Un imbécile et son argent

I am the worst person in the world. Not only did I forget to Broadline Louis Catorze this month but, when I finally remembered and went to his cupboard to take out a vial, I discovered that we were all out. Never in all my cats have I let this happen; I am usually meticulously organised when it comes to their health matters.

Luckily I realised my mistake on the day of Catorze’s steroid shot, so I was able to email the vet and ask them to order in some Broadline and, in the meantime, to give him an emergency dose of whatever flea and worm medication they happened to have lying around. I know that lots of us let the treatments lapse, and some don’t do them at all, but this is Catorze: we all know very well that, if I don’t do it this month, given that he goes rummaging around in all manner of undesirable places, we will be spending the festive period dealing with the maman of all flea infestations, fixable only by setting fire to our soft furnishings, and worms crawling out of his arse end and mating with each other to make more worms.

When it was time to leave for the appointment, despite having clung like a limpet to Cat Daddy all day long, Catorze had disappeared. We eventually found him hiding underneath a sheet that was drying in the dining room and, after the most undignified and unwieldy struggle hauling him out, with the little sod screaming his lungs out, we were able to stuff him into his transportation pod.

One steroid shot, one flea and worm treatment and one Gabapentin (for his possible* continuing toothache) later, we were £138 down. I took Cat Daddy’s credit card into the surgery with me and he was most displeased when I had to run back out again to ask him for his PIN, because the bill came to over £100 and therefore I couldn’t do a contactless payment. There were Unrepeatable Expletives on the way home, but Sa Maj was utterly mute so at least I only had to listen to one of them.

*It’s “possible” toothache because he wouldn’t let the vet look in his mouth, so she was unable to confirm it for sure. We now have to Gabapentin him and, if he eats more normally as a result, then most likely he did have toothache.

The minute we arrived home, Catorze pretended to forgive me and to come for lap cuddles, but in reality he just wanted to roll the flea treatment all over a scarf that I’m knitting.

And there is still the matter of the removal of his final troublesome tooth, which the vet suggested having in the New Year. I don’t suppose there is a “good” time for planning ruinously-expensive feline dental surgery. But January sure as heck isn’t it.

Haemorrhaging money because of this little sod.

La piqûre royale

We have had a right old rigmarole this year with Louis Catorze’s booster vaccination.

He was due to have it in September but, because he needed an antibiotic shot after his dental surgery, he couldn’t have the booster in the same appointment, as planned. Then supplies of the vaccine ran out, with replenishments not due until early December.

To complicate things further, because Catorze also needs a steroid shot which can’t be administered alongside the booster, the out-of-stock problem royally messed with the timings. In short, to guarantee him a timely booster in December, we’ve been having to choose between giving him steroid shots when he didn’t need them, or NOT giving him steroid shots when he DID need them. Naturellement we opted for the former.

We were due to take him for a not-urgently-needed steroid shot on Monday, when he decided to go completely psycho an hour before the appointment.

He was racing around, attacking invisible prey and leaping in and out of Blue the Smoke Bengal’s mamma’s Thank You For Cat-Sitting gift bag. Somehow he managed to loosen the lid on one of the jars in the bag, leaking fruit jelly everywhere, so I had to wipe down the containers and give them away bagless. (Catorze kept the bag as a play yurt, jelly residue and all.)

More worryingly, he was also chasing his tail. Although he was doing it playfully, and not in the steady, trance-like way that he did when he had Feline Hyperesthesia*, I didn’t want him reminding himself of how much fun it is to chew his tail. So I had to unleash the toy that I’d bought him for Yule, to take his mind off his tail and to wear him out a little.

*If you have the time and the inclination, have a look through the blog entries from December 2016 to February-ish 2017, for the full horror of this. Feline Hyperesthesia is a horrible condition like no other I’ve ever seen, and for most cats it means medication for life. Catorze, being the oddity that he is, is the only cat I’ve known to recover from it and to no longer require medication. (Obviously he still needs it for the other 7,052 things that are wrong with him, but not for Feline Hyperesthesia.)

During the short journey to the vet, and upon arrival there, an utterly unworn-out Catorze screamed his guts out, so much so that a massive Dulux dog in the waiting room barked at him to shut up. (He didn’t.) I wasn’t looking forward to giving an already-manic cat an injection that would make him worse, but then our vet delivered the joyous news that the vaccine had come in early.

Merci. À. Dieu.

So we swapped treatments, and Catorze had his booster instead of his steroid shot.

We are most relieved that little sod is no longer running around like a gun-toting, placard-bearing anti-vaxxer. (You’ve seen the trouble he causes WITHOUT a gun and a placard, so can you imagine him WITH them?) And, with his steroid shot not due for another week or two, perhaps we can look forward to a brief peaceful interlude before his madness starts again.

What would it say on his placard? All suggestions welcome.

Les dents du Roi

Louis Catorze is due to have his tooth extraction today.

I don’t feel great about this. I am an anxious person by nature and I am particularly anxious when it comes to his health issues, which just seem to keep coming (although, to be fair, we were warned about this). And this week is my first full week of the new school year, so the timing really couldn’t be worse.

Catorze is also ageing faster than Dorian Gray’s portrait. His white hairs are becoming more and more numerous and, when we compare him to pictures from two or three years ago, the difference is startling. The fact that he’s an old man with the constitution of a swatted gnat doesn’t make him an ideal candidate for surgery, regardless of how common the procedure.

As ever, the one positive in this situation is the fact that he doesn’t appear to know or care that he’s not well. He is still carrying on with life as he did before, and loving every bit of it. If his health were half as robust as his sass, I know that he would get through the surgery with no problem whatsoever.

Please keep your fingers crossed for the little sod. Cat Daddy and I will be awaiting his return with ample Orijen (and water to dampen it).

Old man white hairs … plus a scratched nose and a chipped ear, most likely from scrapping with Goliath.

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.