Le champion des poids légers

In June we discovered that Louis Catorze was at his lowest weight ever, and we had no idea why since he was eating and drinking fine and his test results were normal. His royal physician instructed us to, erm, feed him unlimited amounts of the most expensive food on the planet and bring him back in a month for a second weigh-in.

If you have ever had to take an animal to the vet, you will know what a cirque de merde it is. I don’t just mean getting them there; I also mean the awkwardness of the few hours prior, when you are having to Act Normal. Acting Normal when things are not is like trying to sleep when you can’t, or walking with a broken leg: the more desperately you want it to work, and the more effort you put into it, the worse the problem becomes.

Eventually Cat Daddy managed to trap Le Roi with a fake Boys’ Club meeting and, whilst the two of them were snuggling, I tiptoed off to fetch the transportation pod. I also took his vial of Broadline to the appointment, because the little sod had been dodging me for days and I hadn’t been able to de-flea him.

The consultation didn’t take long and was relatively trouble-free, apart from a little whining. And it turned out that Catorze has gained … 50 grams.

I know. Non-Brits, this is probably the weight of about three lip balms.

It’s not much, but at least he isn’t in a worrying cycle of inexplicable weight loss. And it seems that either the Post-Vet Sulk is now a thing of the past or he is so thick that he forgot where we’d just been, because he was back to his usual pitter-pattery, screamy self as soon as we arrived home.

Let’s hope that continued helpings of Orijen will get the little sod back to normal. Whatever “normal” may be.

Acting Normal.

La récolte des cerises noires

It’s no secret that cats somehow know when we are about to take them to the vet and, if they are outdoor cats, they disappear on the morning of the appointment. Even Louis Catorze knows that all he has to do is slip through the hole in the fence separating the Zone Occupé from the Zone Libre, and there is nothing we can do about it.

When Donnie was booked in for his neutering, I advised his mamma to lock him in the night before; in fact, I would have bet my entire house and savings on him doing a runner that morning. What I didn’t expect, however, was for him to absent himself that morning, the day before AND the day before that.

The cheeky little sod eventually showed his face the day after his appointment, having been AWOL for almost four days. His mamma then locked him in and kept him in until the deed was done.

Here he is (pictured in his own house, for once) the day after the fruit harvest, under house arrest and feeling very sorry for himself. If only there were some way of communicating to him that it’s all for his own good.

Oh Donnie boy.

Le patient gériatrique

Poor old Cat Daddy has had to deal with medical incidents for both me and Louis Catorze in the last week.

I went into A&E last Sunday with stomach pains which turned out to be appendicitis, and I had an emergency appendectomy the next day. Luckily the magic of scheduling WordPress posts allowed Le Blog to continue whilst I was too unwell to write properly. Thank you to everyone who liked and commented, and sorry I haven’t been able to reply back properly as I usually would.

On the day of my surgery, Cat Daddy also had to take Catorze to the vet because, the last time we ordered steroid pills, the vet told us that she would need to see him before issuing any more.

Cat Daddy: “Obviously they want to check that he’s not turning into a wizened old addict.” I think that ship has well and truly sailed. However, we were debating tapering down his dose and would rather do this after seeing the vet, especially as it’s always turned to merde every other time I’ve tried.

We have also been concerned about Catorze’s weight. He wolfs down the Orijen multiple times a day, faster than we can dish it out, and we have never measured his portions on the basis that we would do so if we noticed him chubbing up. But he isn’t. Quite the opposite, in fact. So we were happy to take him in to be sure that nothing was amiss.

Anyway, the little sod now weighs 3.05kg which is the lightest he’s ever been. The vet took a blood test to which she referred as a “geriatric profile” (Cat Daddy: “What will the results say: “Yes, he’s getting old” or “No, he’s not”?”), and I was in my hospital bed with Cat Daddy sitting beside me when the vet called the next day to deliver the shocking news that Catorze is … normal.

Yup. Liver, kidneys, thyroid and whatever other things were tested: all normal.

Cat Daddy again: “Normal? He’s FAR from normal.”

The vet has prescribed, erm, more plentiful portions of Orijen (the most expensive food on the planet, in case I hadn’t already mentioned that) and another weigh-in in a month’s time.

Having started mentally preparing ourselves to say goodbye to the little sod – after all, he has already lived for much longer than we expected – this was the best news in the world. Cat Daddy went home after visiting hours to have a little celebration with his boy, and he also said he might give him an extra pill as a treat, although I hope he was joking about this.

He may be an old boy, but he’s not finished yet. (Le Roi, I mean, not Cat Daddy.)

I asked for photos of the celebration. I received this.

London Derrière: a short verse to bid adieu to two old friends

Oh Donnie boy, the vet, the vet is calling
To neuter you, so you’ll no longer roam.
The moment’s come; it’s time for your de-balling.
It’s best for you that you stick close to home.

Though come ye back when you cannot make babies;
From empty sacks your seed you will not sow.
You and Le Roi could still stay buddies maybe
But Donnie boy, oh Donnie boy, your balls must go.
Off you go, low-hanging fruits. Chop chop.

L’alpha et l’oméga

Louis Catorze’s skin has been looking scaly and dandruffy lately, so the vet recommended an Omega 3 supplement called Nutramega. I was sure Cat Daddy would disapprove but, when he saw the information leaflet, he asked me why on earth we hadn’t bought them before.

To be honest, I don’t really know why. Over the years there have been so many things going on with Catorze – the worst being tail-chewing to the point of drawing blood, requiring through-the-night attention – that, perhaps, a glossy coat seemed a luxury rather than a priority. Plus the thought of adding another pill to his arsenal of medication didn’t appeal, especially as he is so awful at taking them. But at least we have them now, and we are determined to give them a shot.

The supplements, although not huge, are too big to encase inside a Pill Pocket for tiny Catorze. So I have to make a hole with a cocktail stick (younger followers: ask your parents), squeeze half of the fishy, gel-like contents into the well of a Pill Pocket, like a vol-au-vent (younger followers: ask your grandparents) and reserve the part-squeezed capsule to do the same thing again the next day.

The vet knows what Catorze is like so, initially, I bought ten days’ supply as an experiment. Having seen his reaction to two bowls, I needed to be sure that he wouldn’t go bonkers at the sight of two Pill Pockets, too. But – MERCI À DIEU – he ate them. This is right up there with stigmata and weeping statues in terms of miracles.

Cat Daddy, in a deadpan voice and without looking up from his gardening catalogue: “Amazing.”

I now have to open FIVE packs for him every day, the others being the Pill Pockets, the Prednisolone pills and, of course, the two different foods. But, despite everything, the little sod is worth it.

In this photo he has just discovered that the Nutramega information leaflet smells of vet:

Not impressed.

De bonnes nouvelles

Thank you for sending your good wishes to Louis Catorze.

The little sod has had a weird leg-kicky tick – the same leg that stopped working on Sunday – for some time now. We’ve never done anything about it because it’s never bothered him. And, a few weeks ago, I happened to catch it on video just by chance.

I sent the video to the vet in advance of our appointment on Monday morning, to see whether it might be linked to Sunday’s events. However, I really, really should have checked the video before sending it, and I didn’t.

20 seconds into the 30-second video, my voice can be heard (in response to Catorze’s screaming) saying, “What’s the matter with you? Meow twice if it’s something urgent, meow once if you’re just being a massive [rude name].”

Oh. Mon. Dieu.

Thank goodness the Apple Gods were on my side: the video was too long to send, and so it never left my Outbox. It was during editing that I realised my error and so was able to send a PG-rated version. PHEW.

Cat Daddy: “Well, if you use that sort of language to talk about him, you’re going to get caught out.” (Says he who isn’t exactly known for his gentlemanly vocabulary, most of it much worse than the word I’d used in the video.)

However, right after I’d planned and scheduled Monday’s blog post (but before our appointment), Catorze’s leg went again, twice. On one of those occasions I was able to film it and, although it was 46 seconds of pure torture watching our poor boy howling in anguish, at least I had something of significance to show the vet.

It seems that his problem is most likely due to his patellar luxation aka dodgy knees (originally diagnosed a few years ago, when his French chat-sitteur saw that he was limping: https://louiscatorze.com/2017/08/20/a-genoux/).

Apparently this was evident in the video because Catorze was able to hold up his leg rather than dragging it behind him. So it’s back to the Gabapentin for a few days, and he has to remain on the higher dose of steroids until he starts looking better. What a huge relief to know that it’s joint-related and not some horrendous neurological disorder requiring trips to TW3 on the animal bus and endless tests.

And a lady who was in the Dog Area of the waiting room with her Border Terrier puppy complimented Catorze on his swish transportation pod, which was very nice indeed.

Anyway, the moral of this story is: always film pets acting out of character, however difficult it may be to remember in the heat of the moment. As well as avoiding the “Well, he looks fine to me” scenario, making you look like a complete idiot when your pet won’t perform at the surgery, video evidence helps the vet and could save a lot of time, money and stress.

The picture below was taken an hour or so before the appointment, when Catorze heard a squirrel outside. And, after coming home from the appointment, he was straight into the Zone Libre to annoy the foxes, then over a 2-metre fence to bid a jaunty bonjour to That Neighbour. So I can see his recovery being, erm, a greater challenge than expected (or wanted).

Dodgy knee? Quel dodgy knee?

Problème sur problème

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Louis Catorze had some sort of “episode”. I don’t know exactly what to call it, but it has never happened before and I hope someone will tell us that it happens to all cats.

At 5am, Catorze did his usual walk up the bed to scream in my face. He then whined and collapsed onto my stomach, and I had to grab his hindquarters to stop him from sliding off the bed.

When I turned on the light, the little sod was holding his right leg strangely and appeared to have lost use of it. I am cross with myself for not taking the advice that I always give to others when their pets have funny turns – which is to film them in order to have evidence to show the vet – but I just didn’t think of it.

After around 15-20 minutes of the little sod whining, hissing and struggling to right his body, and me stroking him and feeling utterly useless, he was fine again. And I will now have to explain everything verbally to the vet which is never as good as them seeing it. I would not want him to lose control of his body in some inopportune situation e.g. whilst sneaking into a fox hole to steal decomposing animal parts, or whilst sitting atop Twiggy the greyhound’s fence.

His face is not looking great, either. His eyes are very puffy and sore, and he has cut the inside of his left ear (most likely through over-scratching). The fact that he left the boiler repair man alone on Saturday, instead of annoying the hell out of him, is a huge indicator that all is not well. And, would you believe, just as I was about to phone the emergency vet to tell them about the leg thing, Catorze strolled in from The Back with a swollen, only-partially-open eye. It hadn’t looked that way an hour earlier.

The emergency vet lady told us that, since Catorze’s legs were now fine and he was behaving normally, we didn’t need to rush him in immediately. However, we will take him into our local branch tomorrow (Monday) and, by the time you read this, we will hopefully have been to the appointment.

At least we will get good value out of the visit, with two problems to deal with at once. Although, knowing Catorze, it’s highly likely that he will create a third between now and then.

Photo taken just after Problème 1, and an hour or two before Problème 2. Please don’t let there be a Problème 3.

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.