Monday, October 19, 2015

How to give your cat medication

This is how excited your cat looks when you have to give him a pill, right?

Many times when we see sick patients, people are just as concerned with the fact that they will have to give medication to their cat as they are about the actual diagnosis. Medicating a cat can be HARD! Many people are worried about frightening or stressing their beloved feline, or sticking their fingers into a mouth with so many sharp teeth. But giving your cat a pill or other kind of medicine is not impossible. We've gone through the process, step by step, and included a couple of the many videos out there, with tips and tricks.

First of all, if you have a young cat, you may want to try getting him used to the idea while he is young and healthy. You may want to practice periodically opening his mouth and placing a small bit of canned food on his tongue so that he begins to accept the idea that when you put something in his mouth, it ends with a yummy treat. If he is cooperative, give him a treat afterwards, too. This way, if he becomes ill in the future, he is already used to the process of getting medication, and is not having to learn about it when he feels sick.

 When you are ready to give medication, get all your supplies together before gathering up your cat. Get the pill out of the vial, or draw up the correct measure of liquid medication. Get your treats ready, a towel, any helpers you need, and THEN go looking for your cat.

For giving either a pill or liquid, place your cat on a flat surface, with his head facing away from you. Pull his rear end in close to your body, so that he cannot back up. Use one hand to hold your cat's head. Place your hand over the top of his head like a winter cap with ear flaps. Your thumb and fingers should wrap around the sturdy cheek bones - the cat's head is a triangle or wedge shape, so holding the widest part in your hand allows the greatest amount of control.
Gently guide his chin into the air. This causes the jaw muscles to relax, and makes it easier to open the mouth.

 If you are giving a liquid medication, place the tip of syringe in the corner of your cat’s mouth, and squirt the medication into the space between the cheek and gums (the "cheek pouch"). Hold onto your cat's head until he swallows the medication, and then reward him with a yummy treat.

 If you are giving a pill or capsule, hold the pill between your thumb and first finger of the hand that is not holding your cat's head. Use your middle finger to open your cat’s mouth by slipping it between his tiny incisors and then slide the pill down the center of the tongue to the back of the mouth. Again, hold his head until he has swallowed the medication and then reward with a treat.

If you are using a pill popper to hold your pill for you, you will use a technique that is similar, though you should slide the pill popper into your cat's mouth just behind the canine teeth, and your cat will open his mouth reflexively. Then "shoot" the pill over the back of the tongue, and continue to hold his head until he swallows the pill. Reward with a yummy treat.

If your cat is wiggling, struggling or using his claws, place a thick towel across your cat's shoulders and then wrap downward around your cat’s neck and front legs to protect yourself, and help hold him still. You may want to enlist the aid of a second person in cases where your cat is quite wiggly. Your helper can hold your cat's body while you focus on giving the pill.
We do not recommend hiding the medication in your cat's food, since many medications are bitter tasting and can make your cat dislike his regular diet. However, if you cannot medicate him any other way, find a food that your cat will eat that is a different flavor than his normal diet, and offer only enough of this food to mix with the medication. Then offer your cat his regular diet. However, many cats will simply eat around the medication and you will find the pill remaining in the dish. If your cat does this, you will need to either medicate your cat manually or find another alternative.

Pill pockets or other treat wraps are another option, which can be used to hide a pill or capsule inside. The pill pocket is cup shaped, so that you can place the medication inside and seal it, then offer it as a treat. We recommend offering some empty pill pockets, first, so that your cat is less suspicious of this new treat.

 In many situations, there may be other alternatives available. Compounding pharmacies can formulate many medications as a liquid with a pleasant flavor, such as tuna or chicken. This medication may have a shorter expiration or need refrigeration, or may be more expensive than the pill form, however, many people find the tasty flavorings make the medication process much easier.
Compounding pharmacies offer alternative forms of traditional medications individually prepared for each patient

Some medications are also available as a transdermal gel. This special medicated gel is able to be absorbed through the skin rather than requiring oral administration. Typically, these medications are applied to the inside of the tip of the ear. Only a few medications are well-absorbed through the skin, and not every cat's skin absorbs the medication as well as expected, so it is important to test cats' response to the transdermal medication regularly. It is also important to remember to use gloves or finger cots to administer this medication, since it can be absorbed by human skin as well as cat skin.

Other medications may be available as a transdermal patch or as an injection. Many people are surprised at how well cats tolerate injectable medications! For many people, once they have learned how to give an injectable medication, they find it much easier than giving a pill or liquid.

 Unfortunately, not all medications are available or effective as transdermal applications. And injectable medications are sometimes only available to be given IV or into a vein, or may sting badly. IV medications or medications that sting should be administered by a professional such as a veterinarian or veterinary technician, not given at home. Your  veterinarian will be able to help you choose the type of medication that works best for you and your cat, and most veterinary staff members are very willing to help demonstrate effective medication techniques.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Cats, ants and martinis - what's the connection?

Answer: Oleic acid. This fatty acid is found in squashed ants, cat pheromones (including synthetic pheromones like Feliway) and olives, which explains why some people report that their cats go crazy over olives.

The facial pheromone of cats has been determined to be anywhere from 43-65% oleic acid, which suggests that when cats "go nuts" over squashed ants or olives, they are reacting to a smell that tells them "this is a wonderful, familiar thing that belongs to you".

Because cats rub this facial pheromone on areas that make them feel comfortable, the synthetic pheromone, Feliway, seeks to reduce unwanted behaviors that cats perform when they are stressed by the environment (for example: moving to a new home, interacting with a new cat, traveling...). These behaviors include urine marking, scratching, hiding, and over-grooming.

On the other hand, oleic acid has a very different message to send to ants. The release of the oleic acid odor signals to the other ants that an ant has died and needs to be moved to the colony's ant-graveyard. E. O. Wilson discovered in the 1950's that if you dabbed a tiny bit of oleic acid on a live ant, other ants in the colony would pick it up and move it to the graveyard repeatedly, until the ant had cleaned itself thoroughly enough to remove all traces of the oleic acid.
Olives don't need to feel comfortable or bury their fallen comrades, so why is oleic acid in olives? Scientists think that some plants developed high levels of oleic acid to encourage insects like ants to bury their seeds. Since olives carry a seed, a fallen ripe olive, full of oleic acid would potentially attract ants or other insects to carry the olive or its seed back to the ant graveyard and "plant" it, allowing a new olive tree to grow.

So, while these things all have something in common, we do not recommend rubbing olive oil or squashed ants in areas where your cat has been inappropriately urinating, nor do we recommend feeding your cat olives to cheer him up. And we DEFINITELY do not recommend using your cat or an ant as a garnish on your Greek salad or in your favorite martini.

We'd love to hear whether your cat is intrigued by olives or crazy for ants...or both!

Ants, Cats, Acids and Aspartame
Why do dead ants and olive oil smell different although oleic acid is an essential ingredient of both?