Living with Elliot, Moggy, PeiWei, Anny Catt, Chiisai, Cookie, and Fred
Call me crazy, but it’s true—we have collected seven cats. The youngest two are foster failures, that is, we were foster parents and somehow they, along with two other orphans, so ingratiated themselves into our hearts that we could never bring ourselves to return them to the shelter. They were adopted. We’re so weak! Another cat is Anny Catt (do you buy yarn? Do you recognize the play on a name?) and she is very tiny—5 pounds at her last vet visit. She is nice enough to share her bedroom suite with us and hates all other living beings except my husband and me, and after ten years, I am still on probation. The other two are brothers (Elliot and Moggy), and they are a geriatric pair.
We have a huge house, a sunroom, and a 30-foot outdoor cat tower, in other words, our cats are very protected and very spoiled. Now that you’ve been introduced to our feline menagerie, I’d like to talk about medicating cats. Both Anny and Moggy have hyperthyroidism. One day I happened to notice that Moggy seemed to be a shadow of his former self but also running around like crazy cats. And as we thought about it, it seemed Anny Catt was much the same. We knew something was wrong. No matter how much we fed them, it wasn’t enough, they grew thinner, pooped like madcats, and continued to run around all day and all night. The vet gave us the same medication for both cats, and thus began the battles of wits, strength, and unrelenting determination. Yeah, cats got that, too. I think they are part donkey.
There are things to remember when trying to get a pill smaller than a baby aspirin into a cat:
- Expect pain. They have teeth like little knives; those small jaws shut fast and tighter than a clam.
- Expect more pain. They have claws that are just as sharp (trimming claws? No, thanks) and almost as fast.
- Yeah, yeah, more. They’re stronger than they look, something along the lines of a wolverine, and fight administering the pill worse than said critter.
- They are fast! They have the reflexes of ninjas when confronted with “the pill.” They react a lot quicker than we do to when being clutched and to external stimuli!
- Forget purrito’ing them. Even with a Kevlar blanket and Velcro, their ninja-like skills thwart every attempt. There hasn’t been a towel made that will hold Anny in a purrito.
- They’re drama kings/queens. If by some chance, the medication does touch their lips, they promptly present a Lawrence Olivier Shakespearean death scene. Poisonnnn…and out it comes.
Moggy only has one tooth left in his head, and it’s a canine, but he will still snap at me if I try to pill him. The vet was fast and elegant, like a ballerina. She deftly placed the offending tablet in its desired location, tipped his head back and it was gone! When we try, it’s a creepy feeling—like poking your finger in a bear trap. The two times we did manage to get it into him, he waited, and then actually spit it out, just like in the cartoons! Phoot, and it’s gone. Our daughter, on the other hand, has skills as if trained by Ringling Brothers. Without chair or whip, she gives pills and trims claws for any cat in our house (except Anny Catt, who sits under (and in the middle) of our king-size bed and growls). She has the other brother cat, and a foster failure, too. We think she practices the dark arts.
After another visit to the vet, where she said, “It’s just like this, just pop it in!” and gave us sympathetic looks, we (brainstorm!) decided to buy a pill grinder and hide the pill in food. We tried a variety of food: hamburger, raw and sautéed; chicken, white meat, dark meat, innards—grilled and minced; sardines (never again!); and even canned tuna for humans. After many failed attempts, we discovered a cat food that is so nasty it must be heavenly, yet it disguises the taste, because now Anny Catt takes her meds every morning, like a little pig.
Not so the wise and cranky Moggy. O Moggy, of the eighteen years, brother of the alpha cat, Elliot. Yes, he thinks he is royalty. And therefore, he shall not take that pill. We tried cat food after cat food, all the way up to paying almost $3 for a small, single serve can. The other cats became resentful of that tiny bowl of precious yummies, and growling would commence. It got to the point where Moggy was afraid to put his face in the bowl, lest someone ambush him. So he quit eating his “Exclusive Kitty.”
We next tried half-and-half. We warmed it up. Nope. Next came whipped topping. Moggy liked that well enough, as long as it didn’t have meds in it. I guess he smelled it; he sulked and crept away, shooting us dirty looks over his shoulder. My hubby, Steven, puzzled as to why the cream method was no longer working, actually tasted a ground-up pill. It was awful. The taste lingered for over two hours, he reported, with more sympathy for the furbabies.
Finally, we hit upon cream cheese. It must be able to disguise that taste, given its own strong flavor (and smell). We tried softened cheese at first, but it was a royal pain to mix a crushed orange pill into a tablespoon of cheese (any more is just too much, for some reason, and he won’t finish it), so we switched to whipped cheese. It worked! For a while. So we warmed it up a bit, and he ate it up.
And that’s where we stand now. Every morning, he gets his little spoonful of cheese, with the pill, on a TV tray, because the slighted cats decided they would have a go at cream cheese if it meant they were getting something special.
And we wonder what lengths others go to in order to keep their uncooperative pets healthy.