How to pill a cat in four easy steps

Photo by EVG Culture on

Our cat has seasonal allergies.

I felt sorry for him until an hour-and pint-of-human-blood-ago.

His occasional fits of licking himself in one spot until his fur and skin dissolve are alarming in their escalation. I’ve gone to bed with him just beginning to fixate on a tiny spot and woken up in the morning to find the poor bastard bald from the waist down with part of his liver exposed.

We’ve narrowed it down to “seasonal allergies” through a process of paying off our veterinarian’s lake house. Food allergies were ruled out by spending roughly the same amount we would on a kitty-sized heroin habit for weekly cat food bills. He currently eats (and copiously vomits) kibbles made of meat held to higher standards than those of human baby food.

The best we can do is treat the symptoms when they arise. Which would be fine if this particular cat wasn’t the closest thing to feral a house cat can be.

He has seasonal allergies and he’s skittish. There are still no answers for the skittish part and no money left for a cat therapist. All I can attest to is 10 years of trying to love this weirdo through his problems, which seems to be a prevailing theme in my life in general.

Mind you, this same cat acts like mesmerized serpent when our vet has him on the table. The hissing, pissing nightmare of crating him magically ceases when the crate is opened and he finds himself on the table, under the lights. From that moment forward, at least until I get him back to the car, he’s a lovely, docile creature who stands perfectly still while I look like a turd for letting him lick himself bald and liver-less.

Hell yes I’m jealous. I want a lake house and a cat who loves me.

According to the vet, pilling a cat is “easy peasey.” Keep in mind this is the lady who can also talk me into buying pet food worth its weight in solid silver.

“First, cover the pill with an oily of fatty base because antihistamines taste awful and we want it to slide down his throat easily.”


“Second, wrap the kitty in a towel so he feels safe.”

Wait. What about my safety?

“Third, part his jaw at the joint, push the pill down his throat with your index finger.”

Yeah, about my safety. I have concerns.

“Pinch his little jaw shut gently and rub his throat – he’ll swallow reflexively. That should keep him from being so miserable when he has flare-ups. I’ll have the tech get you a pheromone plug-in to try at home. It should help with his anxiety.”

We did not discuss my anxiety and I gave her money. Again.

Whether it’s an effort to warn the general public or clear my conscience of dark hatred is probably a moot point, however, I would like to address a few key points the veterinarian-of-the-lake didn’t mention.

The instructions should probably include, “have twelve assistants and a giant net available” and plainly state that the part where she told me to “coat the pill in something oily or fatty” should definitely not be done first if it takes 45 minutes to catch the cat to wrap it in a towel so he feels safe after you’ve chased him around the house for 45 minutes.

Clearly step one should be laying out the fatty substance and the pink, pinhead-sized pill in close proximity of one another. Refrain from mixing the two until the cat is caught and wrapped unless you hate your whole life and enjoy crushing disappointment.

Needless to say, catch one ended with harsh feelings between myself and Mr. Skittish when I screamed in frustration after finding a puddle of antihistamine-butter-goo where I left the pill. I’m here to testify that opening a child-proof medication bottle is positively impossible to do while holding a thrashing cat-burrito

Also of note, you will never actually get a cat wrapped in the towel twice, but it will be necessary to staunch multiple wounds you’ll no doubt obtain in the second quest for the freaked-out cat.

So let’s forget any pretense here.

My second attempt at making the cat feel safe was a “three-footer,” meaning I only got three of his feet under control. This was a grave error in judgement from which I sustained a facial wound worthy of a Quentin Tarantino movie as the fur-rocket launched himself off of my face towards the bedroom.

Blinded by my flapping eyelid, I slipped on a $20 pile of cat-food-vomit chasing him down the hallway. At this point it was all-out war. I was determined to make him feel safe.

I blindly clawed my way towards the smell of cat urine while the cat displayed his heightened level of anxiety by liberally spraying everything in his path worth more than $25 before darting underneath the bed.

(Fun fact: cats can sense when something is expensive or irreplaceable. It actually intensifies the smell of their urine and improves their aim.)

When I finally got him backed into a corner under the bed I realized I’d left the towel in the living room with enough of my DNA on it to clone a species.

I did, however, have one of the pills in my pocket because my initial intention was to lovingly wrap him in a towel, place him on the kitchen counter, remove the medication from my pocket while gently holding him in place in his happy-fucking-place towel, wiping the stupid pill in butter, and shoving it down his ungrateful throat.

But things didn’t work out like that.

I’m not going to lie. I just grabbed him and laid on top of him. Honestly, in my altered state of pain and near-exhaustion I no longer gave a shit if he felt safe, I was going to feel a whole lot more fucking safe with that feral bastard pinned underneath me and the bed, towel be damned.

I grabbed his jaw and tried to gently pry from the joint with my thumb while clutching the intact antihistamine like it was The Holy Grail in the other hand. It was this posture in which I discovered yet another key point the veterinarian didn’t mention.

Cats have jaw teeth that can shred titanium.

It took me a second to realize the growls had become gurgles because while “gently parting his jaw at the joint”, his jaw teeth had inflicted an arterial bleed on my thumb that was shooting directly into his windpipe.

I blame pure adrenaline for thinking how fortunate it was to have an oily substance to assist in shoving this pill down the esophagus of my demon-cat from hell with such ease and efficiency. I did not pause to rub his throat as I wasn’t sure if he was reflexively swallowing the pill or a large portion of my thumb-meat.

Instead, I deflected parting blows from a cat who clearly did not feel safe anymore. I slid myself from under the bed in the trail of blood and hair I left going in. I briefly paused to consider smashing the $40 pheromone plug-in.

As I limped to the bathroom to attend to my wounds, I stepped in a pile of foamy, pink vomit that looked suspiciously like the blood-soaked antihistamine I had, only mere moments earlier, fought for my life over.