Medicating pets is a pain -- I say medicating pets, but I mostly mean pilling cats. For any of my readers who own cats, I am sure you've been spammed the "how to pill a cat" joke in the past.* Pilling a cat sucks, and if you are currently having to do it, this post is for you: It's about my former cat Kitty (R.I.P., Kitty), the sweetest cat,** and a treatment alternative to pills that you want to know about.
(I love this photo of Kitty. It features four of my favorite things: an animal with its eyes closed, a 1970s color palette, presents, and - duh - Kitty.)
Kitty suffered from hyperthyrodism. After we moved to New York from Baltimore, she lost a lot of weight and was constantly hungry. For anything. Cat food, dog food, human food, #2 pencils, jewelry. She had two primary interests: eating and cuddling.
(Kitty with our friend Shaun, trying to share his dinner.)
(This is called "Kitty Stole the Expensive Meatloaf," part of the Kitty Stole the Butter, the Brownie, the Pizza, the Popcorn, the Dog Food, etc. series).
It was a twice daily battle to ensure that Kitty got her methimazole pill. On a good day, Kitty was a difficult cat to pill. On a bad day, she was an impossible cat to pill. Kitty didn't have front claws. These scars on my hands are from her teeth. In Kitty's case, however, treating the hyperthyrodism was extra important because our prior vet (grrrr, she was the worst) would not surgically remove the increasingly large mass on Kitty's leg until her thyroid was regulated.
(A photo of our frenemy, methimazole in pill form.)
When pilling Kitty proved impossible, we would crush up the pill and put it in Stella & Chewy's raw cat food. To keep the fat cat and the puppy from eating the delicious raw cat food, we would feed it to Kitty on top of the refrigerator twice a day. She didn't really like being on top of the refrigerator, though, and I had a feeling she was eating around the crushed pill.
I also came up with the idea of putting the pill-infused food in a box with a small entrance that only Kitty could enter. This was unsuccessful; it turns out that Lola is not only a blob but also a shapeshifter. Video below.
Eventually the situation became untenable. What good is the medicine if we can't get it into the cat? We could not regulate Kitty's thyroid levels, and the mass on her leg was growing. My prior veterinarian was not helpful. She was actually just mean and told me my cat was going to have a heart attack.
Cue new veterinarian. New/current/awesome veterinarian prescribed the same medication for Kitty in a transdermal application, something my prior vet never told me existed. It is a gel that you apply to the inside of the ear twice a day (for us, "right at night"). The transdermal medication made all the difference. A lot more expensive for a month supply ($72.99 for the transdermal methimazole vs. approximately $15.00 for the pills), but does it really matter if the pills are cheaper if your cat is still sick and everyone's quality of life is suffering?
(Pre-hyperthyroidism Kitty in 2008)
On the transdermal methimazole, Kitty put on a few pounds in just a few weeks. After several months, her thyroid levels got close enough to normal so that she could safely have surgery. By then the mass on her back thigh was so large, the vet had to amputate her entire leg.
(Gnarly, right? We were so amazed at how much happier she was without the painful tumor, even if it meant no leg.)
The amputation gave her another ten months of happily hopping around, purring, and cuddling -- thyroid regulated. (My first post in this blog was about her thyroid levels being too high, but I later learned this was most likely a sign that she was about to cross over to Kitty Heaven).
(One of my last videos of Kitty, hopping around and playing with the cat toy Christmas presents I was trying to wrap.)
We miss Kitty every single day, but I am so thankful that the last year or so of her life was better because of the transdermal medication. So if you are currently pilling (or attempting to pill) your cat, ask your veterinarian about transdermal alternatives. Don't just assume your vet will bring it up herself, and what you learn could make your cat's life (and your life) so much better.
* If you must pill your cat, this video is a great resource, created by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. Although the video is supposed to be serious, so many parts of it are the best joke.
** Don't be creeped out that I'm writing about my dead cat. I actually started drafting a post about transdermal medication prior to her untimely demise. And sometimes information > humor, right?