816 North Opinion

Visit to vet cat-ostrophic on wallet

Bunzy proved that it’s not easy to give a cat a pill.
Bunzy proved that it’s not easy to give a cat a pill. Special to The Star

There’s no “I” in the word “Team,” nor is there one in the word “Cat.”

From what I’ve observed of cat behavior, with their independent, non-team instincts, we might want to insert an “I” before the “C,” as in iCat.

Getting a cat to do what you want is about as impossible as getting a dog to chew thoroughly before swallowing. It’s like telling a baseball player not to spit.

I learned a lot about cat behavior when Bunzy, the biggest of our three cats, suffered a bladder condition and was sent to cat ER/intensive care.

I knew things were serious when the vet who updated me was an “internist” and turned the case over to the “overnight ER” vet. I didn’t know this specialization existed. I grasped it, however, when we were asked to pay a 75 percent deposit toward the initial bill of $1,500.

Money was no issue in getting the best care for Bunzy, even if it meant taking a second mortgage on the house and asking our college son to drop out and go to work.

We were on tenterhooks for 36 hours as the vets at Kitty ICU told me all about male cat urethra disorder, sky-high potassium levels and abnormal kidney values, all of which I knew nothing about.

Now I throw around the terms like an expert. For $1,500, you get to get a pass to sound smarter than you really are.

When Bunzy was released, we were told he’d have to eat prescription cat food from now on and, in the short term, take pills to prevent infection and reduce bladder inflammation.

There was also orally injected pain medicine, which I probably should’ve taken myself.

Getting a cat to digest a pill isn’t easy. It explains why YouTube is full of proven methods, none of which actually worked for me.

I tried smashing the pills and soaking the granules in the water from a can of tuna. No go. I then mixed the little pieces with urinary-tract wet cat food and he didn’t go for that, either.

Bunzy still trusted me, why I don’t know, which meant once or twice I could hold him in my lap, rear legs down and head up, pry his mouth open with my fingers and insert a pill halfway down his tongue.

Then he realized I was the Devil Incarnate and, no matter how long I held his mouth shut, he’d spit the pills out.

The next fool-proof method was Pill Pockets, a product made by the Greenies company of North Kansas City. Whenever possible, I shop local, shop small and shop expensive.

A friend told my wife that Pill Pockets worked for her cat, so I was gung ho and headed for PetSmart, our local pet supplier.

The variety I brought home was in the cat department and labeled something like braised beef flavor. Bunzy took a sniff and walked away.

Turns out, that variety was actually for dogs and was in the wrong section. PetSmart was nice enough to let me exchange the package, even though it was open. That might’ve had something to do with the prescription cat food I was buying, which cost something like $48 for eight pounds – three times as much as we usually spend and for half as much standard cat food.

The PetSmart name might have something to do with the company’s business savvy and with pet owners like me, who’ll spend about anything to make our pets healthier than we are.

Anyway, the new Pill Pockets work fine, thanks in part to bait and switch. I get our three cats around me and toss each one treat at a time. With Bunzy, the treats include empty Pill Pockets – kind of a pump-primer – followed by a taste of our $48 cat food, followed by a soft, malleable Pill Pocket containing a bitter pill.

Bait and switch has generally worked, which makes it the first time in history a human has fooled a cat.

Also encouraging is that all three cats like the prescription food. We decided to feed them all the same stuff since a) male cats like ours are all prone to bladder issues; b) we feed them at once in the same place; c) Bunzy isn’t supposed to eat the other cat food and d) it was the only solution I could figure out where I wasn’t spending 18 hours a day trying to keep the cats from eating the wrong food.

So the impossibility of herding cats passes my litmus test. You might fool a single cat once, but trying to trick three of them at once is downright impossible.

Feel free to write me at davidknopf48@gmail.com.