Le nouvel an

As we say goodbye to a year that has been pretty merdique, and welcome a new year which, surely, cannot be any worse, all of us at Le Château would like to thank you sincerely for your ongoing support of Louis Catorze.

When I started Le Blog I never imagined we would reach in excess of 140 followers – I expected maybe 20 of my friends to follow, with around half of these deciding “Enough of this shit” and unfollowing after a fortnight or two – so to know that you are all still with us is wonderful.

Special thanks to those of you who have kindly sent gifts to Sa Majesté or come to visit him. We hope to see many more of you next year, although he gets booked up early so don’t leave it too long. He already has 3 visitors arranged for January!

Bonne année from us, and may 2017 be a joyous and happy year for you.

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Le lion de Némée

Saint Jésus, save us from the torment that is administering Louis Catorze’s Gabapentin. There is no punishment in hell worse than this.

It’s rather like throwing a live grenade into the mouth of an active volcano: you want to get it out of your hands quickly, but you don’t want to mess up your one shot, either, nor risk the angry volcano spewing the grenade back out and into your face.

Cat Daddy thinks the horror of this task is such because I am not calm enough, and that Catorze detects my stress and acts up. I suggested that he do it himself if I’m such a hindrance. He said no.

It’s a 2-man job, partly because 4 hands are needed but also for that “If I’m going down, so are you” sense of camaraderie. If you’re going to be slashed to smithereens it’s only fair that your partner is also slashed to smithereens, n’est-ce pas?

When we both go back to work, it’s going to be even worse: Cat Daddy usually gets up for work some time after me, but he will be forced to get up with me at 6am so that we can do the pilling together. If we leave it for when we get home, there won’t be enough time between the 2 doses. The only thing more horrific than this is the insult of having to get up early to do it.

“I’m sure that, on some level, he knows we’re trying to help him,” Cat Daddy wheezed as, together, we battled to restrain a kicking, yowling, hissing Catorze. And we watched in disbelief as he spat out a pill which then rolled through a crack between the floorboards and vanished forever.

Whether he knows or not, frankly I would rather take on the remaining 11 labours of Hercules.

(This surely counts as the first one?)

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Le bonheur est une drogue dure

Christmas has been and gone, and we have made it to those weird in-between days when nobody quite knows what to do with themselves.

December has been a trying month: we have had to cope with stubborn colds, Cat Daddy’s scary Christmas lights set to “epilepsy mode”, and seeing the vet more often than we have seen all our friends and family put together … and, through it all, Louis Catorze is still chasing his tail.

The Zylkene calming supplement – or “Louis Catorze’s party powder”, as Cat Daddy naughtily calls it, and which can be seen decorating the edges of Le Cône – has made some difference; the little sod has been going for his tail slightly less often, and with slightly less ferocity. But, unfortunately, this difference isn’t significant enough to allow us to permanently dispense with Le Cône.

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We went back to the vet today, and she was surprised at how long it was taking for his wound to heal. A few squeezes and pinches to the tail – and a hiss from Sa Majesté – revealed that there was still a problem there. Rather than going for the steroid shot, which would delay the healing even further, the vet prescribed a neurological painkiller which only exists in tablet form. Oui, Mesdames et Messieurs: we are going to have to pill the little sod twice a day for 2 weeks.

“You could try wrapping the pill in this special paste, to get him to eat it,” the vet suggested, demonstrating how to do it. Louis Catorze stared at the unappetising pellet and gave each of us in turn his “And what the heck is THIS pile of merde?” look.

In the end she had to pill him using the traditional method of brute force and a prayer. It didn’t look pleasant and there is no chance in hell of us succeeding.

I am usually pretty poor at predicting the future, but I can see that my January 2017 will involve tears, anguish and lacerations to the hands.

Le patient français

It has been 2 days since the X-ray and Louis Catorze is continuing to obsess with his tail, presumably because the claw puncture wound from the other night has irritated him even further.

Watching him interact with it is the most bizarre thing imaginable; he can be unaware of it one moment and, the next, the red mist descends and he just HAS to try and kill it. If we are with him, a cuddle and a gentle warning are usually enough to distract him. But we can almost hear the cogs whirring away as he thinks, “You can’t keep watch over moi forever.”

And, of course, the real problem is when we’re not in the same room with him, or when we’re asleep. That’s when he really goes for it, with a full-on fight punctuated by those awful raspy screams that we have grown to know and hate.

We have decided to try the Zylkene calming supplement, which is a white powder that you sprinkle onto food, to see if it has any effect on Louis Catorze’s tail obsession. Bearing in mind that white powder dusted over dark brown food looks ridiculously obvious, I was fully expecting to be met with the “Go home: you’re embarrassing yourself” look, but, astoundingly, Le Roi did eat a little.

We have also studded the house with Feliway diffusers in the same way that Transylvanians would use crucifixes. They’re everywhere, silently churning out odourless, invisible clouds of happy gas that will make our boy better (we hope).

The vet told us that these new measures would take a few days to kick in, and that any changes would be subtle. But, if the alternative is tail amputation (unfortunately, yes, this has been mentioned), we’re willing to give anything a try.

We will keep you updated and, in the meantime, we wish you a wonderful and peaceful Christmas weekend. Your love and support of the little sod mean the world to us.

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Le jeu de cônes

Winter is coming – or, rather, it arrived yesterday – and the solstice is traditionally a period of celebration, joy and hope. Sadly I don’t feel especially celebratory or joyous at the moment, and the only thing I’m hoping for is that, one day, Louis Catorze will stop biting his darned tail. Regretfully, that day won’t be coming anytime soon.

Earlier this week, he was lucky enough to receive a SECOND gift of a soft Cône, this time in Extra Small size, from the same kind friend who sent the first one. And he has shown his gratitude by figuring out that soft Cônes can bend. Naturellement, he bit his tail and broke the skin again, forcing me to go to Pets At Home and buy an even wider, more rigid Cône (with padded edges to protect la gorge royale) for when we’re not supervising him.

He absolutely cannot bite his tail in the new Cône … but, with sufficient effort and the correct planetary alignment, he has discovered that he can get a paw to it. And, yesterday evening, he managed to get his claw stuck in his wound and couldn’t get it out. Fortunately I was with him so I was able to pull it out … but he was left with an ugly, gaping wound and a chunk of flesh hanging from his tail.

We took him to the vet this morning, hoping she would say that it was just a superficial scratch. But she thought it looked much worse than that and was concerned that he was still showing so much interest in his tail, so she recommended an X-ray to rule out any deeper problems. Luckily there was a slot available this morning so we were able to leave him there and collect him again this evening.

Sadly the X-ray revealed no damage to his tail. (I say “sadly” because I find inconclusive answers more frustrating than anything on earth; “It’s broken in 28 places”, whilst unpleasant, would at least have given us a starting point.)

And he will have to remain Côned for at least another week.

Our next options are as follows:

– A different type of painkiller whose name I forget, designed for neurological pain
– Feliway diffusers and an anti-anxiety supplement called Zylkene
– Another steroid shot, in case the reason for the original irritation is his old allergy inexplicably deciding to reappear on his tail
– All of the above

It’s a lot to take in. Cat Daddy and I are having a cup of tea, cuddling Catorze and trying to figure out what to do.

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Le vilain petit canard

I didn’t want to say this until I was sure I wasn’t imagining it, but … Louis Catorze has been doing the bird-chatter noise at his tail. I must admit that, from some angles, the shaved bits make it look like the head of a duckling or a baby emu, but surely nobody is THAT daft?

And he has discovered that, if he curls up into a ball, he can reach the tip of his tail to bite it. So the soft Cône, being wider than the plastic one, is back.

Because the little sod managed to wriggle out of it the last time, we have had to become very inventive with our knotting and create something at the more severe end of the knot spectrum. I experimented with the few knots that I could recall from my Girl Guides days until my mum tutted impatiently, snatched Le Cône from my hands and whipped up a hangman’s noose-style Knot of Death that, frankly, terrified me. Had we known about this knot as kids, we would never have played up.

Obviously the danger of Catorze strangling himself is very much on our minds so not only is he under house arrest, but he is also under room arrest and under round-the-clock accidental-suicide watch. Like a dangerous inmate in a maximum security penitentiary, he goes nowhere unaccompanied.

The good thing is that he is much happier with the soft Cône. He would be happier still with no Cône at all but, alas, it’s never going to happen: he has proven, time and time again, that he cannot be trusted during Cône-free breaks, however short. So, although it might not seem that way, it’s easier and kinder to give him the drastic death-knot around the neck and assign him a 24-hour guard.

And, between us, Cat Daddy, Houseguest Matt and I are on it.

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KramPuss, le diable d’hiver

One of our much-loved blog followers very kindly sent Louis Catorze a soft collar as a get-well gift. Thank you, Tally! What a thoroughly sweet and and thoughtful gesture, for a spoilt little sod that probably doesn’t deserve it. The collar has been a godsend in terms of allowing him to get comfortable and sleep properly, but the naughty boy has found all sorts of ways of exploiting its, erm, versatility.

On Friday, when we came home from a meal out, he had shoved one arm through it and was wearing it as a sort of off-the-shoulder top/cape, and the next day it was a 50s-style prom skirt. Unfortunately he cannot be trusted without a collar properly in place, and doesn’t even last a second without going for his tail again. So, with deep regret, I decided to put his plastic collar back on again, reserving his soft collar for supervised sleep sessions only.

Could I get it back on? Mais non.

To be fair, Louis Catorze wasn’t THAT uncooperative, although he did yowl and complain all the way through. I was just too stupid to figure out the weird fastenings; after I had finished, there were rough seams rubbing against his ears and bits of plastic sticking up in all directions. So back to the vet I went.

Because both Cat Daddy and Houseguest Matt were out, I had to take Louis Catorze myself. He fought like an absolute fiend as I put him into his box, and continued to struggle and writhe throughout the car journey and as I carried him across the car park. The two ladies in the vet’s waiting room (with their nice, calm cats) looked quite alarmed as I fell through the door, breathless and sweating, hair stuck to my face, just about managing to cling onto a violently-shuddering cat box.

As I waited, with the box continuing to spasm and jerk at my feet and the ladies trying/pretending not to notice, I sent an SOS to Cat Daddy. His helpful reply: “I don’t understand. He’s always fine when I take him to the vet.” Right. Thanks.

The vet showed me how to put the collar on properly, and we’re booked in again on the 22nd so that she can check his tail. This nicely messes up our holiday plans … but, having looked back at my blog entries from this time last year, it seems that that’s Le Roi and that’s what he does.

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