Monday, 11 August 2008

Worming the Cat

A long time ago, I had a kitten*. I called her Sadie. She lived with me in my flat, until I changed jobs, at which point she went to live with my parents. I'd like to introduce you to her now.
She'd shake you by the hand, but she needs it for support. This cat needs a caption.

Sadie is not the kindest nor the gentlest of cats. Getting her into the cat box requires boxing gloves dexterity; getting her out of the cat box at the vets requires life insurance and chain mail great bravery.

There are standard tricks for getting our feline friends to swallow pills. My cat Henry would simply take them like an extra treat, swallow them down and come back for more. Pussy needed forcing encouraging, but wouldn't fight too hard; a gentle upwards stroke against her throat would stimulate a swallow and that would be that**.

Sadie will have none of that. I can wrap a cat. Give me a large towel, and I can momentarily mummify the majority of moggies , immobilising them long enough to force the pill between clenched jaws***, do the upwards "you WILL swallow"stroke, and sending the pill stomachwards. Sadie shreds towels. and hands.

Sadie needed a course of antibiotics a few years ago, and I called on a friend, sister of a vet nurse for advice. Up the phone line went the request, down the line came the response "Marmite". Crush the pill, mix it with Marmite, plaster it on the cat's paw. The cat will lick the paw clean, enjoy the taste of the Marmite, and rather handily finish off the pill at the same time. The suggestion worked well a few years ago; well it did until I ran out of Marmite and tried to use honey instead. Sadie was not impressed and let the wallpaper know all about it (yes parents, that is where that mark in the sitting room comes from). But as long as I stuck to Marmite, all was well.

So, Mum and Dad invited the girls and I to lunch yesterday. We arrived and I was handed a large worming tablet for Sadie's refusal delectation. Telling them the story of our Marmite success, I crushed the pill and mixed it. For reasons best known to themselves, Mum and Dad keep their Marmite (which they themselves never eat) in the 'Fridge. This sets it solid. As any Marmite fan will know, a faint trace of goo is all one needs. This is impossible to achieve with 'fridged Marmite. So I scooped out a spoonful and mixed it with the worming tablet. Looking and feeling rather smug at this point, I grabbed Sadie who had come to say hello, and offered her the teaspoon of Marmite. She was not impressed, so I smeared half a spoonful over her front paw. Even less impressed; Sadie shook her foot, and the Marmite which, if warm, would have stuck firmly to her paw instead careened off her foot and in a gentle arc across the kitchen, splattering fetchingly across Mum's shirt. Two large gobs also landed up hanging from Sadie's whiskers.

Sadie retreated to the garden to wash her paws, Mum threw her shirt into a bucket of bleach. Sadie returned for comfort after the wicked nasty Tia person had smeared her with Marmite. Instead of comfort, I continued to smear her with Marmite - one teaspoonful goes a long way when spread across a cat's paws. It may have been quicker to use the butter knife, but I suspect Sadie might have had a go at stabbing me with it.

Mum's shirt was transferred from bleach to soapy water, and we enjoyed a good meal. Sadie returned to forgive Mum and Dad and to try to eat the remains of the gammon keep her eye on me incase I did anything else evil. I scrubbed more Marmite off the kitchen floor.

We drank coffee, the girls enjoyed fruit crumble and custard and good company. Mum took her shirt out of the soapy water, wrung it out thoroughly and laid it on the work surface, ready to hang out, having checked that all traces of Marmite had been thoroughly removed.

Such a shame that she chose to lay it down on the bit of work surface where the coffee had been poured. Some people just shouldn't wear white shirts - I think it's genetic.

Sadie needs three more pills; we've left the Marmite out of the 'fridge and I hope it works less messily for Mum and Dad than it did yesterday. Even with the mess, still easier than trying to wrap her. And probably equally entertaining for anyone watching.

Meanwhile Dad went out to mow the lawn at the back of the house and somehow managed to blow the electric circuits at the front of the house without affecting those in the middle. I'm sure that's a fairly clever trick too.


*When I say I had a kitten, I didn't actually give birth to said kitten. But I visited her when she was teeny tiny, and brought her home with me when she was old enough to leave her mother, who was in fact a cat.

**This technique also works with children. Don't ask me how I know.

***To force a pill between clenched jaws, gently slide a finger inside one cheek to the back of the teeth then wiggle slightly to loosen the grip. This is a technique I learnt first with children. It's important to be calm and gentle when doing this. When the object clenched between the child's jaws is in fact another of your fingers, this is not always easy. But the additional pain caused by the panicked over clenching which shouting causes is really not worth it****.

****The jawbones of both cats and children can and do break. Don't sue me if this happens to you. Soft and gentle and slow. Or Marmite. I've not tried Marmite against a child's bite before but how much worse could it get?*****

*****Don't answer that.


Doorless said...

WowMarmite. I would never have thought of using it for that! What a great idea. Beautiful cat! Is Little Fish OK with it?

Tia said...

From a distance! She likes watching her when she's curled up on the settee from the security of Grandad's arms, and she likes seeing her rampage through the flowerbeds when we're safely inside. She's not so keen on the idea of the cat being closer to her than one of us.

We're working on it; I've always had a cat at home and it doesn't feel properly homely not to have one. We haven't had one for about two years though, so she's not lived in our house with one.

When we talk about it she's adamant that we are going to have a cat in our house. She did want a cat called "Woof" and a dog called "Cat" but now she thinks she'd like a cat called "GO AWAY"!


Robyn said...

lol that made me laugh
i have a nightmare with mine..i practically kiss the vet when they say they will give long term antibiotics via injection

and btw...there is a new thing for worming a spot on neck thing! our cats had it recently...tell your parents to ask for that next time!

Claire said...

I love cat marmite too and spot on worming and flea stuff.

I sometimes have to use the throught stoking on my friend who can't seem to swallow tablets.

I am imagining you crushing tablets, mixing them with chocolate spread and smearing it over one of little fish's hands!I wonder if this would work for my friend?


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