Tuna, Texas


For those who haven’t been keeping up with my life, we are dealing with an aging cat that has congestive heart failure.

After the sadness goes away, comes the medication, and the reality: how do we get pills and nasty liquid medicine down a stubborn tomcat’s mouth twice a day? The videos on YouTube make it look so easy. Of course they have a cute little kitty, probably paid off with a massive pile of cat toys, to sit there and politely let them pry open its mouth and shove the pill and the tube with the liquid down its throat. I know better.

Booker was born on the street, switchblade in his back pocket. He sees me coming and he takes the match out of his teeth and says, “You lookin’ at me?” So we have been experimenting with many different ways of getting the medicine down his throat.

First we tried ice cream. Normally he LOVES ice cream, but apparently when it is mixed with medicine it suddenly becomes poison. Then we tried tuna. That worked, sort of. We tried breaking his pill into two parts and burying it in the tuna, but he doesn’t like the tuna cold. So after opening an entire can of tuna, we are stuck with 95% of a can that we have to refrigerate and then warm up again 12 hours later.

Then there is the liquid. I haven’t tried it, but I suspect it takes horrendous the way he is reacting. The video tells us to stick the tube in the side of his mouth and gently squeeze it in. That would work if he would hold still more than half a second. The reality is that as soon as we put it in, he is jerking back and shaking his head violently, slinging medicine everywhere. So against the advice of everyone, Shelly (my wife) is jamming the tube down his throat and squirting it down just so we can make sure it stays down there. It seems to work, but it is a lot more traumatic than I’d like to see.

Today Shelly was called in to work, leaving me the whole mess to deal with on my own. Saturday is my day off, and also my day for church. I decided that since he was doing so well with tuna, I would try putting everything in the tuna. I had bought groceries yesterday, and we were trying packets of tuna, which are smaller than the cans, which meant we wouldn’t have to refrigerate them. So I opened up one. Booker loved it, but the only problem was it was much dryer than the canned, so it was harder to hide the pills in the meat. Booker ate the tuna, and when he was done, there lay the two halves of the pills, still uneaten. Sighing, I decided to try again, gathering up some more tuna, shoving the pills inside, and deciding to add the liquid on top. This time, Booker, either because he was full, or because he could smell the medicine, turned his nose up. That was five hours ago. When I got home from church, I decided to try one more time. I made a tuna sandwich for myself with the leftover tuna, added some mayo to the tuna I had for Booker to help mask the medicine smell, and put it all by my chair. He didn’t even come and sniff it.

So far today, all I have succeeded in doing is smelling like tuna fish when I went to church. On the other hand, Booker seems to be doing better. Perhaps he is enjoying putting us through the ringer. It wouldn’t surprise me.

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