By Judy Reiss
I guess everybody knows that we have two cats and two dogs. What you may not know is one cat, Victor, is very old, a Siamese cat around 16, and the other cat, Yul, is about 14. Then we have two dogs, Lily, a 13-year-old Yorkie who is blind and deaf, and 3-year-old Rufus, who is a standard poodle in good health. What I want to share with you is how we give all of our loved ones the medications they need to stay happy, healthy, and productive.
Let’s start with Victor. Victor, who’s real name is Victor the Tree, was named by McKinley when McKinley was only 3, and he has been an amazing cat. But this winter he started to get thinner and thinner, although he ate like a wolf. Finally, we took him to the vet and found he had some type of illness that without medication would make him waste away. All he has to do to stay healthy is take his medicine twice a day. That sounds easy on paper but here is what happened. We have a bottle of pills and each pill is the size of a pinhead, and we have to mix these into his food and feed it to him twice a day. Regardless of how clever we were hiding that pill in every kind of food imaginable, he would either finish all his food and leave the pill in the dish, or actually pick it up in his mouth and spit it out like a peashooter. It would be funny except that he had to take the pill. So after discussion with his vet, we changed medications, and now he gets a little bit of cream in his ear that we just rub in twice a day. The medication cream they sent us is actually toxic to humans so they sent along a little baggy of itty bitty finger condoms. You put the condom on your finger, a tiny drop of medication, and rub it in his ear. No spitting, no fighting, and it appears to work, aside from all the jokes about wearing a finger condom, but I don’t care because it works.
Yul gets nothing except heartworm pills, which he gobbles right down and considers it a treat, god bless him.
Now on to the dogs. Rufus is so easy it’s almost embarrassing. He gets a heartworm pill, and flea and tick medicine on his neck.
Now it’s Lily’s turn. We start with a heartworm pill, and it goes like this. Because she can’t see, she is very careful about what she puts in her mouth. I hand it to her, she snuffs it, and after snuffing for quite awhile, she licks it. This snuffing and licking process is repeated several times before she eats it. Next comes the medication for flea and ticks. She is allergic to normal flea and tick medicine that you put on topically (on the neck), so we had to get a prescription for pills. Now keep in mind we are on Cape Cod, where fleas and especially ticks are rampant. This means she has no choice but to take medication or else she would be completely covered in ticks. Her medication is a small pill the size of a very small sugar cube, and as I’ve said before, we’ve tried everything to get the animals to eat them. Yesterday was time for Lily to have her pill. I bent down and offered it like a treat. She snuffed it, licked it once, and walked away. I took the pill, rubbed a little cat food on it. I called her back and offered her the new treat. She licked all the cat food off of it, and left the pill untouched. Then I tried covering the pill in her favorite dog food, Little Caesar’s dog food, which she usually loves. She walked briskly away, leaving the tiny pill, licked clean of dog food but still intact. Now, in desperation, Malcolm took a can of Little Caesar’s, put it on her plate, mashed the pill up into four pieces so tiny they can hardly be seen by human eyes, put the offering down, and prayed. Well, you know the answer, she ate some of it, but not the pill. I do think after close inspection you would find she ate some of the pill but on the plate there was still some of the pill to be found.
Over the years, we have had many dogs and cats who have needed some type of oral medication. We have tried every way known to man to get them to take it. Now I know there are many of you saying “just pry open their mouth and shove it down their throat!” You obviously don’t have a Siamese cat who could shred your hands like a wood chipper, and you don’t have a very old dog who doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. So the answer is just keep putting it on the plate and see if they’ll scarf it down by accident.
Welcome to the Reiss House of Medication Horrors. We try, God knows we try, but like most every other thing in our lives, easy isn’t one of them. But at least we don’t have any fleas or ticks.