Les services de secours

Yesterday a certain someone had to go for their booster jabs and, because Cat Daddy had the car and Uber won’t accept such short journeys, I had to carry the little sod there and back in his transportation pod.

It’s only a 5-minute walk but Louis Catorze’s screaming makes it highly stressful and embarrassing. And not only did I have to deal with that, but I also had to navigate us around an unacceptably large number of crottes de chien(s?) on the way. Dog walkers of TW8, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. Clean up your* shit, for goodness’ sake. The rest of us shouldn’t have to swerve around it as if dodging land mines.

*Yes, YOUR shit. Your dog is unable to pick it up, bag it and bin it him/herself, which makes it YOUR responsibility.

Anyway, this time we saw a lovely new vet whom we hadn’t seen before, and she said she’d never seen a cat so “vocal”. This isn’t the first time that the veterinary staff have pointed this out; in fact, I was once told that I needn’t have bothered ringing the bell when I arrived because they could hear Catorze’s screaming from every part of the building.

The vet also said she had checked through his notes before our appointment and “hadn’t expected quite so many of them”. I had almost forgotten about the bad old days when he was at the vet’s so often that I almost took him and a sleeping bag and moved in there, and that awful Christmas when we saw more of the veterinary staff than of our family and friends. So it’s très positive indeed that he hasn’t needed to go there in a while, not counting the time we thought he had a tick and/or Lyme disease when it was just a lump of crud stuck to his fur: https://louiscatorze.com/2018/06/24/le-syndrome-de-munchhausen/

Getting Catorze out of his pod was quite a challenge; he clung onto the inside for all he was worth and refused to let go, so the vet and I had to tug-of-war him out. He was relatively good during the eye and ear check, the thermometer and the weigh-in (although still screamed his lungs out) but totally lost his shit when he had his injection and hissed at both me and the vet. He couldn’t wait to get back into his pod and dived in as soon as I unzipped it.

For the first time ever, Sa Maj has broken the 3.5kg barrier and is now 3.62kg. And it seems that those extra 12g make all the difference, because I pinged my back badly carrying him home. I was worried that I would have to call Oscar the dog’s folks or even That Neighbour to come and carry the pod the rest of the way, but luckily I managed to grit my teeth, soldier on and finish the job. Our neighbours are the most wonderful and patient people and would have helped without hesitation, but I can’t think of anything more awkward than having to approach them and say, “You know that animal who torments you and ruins your peace and quiet? How do you fancy carrying him home so that he can continue doing it?”

Catorze is absolutely fine, having forgotten about his ordeal already. Mine, however, is just beginning.

Un rare courage devant la maladie

Cat Daddy and I had a long discussion about the right time to take Louis Catorze to the vet, because investigating the sneezing would require a general anaesthetic and that is not something that we feel should ever be undertaken lightly. 

However, Catorze scared us witless when his usual breathy post-drink wheezing – a bizarre but utterly harmless quirk of his – sounded more like that awful mating fox yelp that sometimes wakes us Londoners in the night. And, when I checked his face again on Tuesday morning, I could see that his right nostril was somehow enlarged and misshapen. We know our cats’ faces like we know our own, don’t we, so we knew then that it was time. 

Cat Daddy took Sa Majesté to the vet that morning and, as luck would have it, he had a sneezing fit in front of her so she was able to see it properly. He was sedated and thoroughly examined, only to discover no blockage whatsoever. It turns out that the little sod is likely to have a viral infection, and the cure is Metacam anti-inflammatory (which, apparently, tastes like chicken) along with … a series of steam sessions to help clear his nasal passages. I’m not joking. “Just turn on the hot taps in the bathroom and shut the door,” is what we were told.

Cat Daddy afterwards: “So it’s cost us £300 to send him on a jolly day out and to find out that he basically has a cold? And now we’ve got to give him tasty meds and a luxury spa treatment? Who does he think he is: royalty?”

Mais bien sûr.

And, to add insult to injury yet again, not only was the little sod super-affectionate and flirtatious with the veterinary staff all day long, but he also stopped sneezing. Since his procedure there hasn’t been so much as a sniff, neither at the veterinary surgery nor here at home. So we have been left feeling hugely relieved but also quite annoyed, and Le Royal Sick Fund is sitting in a corner, crying, after the battering it has received. And Cat Daddy and I may well go and join in.

Here is Le Roi just after he returned home, displaying his macho shaven arm like a tattoo sleeve. Quel. Fichu. Salaud. 

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Parce qu’il le vaut bien

Louis Catorze had his annual booster injections yesterday, and it was nothing short of wondrous to be able to have such a straightforward visit. Well, when I say “straightforward” I mean the treatment required, not the overall experience. Naturellement we had the usual screaming on the journey there and the usual brutal combat during the injection, although this time it was I who had the merde kicked out of me and not the vet. And, to quite literally add insult to injury, the little sod refused me cuddles but was happy to have them with the vet and with a delighted 7-year-old boy whom I invited into the examination room with us because he was desperate to see the black vampire kitty. (Cat Daddy later on: “Other people come into the examination room with you, JUST TO SEE HIM?”)

Health-wise everything was great: no pressing problems to discuss with the vet as Catorze’s eye is now fine, no having to pre-order the special vaccine which didn’t clash with his myriad of other treatments, no new medication to pay for, just turning up, having him weighed and injected, gritting my teeth through the kicking and screaming and then going home again. 

It’s been a tough road getting Catorze to this level of health but, despite being an ungrateful little sod, he is worth it, and you would understand if you were to see his heartbreaking “Before” photos. They are too upsetting to post here and, in fact, I have only ever shown them to 3 people: my friend in South Africa who runs a feline health forum, a lady in Malaysia whose cat had similar symptoms and, erm, a famous Asian celebrity to whom I sent them by accident because she happened to have the same name as the lady in Malaysia. But, trust me, the transformation is miraculous, and it’s hard to believe that he is the same cat.

Not long after our return, as I attended to the lacerations on my hand – who knew that a cat’s BACK feet could be such lethal slashing machines? – Catorze recovered from his anguish by rolling on the pavement at The Front, which dogs have used multiple times as les toilettes. Quelle joie. 

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Les mûres de la colère

Yesterday evening Cat Daddy and I marked the end of Psychological Summer with some celebratory fizz in the garden, and all was going well until I wiped Louis Catorze’s weepy eyes with some tissue and discovered that one was oozing blood. 

I am generally of the view that, if Catorze is well enough to eat, drink and scream, then he’s fine. But blood is never, ever good. Despite Cat Daddy’s protests that it was “probably just blackberry juice”, I rang the vet in a panic and booked a 6:30 appointment, then rang again and made a 6:50 appointment when the little sod did a runner and I realised that we wouldn’t be able to catch him in time for 6:30.

After barricading the cat flap so that he couldn’t escape back out again, cornering him and stuffing him into his pod, we took him, screaming, to the vet. Whilst Cat Daddy rolled his eyes and continued to mutter things about blackberry juice, the vet first tested for eye ulcers by dropping a scary fluorescent green liquid into Catorze’s eyes – to the sound of Cat Daddy’s giggles and daft questions about whether it would make Catorze glow in the dark – and then peered under his upper eyelids where she discovered that he had cut himself. I prayed that we wouldn’t have to do the Greco-Roman death-wrestle to shove medication down his throat, only to be told the horrifying news that we would have to shove it into his EYE instead. Twice a day, for 5 days. Oh. Seigneur. Dieu. 

“Do you know how he might have cut his eye?” I asked. 

“It could have been any number of things,” the vet replied. “Scratching himself, or catching it on something. Possibly a plant.”

Cat Daddy: “Could it have been a blackberry plant?”

[Silence, tumbleweed, crickets.]

Anyway, a few minutes and £44 later, we were back at Le Château finishing our fizz and Catorze was happily pitter-pattering around us. The only indication that we had been to the vet was Cat Daddy complaining about the almighty cost for such a tiny injury and still insisting that it was blackberry juice and not blood. 

And, to make matters worse, I had a stressful evening and a fitful night’s sleep because Catorze later disappeared, which is unlike him; he now tends to forgive us quite quickly for vet visits and his days of Le Grand Mega-Sulk are long gone. I was terrified that he had reacted to the fluorescent green stuff and gone somewhere quiet to die, but I discovered this morning that we had forgotten to unbarricade the cat flap and so the poor little sod had been stuck outside all night. As I write this, I am giving him guilt-cuddles on the sofa whilst I drink my morning teapigs tea, feeling like the second-worst human being ever (with Cat Daddy being the worst, for his refusal to believe me when I said I’d seen blood) and wondering how the flip I am going to hold him still and get this medication into his eye. 

To prove a point to Cat Daddy: one of the pictures below is of what I wiped from Catorze’s eye, and the other is blackberry juice. Spot la différence?

Le Syndrome de Münchhausen

Cat Daddy and I had lots to do yesterday, with an event going on in our town and the pair of us having offered to help. So, naturellement, Louis Catorze thought this would be a good time to get a mysterious, tick-like foreign body attached to la personne royale. 

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Whatever it was was stuck fast to him and wouldn’t budge, despite his efforts to groom it off and my efforts to restrain him (you can guess how THAT went) and pick it off. Eventually I managed to sneak a couple of photos whilst he slept and I e-mailed them to the vet, who asked me to bring in the little sod just to be sure. Cat Daddy, having wound himself up at the thought of Catorze contracting Lyme disease (no idea what this is) and passing it onto us (no idea if this is even possible), agreed. 

Whilst he shopped for the things we needed for the town event, I took the screaming bag of fur to the vet. And, oh my goodness: the screaming on the journey was off the scale, with each note held for longer than the last and my eardrums throbbing and bleeding by the time we got there.

After all that, the vet told me that it was not a tick but some sort of clingy crud stuck to Catorze’s fur. And he was able to pick it off in a few seconds, with Catorze being noisy but relatively compliant throughout (whereas he had screamed and fought like an exorcism gone badly wrong when I had tried to just LOOK). The vet very kindly didn’t charge me for the consultation, obviously realising that the embarrassment was quite enough without me having to also lose money, and I skulked home, red-faced and ashamed. This time, c’était le silence total from the once-screaming bag of fur. 

So, to conclude: 

  1. Louis Catorze has neither ticks nor Lyme disease
  2. Somehow *I* have come out of this looking like the time-wasting, over-reactive cat freak, despite Cat Daddy being the one who started the whole Lyme disease thing
  3. I have a new “I can never face the vet again” story to add to my already-extensive list 

Cat Daddy: “I KNEW it wasn’t a tick. And, besides, Lyme disease attacks the brain, so Louis would have been pretty safe.”

A genoux

We are so grateful to our eagle-eyed French friend who, during our absence, reported cramp-like symptoms in Louis Catorze’s back left foot, causing him to limp and whine a little.

Because this only happened a total of 3 times during our 2-week holiday, and never for more than a minute each time, we didn’t ask her to bundle Louis Catorze into his pod and take him to the vet. But, when I witnessed it twice the day after our return, I decided to take him myself. And, fortunately, I also took the precaution of filming the limping, because I knew that the little sod would refuse to demonstrate it to the vet when it really mattered.

I had been quite upset the night before the appointment, wondering whether he was on some sort of painful, nerve-related, post-Gabapentin comedown, so it was actually a relief to be told that he had dislocated his knee. Apparently there are 4 levels of severity when it comes to dislocated joints, and Catorze’s is the lowest level due to the fact that it pops easily back into place each time, enabling him to walk normally again immediately afterwards. But there’s nothing we can do about it other than give him Metacam for pain relief and monitor him to make sure that it doesn’t deteriorate.

The vet also told us not to allow Louis Catorze to become overweight, as excess chub would put stress on the knee joint. I assured him that, because Catorze doesn’t like food of any kind, this would be no problem whatsoever.

Cat Daddy, later: “Another defect to add to his list of defects. I guess it’s all part of being the runt of the litter.”

Actually, given that Cat Daddy himself has knee problems, and that my neck pain sometimes requires me to have steroid injections, it would appear that Louis Catorze is … turning into his parents.

Here he is, treating his dislocated knee with the sensible caution that it deserves:

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Le silence du Roi

Louis Catorze has a swish, new transportation pod. One of the pictures below is of that very pod. The other shows a pod that is far more appropriate for him given his chequered history when it comes to being transported, but Pets at Home don’t appear to stock it. And I suspect that the armed guards would have cost extra.

Cat Daddy: “He doesn’t need a new transportation pod. The old pod is fine.”
Me: “But I find it hard to carry the old pod, the way he fights and flips.”
Cat Daddy: “He doesn’t fight and flip when I take him. He behaves perfectly well for me.”

Well, that’s delightful news. Thanks.

Anyway, the new pod is super-stylish and considerably more fitting for a Sun King than his old one. It’s not often that we encounter his comrades or adversaries in the vet’s waiting room but, when we do, we want to look the part, n’est-ce pas?

On Friday we decided that it would be a good idea to give Le Roi a preventative steroid shot before going on holiday, as he was starting to get a bit scratchy and we didn’t want his gouvernante française to have problems. The triangular – rather than square/rectangular – profile of the new pod makes it very easy to carry by my side, even with my neck and shoulder problems, so, for the first time ever, I was able to walk to the appointment.

Sadly, the ergonomic shape and Chanel-inspired quilting did nothing to alleviate the screaming. Catorze hollered his lungs out all the way there, and, because we were walking, the screams echoed through the neighbourhood as opposed to being confined to the car. Even the workmen, who were digging up the road, stopped what they were doing to look at us. And, upon arrival, le fichu salaud was so noisy in the waiting room that the two ladies who came in after us, with their nice, quiet cats, decided that they would rather sit in the Dog Area than in the Cat Area with us, completely messing up the vet’s new apartheid system.

We feel a bit bad for our French cat-sitter as the steroid shots usually turn our boy rather manic and psycho, but better that than to have him scratch himself to bleeding point and require a trip to the vet in our absence.

There won’t be any blog posts for a short while, unless we see any cute cats on holiday, or unless we hear that Louis Catorze has done something especially impressive or horrific. Please keep well until our return, and continue to obey your furry overlords at all times.