"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Tiger's tale

Any feline fanciers reading this blog may be glad to know that our cat Tiger came home Friday afternoon from the vet and seems to be doing OK. We've learned a lot about FLUTD as a result of this experience, and found that it's much more common than we realized. Our vet has had three cats with urinary blockages brought in during the last week or two, and they all had been on a diet of Meow Mix dry formula; if you have a cat, I would strongly suggest feeding it something else.

Our own cat food budget is about to explode, as our vet has recommended keeping Tiger on Hill's S/D and C/D prescription diet, which is specially formulated to keep his urinary pH level slightly acidic (6.2-6.4) to prevent the formulation of struvite crystals (the main cause of potentially fatal feline urinary tract blockages). It's a delicate balance, as if the pH goes too low, a different type of crystal affecting the kidney can be formed. The S/D is about a buck-fifty per can, but it's worth it if it will keep Tiger healthy.

We also learned that canned food is generally better for cats than dry food, as the extra moisture goes a long way towards preventing urinary problems. In fact, wet food is even preferred over prescription-formulated kibble. Taking it one step further, many vets also recommend that even if you do feed your cat only canned food, add about an extra teaspoon of water to the dish and mix it with the food into something resembling a slurry before you give to your cat. You can't get too much moisture into their diet.

We're happy that Tiger is doing better, but the down side is that for the next two weeks we are having to give him four pills a day, consisting of a muscle relaxant and an antibiotic dose twelve hours apart. For those who have never had the joyful experience of pilling a cat, the procedure goes something like this:

1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm, as if holding a baby. Position right 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. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

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 soggy pill away.

4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5. Pry claws from back legs out of your arm. Go get the cat from top of wardrobe, pick up half-dissolved pill from floor and drop it into garbage can. Call partner from den.

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees. Hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get partner to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get partner to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink one beer to take taste away. Apply band-aid to partner's forearm and immediately remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave only head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with a rubber band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot and drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Call fire department to retrieve the friggin' cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining room table. Find heavy-duty pruning loves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour a pint of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of scotch. Get partner to drive you to emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Stop at furniture shop on way home to pick out new table.

15. Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat. Call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.


Seriously, we would never trade Tiger for a hamster, as we love him even though he's pretty damn useless right now ... although not quite as useless as this cat.

On a totally unrelated topic, let me leave you with this useless joke: A Viennese fellow is walking along the Karntner Strasse and notices a banana peel lying in his path. "Alas," he sighs, "now I must slip and fall down!"


  • At 4/07/2008 10:28:00 PM, Blogger SupaCoo said…

    You hit the nail on the head with pilling cats. We used to crush it up and disguise it in wet food, until the damn cat ate COMPLETELY AROUND the little powder. How are they so smart?

  • At 4/08/2008 07:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Too funny!
    OMG I had a black cat named Orphan Annie (for her huge yellow eyes) and pilling her was the same ordeal - I well remember the kneeling on the floor part. Fortunately we got enough medicine down her that the ringworm we were treating her for went away. Along with an area rug and some 10 sq. in. of my skin.

  • At 4/08/2008 07:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    P.S. Dogs get this too; I once had to put one on that yummy gray glue known as Science Diet u/d because of his struvite crystals. He was a senior then and lived another five years.

  • At 4/12/2008 01:06:00 PM, Blogger Sphincter said…

    We've had some similar trouble with our kitty. It's so scary. And basically, all advice for administering meds goes out the window. We just end up having an all out rumble until the stuff somehow gets ingested. Sometimes by all involved.

  • At 4/13/2008 10:03:00 PM, Blogger Janelle said…

    Aprils cat, Fussybutt, is on the same Hills diet for the same exact urinary tract thing. Oh...and the reason why I am posting....Brandi got married yesterday!! I posted a few pics from the wedding on my blog.

  • At 4/27/2008 03:02:00 PM, Blogger April said…

    my God, I can't tell you how much I relate to your story! When Fuzzybutt got sick it took 3 visits to the vet before they figured out the problem. He took the pills (wrapped in a tasty bacon flavored snack soaked in milk, the milk made him skip the chewing process and swallowed the treat whole)the vet also showed us how to.. and I quote... "roll his penis" to loosen up the crystals. You thought giving a cat a pill was hard! Try laying him on his back, finding his penis and rolling it between your thumb and pointer finger... for 2 minutes. He's on the Science Diet c/d too. Just a word to the wise, don't let yourself run out of the diet food and use a can of wet food or generic dry food "just for a feeding or two" because it can make them seriously ill and vomit all over your new leather furniture.

    I'm glad to hear Tiger is feeling better. Good luck to the little guy!

  • At 4/30/2008 10:13:00 AM, Blogger cadiz12 said…

    i don't know much about cats, but it sounds like they like pills as much as my little brother did as a kid.

  • At 5/07/2008 01:16:00 PM, Blogger Chandira said…

    We mix water in with Shara's wet stuff, it's also a good way to keep weight off them, carbs (dry cat food is high carb) apparently don't do them much good either! Cats need protein, which only really comes in a can, or in a mouse, and not in a bag.. Cats are also prone to diabetes if they get too squishy.

    My word verification? mmaoo

  • At 5/07/2008 01:18:00 PM, Blogger Chandira said…

    PS, get a pestle and mortar, and grind the pill up, and mix it in the wet food! Works a treat for Shara.


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