We all know those jokes about us ‘hoomans’ giving our cats a pill as in the above cartoon. Some cats are actually easy to pill. But a few go on red alert!!! They know what’s coming – and so do we. They run and hide – we chase and corral. They make themselves small under our biggest furniture…we flatten on our tummy, reach in, grab some fur, pull, they grab the carpet or chair (or us) with their claws, we pull them into our arms -- they wriggle, they claw, they yowl and flail wildly with death-defying contortions! Who knew that a graceful kitty could be so strong? You finally have your precious patient snuggly burrito-wrapped in a towel or blanket -- making certain that all appendages are securely within the burrito. Once restrained and IF you are lucky enough to get the pill in their mouth, they spit it out.
Of the four Cat Authors, both Gracee and Spirit are very difficult to pill. As a matter of fact, it was the pilling sessions with Gracee that earned her the moniker of “Crazee Gracee.” In the midst of one daily pilling session-battle, Gracee, totally defying gravity, spit the pill straight up with enough accuracy and force that it hit the bathroom ceiling and stuck there. I had to get a ladder to retrieve the pill.
There are suggested methods and alternatives when giving cats medication orally. Dr. Karen Becker’s article on 8/31/15 at (healthypets.mercola.com) discusses the need to begin training your cat or kitten to accustom them to us ‘hoomans’ touching their face and eating something they like from a syringe. There are many YouTube videos with veterinarians teaching us how to pill cats. Some of the alternatives are:
- Pill pockets (not effective with the Cat Authors but definitely worth a try)
- Mixing medication with food. Be sure and ask your vet if the medication is still effective if you mix it in their food. Some medications are not meant to be digested in the stomach, they are meant to activate only when they reach the colon (intact). Additionally, cats are very finicky eaters…if the pill has a bad or bitter taste, the cat will not only not eat the food with the crushed pill in it, they may never touch that food again.
- Use a ‘Tablet-Pill-Gun-Puller-Pusher-Syringe.’ Place the pill on the tip of the syringe, grip the cat’s head, hold the head up, gently insert the syringe to the back of the cat’s throat and push the plunger to release the pill while continuing to hold the cat’s head up and stroking the chin until the cat swallows. The syringe can be purchased from your vet or from retail stores like Wal-Mart. There are many funny YouTube videos of folks patiently burrito- wrapping their cat in a towel and attempting to administer a pill using the syringe. Other than laughter helping me de-stress, it also helped me by actually seeing others trying and trying and…did I say trying?
- DRUG COMPOUNDING is the mixing of drugs to fit the unique needs of a patient. It is legal only in very specific circumstances described in FDA regulation. Compounding is performed by a licensed veterinarian or, most frequently, by a licensed pharmacist upon the order of a veterinarian. A few reasons for compounding medications include:
- Your cat will only take liquids but the medication is only in pill form.
- Your cat needs a drug without a certain additive.
- Combining drugs together can help you administer the drug.
- The strength of medication you need for your pet is not available.
- Your pet is taking a human medication that was removed from the market.
- To improve the taste of the medication, the pharmacist can add a salmon flavor. The Compounding Pharmacy for Gracee mixes ‘Three-Fish-Oil’ in her liquid medication to alter the taste of the very bitter medication. She likes it.
--Not all drugs can be compounded. As previously stated, some medications are not meant to be digested in the stomach, they are meant to activate only after they reach the colon intact.
- Some examples of DRUG COMPOUNDING (DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THIS YOURSELF because if you mix it wrong, it might no longer be effective or, worse yet, it could be fatal to your pet) are:
-Mixing two injectable drugs in the same syringe
-Creating an oral suspension from crushed tablets or an injectable solution
-Adding flavoring to a commercially available drug
-Creating a transdermal gel for a drug typically taken through other routes
-Mixing two solutions for instilling into the ear.
Information for this article was obtained from the following websites: healthy pets.mercola.com, petplace.com, ahi.org, avma.org, iacprx.org and my experiences with the cats that have lived with me and the Cat Authors.