard session, finally reappearing on the roof of That Neighbour’s shed, up-tailed, screaming and proudly sporting yet another a new scratch wound. (This wasn’t the time he was screamed at by the parakeet, but ANOTHER occasion.)

We have also caught him trying to scratch himself on his Yule tree from last year, which now lives in our garden. Yes, THAT tree. The one with the Blood-Letting Needles of Death: https://louiscatorze.com/2019/12/07/le-sapin-de-mort/

Every evening we give Catorze limited, controlled Cône-free time (with the door shut) so that he can wash more comfortably. Even that is fraught with danger because he bides his time, often pretending to be asleep on his daddy’s lap, then scratches when we are engrossed in something suitably suspenseful on TV. A couple of nights ago he chose his moment when the scary Mexican drug lord opened fire with his semi-automatic weapon and, of course, the gunfire completely masked his scratching sound. So, by the time the police shot the drug lord and we realised we had been double-crossed by Catorze, he was already well and truly stuck in and it was too late.

But I am thrilled to report that he has been happily eating the steroid pills (delivered Trojan Horse-style inside a Pill Pocket). If you have ever had to give medication to a less-than-obliging animal, you will understand what an incredibly big deal this is.

However, be warned: age makes Pill Pockets crumbly and powdery, rather like trying to make a sandcastle using dry sand. And, the more you handle and squish them, the more likely it is that you’ll propagate the pilliness and your dastardly Trojan Horse plan will be foiled. When I started using the Pill Pockets for Catorze’s Piriton a few weeks ago, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to mould around the pills. Then, when I checked the expiry date, I saw that it said, erm, “November 2017”. Oops.

But we now have a brand new, in-date supply which is much easier to shape around the steroid pills. And the little sod is eating them. Merci à Dieu, HE IS EATING THEM.

Well, it was about time something went right, wasn’t it?

Cleverer than he looks. This is not much of an achievement.

Se gratter sans ongles

Damn this horrid little sod. Anyone would think he didn’t want to get better.

Last week we found Louis Catorze with suspicious new sore patches on his face, indicating that he had found an inventive, secret way of scratching (again). For days we puzzled over how on earth he could possibly have done it, given that he is supervised 99% of the time due to his wicked and untrustworthy nature. Then we discovered that, during his sessions in the exercise yard, he had been darting out of sight behind the shed and scratching himself on a bunch of sticking-out bamboo canes.

We never bothered checking up on him when he went there because it’s only a tiny crawl space the same length and width as Catorze, and we knew that Le Cône prevented him from going far. The space is pictured below, and you can see the offending bamboo canes just above and to the right of him. Cat Daddy has now moved the canes but I’m pretty sure that, even if we put them on the moon, Catorze would find them.

Our vet practice closed last week to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. The W5 and TW3 branches are remaining open for emergencies only – and, no, the irreparable damage to both our sanity and our will to live still doesn’t deem this an emergency – so we really can’t afford to have this turn bad. It seems we are going to have to ramp up our surveillance even more intensely, and possibly even – gasp – reintroduce the full Cône when the inmate is out of sight.

Cat Daddy explained to his boy the other day that we all have to live with constraints during these difficult times, however much we dislike it.

Catorze replied with a “Mwah”. Sadly I don’t think it was the good kind.

Caught you, you little shite.

28 jours plus tard

We can’t believe that today marks four weeks of Louis Catorze being Côned, when it was only supposed to be a day or two. Nor can we believe how much life has changed because of Le Cône and its limitations. Our usual Catorzian tasks, which used to take seconds, now take considerably longer, or require constant supervision, or both. Plus there are now additional tasks that didn’t exist before.

In order to deal with all this, Cat Daddy and I organised a rota: he manages the Day Shift from whenever he wakes up until 6pm, we both share the Evening Shift from 6pm until around 10:30pm and then I take over the Night Shift.

For the last four weeks, my days have looked like this:

1. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual.

2. Trojan Horse pill (for Catorze, I mean).

3. Assisted breakfast at the special height-adjusted feeding station. (I have mixed success when it comes to getting him to eat breakfast, so I often have to leave handover notes for the Day Shift stating that I failed dismally and asking him to reattempt the task.)

4. Water glass is filled to almost-overflowing to accommodate Le Cône. (Again, there is mixed success in actually getting him to drink from it.)

5. Supervised time in the exercise yard.

6. Itch-relieving neck rubs and Aveda Tulasāra facial brushing sessions. (For the first fortnight, Catorze would wake me every 2-3 hours for these.)

7. Eye-cleaning with warm water and one of my nieces’ old baby muslins. Catorze welcomes this about as much as he would appreciate being waterboarded.

8. Ointment application to what’s left of his self-harm facial wounds. Again, the patient is not massively receptive to this.

9. I go to work, leaving handover notes for the Day Shift.

10. Day Shift staff sends me photos of various madcap antics.

11. I go home and we both share the Evening Shift. I often walk into the house to find Catorze on his daddy’s lap and the pair of them rocking out to Pink Floyd or suchlike.

Now, of course, my days will look just as they did above from points 1 to 8 onwards. But point 9 will most likely involve wrestling Catorze off me as he clambers all over my laptop and screams bloody murder, whilst my video-taught students stare in through the screen and giggle.

It has been a testing few weeks, but we hope that normal life can resume soon. Well, as normal as can be in these strange times.

Below are some of the handover messages exchanged with the Day Shift. We have named it “Who wrote it: cat owner or medical professional?”

Un régal pour les yeux

You’ve got to admire Louis Catorze’s positivity: even in Le Cône and with all the doors and windows shut, when he saw me coming with the Flamazine* the other day he still thought he could outrun me.

We had been granting him very limited and controlled Cône-free time behind closed (and locked) doors, to allow him to wash. Initially he would wash his sore bits too roughly, so Le Cône would be slapped back on after just a couple of minutes. But, over the last week, we had managed to progressively extend the Cône-free time and had worked our way up to a good hour or so.

However, the other night, on Cat Daddy’s watch, Le Cône was taken off and Sa Maj fell asleep on his daddy’s lap. But, after a few too many bottles glasses of Louis Latour (yes, it is an actual wine), Cat Daddy fell asleep, too. And sneaky Catorze took advantage of his daddy’s pass-out and now has a sore eye due to unsupervised over-zealous washing.

The wound is, no doubt, very itchy as it heals, so the little sod has resumed his efforts to scratch. He has also started to refuse the morning Piriton that he used to eat quite happily in a Pill Pocket.

Anyway, the new rule is: no unCôned time whilst intoxicated. And, although intoxication feels like the only way we can deal with all that’s going on in the world right now, it’s a sacrifice we are willing to make for our boy.

*Flamazine should not be ingested, so wash time cannot coincide with ointment time.

What a mess.

L’ennemi externe

Louis Catorze’s biopsy results are in. And it seems that, whilst he appears to have ninety-nine problems, an autoimmune disease ain’t one.

Although the test can’t pinpoint the exact cause, it’s looking likely that he is triggered by one or more external allergens rather than by having something intrinsically wrong with his body. So, after many years of Cat Daddy muttering “Knowing him, he’s probably just allergic to himself”, this has now officially been declared unlikely.

This is further forward than we have ever been before with the little sod.

Here is a summary of the treatments that he had on Tuesday night:

1. Removal of biopsy stitches.

2. Antibacterial ointment (Flamazine) applied to his now-healing self-harm wounds.

3. A dose of Advocate alongside his Broadline to rule out a flea allergy, because the vet found traces of flea poo* in his fur. (Yes, I do flea-treat him every month. No, I have never missed a dose.)

4. A souped-up version of the month-long steroid shot, because now we know for sure that Catorze doesn’t have some freakish, as-yet-undiscovered-by-science-but-soon-to-be-named-after-him medical condition which could be worsened by steroids.

* FLEA POO. THE POO OF FLEAS. MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN NOW THAT I KNOW THIS IS A THING.

We have discussed with the vet the possibility of a hypoallergenic diet, but Catorze has been on Lily’s Kitchen Fabulous Fish since May 2018, long before his symptoms reappeared, plus Lily’s Kitchen have written to me to confirm that all their recipes are hypoallergenic anyway. So Cat Daddy and I have agreed that we won’t implement a change of diet until later on, and only if all else fails. We have been guilty in the past of throwing too many solutions at Catorze and not really having any idea of which ones – if any – have worked, so I don’t think it’s a bad idea to be a little more measured this time around and to try one thing at a time.

The relatively newly-introduced Delicious Chicken, however, is off the menu, and my friend’s cat Boots will be the happy recipient of the brand new, unopened pack currently sitting in our cupboard. Even though he is a meaty monster and the last thing he needs is more food (see photo below for proof).

Anyway, the thought of flea poo has disgusted us so profoundly that we are now busily washing cushions and blankets on an extra-hot wash, and Cat Daddy is giving serious thought to replacing our fabric sofa with a leather one (and claiming the money back from Sa Maj’s sick fund).

We are hoping beyond hope that this will mark a turnaround in the little sod’s health.

This Boots is made for eating.

Le Roi se détruit

Whilst the rest of the world is worrying about other things, our greatest concern is the fact that Louis Catorze cannot be trusted with Le Cône in half-mode (i.e. with the detachable front part removed).

Everything can be fine for a while, with Catorze appearing to heal well. Then we stupidly let our guard down and leave him half-Côned and unsupervised, during which time he finds bizarre and inventive ways of scratching himself until he bleeds. We don’t even know what these ways are because the crafty little sod is so secretive about them, and we don’t realise he’s done it until it’s too late.

On Saturday we went to the butcher and the baker (although not, on this occasion, the candlestick maker), leaving Catorze home alone and half-Côned with no problem. Then, when Puppy Mamma came over and we were about to leave for the football, he was hovering around his feeding station but Le Cône had swung the wrong way around, preventing him from eating. So I straightened it … AND HE STARTED TO EAT.

Now, Le Cône has been designed with normal cats in mind, and we all know that they would eat as soon as they were able. But this is Catorze we’re talking about; he lost 200g in the first week of Côning – and has maintained this loss ever since – because of his refusal to eat when given the chance. Very, very occasionally, the planets and the stars align so that his desire to feed coincides with my availability to help, and this was one of those rare and precious moments. My gratitude for this far outweighed any precautionary measures – especially as, the previous day, he had only eaten a total of about a teaspoonful of biscuits – so, instead of wrenching him from his food and full-Côning him, I thanked the Goddess and all her angels above and left him to eat.

Quelle. Grosse. Erreur.

When we returned 2 and a half hours later, he had managed to mutilate himself immeasurably (photos too awful to post).

Puppy Mamma gave him a good check whilst I held him and, incredibly, his stitches were still intact. Even more incredibly, he wasn’t distressed – although I certainly was – so we didn’t rush him to the emergency vet that night. However, we did call our regular vet and send photos as soon as they opened this morning. They have advised against any further steroid shots until the biopsy results are in, but they have prescribed Piriton pills for the itching – which will have to be administered either using the Greco-Roman method (brute force) or the Trojan Horse (hidden in some jambon de Bayonne) – and a topical cream for his sore patches.

Cat Daddy and I have agreed that full-Côning – with only occasional supervised half-Côning moments for eating and drinking – is the only way forward. It’s not very pleasant having to choose between having him thin and hungry or bleeding and infected, but the former just about wins.

Here he is, enjoying the last few moment of the unsupervised half-Cône before disaster struck:

Probably only pretending to be asleep. Not to be trusted.

Le Roi se rétablit

Louis Catorze returned on Wednesday afternoon from his jolly day out at the vet’s TW3 branch. And he was rather more annoyed with Cat Daddy (as he’s the one who dropped him off and collected him) than with me, so I made the most of the very rare opportunity to be the favourite human, for a change. This lasted a whopping minute and a half before normal service resumed.

Le Roi has had biopsies from 4 areas of his face and is looking very battle-scarred as a result. He has to go back to the vet next week to have the stitches removed. Until then we must be even more vigilant with him than ever before, because we discovered – the hard way – that he can scratch his stitches when we take the front section off Le Cône.

We also have to give him 4ml of Metacam a day with food and, as you are well aware, he wasn’t that bothered about food even when he was fully well. So getting Metacam into a grumpy cat who never liked food very much anyway, who is experiencing post-op appetite loss and who would, most likely, go on hunger strike just to get back at us, is going to be quite some challenge.

We will, of course, update you in 3-5 days’ time when the results come in. In the meantime, to cheer us up a little, here is a picture (taken before Sa Maj’s troubles started) which is my ace of spades in response to anyone who refuses to believe how daft he is. Yes, he did spend 5 whole minutes staring out of a closed shutter:

“Où est mon royaume?”

Le Cône est de retour (encore une fois)

It’s been almost 5 days since we declared a Code Rouge state of emergency and deployed Le Cône to save Louis Catorze from his worst enemy: himself. So much has happened but here’s a brief synopsis:

Monday: The vet suggests that we Cône Catorze for a day or so.

Tuesday: We take off Cône for about 90 seconds and he manages to scratch and cut through his skin again. Cône goes back on.

Wednesday: I try removing Cône once more, this time for about 12 seconds, and the same thing happens. We decide to keep it on for another day.

Thursday: Little sod seems much better and appears to have stopped scratching, so I swap Cône for a more comfortable and yielding soft Cône. He sneaks off somewhere and scratches himself into a worse state than ever. Hard Cône goes back on.

Friday: Cat Daddy takes him back to the vet. Another steroid shot, this time the month-long one, is booked for Monday.

We had completely forgotten how much hard work it is to have a cat in a Cône and to manage all the inevitable life adjustments. It also doesn’t help that Catorze is such a shite.

His firm Cône is well-designed, with a front part that de-Velcros off for feeding, but kitty needs to be ready to eat the moment it comes off. If they’re not, and you leave them at length with the front part detached, the weight of the heavier back part makes it swing back to front, and then they can’t eat. And, of course, this is where Catorze won’t play ball.

When we straighten Le Cône to allow him to eat or drink, he no longer wants to do either of those things. Then, when his Cône swings the wrong way around again, he decides that he DOES want to eat and drink after all. So we straighten his Cône, and he changes his mind again. You get the picture. Much of our week has been spent tearing our hair out over this.

Le Cône is pictured below, in detached mode and with the detachable segment just visible on the wooden chest in the background. Our model is sporting a size XS (which will surprise absolutely nobody).

If you are interested in the same Cône that was given to us by the lovely Marc from Katzenworld (THANK YOU, MARC), I have attached a link at the bottom of this post.

The next size up should fit a guinea pig

https://katzenworld.shop/product/pet-airs-elizabethan-collar/