A cat by any other name

A little tongue action



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Meow to me

There is a cat in my hall bathroom. She has been there nearly two weeks now, although there are times (more often than not, lately) that it feels she has been there a lot longer than that.

She is sick, and that's why I have her. Her owner - a friend of mine from PernMUSH - is out of town and so I agreed to watch her, since all she needs is a few pills at night, and the usual cat care. No problem. I've taken care of dozens of cats before, most sicker than this one. This would be a piece of cake.

Ha. I didn't know any better, apparently.

She gets two pills every night, and one of them is teeny. And she is smart - she's figured out that pills are icky and she doesn't want any part of them.

I know how to pill a cat. In fact, I know how to do lots of things to cats - I spent four years as a foster home for a local humane society and when this evolved, very early on, into bottle-feeding orphan kittens, I got a crash course in feline medicine. Babies of any species get sick more often than adults, and when those babies are already compromised by being abandoned by their mothers, they get sick even worse. So I learned how to give shots. How to rehydrate a sick cat. How to get a recalcitrant feline to take medication, in whatever form it needs to be delivered.

This cat has been testng me a *lot*. She is queen of pill-avoidance, and it doesn't help that one of them is actually a quarter pill, and the whole pill wasn't all that big to begin with. And the key factor in her ability to avoid taking the pill is that she has this amazing knack of somehow snagging the pill with her tongue, and then stashing it in her lip until I let go of her and she can go spit it out.

She gave me a few rough days in the beginning, but I finally got the hang of it - a combination grab, turn the head just a bit, scruff the neck, and stuff in the pill. She glares at me but we both know who the winner is going to be, and it isn't the smaller of the pair of us.

If the pilling battle was all of it, I wouldn't mind too much. When it comes to medications, whether they're liquid or pill, or when it's time to trim claws, I always win. It may take me a few tries, and I don't always emerge unscathed (with seven cats of my own, I'm usually sporting a few scratches and scrapes), but I win.

The biggest problem is that this cat cries. She mews and yowls and doesn't shut up, and for a teeny little thing (probably no more than six pounds dripping wet), she has an amazingly overdeveloped set of lungs. I go to sleep listening to the sound of her yelling and it wakes me up. She wants out and she wants out now. And if she was perfectly healthy I may have broken down and let her. But she's not. She's got a nasty little gastrointestinal problem that causes her to have...well, I won't go into the gooey details, but it ain't pretty and the bathroom is the best place for her to be because at least all surfaces are bleachable. My cats peer curiously at the bathroom door and haven't even blinked an eye on her nightly bolt out the door when I head in to feed and medicate her, even though she's hissed at them plenty. And the yelling doesn't seem to faze them at all.

Me, on the other hand - well, let's just say that I'm starting to count the days til she'll be gone, and telling myself that at least I've gotten some practice in trick pilling techniques. There's got to be a good side to this somehow.