Pills and Cats

I should have been a veterinarian.

A good friend once told me that and I’m beginning to believe her. I’ve probably spent the same amount of money on my cats’ vet bills that I would have spent on the long years of college and vet school. Heck, I’ve probably spent MORE on the cats.

But, no, I chose other paths. And now I write fiction in which a veterinarian is the protagonist. If only I could write off my vet bills as research, but I fear that might be pushing the envelope a bit.

I’ve learned to give shots to horses and cats by necessity. I’ve bandaged horses’ legs, soaked their feet, treated their colics. I’ve given subcutaneous fluids to cats in Chronic Renal Failure.

Currently, I’m treating my Sammie with chemotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma. Otherwise known as THE TUMOR UNDER HER TONGUE. She has no idea she’s sick. She does know she doesn’t like stuff forced into her mouth and down her throat. Regardless, I have to give her a capsule…piroxicam (chemo) once a day, every other day. On that day, I also must give her a liquid med (cimetidine) squirted into her mouth with a syringe to settle her stomach every six hours. That’s four times a day.

The idea of it gave me heart palpations. The capsule scared me senseless. I’m not good with pills. I’d rather do injections to be perfectly honest. Plus, Sam is very good at avoiding pills. I once held her mouth shut for ten minutes in the hopes she’d swallowed a pill only to have her spit out a soggy little half-dissolved mass onto my bed. My vet gave me a baggy of pill pockets, dog-sized, to try. They’re too big, but since they are the consistency of Play-Doh, I’ve been able to mold them around the capsule…tiny by our standards, but horse-pill-sized when you take into consideration Sammie’s little mouth. Then I make three capsule-shaped balls of the stuff, which smells like bacon. Day one: I offered the first pill-free treat. She sniffed it, played with it, and finally ate it. The second one she gobbled down. The third one contained the capsule, but she never noticed it as she inhaled the stinky thing. I followed with one more treat for good measure. It worked! She ate it! Yippee.

However, she has become increasingly less enthusiastic about the bacon things with each pill day. Typical. The food Samantha loves one day, she turns her nose up at the next. This morning, I had to mash a crunchy cat treat into the bacon Play-Doh ball to entice her to eat it. It worked. Barely. So for week two, I must come up with a Plan B.

Then there’s the liquid. Sammie is also quite skilled at not swallowing that stuff, too. I think the first dose is dried into my carpet throughout the house. But I’ve become better at seeing that she gets more of it IN her than ON me. Repetition is the key. And every six hours, every other day, we repeat.

So far, Samantha does not hate me. That was a big fear of mine. That and the idea of what chemo does to humans. Apparently, cats are much more tolerant of it. She seems to get a buzz from it. All hints of her arthritis vanish and she barrels around the house, tiny cat feet sounding more like an elephant stampede.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting She drags out her cat toys, which haven’t interested her in ages. And she chases imaginary mice. At least, I hope they’re imaginary.

No, I don’t really want to be a veterinarian. At least not the way I’m doing it. Thanks to my critters, I’ve experienced a lot of things I never wanted to know about. And the veterinary school of hard knocks continues.

Anybody out there have any good tricks for pilling a cat without traumatizing either the kitty or the owner? I’m taking notes.


Joyce said…
Annette, you are wonderful. And I'm sure Sammie thinks so too.

When my Shadow was sick several years ago, I was supposed to give her antibiotic tablets every day. I think she got a half of one. She was very ornery and would bite if you even tried to put anything in her mouth. I gave up. She was bitchy--hey, just like me!
Ron Estrada said…
We got those soft little kitty treats and smashed it around the pill. Our cat (one of two) has feline asthma, and she snores like my father-in-law. The vet suggested we also try a little inhaler that you hold over their face. As if the blood loss I suffer during nail trimming isn't enough.
Anonymous said…
Hi Annette!
Yes, pilling cats is an art, a difficult one. One of my vets made me aware of the transdermal form of medication for cats. The medication comes in a cream type form. All YOU do is put on a finger condom, put a little medication on your finger and rub it on the inside of Samantha's ear. Much easier for you and her! ALso, have you considered a holistic vet in addition to your regular one? I am so pleased with my Judd's wellness since begining natural treatment. Best wishes and prayers to you, Samantha and all your animals.
Meg said…
Two ideas: Ask your vet if the pills can be made into treat form. There are mail-order pharmacies that will compound meds into edible treats. This works if your cat is used to getting treats.

The other idea is the reward method. I have to give my cat one pill plus one liquid in the AM and two pills plus one liquid PM. I've made a point of ALWAYS giving him the pill(s), the liquid, and then some canned cat food. I used to use canned cat food as a special treat but now that we're trying to put/keep weight on him, it's a regular part of his day and he gets it at least 3x per day (more on weekends when I'm around to offer it more frequently).

Good luck with the meds!

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