by Sr Sarah Maritz
How To Medicate Your Cat
Ever noticed how easily your friendly affectionate tabby cat turns into a wild, hissing and spitting tiger when you attempt to medicate it? That’s because cats, even after thousand years of domestication, still revert instinctively to good old ‘fight or flight’ when under sufficient threat or pressure. And you looming over Kitty holding a big fat capsule, which you then try to manhandle into her small mouth, certainly qualifies as a more-than-sufficient threat!! So, how do you medicate your cat, once you are back from the vet with pills, potions and lotions to heal Kitty’s itchy skin or runny tummy?
A Bitter Pill To Swallow …
NEVER TRY AND SHOVE A DRY PILL DOWN KITTY’S THROAT! (or Rover’s for that matter!). After all, how would you like it if someone shoved something hard and dry down YOUR throat that got stuck as you struggled to swallow it??? Use margarine, fish paste or Marmite, and slide the pill or capsule through your choice to coat it, whilst holding it between your thumb and your index finger. If none of these food items are at hand, dip the pill very quickly in milk or even water, in other words, anything that will coat it so that it slides down Kitty’s throat smoothly. Then, place the thumb and fingers of the hand not holding the pill, on opposite sides of Kitty’s top jaw and pull the head back. The bottom jaw will most likely drop open slightly, at which point you gently insert the pill towards the back of the mouth and then close it. The tastier the coating, the less likely it is that Kitty will struggle, salivate, and ultimately spit the pill out.
Getting Those Magic Potions Down … Syrup Or Liquid Per “Os” (Mouth)
In some ways, dosing liquid medication per mouth is actually trickier than dosing a pill even though it is ‘wet’. Most medications in syrup form are either banana or raspberry flavoured (hardly Kitty’s favourite foods, plus cats don’t have the ability to ‘taste’ sweet very well!), or they are undisguised and taste horrible!! If you happen to know that it tastes really bad, and the quantity to be administered is tiny, then it would be better to ask your vet to inject it into empty gelatine capsules and administered as per the advice under the pills section. Another option would be to draw up the medication into the syringe, then draw up 1 ml of strong Marmite or Bovril solution afterwards, without shaking the syringe to mix the two. This means that the first portion that Kitty tastes will be Marmite/Bovril, which will hopefully assist in lessening the impact of the vile-tasting medication. Often, in spite of all efforts, Kitty tastes the liquid you have just squirted into her mouth and starts to foam copiously – whereupon the medication streams out together with copious amounts of saliva (enough, you suspect, to enable a lion to chew up a whole biltong Springbok!), which renders your efforts totally fruitless! Which is why my personal preference is to dose Kitty with pills or capsules, rather than syrups or liquids, because at least you know that when that little missile has vanished down Kitty’s throat that it is DOWN! (Notwithstanding the fact, of course, that dear Kitty might well vomit it back up if she so wishes!!).
Spreading It Really Thick … Creams And Lotions
Every cat owner knows that cats love to wash…and wash…and wash…. So you can well imagine that Kitty is likely to be extremely annoyed at the smearing on of some smelly lotion or cream that messes up her latest coiffure!Firstly never smear or apply ANYTHING to Kitty’s skin unless specifically recommended by your vet. More cats die every year from poisoning through applications of dips and shampoos intended for dogs, as well as other toxic substances, than you would ever care to know about. If the vet has prescribed something for you to apply to Kitty’s skin, then have some treats ready (biltong or bits of strong-smelling pilchards in tomato sauce often do the trick!). Ask one member of the family to distract Kitty by feeding treats, while you rub Lotion X onto the offending part of Kitty’s anatomy. If the treats run out before the lotion has had time to soak in for at least a minute, then pick Kitty up in your arms and walk her around the room, all the while telling her how much you adore her…cherish her…. admire her… Flattery in this form often works to appease Kitty’s ruffled feelings and coat – and stops her using her tongue to wash, until you put her down!
Don’t Bulldoze Kitty!
Use large dollops of common sense, and even large ones of kindness, compassion and patience when medicating Kitty, and remember, you are a giant within her frame of reference – so be a Shrek and not an Ogre!!