Brian Edwards Media

How To Give A Cat A Pill (A little light relief!)

cat_rain1Among the many qualities which I admire in my wife is her courage. True, she cannot climb a ladder, remove a dead mouse from a trap or dispose of a weta, but she is able to give a cat a pill. And I don’t mean hide the pill in a bowl of Jellimeat or scrunch it up with some yummy topside mince. I mean that she is able to prise open the cat’s mouth, place a pill at the back of its tongue, then close its  mouth again and stroke its throat, so that it swallows the pill.

I was reminded of this particular skill when our lovely Burmese cat, Max, returned home yesterday limping and looking sad. He’d been in a fight with the ginger tom next door and had a gaping wound in one of his front paws. Time for antibiotics. JUDY!!!!!

There is of course a knack to giving a cat a pill, just as there is a knack to crocodile wrestling, lion taming and bomb-disposal. The problem is that the knack can only be obtained by trial and error and, in the case of giving a cat a pill, the error part has unwelcome consequences, the commonest being lacerations to the hands and face, sometimes requiring hospitalisation. Small wonder that grown men and the occasional vet blanch at the thought of giving a cat a pill.

My wife was taught to give a cat a pill by the excellent Ponsonby vet after I had explained that I suffered from a rare tropical disease, contracted in the Amazon rainforest, which makes me fatally allergic to feline lacerations. Quite simply, I would die if a cat scratched me. I mention this only because I do not want it thought that I am some sort of pathetic wimp, too chicken to pop a pill down the throat of a pussycat. But if I were, there would be no shame in it. Where pussy- pill-popping is concerned, the world is full of chickens, as the following instructions, which circulated on the Internet some years ago, clearly demonstrate:

How to give a cat a pill:

1. Pick cat up and cradle in the crook of your left arm as if  holding a baby. Position left forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s  mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Close cat’s mouth, stroke throat and wait for cat to swallow pill.
 
2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa.  Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.  

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw away soggy pill.
 
4. Remove new pill from foil wrap. Cradle cat in left arm holding rear  paws tightly with left hand. Prise jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for count of 10.
 
5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of  wardrobe. Call  spouse from garden.
 
6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, holding front  and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse  to hold cat’s head firmly with one hand while gently  inserting wooden ruler into mouth.  Roll pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.
 
7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail. Remove another pill from foil wrap.  Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth and set aside for gluing back together later. 

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat  leaving head  just visible from below spouse’s armpit. Place pill in end of drinking straw, prise cat’s mouth open with pencil and blow down  straw.
 
9. Check label to ensure pill not harmful to humans and drink glass of  water to take away unpleasant taste. Apply band-aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water.
 
10. Retrieve cat from neighbour’s shed. Get another pill.  Place cat in  cupboard and gently close door on neck leaving head showing. Prise mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with  elastic  band.
 
11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for  date of last  tetanus shot. 

12. Ring fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across road. Remove last pill from foil wrap.
 
13. Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind  tightly to leg of dining table. Fetch heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed. Prise cat’s mouth open with small spanner. Push pill into mouth followed by  large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour pint of milk into throat to wash pill down.
 
14. Persuade spouse to drive you to Accident and Emergency. Sit quietly  while  doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Stop by furniture shop on way home to order new table.
 
15. Arrange for vet to make house call.

 So there you are. Simple. Judy has just given Max his pill. Hold on, what’s that noise?  “Ptui!” – the distinctive sound of a cat spitting out a pill. These damn Burmese are too clever for their own good. JUDY!!!!

23 Comments:

  1. By chance I have a male Burmese named Max who happily accepts any offering I chose to give him .As a male he seems more docile than the females and makes friends rather than get into protracted battles with my 3 other cats.I admit he sometimes spits it out but I put this down to a dry object becoming lodged rather than an objection to its delivery.I suggest option 13 may come under the cruelty to animals act.

    • I suggest option 13 may come under the cruelty to animals act.

      Probably, but we would plead self-defence.

  2. Just like the sound of the opening of the fridge door from five houses away, my cats can discern the removal of a pill from its foil wrapping whilst asleep in a suitcase under an eiderdown at the back of the wardrobe in the spare bedroom with the door shut.
    Can I please bring them over to yours when next they need worming?

    • Can I please bring them over to yours when next they need worming?

      No you can’t, Meredith. They’re far too clever. We feed our cats on Jimbo’s meat, but they love Whiskas which we give them as a treat. We keep the Whiskas in a jar. It is impossible to pick up the jar, however carefully, without attracting them from streets away. We have our own troubles. We don’t want yours as well.

  3. Huh, getting a cat to take a pill is easy-peasy. My tabby has a bad case of halitosis, and I’ve spent hours trying to teach it how to gargle with Colgate Plax. Now, that’s a real mission, I can assure you.

    • Huh, getting a cat to take a pill is easy-peasy. My tabby has a bad case of halitosis, and I’ve spent hours trying to teach it how to gargle with Colgate Plax. Now, that’s a real mission, I can assure you.

      You might consider writing to Colgate or perhaps a letter to Fair Go.

  4. Put the pill at far back on one side of their mouth as possible and they will swallow….easily done trust me….

    • Put the pill at far back on one side of their mouth as possible and they will swallow….easily done trust me….

      Thanks, but I’m inclined to say ‘Yeah right!’ I’ll leave it to Judy.

  5. i feel your pain Brian, and commendations to Judy.

    there is however a new injectable antibiotic available from vets, it’s the equivalent of 2 wks’ pills in one jab and only slightly more expensive. well worth it if you have a repeat performance.

  6. Apparently you should use salt in the water when removing blood.

  7. Get a pair of puncture proof gloves from Mitre 10. Insert pill using the tweezers that Judy uses for plucking her eyebrows. The next time Judy wants to pluck her eyebrows explain why tweezers are covered in saliva and soggy pill fragments. Visit doctor for treatment for black eye. I speak from personal experience, although the last sentence is a mild exaggereation because I ducked.

    If you are really lucky the cat will swallow the tweezers which will mean several weeks at the cat hospital relieving you of the task. It will also relieve you of the contents of your bank account.

  8. As the owners of two Tonkinese cats, we thoroughly enjoyed your very humorous article Brian. We await another column on getting the cats to the vet!!

  9. Try this trick out: I put down a saucer of warm milk in between a green Tic Tac and the cat pill. I get on all fours, and tongue up the little lolly off the floor. Then, I immediately lap up some milk from my cat’s saucer, and lick in a deliberate rotation motion, the excess milk from my lips; just like ‘Albie’ would. All the while, I’m play acting in an animated way, to show my cat how enjoyable it is. After a few Tic Tacs (and some quizzical looks), he cottons on and follows suit, lapping up his pill.

    It does work! There’s just one downside: the herpes-like cold sores I contract on my mouth, from drinking outta the cat’s dish. But it’s worth it.

  10. We need to clone your wife, she sounds amazing Brian, as does your marriage.

    Apparently Freud rated personality functionality on two criteria, work and relationships. If you have them, it’s a sign you can handle what life is about.

    Having success in both requires a balance of skill and compassion.

    • We need to clone your wife, she sounds amazing Brian, as does your marriage.

      She is and it is, thanks, Angelique. I’ve deleted your comment about the Garner affair for reasons of consistency. I’ve stopped taking comments on that topic.

  11. Lillian@…’Put the pill at far back on one side of their mouth as possible and they will swallow….easily done trust me….’

    I do agree Lillian… In the late 50’s I discovered just this trick with my older sister and brussel sprouts.

  12. Is Merv able to post video of his technique?

  13. With our cat and his phenominal memory no matter how secretly we acted, we could not prick those little anti-flea tubes without the sudden exodus. Brian. Perhaps you could drive a long way away. Flick open your pill packet and drift back singing the theme from Cats to show solidarity, and while Max sits with jaw agape, pop the pill in. No problem.

  14. Thanks for the laugh. An experience many can identify with, if not embellish so lavishly!

  15. 15

    Advancing years and all that, but here was me remembering that Max was a MANDALAY! [Developed by crossing the Burmese with a solid coloured domestic, the Mandalay is a solid coloured cat, unlike the Burmese which is pointed, (but less obviously so than the Siamese). Having the same body type as the Burmese, it is bred in the same colours, but on the Mandalay they appear darker, eg the Seal (brown) of the Burmese becomes Black.
    The coat texture is slightly more silky in texture than the Burmese and eye colour is generally deeper.)

    • remembering that Max was a MANDALAY

      Alas, it was Benny who was the Mandalay. My much loved Benny died in an altercation with a garage door and I am still mourning him. Max is a loveable, calm, affectionate and independent Seal Point Burmese. I seem to count the passing decades in cats and my relationships with them…

  16. brian, You should try worming an unco-operative kids’ pony. They don’t scratch, but our monster can whack you with all four feet and her head as well as bite. Molasses will sometimes seduce a horse, there might be a cat equivalent.