High Tower Diving Into A Bucket


Or trying to get a pill down a cat's throat...

If you've ever tried to dose a cat with a pill the vet gave you, you know what I'm talking about; it's like the most difficult thing you've every done. But I think I have a hack that works, or it did the first time.

We have two senior Bengal cats that we adopted eight years ago. Zeppelin (on the right, below), the old lady, will be twenty in February, assuming she makes it, and we see no reason at this point to think she won't. And we have Casey, the sixteen-going-on-seventeen-year-old male who is unlike any cat we've ever had, and we've had a few.

If you aren't familiar with the Bengal breed, they are several generations removed from the wild Asian leopard cat. You can read all about them here if you're curious. ZZ - it's easier to say than Zeppelin - is deaf as a rock, tiny, sweet, and very, very loud. Casey is the male, built like a Mack truck, but with a sweet disposition and much too smart for his own good. Therein lies part of the problem if he has to be medicated, which, fortunately, he's not needed hardly at all in the eight years we've had him.

About a week ago, he started acting crazier than usual, yowling and having an issue peeing. Then we saw blood in the urine, and it was off to the emergency vet, the emergency vet since our regular vet was about to close. Diagnosis; probably a UTI - urinary tract infection, and he'd developed a yeast infection in his ears. No problem, right? Give him two kinds of pills a couple of times a day and clean his ears with an anti-yeast medication daily. The operative words in that last sentence are pills, daily, and ears.

When I first gave him the pills, I caught him off guard. I'd talked to him sweetly and kissed his forehead. Then I clamped my hand over his head and face, yanked his head back, so his mouth opened, and stuck the pills in the back of his throat, claiming his jaws shut and blowing in his nose to make him swallow. All of this is by the book, according to the vets, and it worked the first time. After that, I saw his golden eyes follow me around the room. If I got within ten feet of him, I could see the large muscles in his back hip tense up, ready to spring six feet in the air and disappear. The second dose of pills would have made a terrific episode on African Wild Animals.

Unlike most dogs that will sit up, beg, and eat broken glass if you call their name nicely, cats don't roll over much or sit up and beg. Almost all cats retain some wild gene that tolerates human companionship in exchange for regular meals, a clean litter box, and the occasional rub against your leg. But don't try to trim their nails, clean their ears, or stick anything in their mouth they haven't first inspected, smelled, and batted around a little with their paws. Oh, and you know that short-term memory animals are supposed to have? Please don't count on that when stuffing pills down their throat.

After last night's wrestling match with Casey, which I half lost, I had an epiphany as I was going to sleep. This morning, I let him eat his breakfast (meds with food), and then I went into my Merlin mode and tried my new approach. It's pretty simple. I took the two pills he's supposed to take morning and night and broke them up a little into the bottom of a shot glass, pulverizing it with the handle of a spoon. Then I opened a can of Kirkland albacore tuna in water, added a small teaspoon of the tuna water, and mixed that up. Finally, I sucked that up in a syringe that we'd gotten another time from the vet to collect pee samples of some such thing (it was unused). I drew the tuna/pill liquid into the syringe, walked over to where Casey was napping, woke him up, popped open his mouth, and squirted the meds in. He was surprised, but pleasantly so, by the tuna flavor. Viola!

He jumped down and went immediately to his food dish, so I gave him and his girlfriend ZZ, who's always in the neighborhood, a tuna treat with their regular food. We'll see how this goes, but I've found a solution, at least as good as you might encounter trying to get a cat to swallow something they don't want.

Enjoy your furry loved ones!