Kernut’s Guide to Medicating Your Cat: What the Vet Doesn’t Tell You
Remember my cat with stage three kidney disease? There’s no cure, but there are things I can do to slow the progression. Among the lovely solutions: giving her 1/4 of a ten milligram tablet of famotidine (Pepcid) daily, and a subcutaneous injection of Lactated Ringer’s Solution twice a week.
I recently gave her the first injection – my first “successful” attempt at injecting a living being.
It was quite an adventure.
As you might have guessed, medicating a cat is a lesson in perseverance and pain tolerance. To save any fellow cat owners the unnecessary and exhausting steps of trial and error, I thought I’d share with you all my errors so you don’t need to try them.
Either of these procedures will also count as your exercise for the day. The gym can not compare to medicating a cat.
What the vet doesn’t tell you:
Before you leave the vet’s office, make sure they show you how to put the IV kit together. Let’s just say this step is very important and I wish I had known it.
Let’s start with How To Pill Your Cat:
- A pair of heavy duty leather gloves that go up to your elbows, the kind handlers of hawks wear. These are good for cat medicators, too.
- A face mask. Any kind will do, but I recommend one that is solid, rather than the Freddy Kreuger version that has holes in it. It will need eye holes, but you’ll want machinist’s goggles to cover those. Don’t worry too much about holes for breathing – if all goes well you’ll be holding your breath due to intense concentration and anxiety the whole time.
- A friend, one whom you don’t necessarily care if you see again. They may not want to come back after helping you.
- It helps if the walls are soundproof as the cat will quickly learn what’s about to happen (I don’t care what the “experts” says – those little suckers are smart) and will begin screaming as if you’re strangling it. You may want to warn your neighbors beforehand so they don’t call the police.
- A towel. Wait, make that two.
- The medicine, ready to dispense.
- The cat.
- Have a stiff drink waiting for you. Don’t drink it until after you’re done – you need every bit of attention you can muster.
You’re now ready to give your cat a pill. Get on your protective gear.
Be aware the screaming will now commence, even though you haven’t done anything yet. The cat knows.
Take one towel and wrap cat like a burrito, leaving only the face visible. You may have to try wrapping the cat several times until you get the correct escape-proof wrap.
If you have convinced found a victim friend to help you, have them do this part: If you’re right-handed, hold cat securely in left arm, resting back end of cat on solid surface, have hand near cat’s mouth – but not too close just yet.
When cat frees front paws and sinks claws into the glove, realize you didn’t wrap towel tightly enough.
Chase cat around house. This counts as your exercise for the day.
Retrieve cat from under bed, rewrap cat better.
With right hand, get medicine piller or dropper. With securely gloved left hand, force cat’s jaw open, or just let it bite your hand – resist the urge to pull away! This is just where you want the cat – with mouth open. Biting is inconsequential at this point. Just ignore the pain.
Quickly insert pill or dropper into cat’s mouth, dispense medicine, wait for cat to spit it out.
Get more medicine and repeat until cat swallows the recommended dose.
Quickly place cat on floor, facing away from you. Use second towel clean up spit-out medicine. You will be safe for this step because the cat will be busy trying to get out of the first towel.
Unless you also need to inject your cat, you can skip to Final Steps, below.
Now, How To Give Your Cat a Subcutaneous Injection:
You’ll need all of the same items listed above, plus:
- A box.
You are now ready to begin the subcutaneous injection.
Gear-up. Do not forget the facemask.
After burrito-wrapping your cat in the first towel, place cat in box with top open. If the cat is wrapped correctly, it will not be able to get out of the box.
Chase cat around house.
Rewrap cat, place back in box.
Ready injection site at base of neck. Inject needle into cat.
Release valve on IV tube attached to Lactated Ringer’s Solution bag, dispense recommended dose. It will take several minutes for the fluid to dispense into the cat. Just wait quietly and try to remember to breathe.
Talk soothingly to cat.
Let cat bite gloved hand.
Do not let the needle move.
Do not let the cat move.
Remove cat from top of head, be grateful for facemask.
Rewrap cat like a burrito, place back in box.
Reinsert needle, and continue with dose.
Hold needle and cat firmly in place.
When dose is dispensed, turn off IV tube valve before removing needle from cat. If you remember to do this, you can skip the next step.
With second towel wipe off large quantity of lactated ringer’s solution accidentally squirted on walls and floor when you forgot to turn off valve before removing needle. Knowing it’s impossible to get all of LRS off the walls, be grateful it’s clear in color, and hope it doesn’t have an odor when it dries. (I will let you know later.)
Take cat out of box, place cat away from you, still in towel. It will get itself out while you clean the walls, put away the IV kit and bag, and discard needle.
Final Steps For Pilling or Subcu-ing Your Cat:
Remember that drink you got ready? Congratulations! You get to have it now! If your friend is still with you, give them one, too. I can say it’s times like this when I kinda wish I hadn’t quit drinking.
For those who have also become health-nuts, I recommend meditation. Find a quiet place to meditate, but only if your cat isn’t prone to revenge. The meditation won’t be helpful at this point if the cat claws you when your eyes are closed.
If your cat isn’t the type to hide under the bed after such and ordeal, I recommend you do so until both you and the cat calm down. Take your drink with you.
Oh, and you may want to keep wearing the protective gear for a while. Just a suggestion.