Pilling the Cat

Sometimes I wish I could explain things to my cats. I mean really explain them, like “I know the medicine tastes yucky, but it’s going to make you feel better” explanations.

This all started a week and a half ago when I found some small infections on Caspian’s stomach. I took him to the vet last Friday (who was an amazing vet, by the way– Caspian stayed calm, which never happens) and found out it was just a topical infection and got 28 antibiotic pills, to be given twice a day for two weeks. This should be a fairly simple thing to manage, since Caspian scarfs down treats (he doesn’t get them all that often and gets very excited about them) and I can hide pills in those soft pill packs the vet sells. Usually.

We are now on day seven of the antibiotic.

The first two days he ate the pills at treats. Things were going well. Then he figured out how to chew it so he could eat the soft, yummy part and spit out the pill. The easy method was done.

This wasn’t too big of a deal since I’m very good at simply opening his mouth and poking the pill to the back of his throat and then rubbing his neck to make him swallow. We’ve done this before. And it worked for two days.

I repeat, we are now on day seven.

For the last three days, getting the pill into his mouth has become a nightmare. I know it doesn’t taste good, but I’ve been rewarding him with soft food (his favorite kind, too) since he has to take it with food on his stomach. The process has devolved into him hiding, me pulling him out of hiding and pinning him down, trying to get the pill in his mouth while he trashes around and froths at the mouth, literally. I think the frothing is a defense thing to make the pill easy to spit back out. And he’s gotten good at spitting them back out. I’ve found them on the floor, on his face and on his back. No joke. And they dissolve as soon as they get wet, so I have to act fast.

In desperation, I went back to the vet yesterday (I needed to pick up flea preventive anyway) and asked if I could crush the pills and hide them in his food. Apparently I can give them that way, but the pill itself is very bitter tasting and he might not be willing to eat it, and then I’m out of luck for that dose.

The vet tech helping me had the best idea, though. She said she had to pill one of her cats for fourteen years and developed a method that worked almost every time. It’s the sneak-attack method. I wait until he falls asleep (which, for a cat, is all the time), sneak up on him, and shove the pill in his mouth before he has time to realize what I’m doing. I like this method. I tried it last night and it worked like a charm.

We are now on day seven. I am halfway through the pills and so ready to be at the end.

As a side note, I had a great experience at the vet. Caspian is usually horrible at the vet. If you’ve ever met him, you’d never guess that my friendly, talkative little guy could be so much trouble. The problems started when he was a kitten. I called him “Plague Cat” because he was always sick for the first eight months of his life. At one point, he had ear mites, pink eye and round worms all at the same time, so we were on a pill-eardrop-eyedrop regimen. I had to keep a chart of when he’d had what drug and get up in the middle of the night to keep the schedule. It was rough, but we made it through and he’s been a sturdy little guy ever since. The only bad thing was that we had to go to the vet quite a bit for everything and he had to get a lot of exams of his eyes, ears, mouth, etc. He became scared of the vet, who was a very nice, very good vet, to the point where we’d walk through the door into the exam room and Caspian transformed into a raging ball of claws and fury. They had to wear leather gauntlets to hold him down, and had to drug him if, for whatever reason (like, say, coming to Hawaii) they needed a blood draw. He had a “dangerous animal” sticker on his file and was, according to the vet’s assistant, one of their five worst animals. Caspian.

Anyway, I was worried about taking him to a new vet, but I warned the staff accordingly about the issues and told them that if I could stay with him and help hold him, things would be better, and told them that since he was afraid more of the vet himself than anything else, maybe the new doctor could take off his white coat. They were accommodating; the vet removed his coat before he came into the exam room and Caspian was good as gold. One of their best-behaved cats, they said. Caspian. My Caspian, the “dangerous animal,” was one of their best. How wild is that?

Anyway, that’s been my adventure with the cat this week. Nothing else terribly exciting to share. I might write my thoughts about Earth Day later, as this is the first year in a while that I haven’t had anything work-related to do for it.


This is how good the vet is: he just called me to check in and see how Caspian’s doing now that he’s been on the meds for a week. Asked about vomiting (which there has been) and appetite (which is down) and said the antibiotic might be causing upset stomach. He advised me to give Caspian (get this), 5mg of Pepcid. Yes. The cat can have over-the-counter Pepcid. Isn’t that crazy and wonderful? Of course, now it’s one more pill to get him to take, but if he’ll eat better (and not puke on my floor) it’s worth it.

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