Où sont mes drogues?

Forget about the iceberg lettuce shortage: here at Le Château we’re going through the rather more desperate Gabapentin pill drought. There are none whatsoever in the whole of West London, and the vet isn’t sure when they will be able to get hold of any.

I received the bad news by phone whilst in a packed football stadium and never have I been more glad of the noise, because, to a casual eavesdropper, the conversation wouldn’t have sounded great: “No, I’ve never had any problem getting hold of pills before. Yes, I’ve ordered 100, but please may I make it 150 in case there’s a problem next time, too? No, I already have plenty of the powdered version, thank you. Yes, it’s definitely the pills that I want …”

Our situation with Louis Catorze is a bit like that film Speed, where they have to keep driving the bus at a minimum of 50 miles per hour otherwise it will blow up. If we don’t keep Catorze’s medication at a constant level, his symptoms are likely to come back … and there’s no way on earth I want to return to the bad old days of nightly yowling and hissing and a chewed, bleeding tail.

It’s a blessing that we at least have the powder, but administering it isn’t easy. For a start, Sa Majesté won’t eat it in jambon de Bayonne, I assume because, like garlic, its pungency increases when crushed, so he can smell it immediately. It’s too wispy and floaty to just throw into his open mouth, so I have to actually shove my fingers in … and there’s nothing more terrifying than having to touch the jaws and teeth of a snapping, hissing beast who wants me dead. And, although powder is harder to spit out than pills, the unpredictable consistency and the fact that Catorze fights like a brute mean there are far too many variables to be able to measure doses accurately: spillages on clothes, furniture, the floor, my hair and his fur, bits that remain stuck to my fingers, and so on. So I haven’t the faintest idea how much of the powder actually makes it into him.

Not that any of this seems to affect him long-term, though; his tail remains intact and he is continuing to eat, drink and pitter-patter happily about Le Château, unaware of all the stress he is causing us.

Cat Daddy: “He’s aware. Of course he’s aware. He just doesn’t give a shit.”

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Les mots sont la plus puissante drogue

img_8679Louis Catorze has been sans Cône for a few weeks now, and I’m elated to report that he hasn’t gone for his tail once in that time.

We have even been able to leave him unsupervised (for a few minutes at first, then for progressively longer periods) and he has behaved himself in our absence. When we come home from work we still systematically check his tail for telltale signs of attack – dampness, thinning fur, gushing rivers of blood, that kind of thing – but there have been none whatsoever.

Keeping him Côned and under house arrest for almost 24 hours a day wasn’t much fun. It was obvious why he hated it – after all, none of us would want to live with something like that around our neck – but the fact that his vision, hearing, balance and feeding were all compromised by Le Cône went beyond mere inconvenience: it made him insecure, vulnerable and clingy. And, whilst the twisted, selfish part of me rather enjoyed having my boy constantly at my side, requesting to be picked up and sleeping squashed between us, the fact that he didn’t feel 100% safe without us made us sad.

Now all that is behind him and he’s going in and out freely, chasing bugs, antagonising magpies and sending Oscar the dog completely ballistic. It has been very tempting to relax on the pilling now that he’s doing so well, but the instructions were very clear: we are to bombard him with Gabapentin and then wean him off very gradually. And we’re due to see the vet at the end of the month, so that they can confirm when we may start cutting down and advise us on how to do it safely.

Sadly I know the horror of coming off heavy-duty medication, even when tapering down very gradually: when I came off Tramadol after my spinal surgery, I was hysterical and homicidal for weeks. Given that Louis Catorze was already both of those things even before the pills, I dread to think what weaning off will do to him … but we’re ready for it.

 

Les drogues dures

You know that moment when you think you’ve been super-organised ordering your cat’s medication in advance, then you realise that you only have enough to last 1 more day? Yes, THAT.

Luckily I have some human Gabapentin capsules that will suffice in the meantime. (Don’t panic: animal Gabapentin basically IS human Gabapentin, and this is ok to do in an emergency.) But the only problem is that Louis Catorze’s usual pills are 25mg, whereas the capsules are 350mg. So I need to do some nifty mathematics. Erm … 350 by 25, to the power of … erm … multiplied by the square root of … something … oh Seigneur Dieu. This is why I’m a blogger and not a mathematician.

Not only that, but capsules mean wayward, uncontrollable powder as opposed to solid, predictable pills. So here I am, cutting up Gabapentin for my cat with my John Lewis credit card, like the most middle-class addict imaginable. You really couldn’t make this up (and here’s a photo to prove that I’m not):

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Now: how to Greco-Roman a powder substance into a writhing, screaming, blood-letting bastard of a cat?

Les ballons d’or sont de retour

This week is our lovely vet’s last week at work before she sets off on her travels, so yesterday I went to see her with some gifts: a Louis Catorze t-shirt so that she may remember her most troublesome patient, and a bottle of fizz to help her forget the yowls, hisses and kicks.

I very nearly took him along to bid her farewell, but then decided that he had already put her through quite enough.

We shall miss her tremendously, but she has excellent colleagues whom we know will give Le Roi nothing but the best treatment. We are VERY lucky indeed.

On my way back I bumped into notre cher ami Ginger Impinger, who was sporting a snazzy new collar and striding purposefully down the middle of the road. It was quite a shock to see him as we were a good few minutes’ walk from all the other areas where he has been spotted.

GI always enters and exits Le Jardin from Oscar the dog’s side (our left as you look out), so we imagined he would live that way. Cocoa the babysit cat’s family live in the same direction and GI has been caught napping on their furniture and even sitting on their glass conservatory roof, giving everyone below an uninterrupted eyeful of his ballons d’or. But he has also been spotted around our local pub, which is about 60 houses away from Cocoa’s place, and where I saw him today is another area entirely. (See below for my not-entirely-to-scale map of GI sightings.)

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I am in complete disbelief that he would cover so much ground, let alone keep coming back to Le Château. After all, our cat flap is now inaccessible (not that it stops him from trying – Oscar the dog’s mamma has seen his ginger derrière reversing out after failed entry attempts), and it’s not as if Louis Catorze will be having relations with him anytime soon.

I really, really want to find out where the little sod might live and, somehow, broach the awkward subject of les ballons d’or with his people. But, given the enormous catchment area (that we know of) covered by GI, I have no idea where to begin.

Le plateau royal

Nigel driving the Apple van came bearing all sorts of goodies on Tuesday night, including fresh prosciutto di Parma and jambon de Bayonne, seafood and a variety of soft and hard cheeses. (Yes, I know that cats are said to be lactose-intolerant, but the pills are so minuscule that we really wouldn’t need much cheese to disguise one. Plus Louis Catorze is so full of drugs at the moment that a bit of lactose is the least of his worries.)

Anyway, these were the results of our experiment to ascertain whether Sa Majesté would approve of other pill wrappings:

Sheep’s Wensleydale: non
Mountain Comté: non
Roquefort: non
Devon curd cheese: non (well, he licked off the cheese and left the pill, but I’m still counting that as a “non”)
Smoked salmon: non
Prawns: non
Prosciutto di Parma: OUI
Jambon de Bayonne: OUI

Conclusion: it seems that the issue was, indeed, the freshness of the ham. So Louis Catorze, who happily wraps his chops around the rotting carcasses of rats, will not eat cured ham unless it’s a newly-opened pack.

I think we’re going to need a bigger fridge.

Le Roi est reconnaissant: vive Le Roi!

I am constantly in humble awe of the wonderful people who contact me to offer advice on Louis Catorze and his condition. Some people have even been generous enough to send him get-well gifts, and he has received some lovely things in the post recently.

It has been especially appreciated at this time; he seems to have turned a corner now, but I have had some dark moments over the last couple of months during which I have wondered whether my boy were truly having any quality of life, being drugged to the point of appearing dead. I am thrilled to say that he is almost back to his “normal” self now.

We are very grateful to all his supporters, but today we would like to thank the following people in particular:

– Sally and Steve, for PERSONALLY delivering a toy, some organic catnip and a new supply of party powder (because Sa Majesté won’t eat the Nutracalm that the vet recommended)
– Tally, for sending not 1 but 2 Cônes for him and a magnificent French cat poetry book to cheer me up
– Tony Green, for the distance reiki sessions that have given Catorze – and us – some decent nights’ sleep
– Kate, for organising the reiki sessions
– Alissa, for the mysterious gift that is on its way
– Marc from Katzenworld*, who sent Catorze a valerian cushion (which has made him go even MORE glassy-eyed and psycho – see photo – but it takes his mind off the tail) and a whizzy new Cône with a front bit that detaches for eating and drinking

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*Marc’s fabulous site is well worth a visit: http://www.katzenworld.co.uk

Thank you also to those of you who have kindly offered donations to help with Le Roi’s medical treatment. As you may be aware, he is not insured because he came with such a long list of pre-existing conditions that we didn’t feel it worthwhile, hence Le Royal Sick Fund.

Whilst we are very grateful for the offers, we shan’t accept, mainly because Cat Daddy and I knew what we were getting ourselves into with Louis Catorze. (The 80-page medical record and repeated disclaimers and warnings from the rescue gave us a clue!) Le Royal Sick Fund should be enough to keep us going for the foreseeable future, especially as we now know what’s up with him and therefore no longer need the eye-wateringly expensive MRI scan.

If you still wish to donate on behalf of Louis Catorze, THANK YOU, but please don’t give to us personally. Below are three worthy organisations that would very much appreciate the help:

– Lilly’s Legacy, an organisation which rescues abandoned and stray kitties; their PayPal account name is lillyslegacy@hotmail.com
– Project PI, set up by a South African vet to treat cats with immune disorders; their PayPal account name is admin@easternvet.co.za
– The Mayhew Animal Home, who spared no expense in treating the little sod; you can donate to them at https://themayhew.org/donate/make-a-one-off-donation/

La variété, c’est la vie

We thank our lucky stars every single day for the clever souls that invented cured ham. Louis Catorze is generally pretty good at taking his Trojan Horse canapés and, without prosciutto di Parma and jambon de Bayonne, we don’t know where we would be.

That said, there are the odd times when he won’t take the bait. Last night was one of those times.

If it’s a daytime pill, and it’s a weekend, we know that we have plenty of time to try again if an attempt is unsuccessful. But, if it’s a week day, we’re about to go to bed and we know that the next dose won’t be for another 6 hours, we have no choice but to keep persisting, all the while getting more and more stressed. And, if the Trojan Horse fails, we have to resort to the Greco-Roman method.

Last night Le Roi took no prisoners: he yowled, kicked, struggled, foamed at the mouth and finally deployed the claws, something that he rarely ever does. After the battle we were able to ascertain that he had maybe consumed 3 pills. Or possibly zero. We had no idea.

Cat Daddy’s first theory for this lack of cooperation: “Maybe he starts refusing when the pack has been open for too long. I don’t think he likes it when the ham is too dry.”

Well, excuse-moi whilst I open a fresh pack every day for Sa Majesté.

Cat Daddy’s second theory: “Maybe he’s bored of ham. Maybe we should try experimenting with different things, like smoked salmon or cheese.”

Well, excuse-moi whilst I prepare a more varied platter for Sa Majesté.

Mind you, either of those options would be better than the Greco-Roman torture. So I guess I’d better get Ocado-ing.

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