How NOT to give a cat a pill
“You need me to do what?”
We were sitting in the car in the driveway outside the house of one of Eldest Daughter’s friends, for whom she’s agreed to house-sit for a few days.
“You have to come in with me,” Eldest Daughter repeated calmly. “I need you to hold the cat while I give him his anti-anxiety medication.”
I turned the car off. “I thought you were just here to check the house and feed the cat.”
“Right. And give Churchill his pill.”
“His anti-anxiety pill.”
“We’re house-sitting a cat that takes anti-anxiety meds?”
“A half-pill a day.”
“You’re kidding me, right? Have you ever tried to give a cat a pill? That’s sort of like teaching an octopus how to knit, only with a much lower chance of success.”
Regardless of my hesitation about my veterinary capabilities, Eldest Daughter and I had a job to do, and I was already tricked into being an accomplice. The note on the kitchen counter beside the bottle of Clomicalm pills made the job sound suspiciously easy.
Just wrap little Churchill in the blankie so that just his head is sticking out. Tilt him backward gently, open his mouth and toss the little pill down his throat. (Smiley face)
Churchill sat in the corner of the room, surveying the situation. He was evaluating our every move, and I could tell immediately that he didn’t like the cut of our jib. The smiley face on the note no longer felt reassuring.
“Just leave the food and walk away, chum,” he seemed to say. “Put the pill bottle down, and nobody needs to get hurt.”
I’m not sure exactly why Churchill is on medication, but it certainly isn’t for a condition that produces lethargy. He ducked and dodged us for fifteen exasperating minutes before we were finally able to scoop him into our arms, and it was easily another five before we got him wrapped up in the “blankie” like the note suggested.
We swathed him up tighter than King Tut, and I cradled Churchill while Eldest Daughter commenced Operation Open His Mouth. As we repeatedly tried to toss the pill inside, Churchill began making low, guttural growls reminiscent of something possessed by a demon in a Stephen King movie.
“I think one of his paws is about to get loose,” said Eldest Daughter. The words were barely out of her mouth when Churchill’s right front paw emerged from the folds and started swiping around like the business end of a very annoyed scorpion.
There are two things you can do in a situation like that. One is to move briskly and decisively, secure the loose paw, and complete the job while you still have a putative advantage. The second is to throw the whole kitten and caboodle in one direction while you run like hell in the other.
Eldest Daughter and I did neither. Video evidence of the event subsequently analyzed by the Darwin Award Nomination Committee show that we hesitated, then fumbled around like a drunken monkey holding a stick of dynamite for the five critical seconds it took Churchill to completely emerge from the blankie, his arsenal of pointy parts on full attack. Churchill’s vengeance was terrible and swift.
He continued to score heavily against us in the second, third, and fourth rounds. Any decent ref would have stopped the fight. Still, we persevered, and somewhere late in the fifth we got lucky and somehow managed to drop the pill down Churchill’s throat deep enough for it to finally disappear. Scratched, bitten, weary, and war-torn, we limped from the house to lick our respective wounds.
It’s now been twelve hours since the event. My bandages don’t itch as bad as they did at first, and Eldest Daughter has recovered nearly the full use of her arms, which is good, because we have to go back to the house five more times this week.
Next visit though, I have a new strategy. Next time, the first thing I’m going to do is take one of Churchill’s pills myself.
At least I’ll be calm going in.
Troy Berg is a deceivingly ordinary fellow who writes, rants, muses, and occasionally extemporizes. He is 25% husband, 39% father, 14% humorist, 22% guy responsible for picking up the dog poop in the backyard, and 87% guy who never did well in math.
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