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How Not to Pill a Cat

From the time Petey was first diagnosed with lymphoma, up until about two weeks ago, pilling him was a fairly straightforward endeavor.

 I’d wait until he was really sleepy (or occasionally, dead-to-the-world), scoop him up, clamp him between my knees, pop the top of his head open and throw a pill down his throat. Just to make sure he swallowed, I’d blow on his nose and rub his throat a little.

For the most part, this worked. About once a week, he’d spit a prednisone for distance. Or, I’d realize I missed his mouth entirely and dropped the pill on the carpet.

But, Petey got healthier 🙂 and stronger. 🙂 A healthy, strong Petey may possibly be the most stubborn animal on the planet.

So, pilling Petey got more complicated. Now it took two of us to corral him. This usually entails chasing him around the living room, gradually decreasing his escape path. Finally, one of us pins him, scoops him and carries him off to the kitchen.

Next, it took two of us to actually pill him: One to hold the thrashing, slippery cat. The other to try to throw the pill far enough into his mouth so he couldn’t spit it out. All while Petey is screaming, and throwing his head around like a bucking bronco.

We tried burrito-wrapping him. We tried a pill shooter. We tried Pill Pockets.

After one particularly disastrous attempt at administering the appetite stimulant (cyproheptadine), Beloved and I were left bleeding; Petey was distraught and foaming at the mouth, with a pill stuck to his head.

I gave up, bursting into tears at the torment I was visiting upon this poor little cat, whose life I only wanted to make better.

And then we learned about compounding pharmacies and transdermal medications. <Cue the chorus of angels.>

Transdermal prednisone has changed our lives. I can now once again just scoop Petey up any time I like, sit him in my lap, and just rub a premeasured amount of pred cream into the inside of his ear. He loves having his ears rubbed, so he never fusses. And, he knows he’ll get a couple of pill-less Pill Pockets when we’re done.

No one bleeds. No one froths. No one cries and mutters “Fine, go ahead and have cancer. See if I care.”

I’ve heard from multiple sources that the quality of the compounded, transdermal meds can vary from prescription to prescription. But, I figure that if Petey is getting even 1/2 as much medication as he’s supposed to, it’s more than he was getting when he wore the pills on his head.

Our First Milestone

With the administration of the last dose of doxorubicin he’ll ever have to receive, Petey has reached his first significant chemo milestone. He’s done with weekly treatments. 🙂

Feel free to stand and applaud.

It’s been a long six weeks, and at the same time, it passed in the blink of an eye. Time sure flies when you’re sitting on the kitchen floor, coaxing a reluctant cat to eat something. Anything.

Petey’s weight is holding steady at 10.5 lbs, which is at least 1 lb under where I’d like him to be. But, he’s happy. He’s peppy. He’s bursting with love. And trouble. There’s always trouble when Petey’s in the house.

Chemo continues, of course. But now Little Lord Fussbudget gets a full 13 days to recover from one treatment, before going in for the next. This should give him lots of time to eat and torment the Lilikoi.

It will also give him time to get stronger and feistier — something I’m not so sure the lovely, talented, and compassionate vet techs will really appreciate. They let me know that Petey was an easier patient when he was sick. Now he screams and yanks his paw away when they try to insert the catheter for his IV. Not that I can blame him for that one.

Still, I know they’ll keep a towel handy to drop over Petey’s head when they load him into his cage. Because in Petey-world, if you’re under a towel, no one can see you.  

 I wonder if that trick would fool my boss…

I’ve Been Had!

The day after I posted about Petey’s digestive woes, he was feeling much better. Lots of energy, lots of play, lots of mischief. Typical Petey stuff.

Of course, he still was being fussy about eating, but I’ve gotten used to that.

 So, I opened can after can of stinky, fishy food; bland chicken food; somewhat more savory beef foods. All with gravy, because gravy seemed to be the only unifying factor on Petey’s menu.  We hit the jackpot, and Petey started eating with gusto.

He took to begging whenever Beloved and I sat down to eat. So, we took to giving him bits of whatever we were eating. In the beginning, the eating roulette game went something like this:

Me: Why are you begging, Petey? You don’t like pastrami.
<drop smidgen of pastrami at Petey’s feet>
<smidgen of pastrami disappears. Petey licks his chops>
Me: Huh, he does like pastrami.

And then it spiralled out of control. In the span of 24 hours, Petey ate:

  • A large can of Mideast Feast
  • A small can of Steak Frites (minus the potatoes, peas and carrots, which he avoided like a 3 year old)
  • Deli turkey
  • Genoa salami
  • Beef Jerky
  • 2 Pill Pockets (minus the pills I tried to hide in there)
  • Bacon
  • Poached chicken
  • 3 pieces of Innova Evo kibble

I would much prefer that Petey eat just his Evo, with a little canned food or people food as a treat. It’s available to him all the time, and it provides better nutrition than anything else he’s eating. I also would prefer that he stop acting like he’s in training to beat that skinny Japanese guy at the Nathan’s hotdog eating competition.

Then Beloved pointed out the obvious, which I just couldn’t see: Petey wasn’t avoiding the Evo because he wasn’t feeling well. He was avoiding the kibble because he’d gotten me trained to keep upping the flavor ante, until he hit the gustatory jackpot. Who needs kibble when you can have a prime rib and seafood buffet?

 Sure enough, I resisted his mournful gaze and his long sighs. I stayed out of the kitchen when he sat forlornly in front of the food bowls. And lo and behold, he polished off an entire bowl of Evo.

I was duped by an 11 lb cat who never learned he can’t swat birds through a closed window. I’m so ashamed.

Smiling, Gassy Petey




Smiling Petey

Originally uploaded by alfagee

You may have noticed that the updates have been slow to appear this week. Apologies, loyal readers.

I’ve been sick for the past two weeks. Petey’s had a rough few days, too. But we’re both on the mend.

Be thankful that this blog doesn’t feature Smell-o-Vision. Petey’s had the bowels of doom this week.

How much stink could that sweet little cat produce, you ask? Enough for 2 adults with colds/sinus infections to consider pitching a tent and sleeping outdoors.

Notice his little smile in that picture? That usually lures me in to give him a belly rub. Not this week, though. I value my olfactory system too much for that.

Get your mind out of the gutter! There will be no nudity on this blog (unless Drs. Gil and Petey shave more of my boy’s pretty fur).

I’m suggesting a Petey Q&A. Many of you have asked questions about feline lymphoma, Petey and his many moods. Of course, he can’t actually answer any of these questions because a) he’s a cat; and b) he’s not a very smart cat. So, I’ll do my best to satisfy your curiousity.

If your question isn’t answered here, post it in the Comments section or email it to me at alfagee1@gmail.com. I’ll do my best to answer all questions in an update.

Q: You said Petey has mediastinal lymphoma, but what exactly is a mediastinal?
A:
The mediastinum is the central compartment of the thoracic cavity. The heart, the esophagus, a bunch of lymph nodes, and some other important stuff are all jammed in there. Petey’s variety of lymphoma affects the lymph nodes of the mediastinum.

Q:  What are Petey’s chances of recovery?
A: 
From everything I’ve read, and everything Drs. Gil and Petey have told me, lymphoma isn’t something that’s really cured. But, it can go into remission for a good long time. Most of the literature says that median survival time is 5-7 months, with a 30% chance of surviving one year. Anecdotal evidence points to much longer survival times with aggressive treatment. And believe me, treatment doesn’t really get any more aggressive than what Petey’s getting.

Q: How long will Petey be getting chemo?
A:
Short answer: At least a year. The protocol he’s on runs about 26 weeks. Petey’s got one more weekly treatment, then he’ll drop to every other week treatments for another 6 or so treatments. After that, he goes to once every 3 weeks for another 3 or 4 treatments. Then he’ll have another 6 months to a year of maintenance treatments. Of course, this all assumes that the stubborn little beast will start eating better so he’s strong enough to tolerate all these funky meds.

Q: What’s with all the bacon references?
A: Prior to getting sick, bacon was Petey’s favorite food. Like chew off your leg to get to it favorite food. These days, his favorite food changes on almost an hourly basis. Earlier today, it was Pounce chicken and cheese treats (something pre-lymphoma he’d rather bury in the litterpan than eat). Right now, he’s all for Thanksgiving Day Dinner, from Merrick Pet Foods.  It’s a pleasant departure from the past week’s stinky fish fiesta.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Keep those questions coming! Petey is always happy to oblige his fans.

——————————————————————————————

Now, for some questions from Petey’s fans:

Becca asks: What is Petey’s favorite song?
A:
Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love. Whenever I’m massacring this song on Guitar Hero III, Petey runs over to sing along and try to touch the notes on the tv screen. Either he really, really loves this song, or he’s trying to put it out of its misery.

Meet the Mets, Eat the MetsBecca asks: How does Petey feel about the Mets chances this season?
A: Optimistic. The addition of Johan Santana is bound to help that shaky starting rotation, but he’s still concerned about the bridge to Billy Wagner and the abysmal hotdogs at Shea.

Lord of the Fussbudgets

This week’s treatment was Vincristine, again. Petey first had it in Week 1, as part of the killer cocktail that made him queasy, barfy, and miserable. We all assumed it was the Elspar in that cocktail that did the bulk of the damage. Turns out we were wrong.

Petey’s been a low energy all week (I know, it’s hard to believe, what with the chicken thieving episode) and particularly fussy about eating. It’s not so much that he has no appetite. It’s that he wants only very specific things, served up to his Lordship in very specific ways.

For example, on Monday, Petey, Lord of the Fussbudgets, demanded chicken — either stolen off the counter or cut into delectable little morsels and served on a 1/2 sheet of paper towel placed carefully on the heart-shaped rug in front of the sink. And that chicken had to be white meat, with all the skin removed.

Tuesday morning, chicken was only OK — not a fan favorite. And he wanted it served over by the regular food bowls. But, he deigned to eat some of the super-high protein, mucho dinero dry food from a paper plate. But not from its regular bowl.

Tuesday afternoon, chicken was off the menu. Nope. Not even worthy of a lick. Now, his Lordship wanted stinky fishy stuff — the more stomach churning for me, the better. Back to the Weruva we went. This time, we hit pay-dirt with the first can, Mack and Jack. It’s a sumptuous blend of tuna, mackerel and skip jack that Petey finds irresistible — if served on a paper plate. Unfortunately, so does his sister, Pudgy the Wailer. If Pudgy (whose proper name is Lilikoi) approaches the bowl, his Lordship will walk away and never return.

I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time sitting on the kitchen floor this week, holding his Lordship’s paper plate in place (he hates having dirty paws, so he won’t hold it himself) and fending off the advances of the marauding Wailer. We repeat this process at least 4 times a day, since Petey, Lord of the Fussbudgets, will not eat more than 1/4 can of food at a time.

That boy is lucky I love him.

Incorrigible


Incorrigible Petey
Originally uploaded by alfagee

If you look up “incorrigible” in the American Heritage Dictionary, you’ll find the following: 

in•cor•ri•gi•ble (ĭn-kôr’ĭ-jə-bəl, -kŏr’-)
adj.
1. Incapable of being corrected or reformed: an incorrigible criminal.
2. Firmly rooted; ineradicable: incorrigible faults.
3. Difficult or impossible to control or manage: an incorrigible, spoiled cat. (See “Petey“)

n. One that cannot be corrected or reformed.

To all of you, Petey looks like a sweet, innocent little cat. But you can’t see the forces at work behind those vapid blue eyes.

Last night, I was cutting up chicken for our dinner — our being Beloved and me, in this instance. I was setting some aside for cat snacks for the next few days, but wasn’t going to be giving anyone any free samples during dinner prep.

Petey wanted chicken. Petey needed chicken. Petey would not be denied chicken.

He whined. He moaned. He rubbed against my legs. He stood up on his hind legs and tried to reach some with one of his giant paws. No luck.

When I turned around to wash my hands, Petey glimpsed a moment of opportunity. Petey seized that moment, jumping up onto the counter and sticking his head into the bowl of chicken. While I was standing not 2 feet away!

Now, I am nothing if not smarter than your average mentally challenged Petey cat. I yelled “PETER” and threw the sponge at him, sending him sailing off the counter and up the stairs. The chicken was saved.

Of course, he was back begging just 3 minutes later, so I’m not sure who really won that battle.