La panacée du Roi

“What a pity January is almost over, just as things were getting good,” said absolutely nobody, ever.

It’s a difficult month at the best of times, even when the sharply cold temperatures and bright white frost give a kind of feeling of newness and freshness. But this January, far from being sharply cold or frosty-bright white, has been especially grim: grey, damp, clammy and sluggish. I can’t wait for it to end.

Louis Catorze, however, couldn’t give a hoot either way.

All is going phenomenally well in his little world, which means, at least, that someone has had a positive month. His black cat mojo is bursting at the seams at the moment and he looks magnificent. Cat Daddy usually lets out a snort of contempt when I say this, deriding Catorze’s “drug-addled state” and muttering something about him only appearing attractive if you look from a long way off and squint a bit. But I don’t care how far away you have to stand or how he got this way: I’ll still take it.

Here he is, looking menacing and demonstrating the right hook that (possibly) knocked out his mystery opponent at Le Fight Club:

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It’s not just his physical appearance that has improved: everything about him just seems easier when he’s well. Even the medication and the Advocate, whilst not exactly fun, aren’t so bad, with the Post-Meds Sulk seemingly a thing of the past; whereas previously he would run away afterwards and hide for hours (or for the whole day, as he did on his first day with us when I crunched his tail under my knee by accident), now he comes back for cuddles.

He’s had a fair few visitors throughout January and he’s been on fine form for them all: sociable, affectionate and even happily allowing 3 kids aged 5 and under to simultaneously manhandle him. Poor Luther would have walked through hellfire to avoid such a thing – in fact, most normal cats would – but we all know, don’t we, that Louis Catorze is not a normal cat?

He’s due at the vet’s for his next steroid shot in a couple of weeks. I really hope this run of good luck holds out until then.

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La rampe sanglante est levée

A few days ago Cat Daddy went to put some old boxes in the greenhouse and, when he came back, he pulled a face and said, “Cats CAN jump, you know. Louis Catorze and Luther used to scale 2-metre fences in our previous house.”

“Ok. Erm, so …?”

“So, you didn’t need to build a ramp for Louis Catorze. He’s a cat. He can jump.”

“Pardon? I haven’t built a ramp for Louis Catorze.”

“Well, someone has. If it wasn’t you or me, he must have done it himself.”

I didn’t do it, Cat Daddy claims he didn’t do it, and nobody else has been in our garden, yet someone has, indeed, built a ramp for Louis Catorze. An old, wooden fence post, which we’d never noticed until now but which we’re pretty sure must have been lying flat on the ground before, is now leaning against the fence (and you can see the gross, gravelly bucket at its base in this picture).

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And we’ve since observed that Catorze uses la rampe both as a thoroughfare to gain access into Oscar the dog’s garden, and as a “sommet suffisant” to sit safely and goad poor Oscar into a tumultuous barking frenzy. You know in “The Silence of the Lambs”, when Hannibal Lecter makes his next-door inmate choke to death through psychological torment alone, without laying a finger on him? That’s EXACTLY what goes on here.

Bien sûr we haven’t actually been able to photograph the little sod at it. The minute I hear Oscar snarling and snapping like Stephen King’s Cujo, I dash to the patio doors and, nine times out of ten, there’s Louis Catorze atop la rampe eyeballing poor Oscar, tail pointing arrogantly skywards. Sometimes he’s there for a few seconds, sometimes longer … but, the minute I reach for my phone to take a picture, he climbs down and trots towards me, chirping sweetly.

He may look cute, but it seems that behind his soft kitten face lies a twisted, steely assassin. Would you mess with a creature who can apparently build his own ramp and use it to taunt his foe so chillingly, all the while ensuring that you don’t have a scrap of evidence against him?

Le Lundi Bleu

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Today is Blue Monday, so called because it’s said to be the most depressing day of the year. Firstly, it’s a Monday (never good). Secondly, it’s a good week-and-a-bit before pay day for most people. And, lastly, it’s far enough from Christmas to make the holiday season a distant memory, but still some way off from the next major public holiday. For a while I thought I was going to have to add a fourth complication into the mix – something along the lines of, “It’s the day when well-meaning veterinary staff who are just doing their job are viciously mauled by psycho black cats” – but, luckily, we didn’t have to see the vet today after all. Génial!

Louis Catorze has been doing so well this week. He’s vocal, affectionate, energetic and, most importantly, he’s itching far less and his wounds are healing. And it seems that the vet was right about his willingness to be medicated increasing proportionally with how well he felt: administering his Atopica and ear drops is never going to be top of our list of favourite things to do, but it hasn’t been the purgatory that it was last week, either. So I called the vet, described his current condition and asked if he really needed to be put through the stress of another visit, and they said no. MERCI A DIEU.

So Blue Monday hasn’t been so blue for me after all. A day which I thought would end with pinning a screaming, struggling cat down on a table and watching helplessly as more money drained from his dwindling sick fund, has actually ended with me cuddling up on the sofa for movie night with a sweet, purry and affectionate little kitty. (I am talking about Louis Catorze in both instances, by the way. I don’t mean some random cat comes into my house to watch movies with me, delightful though it would be.)

 

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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Le diable en moi

Today’s trip to the vet was traumatic beyond belief. To be honest I could do with a week or two to allow my heartbeat to return to normal before writing about it but, if I don’t do it now, I shall wake up tomorrow and think I dreamed it all.

As expected, Louis Catorze needed another steroid shot – this time the longer-lasting one – and an antibiotic shot. But, after I reported seeing him shaking his head and shoving his back feet deep into his ears, the vet checked him as best she could under the circumstances* and said he would also need treatment for an ear infection.

(*I say this because the little sod really didn’t make it easy for her to check: he struggled, kicked and yowled so badly that I began to think we needed an exorcist, not a vet.)

The ear treatment process was twofold and, unfortunately, Louis Catorze writhed and complained like crazy throughout both parts, shaking the cleaning fluid and ear drops all over me, the vet and himself. And, because the whole ordeal had to be repeated on both ears, by the time it was over he was soaking wet and looked as if we’d tried to drown him. It was quite heartbreaking to see the fear and confusion in his face when the torment just didn’t ease up. The relentless attack of the cleaning solution followed by the ear drops followed by the antibiotic shot followed by the steroid shot terrified the poor sausage so much that he ran into his daddy’s arms and clung to him for dear life.

“How often do we need to give him the ear drops?” I asked, praying that the vet wouldn’t say “every day”.

“Ideally a couple of times a day …” she replied.

[Thudding sound from my sunken heart hitting the ground]

” … But I can see that it’s, erm, going to be a challenge,” she continued. “Maybe once the steroid kicks in and he’s a bit more comfortable, he won’t mind you doing it so much.”

Hmmm.

Anyway, Cat Daddy is now pouring himself a big glass of Merlot, Louis Catorze is having an apocalyptic sulk under the bed and I’m wondering how the heck I’m going to get the ear drops anywhere near him without him kicking me to death. We need to take him back to the vet in a week’s time so that they can check on his ears again, but I just don’t see them being able to do it unless they sedate the whole darned lot of us first.

Le miel des rois

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If you choose to be the slave to a special needs cat, one of the things you come to expect is life being brilliant one minute, then disintegrating into crud the next.

It’s been a tough week at Le Château. The return to work after Christmas and New Year is always difficult but I’ve been working very late every night, Cat Daddy has been working even later, and we didn’t see each other at all from Monday through to Friday. Louis Catorze has been wonderful company but, once again, because I’ve been leaving the (not brilliantly-lit) house in darkness and coming home in darkness, it’s been hard to keep track of his condition, although I’ve been aware of increased itching and fidgeting during the night. When I finally got to look at him properly in daylight on Saturday morning, I could see that the little sod’s chin area was bald and raw again.

It seems that the steroid shot, whilst undeniably improving things, isn’t the faultless magical potion that I wanted it to be, and that it has its limitations. Whereas his first injection gave him excellent results for a whole month even though it was only supposed to last a week, the second hasn’t been quite so effective. You know how a drinking session can get you completely plastered, but, the second time around, you need more booze to get to that same level? Well, this looks set to be exactly the same, except much less fun.

To make matters worse, having agreed that we would take Louis Catorze to the vet after we got back from the football, I realised too late that I’d got the vet opening hours completely wrong and that it was closed until Monday. Our options were to rush him to the emergency vet or sit it out until after the weekend, so we decided to go for the latter because the wound looked unpleasant but not horrendous, and because Catorze is still active, vocal and up-tailed, which I’m assuming means he doesn’t feel that bad.

I have received a lot of advice about what to do with him during the wait for the vet appointment, and one suggestion – which has also cropped up in the past – was to apply honey to the sore areas (thank you, Lisa). With Catorze being the way he is, this needed to be a very well-planned and strategic move, so I took my chance when he came in this morning from his all-nighter and scurried upstairs to join his daddy, who was still in bed.

And, naturellement, the only honey we had in the house was organic artisan New Zealand manuka honey. We’re talking honey that only rock stars and lottery winners could afford to buy, and we, being neither of those, only had it in our cupboard because Cat Daddy happened to meet the supplier at a trade show and they very kindly gave him a free sample. Gram for gram, this stuff costs more than cocaine or gold – and there I was, smearing it onto the skin of a wriggling, kicking, ungrateful little bastard of a cat.

Oh well – Louis Catorze is a king, I guess, which means that supermarket blended honey just won’t do. And, after the initial indignity was over, he was immediately happy again. Let’s hope this is enough to keep things under control until the vet visit.

J’adore le dopage

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I tend to write blog entries when a significant event has taken place, or, more usually, when Louis Catorze has done something stupid, but I’m writing this today because Cat Daddy made me.

Although we’re now sold on the idea of steroid shots for Le Roi – his fur and skin looked so much better immediately after the vet visit on Christmas Eve – it’s difficult dealing with the psychological aspects of going down this route. A lot of this, of course, is due to years of prejudice thanks to the media: most of us, when confronted with the word “steroid”, think of sporting drugs cheats and freakishly malformed bodybuilders. But, with so many animal and human medicines promoting themselves as “steroid-free”, it’s easy to make the assumption that steroids must, therefore, be bad. And the idea that we’ve agreed to pump them into our sweet boy every month, even though they make him feel better, takes some getting used to.

Yesterday morning I woke up at 4am after dreaming that Louis Catorze had stopped breathing due to steroid complications, and, worse yet, the little sod wasn’t around for me to reassure myself that he was fine. I woke Cat Daddy and asked him to go and look for him. He rolled over and muttered something unnecessarily discourteous.

That afternoon he and I had a long chat about why we had made the decision about the steroid shots (and why the heck I had woken him up), and he made me write down all the benefits “as a reminder, in case I punish myself later on after Louis is gone”. (As cat slaves we’re good at doing that, aren’t we, even though it’s pointless? I still agonise over Luther, who was run over, wishing I had fed him before he went out so that he might have missed that car by 5 minutes.)

So:

Pros of steroid shots:
1. Rapidly improved skin and fur
2. Dramatically reduced itching
3. Increased energy (and annoyingness)
4. More sociable behaviour
5. Civilised monthly trip to the vet, as opposed to brutal fight to the death 3 times a week
6. Giving him the shot would mean we could now go away at weekends if we wanted to (something we haven’t done since the little sod came to live with us, because we feel bad asking our neighbours to do battle with him in our absence)
7. NOT giving him the shot would be imposing a personal stance on him when he has no choice, like those poor cats who are made to eat vegan food (no problem with vegans personally, but forcing a vegan diet onto carnivorous animals is CRUEL)

Cons of steroid shots:
1. Questionable long-term effects (although this is the case for all medication – and the vet said that, provided we kept an eye on Louis Catorze’s organs via yearly blood tests, he should be fine)
2. Double the monthly cost of Atopica (not really a proper con as we have never held back, and would never hold back, from a treatment for Catorze because of money)

It doesn’t look so bad when presented that way, does it? I do know that we’re doing the right thing for him; I just wish my brain would catch up.