Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Trials and Tribulations of Giving Your Cat Medicine

If you own a cat long enough, you’ll be faced with the task of medicating the cat. It’s not an easy matter, as many cat owners will attest.

I learned the best way to medicate cats when I had to care for Pixie’s cat, Mittens.

For a while there, what’s wrong with Mittens? became the rallying cry.

It seemed quite likely that she had cancer, lymphoma is probably the most likely one, the vet said.

If so, we can only give her palliative care. She would need radiation and chemotherapy, but that runs into thousands of dollars, and Pixie is in no situation to be able to pay that sort of medical bill. Then the best we could do her is give her prednisone.

Therefore, it was decided that she’d receive prednisone in tablet form.

I’d agreed to take care of Mittens so the job of medicating her fell on me.

After Mittens took prednisone for several weeks, she stopped eating altogether. The vet suspected ulcers so we had her on ulcer medication in addition to appetite stimulants. For a while there I was medicating Mittens 5 times a day!

The vet’s assistant gave me an impromptu lesson in how to wrap a cat tightly with a towel. This renders the cat immobile. Then, using your fingers like pincers you press the cat’s jaws open. That’s the theory, at least. In practice, it never worked for me.

We had to switch Mittens from prednisone in tab form to liquid because I was having the worst problem medicating her. For a cat so scrawny and scraggly, she was amazingly strong and frighteningly ferocious when she resisted. She was also extremely slippery -- her escape acts rivaled those of Houdini. Fortunately, I was unscathed but Pixie received a huge gash in her hand when pilling Mittens. My friend John, who is not allergic to cats, somehow ended up with an allergy-like respiratory attack that ended in a doctor's visit. His medical records to date list that he came in due to a respiratory distress from "wrestling a cat."

The vet agreed that some cats are almost impossible to pill. Like one of her cats. Even though she and her husband are both vets, they have to work in tandem to get the pill down the cat's throat -- and even then, they barely succeed.

John bought a syringe-like pill popper used for medicating cats and dogs, but I didn't have to resort to that after all once we switched to liquid medication. As to the ulcer meds, I just ground them up and drew the powder into the syringe when I gave Mittens her liquid prednisone.

Pixie discovered a somewhat pricey, freeze-dried chicken treats that Mittens loved from a posh pet store in an upscale neighborhood. (This cat is definitely costing megabucks.) The idea was that I would give Mittens this treat as soon as I medicated her. It worked. Since then, Mittens has been quite subdued, almost cooperative. Now, when I pull up the towel, she merely cringes a bit – maybe emits a resigned meow – and flattens herself. But she lets me wrap the towel around her neck like a bib and remain still while I insert the syringe into her mouth.

Easy breezy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I too have a cat who "may" have lymphoma and pilling him twice a day is becoming more and more fraught. I will definitely ask for the liquid prednizone and I know what freeze dried treats you are referring. I may even know the high end store as well. Thanks again.