Today was another stressful day on the cat front.
We tried to convince Tuffy that it would be more pleasant for her to drink her antibiotics voluntarily than to be squashed into a cage and transported to the scary place where she’d been yesterday to have her teeth cleaned – and horror of horrors – two extracted. The vet mentioned that he had extracted one premolar and one carnassial pair – and that the extraction had been “very very very very very difficult”. Yes, that’s FIVE very’s. I promise that’s what he read from the card. He said it twice, to drive home the point that our kitty-cat was now no doubt in considerable discomfort.
When our gentle persuasion did not work (look, honestly, the stuff SMELLS, so I wouldn’t drink it either if I was her), we tried to pin her down so that we could squirt the liquid into the side of her mouth. It resulted in one terrified cat, huddling in a corner, staring at us with a pair of huge reproachful eyes, and two stressed out, emotionally exhausted, and guilt-riddled humans.
We returned the cage to the vet, and asked whether the antibiotics did not come in a once-off injection format. Alas, they didn’t. (Seriously, why has no one thought of patenting such an antibiotic for cats??? There must be a HUGE market! I can’t imagine that we’re the only cat-owners with these difficulties.)
As our vet is a nice person, he very kindly offered to show me how to squirt the stuff into her mouth. I dutifully took a wire cage back home, and bundled our suddenly VERY alert and terrified furball into it. It took two attempts. She escaped the first time, as a result of whacking me unexpectedly with a very sharp claw. The second time, I almost had to sit on her to get her to stay in the cage.
After all this stress, it was a miracle that we made it safely to the vet. Once there, he lifted her out of the cage, his left hand clasped firmly around the scruff of her neck. To my horrified amazement, Tuffy went completely rigid, her eyes became slits, her ears flattened, and her paws were tucked into her body. I hadn’t seen anyone do that to adult cats before!!
“That’s how cats pick up their kittens, to carry them to safety,” he explained. “They freeze, when you hold them like this.”
With his right hand, he pushed the tip of the squirty thing into the side of her mouth, and when she opened it wide, he squirted the liquid right into her mouth and throat. She hissed and spat a bit, but stayed on the table.
“See? It’s easy,” he said with a smile. “You just have to show them who’s boss.”
Er… um… I didn’t dare to tell him that, actually, um, our cat IS the boss.
“Come around later this afternoon, and I’ll let you try it,” he offered, kindly. “I’ll be there to help if you don’t manage.”
Feeling slightly better at the thought of having a safety net, I took our furry bundle home. And gave her a lot of loving and brushing and cuddling, which both of us needed badly after this unpleasant experience.
I found it very difficult to concentrate on anything for the rest of the day. I kept thinking of how I would have to get Tuffy back into the cage for the afternoon trip, and whether I’d be able to squirt the stuff into her mouth. Fortunately, she slept most of the day, on the office chair next to me, and didn’t disappear into her usual hiding places. I think it was because she was in a lot of pain from the tooth extraction.
By the time that 16h30 rolled around, I had worked out a devious plan:
1. Check that cat is still asleep on chair. Put on jeans and long-sleeved jersey to protect areas of exposed skin.
2. Fetch wire cage from outside, wrap it in towel so that it doesn’t make that clinking sound (to a cat, that sound is a dead giveaway that something HORRIBLE is going to happen to her).
3. Close door to the lounge, in case cat sprints down the passage for a lightning-speed getaway.
4. Carry cage q-u-i-e-t-l-y into the office, and quickly shut the door.
5. Lift puzzled cat into cage. (This only worked because the poor thing was half-asleep. Her claws were still fully functional though!)
6. Carry cage into car, and drive to vet.
A minor complication arose when I finally reached point 6. By this time, the stress of the day had given me a throbbing headache and I was in no state to drive anywhere.
Evidently, the plan had to be amended:
7. Carry cage into small bathroom and shut the door.
8. Prepare a dose of antibiotics.
9. Lift lid of cage, clasp cat FIRMLY by the scruff of the neck. Tuffy squirmed and wriggled, trying to escape from the cage, so I gripped her even MORE firmly and told her crossly that I WAS THE BOSS RIGHT NOW!
10. Push dropper against side of her mouth, where it is hurting most (I am soooo sorry, Tuffkins), and when she opens her mouth just a little, squirt in the liquid. (And accidentally dribble some of it down the side of her mouth.)
11. Let go of cat, put lid back down, draw up another dosage into the dropper.
12. Repeat 9 and 10.
As soon as I let go, a freaked-out cat leapt out of the cage, and tried to escape through the closed door. It took me a while to settle her down enough so that we could both emerge from the bathroom in a more dignified way. And then I rewarded her bravery and fortitude (hm…) with half an hour of brushing and cuddling and snuggling, until she was purring once again.
Quite frankly, the thought of repeating all of this, twice a day, for 7 to 10 days, is freaking me out. I wonder how long it will take before that bottle of antibiotic liquid is finished.
And how long Tuffy and I will last, before she moves back next door, or I need counselling.