Sweet-Talking the Cat

Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 12:31 PM

I talk to my animals all the time. While I’m sure they’re not understanding the details, I believe they understand, through my voice tone and inflection, the message that I am trying to impart.

I read a lovely article the other day about how we should talk to our animals and how they actually do understand what we are the saying. The article went on to describe a dog who needed medical treatment and through calmly talking though what she was doing and why she was doing it, the author helped to calm the dog down enough that she was able to treat him without difficulty. The dog understood that she was helping him. What I wonderful, idea, I thought. The next time I have to give one of the animals medicine, I’m going to try this.

This morning, Herbie’s treatment escalated from the yucky paste stuff he doesn’t like but we can still get him to eat by smearing it on his feet (OCD cat tendencies to clean themselves apparently trump yucky tasting medicine), to needing to take a pill.

Herbie does not take pills. Period. Ever. We’ve tried before. He squirms and bites and no matter how far you can push it in his mouth he always manages to spit it back out, often times with impressive velocity, which causes the pill to bounce off counters and floors, flinging itself into unknown regions. Unknown regions are not okay when you have two dogs that will eat anything they find. Unknown regions involve a lot of time spent on hands and knees, searching, until the pill is found. We try to avoid unknown regions at all costs.

Dennis was skeptical when I returned from the vet this morning with a pill bottle. Then I showed him the liquid. I convinced the vet to give me the medication in both forms so I’d be assured I could get at least one into Herbie. The vet warned me that the liquid form tastes bitter and will cause Herbie to immediately foam at the mouth when he takes it. Wonderful. I decided we’re trying to get the pill down him first.

I told Dennis about the article I read. Using my most calming, soothing voice, I explained to Herbie that he needed to take a pill for a few days so he would feel better. I showed him the pill, which is small, no bigger than the kibbles he gulps down by the mouthful without chewing. I ended our conversation on a high note, acknowledging the problems he and I have had with pills in the past, and assuring him that I am confident those times are over and we’ve got this. He would have no problem taking the pill.

In a complete show of confidence that this was going to work, I sat Herbie on the kitchen island and tried to pry his mouth open and pop the pill in myself, without having Dennis hold him.

Okay, so maybe I was a little over-confident. I retrieved Herbie from the top of the cabinet and put him back on the kitchen island. Dennis held him done while I cooed to Herbie, assuring him the pill would be gone before he knew it. Herbie, however, refused to unclench his jaws. Once I got them to open part way I tried to pop the pill in but he clamped them shut before I could get it in. He did graze the side of my finger with his teeth.

I tried telling Herbie again, in a slightly more firm tone this time, that taking the pill was for his own good. There is no need to bite me as this will help no one. For try number three Dennis held Herbie by securing his back and front feet so all I had to deal with was his head. I reminded Herbie again in a soft, and reassuring voice, that I was going to give him his pill. I managed to pin his head against Dennis’ shoulder, pry his jaw apart far enough to fling the pill inside. I quickly clamped down his mouth and stroked his throat gently to get him to swallow. He wouldn’t swallow, though, so I got my small syringe of water I had prepare and I squirted that inside the side of his cheeks.

It was at that point all that hell broke loose. Herbie opened his mouth and projectile spitted the water and the pill out and on to the floor. The pill bounced into unknown regions. Herbie then kicked off from Dennis with his back feet (claws extended,  of course) and fled the scene while Sammy came running toward us to investigate what tastey morsel he heard fall to the floor.

I glanced around frantically for the pill while Dennis examined his scratches. It was two feet away from me, near the water bowl. Sammy saw it, too, and he was closer than me. I lunged for it, yelling “Sammy, Leave it!” In my best authoritative voice. Thankfully, that worked, and Sammy hesitated just long enough for me grab the pill before he ate it.

We regrouped. Clearly, the article was not meant for cats. You may be able to sweet talk a dog, but cats are different. They know what they know and they’re not about to listen to outside input.

Dennis washed off his scratches and I went upstairs to retrieve the glowering, slightly wet Herbie who was glaring at me from the top of the armoire in the bedroom.

As I carried Herbie downstairs I told him to suck it up and take it like a man. He was going to get medicated today one way or the other.

For our next try, Dennis pinned Herbie down on the counter and I got out the dreaded liquid syringe. I drew in the medicine. 1 ml. It doesn’t sound like a lot, it didn’t even look like a lot, but let me tell you, it was A LOT. I tried put in a small amount in the corner of Herbie’s mouth, but the foaming started immediately, as expected, which made Herbie clamp down his jaws even harder. When I finally pried his mouth open again, I squirted the remaining contents of the syringe inside. Poor, Herbie. He started foaming like a washing machine with too much soap.

It must taste terrible because Herbie shook his head several times sending foamy cat spittle all over us and the  kitchen. Then he left to give himself a bath on the floor of the family room in the sun while I Lysoled the kitchen.. Is Lysoled even a verb? It is in our house!

The most disconcerting part of this whole event is that we get to do this again in another 12 hours. And every 12 hours after that every day for the next week. We’’re going to become experts at this, Dennis and I, if we survive. And I’m going to need to buy more Lysol wipes. It’s going to be a long week.

Herbie eyes

There is no sweet-talking this guy into taking yucky medicine.

1:23 pm

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