Friday, March 5, 2010

The Ears Have It!

Have you ever tried to pill a cat?  They aren't like dogs.  You can't just wrap the pill in ham or smear it in peanut butter.  Uh-uh!  We've tried EVERYTHING to get pills into our sick kitties.  Mostly they just get really, REALLY upset, growl, hiss, and spit out the pill with a smug look on their faces.

Cat pilling I don't know how many cat "pillers" we have in our kitchen junk drawer, but none of them have ever worked unless the one holding the cat (usually me) can yank the cat's head back far enough for an open gullet and the piller (hubby) can hit the eject button fast enough to get the pill down the cat's throat.  Then hopefully I can shut her (it's always a girl cat who needs pills) mouth, and massage her throat so she swallows.  Then I have to try to yank her mouth open again to see if she somehow hid the pill in her mouth and will spit it out.

Bonnie2 6-08 So I was not happy yesterday when I called the vet the arrange for meds for our Bonnie cat.  (We call her Bon-Bon because she's so sweet.)  She'd gone in for blood work on Tuesday and we got the results late Wednesday night.  Poor Bon-Bon has thyroid trouble and had been losing weight and drinking a LOT of water.  (When you only weigh 11 pounds and you lose 2 of them, that's a pretty drastic weight loss.)

Of course, there are a LOT of options when treating a cat with thyroid problems, and a lot of them are the same as for humans, including surgery and radio iodine treatments.  Bonnie is NOT a good patient.  She was abused as a kitten (I don't think I've ever had a cat who wasn't abused before I got it), and she doesn't put up with a lot of messing about.  She's a wonderful lap cat--on her own terms.  Her sister/littermate is a real trooper.  When she had lymphoma 2.5 years ago, she underwent chemo for three months and the bloodletting every two weeks without a struggle.  (And she's still here!!!)  We would have lost Bonnie in no time flat. 

So when the first option for thyroid treatment was pills, my heart sank.  But then the vet tech said, "we can give you cream to put in her ear," I perked right up.  As it happens, Bonnie has picked up an infection, and that means two ear cream treatments.  Could she handle it?  I figured it was better than trying to pill her.
So yesterday afternoon I picked up the cream.  They're both in little syringes, you squirt out the antibiotic and wear a finger cot when you rub it into the cat's ear--that way SHE absorbs the med, not you.  The other is in some kind of a tube brush.  Turn the handle one revolution and you've got a measured dose. Sounds good, right?  Now to administer it.

So I sat down in front of the TV last night with the meds on the side table and waited for my prey.  Bingo!  The minute This Old House came on TV, Bonnie jumped up on the couch next to me.  (For some reason, that show is like a Cat Magnet.  I turn it on, and Bonnie isn't far behind.  Of course it was a rerun, but that was okay.)

Bonnie on my chair1 I waited for her to get comfy on her little kitty afghan, and then I got out the syringe brush.  I sneaked my hand up behind her neck brushed it in her left ear, and then rubbed her ear.  She purred.  The other one was  a bit messier, and I'm not sure I got as much on the part of her ear without hair, but she didn't seem to mind a bit.  She rolled over on her back--still purring.

Why didn't pharmacists think of this years before???

We have to go back in two weeks to see if this cream is doing any good, and if not, we'll try some other treatment, but for now--what a relief not to have to struggle with Bonnie and upset both her and me.

Anyone else have a cat with thyroid problems?


  1. Yep! Callie-Cat (Starsky's mom, remember?) had thyroid trouble. I had to give her a pill, too. Strangely, she didn't mind too much, so I didn't have to go through all the shenanigans you've had to do with your kitties. She lived for many years after finding out about the thyroid trouble ... finally had a stroke at age 21 & I was with her at the vet's when she went over the Rainbow Bridge.

    The medicine-in-the-ear is BRILLIANT!! Sure hope Bonnie continues to enjoy her moments on the couch w/you AND her treatments! (And what a bea-u-tiful kitty she is!!) All the best!

  2. Transdermal meds are a godsend for many cat parents. Unfortunately, not all medications can be compounded into a version that works on the ears.

    I hope Bonnie reponds to the medicine. Amber was hyperthyroid several years ago, and we went through the radioactive iodine treatment. She was a good candidate for it and I didn't like the idea of using medication for the rest of her life. She, and her thyroid, have been doing great since the treatment.

  3. Ingrid, did you have issues with your local waste disposal company about "radioactive" litter? (A friend of mine said I would have to use the flushable kind of litter. That would be hard with four cats using the boxes. (She only had one cat.))

  4. Aww, I hope your kitty feels better ♥

    My cat had to have surgery last year, and they prescribed her liquid medication. Let's just say that was a challenge! My brother had to hold her down while I pried open her little mouth, and syringed it down her throat. Not fun!

  5. what a great idea. Your Bonnie looks a lot like my Lucy, who is gone almost 2 years now. I wish they had been able to help her this way. I really hop Bonnie gets and stays well for a long time.

  6. Both of my former cats had thyroid issues and had to take pills - oh how I can relate to trying to get the pills down. My last cat would look as if he swallowed it, I would check his mouth and not see anything but sure enough he would jump down and go to the corner and spit the pill out. Exasperating. Now I have a golden retriever and giving her a pill is just a matter of putting it in a piece of cheese. But trying to clean her ears turns into a full-scale wiggle war that takes both me and my husband and we usually end up with more ear-cleaning solution on us than in her ears! Cheers!

  7. No thyroid issues here, but four cats with a variety of medical problems. We've discovered these things called Pill Pockets (by Greenies). We can shove a pill inside and the cats will woof them down, no problem.

    The trick is segregating the cats so each cat only gets one pill and every cat gets medicated ... but compared to the "swaddle and shove" method, the pill pockets save the day.