My two cats, Violet and Sakkara, are a lesson in contrasts when it comes to taking medication. With Sakkara, a buff colored tabby, all I have to do is offer her a pill and her mouth opens like a baby bird whose parent has just returned to the nest. Violet, my highly opinionated Siamese, cautiously sniffed everything and rejected pills immediately as inedible and possibly poisonous. She also doesn't want me to open her mouth for any reason. Even attempts to admire her teeth are rejected out of paw.
So Violet and I needed a system of giving medicine that would work 100% of the time for her and for me. I had to learn how to give the medicine in a way that made taking it easy for Violet. Violet had to learn to allow me to open her mouth, swallow the medicine, and still be relaxed and in my lap. She also had to teach me what was comfortable for her and to let me know what wasn't working.
Violet is very good at spitting out pills. She is also small, muscular, and strong, and can wriggle around easily in my arms. She is very quick, and there is no way I can chase her and catch her, and even if I could, both of us would end up exhausted, exasperated, and emotionally revved. It was a challenge to find a way to give her medication that wouldn't be traumatic for either of us.
Part of the solution was to use Bach's Rescue Remedy, the well known flower essence formula that reduces stress and trauma. I also decided to desensitize Violet to the process of taking medications. I soon discovered that we needed to develop a rhythm so that all the pills and liquids would be consumed while both of us were still calm and speaking to each other politely.
Anitra Frazier, in her book, "The New Natural Cat," gives some excellent descriptions for medicating cats. This proved to be a good starting place as I began learning to give meds. Today, I can hold either cat in my lap without a towel wrapped around her and give any needed medicine. Here are some basic principles that work for us.
Patience is essential. Decide that you will be patient with yourself and your cat. Leave plenty of time so you don't feel rushed.
Decide that you and your cat are going to LEARN together. Tell your cat why you are giving the medicine and ask for your cat's cooperation. Tell your cat you are learning how to do this and ask your cat to help you learn. Animals can understand you when you say their name and speak clearly, lovingly, and fill in details using mental pictures.
Before you begin giving medication, be lavish with your use of Rescue Remedy. You can't overdose with a flower essence. Take plenty of it yourself. Put it on your cat's lips and nose pad, or even on his paw pads. Do this several times until you both feel the calming effect. It also helps to take some deep relaxing breaths and to open your heart center.
Success depends upon how you define it. I define "success" as a peaceful training session that ends peacefully. While getting medicine into your cat might seem like the highest priority, in the beginning, your highest priority is for you and your cat to have a positive experience. When you succeed in creating a positive experience, subsequent medication sessions will become easier and easier.
Prepare in advance by setting out everything you will use prior to picking up your cat.
When you go to get your cat to begin the session, think about something else - anything else. Cats are telepathic and know what we are thinking. They can move quickly and disappear when they know you have medicine on your mind.
Never chase your cat to catch him to give medicine. You are intelligent enough to come up with ways to make chasing unnecessary. Plan ahead. Trickery is best avoided since cats learn fast and the same trick may not work more than once.
Be firm and gentle with your cat when giving medicine. Do not handle her roughly, but do hold her so that getting away is not a possibility. If your cat gets away, do not chase, but instead try again at a later time.
After giving the medicine, be sure to praise and thank your cat for cooperating. Most sick animals know you are trying to help them and really do try to get the medicine down especially when you've explained why they need it.
When you are finished, do not allow your cat to jump out of your arms. Cats will interpret this as a successful escape, and it is important that they believe that escape is not an option. Instead, gently put your cat down.
As I was writing this article, Violet told me she has some additional comments to share. Since the feline perspective is important here, I suggest you take her advice seriously:
"Pills that are slippery go down more easily. Pills rolled in butter that has been softened to room temperature slip down just fine and taste good, too!
"Cats cannot swallow pills when their mouths are held shut and/or their heads are tilted back.
"Cats cannot swallow and breathe at the same time. We feel like we are choking if you give us too much liquid too quickly or too many pills in a row, and we panic. Please give us time to breathe between swallows and to lick our lips.
"Take frequent breaks. This gives us time to breathe and you can stroke and pet us, which is relaxing. Remember, finding your cat's natural rhythm for swallowing and breathing is important to keeping him calm.
"When you take a break, check to make sure you are still relaxed and not holding your own breath. Make sure your heart center is still open.
"If a pill or liquid has a bad taste, Nedda gives me a few drops of plain water with a clean dropper after I swallow it. This helps wash away the bad taste and I really appreciate it."
For a step-by-step outline for teaching yourself and your cat to work together when you give medicine, please visit my website, http://www.raysofhealinglight.com and read the article, "Teaching Your Cat to Take Medicine."
Remember, the basic principles are to be patient and relaxed yourself, take your time, encourage your cat to help you, and find a rhythm that works for both of you. Although you may currently dread having to give pills or liquid medicine to your cats, the time may come when doing so will save your feline's life. In just a few short learning and desensitization sessions you can transform a difficult or seemly impossible experience into a relatively pleasant one for both of you.
Rev. Nedda Wittels, M.A., M.S., is a telepathic Animal Communicator and Shamballa Master/Teacher offering private sessions in telepathic communication and in healing for humans and animals. She also offers Spiritual Empowerment Sessions for people awakening to new consciousness. Nedda teaches workshops in telepathic communication with all species and in Shamballa Multidimensional Healing. She can be reached at 860-651-5771 or at http://www.raysofhealinglight.com