Skip and the Vet’s Office

Skip is awesome to take to the vet.  Because he gets so hot in a cage, I simply place his break-away collar on him and use a leash.  Skip is pretty much in a good mood the whole time at the vet’s office.  The only thing he really doesn’t like is when they take his temperature from his hiney.  I mean who can blame the guy?  Personally, I wouldn’t like it either.

The vet’s and their assistants love to see Skip come in, because he is such a gentle giant.  If there aren’t any dogs around, he gets to wander the office on his leash checking things out and they just laugh at him because he acts like a dog.

BTW, the key to leash training a cat…do it when they are just little baby kittens.  Skip is fine on the leash, but you can’t lead him…he leads you.  My Missy cat that I had as a kid you could lead though.  We used to take her for walks around the yard and we used to let her play outside on her leash while we were working near by.

I think that Skip is so good at the vet’s office for three reasons: 1.) He has a good disposition, 2.) His first vet was awesome, and 3.) He knows he can trust me.

1.) He has a good disposition

Skip is a really large orange tabby cat that was really close to being a very rare male calico.  When I say he is really large, I mean large is in tall and long.  He is the same size as most medium size dogs, and is larger than some.

I’ve had Skip since he was 4 weeks old.  I know that is really young to take a kitten away from his mommy, but at 4 weeks, he was the size of a normal 6 week old kitten and his mommy couldn’t produce enough milk for all the kittens.  Plus they were all litter trained and eating kitten food.

I picked him out because he was really cute sitting on the foot stool with the hiccups that shook his whole body.  So, I became Skip’s adopted mommy that spoiled him to no end, but didn’t let him get away with anything.

The only person that Skip doesn’t really care for is unfortunately my dad.  My dad loves cats too.  We have a sweet picture of dad napping with Skip on the day I got him.  We have no idea why Skip doesn’t care for dad, but dad just takes it easy with Skip trying to get in his good graces.

Otherwise…people wise, Skip likes most people once he’s brave enough to come out for visitors.  I remember once with a little 2 years old; Skip let the kid pull his hair without a peep and even brushed up against the kid and knocked him over. Skip checked to make sure the kid was OK because he didn’t mean to knock the kid over; Skip is just a big cat.

2.) His first vet was awesome

Skip first vet was an older gentleman that had a great office staff.  When I would take Skip in as a kitten, they would play with him with their pens.  The vet would even play with him.  Skip just has a way about him that most people want to hold him or play with him.

Also, once when I took him to be fixed, they asked if they could play with him until the surgery.  I told them sure.  So, that whole morning, the assistant at the desk had him on her desk, playing with him.  She told me when I picked him up that he “helped” her with her paperwork.  She told me that she had an awesome morning with him. 🙂

It used to take me at least an hour and a half to get out of the vet’s office because everyone was playing with him.  I never minded though, and I never scheduled anything afterward.

Skip now has a new vet’s office that just loves him to death.  They know him by sight without me being there and Skip has a head bump for just about everyone there.

3.) He knows he can trust me

I learned with my Missy cat that cat’s can sense your feeling and if you are scared or upset.  If you are either, then they will be as well.  I make it point at the vet’s office to talk normally and try not to show any nervousness.  I got tested on this last year, but did OK.  Skip still knew I was worried about something.

I also became his protector at 5 weeks of age.  I brought him home to my other cat, Socks, who was just a few years old. Socks was, in general, mean to anyone that she met.  I spent a week of the standard let’s meet each other stuff and felt that Socks was ready to spend some time with Skip face-to-face with me there.  All was good until I turned my back to make dinner.  The next thing I knew, she had him down and was ripping his hair out.  I broke it up and rescued him.  He was terrified.

After a few more tries over a few months, I actually found Socks another home where she’d be the only kitty (I used to get Christmas cards from her owner), and I got another kitten to play with Skip.  They were fine for 3 years, and we had a happy home.  Then a neighbors’ outside cat visited and Mason beat up Skip pretty bad with what is called Transferred Aggression.  Basically, Mason couldn’t beat up the outside cat, so he beat up Skip instead.  Skip might be big, but he’s a lover, not a fighter.  I imagine leaving his mommy at such a young age caused this to a certain degree.

After spending a year trying to get the cats over it, my parents said that they would take Mason because Mason and their cat Oreo were the best of buds.  They didn’t like being separated any way.

Skip came to know that I would protect him as best I could.  Now when we visit somewhere new, he knows that Mommy won’t let anything happen to him and that he always gets to go home with Mommy.  There’s only been one time that I had to leave him over night at the vet’s and it about broke my heart.

All three of the above have contributed to Skip being a great cat to take to the vet.  I don’t have as many privileges at this new vet as they still need to get to know me, but I’m working on that.

The last time, I got to help hold Skip, so that they could take a sample from a mass that he had.  The vet was impressed that I wasn’t being a wimp about it and that Skip didn’t move a muscle even though I was barely holding his head.  I just told her that I know my cat, and I know what to do to distract him.  I think she was happy to not be bitten. 🙂

One thing that you can do with young kittens, so call your vet and just take them there for a visit.  This does two things: 1.) They get trained to ride in their cage in the car, and 2.) They know that the car ride and the vet’s office is not necessarily a bad thing.  I’m sure your vet would be happy to have you visit, but I would try to do it when they aren’t busy.  🙂

OMG Mom, It’s a Spider!!

OK, I don’t like to make fun of Skip, but sometimes he is too funny!

I learned something about Skip back when he was young: he is scared of things that normally a cat likes to play with like spiders.

When Skip sees a spider, he runs away.  Once he is at a safe distance, he will sit and stare at the spider.  What’s really funny to watch is if the spider will start walking Skip’s way.  His tail fluffs and he runs away again.  Such a brave boy!! LOL

So, unlike most cat owners, if I come into the room and see him staring at the floor or wall, I know that this is not the normal cat behavior, but that he sees a spider. Mommy is the one who has to kill it.

When Mason (another kitty that used to be mine…a complete story on it’s own) moved in with Mom and Dad, I thought that maybe Skip needed something to entertain himself with, so I bought some mice.

I put them up on a shelf and thought from Skip’s perch that he could watch them.  Well, that didn’t work out.  Skip was afraid of them.  He wouldn’t lay on his perch any more because it was too close to the mice.  If I cleaned the mouse cage, he would leave the entire downstairs area.

Well, that didn’t work out and now I was taking care of mice.  It wasn’t a big deal as I like mice, it was just more work.  So, I found a new home for the mice.

Skip still seemed to be bored throughout the day.  I determined this because he was craving attention when I got home.  So, I thought Skip likes watching birds outside, I’ll go get some for the inside.

I got some tiny little birds that flew around all the time. They were up on a shelf that Skip couldn’t get on (he’s a klutz…another story).  I thought he could lay on the couch and watch them during the day while I was at work.

Well, like the mice incident, Skip avoided the birds.  He made a huge arc around the bird cage.  Staying as far away from them as possible.  I tried showing him the birds, but they scared him too much.

<sigh> So, I found another home for the birds as I can’t have the big chicken being scared in his own home.  BTW, in both cases I had each for at least 6 months, so it’s not like I only spent a couple of days trying to make it work.  I really tried to get Skip comfortable.  Oh, he still loves to watch the birds outside as long as there is a window separating the two.

So, this morning I got up and went downstairs and of course Skip was right there with me.  I swear he acts more like a dog than a cat.  Anyway I turned on the light in the kitchen and in we went.  I immediately saw the black spider on the white wall.

I started to get some paper towels to kill it (don’t tell me about how bad it is to kill a spider…I personally don’t care) and saw that Skip was approaching it.  I stopped and watched because this was a first.

Well, Skip’s vision must be deteriorating.  He went over and looked it.  Then he put his paw up to knock it down (I guess he thought it was a fly).  Now the fun begins.  Skip realized it was a spider as soon as it started moving.

Next thing I knew he was backing up, really fast with tail fully extended.  He had a scared look on his face and then he jumped up on the counter to get to a position where he thought the spider couldn’t get to him, but he could see it.

The spider is scrambling for cover and I’m laughing at Skip.  Skip looks over at me with a look that said, “OMG Mom!! It was a spider!”

That’s my big, tough boy!

It just goes to show that just because something (a cat) is large and shouldn’t be afraid of things (spiders) that they have irrational fears and feelings just like the rest of us.

Pilling a cat is easy!!! No seriously!!

A little disclaimer…I am not a vet.  I’ve always wanted to be one, but decided to go into the computer field instead.

A little background…I have been pilling cats since I was 9 years old, and I have never ever been scratched or bitten in the process of pilling a cat.  I have always maintained a good relationship with all the cats I have pilled whether they were my cats or someone else’s.  Actually, two cats used to come to me when they were sick.

I currently have a cat, Skip, who has Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy, a heart condition, plus he has hypothyroidism which means he gets lots of pills.  Skip’s pill schedule is 4 pills in the morning and 2 in the evening.

After spending 6 months of giving each pill individually, a vet put me onto pill capsules that you can get at a pharmacy.  I can actually cram 4 pills into the smallest pill capsule.  This means Skip gets one pill capsule in the mornings and one in the evenings.  Skip is so happy with this arrangement that he jumps up on the counter himself to be pilled.

But I digress…it’s my blog…I’m allowed.

So, how do I do it?  Well, I have two ways…before pill capsules and after.  The before pill capsules will be for the majority of people, so I will start with that method.

Here’s how:
1.) Stay calm!!! You cannot be nervous, timid, show fear, be scared or worried when giving a cat a pill.  Cats are very in-tune with our feelings and can sense that you are nervous.  If you cannot calm yourself, find someone who can like a 9 year old. 🙂 That’s what my mom did.

2.) Talk in a normal voice.  Forgive me here, but cats know bull**** when they hear it. When they hear you change octaves in your voice, they know something is up.  So, talk normally. No YELLING.  You don’t like it and the cat doesn’t like it.

If it helps, have someone in the room with you and start talking about the weather or work or whatever it is you talk about or even have them read the steps to you, so you don’t have to stop to read. Just talk like you always talk to this person.  Personally, I talk to Skip and ask him how his day went or how he slept at night.

If you get frustrated, just walk away.  Take a deep breath and get yourself calm again.  Remember you are not hurting your cat, but helping them to get well.

3.) Do NOT make wild movements with your hands.  If you are a talker who moves your hands while talking, you need to stop for the time it takes to pill a cat which for me is normally less than 10 seconds.  Wild hand movements cause cats to go on the defensive.  This will cause kitty to not want to submit to your handling.

4.) OK, now go get the pill and place it where you can reach it on a couch or chair.  Just set it down within reach.

5.) Go find your kitty.  Pick the kitty up normally just like you were bringing the cat downstairs for food.  I talk with Skip, but as he not generally far from me (he follows me like a dog would), I don’t have to talk long.

6.) Sit down on the couch or chair where you placed the accessible pill.

7.) Place one ankle on the opposing knee.  I usually place my left ankle on my right knee because I am right-handed.  This creates a triangle and is where you are going to place kitty.  What is nice is that it gives a nice and secure place for your cat to lay without worrying that you are going to drop them accidentally.

8.) Put your cat on his back in the triangle. This will be the most difficult part if your cat does not fully trust you to not drop them.  It is important to not get nervous or frustrated.  It may take more than one try, but after your cat realizes that you will not drop them, it will become a whole lot easier.

I usually grab Skip under the armpits and then going from my right to my left into the triangle across my body I put him in the triangle.  I let him drag on his side across my body.  This lets him know that he is in contact with the “ground” and won’t fall.  As he is going across on his side as we get close to the triangle, at the last second, I turn him onto his back.  So, he is sitting there like a baby.

9.) Place the pill in your dominant hand (for me, my right) in between your middle finger and your thumb.

10.) KEY POINT!!!! Now With your other hand, starting from the front of the snout go backwards to the end of the jaw.  At the end of the jaw on both sides you will feel a notch.  This should be right in front or inline with the start of the eyes.  I place my middle finger and thumb on each side.  Note: you may want to put the pill down for a second and try this just to feel the notches.  The notches are key because they will help to open the mouth.

Note: The reason for starting at the end of the snout and moving backwards is that you are going with the flow of the whiskers.  Never ever go against the whiskers unless you want your cat to get extremely upset with you.  The whiskers on a cat are extremely sensitive.  By taking care of them, you cat will come to trust you and know that you respect them.

11.) OK, you have pill in dominant hand and the other hand in the jaw notches, so now we open the mouth and pop the pill in.  At the same time, lightly (don’t hurt your kitty) squeeze the notch where the jaw is while using your index finger to open the bottom jaw of the cat’s mouth.  It should be wide open.  Take aim and drop the pill into the back of the jaw.

12.) Mostly close the mouth.  You have to leave a little room for kitty to swallow the pill, but if you give full reign, out will come the pill.

13.) Make sure your cat swallows before allowing to leave your lap.  Cats are notorious for spitting out pills, so making sure that kitty swallows helps.

14.) Treat time!!!!! Praise your cat all the way to the treats.  Give Kitty the absolute favorite treat in the world immediately.  Your cat should have your full attention right now.  No stopping to put dishes away or talk to someone.  There cannot be any pauses on the way to the treats or your cat will not associate the treats with the pill taking…they have short memories.  And let’s face we all love praise. 🙂 Skip loves a good hug as well.

Congratulations!!  You have just pilled your cat.  The first time will be the most difficult as you are getting used to a new process.
Here are the after pill capsule instructions:

This second method is really, really easy. So, if you are having trouble getting pills down, try a pill capsule.  You just place the pill in the capsule and away you go.

We had to go to pill capsules because one of Skip’s pills was real bitter tasting and while he was easy to pill, if I didn’t aim right he had to taste it.  His awesome cardiologist was like, just get pill capsules.  I had no idea I could buy them.

Skip now takes a single pill capsule in the morning and in the evening.  Please feel free to use this method if your cat is taking a capsule.

1.) Perform steps 1 -3 above.  These are mainly about you being calm. 🙂

2.) Get the pill capsule out.

3.) Fill a small bowl with some warm water.  We have found that getting the pill capsule wet first makes it slick and easier for Skip to swallow.  Warm water works really, really well.

4.) Put your cat on the counter.  I know…this is bad to encourage, but other than pill time Skip rarely gets on the counter and we use Clorox wipes after we’re done. Skip will actually voluntarily jump up onto the counter.  When he doesn’t we are teaching him the command “up” and so far he’s responded three times to it.

5.) Apply pressure to your cat’s hind end to get him to sit and tilt the head back.

6.) Dip the pill capsule into the water until it becomes slick.  You’ll feel it.  The pill will become hard to hold without it sliding.

7.) Using the notch method above (Steps 9 – 13), open kitty’s mouth and put the pill in.

Two notes:

a.) if you do use warm water, the pill become really slick and if you hold the capsule just right it will squirt out from your fingers.  With really good aim, it will practically go down kitty’s throat without any trouble.

b.) I don’t have to uses the notches any more.  I just angle Skip’s head up and use my index finger.  He opens his mouth voluntarily. 🙂  He’s a good boy, but we’ve been doing this method for 3 months now and he definitely prefers it.

Also, if you miss aim and the capsule goes to the side, let your cat spit the pill out.  Skip will put his paws on my hands to tell me I missed and he needs a little time.  He is literally just holding my hands.  Once he gets the pill out, I immediately pop it back in.  If it doesn’t feel slick, I might dip it into the water.

8.) Wait for kitty to swallow.  Skip does this immediately because the capsule is wet, so he swallows because of the water.

9.) Praise…praise…praise…treat…treat…treat. This must happen immediately.  Skip is on a restricted diet, but what he gets is canned food after each pill.  He absolutely will do anything for canned food.

Such an Honest Kitty!

I have to laugh at this!  I even called my mom and told her the story. 🙂

As you may know, I live with a boyfriend and a very lovable cat named Skip who is 11.  Skip has a heart condition called Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy that we were very fortunate enough to catch early.  Skip is a huge cat and I don’t mean fat.  He is very tall and long and beefy.  Skip is a gem and a very good boy.

So, last night boyfriend and I are downstairs watching CSI on TiVo.  Everyone had finished dinner including Skip and dishes were completed.  Time to rest. We hear Skip go upstairs. And yes you can hear him go up the stairs.  Ever since he was a kitten, he has walked noisily.

Skip’s litter is upstairs and sometimes he also goes to bed without us, so we didn’t think anything of it.

The next thing we know, Skip is upstairs hollering his head off.  It wasn’t a cry of pain, and those with cats know that there is a difference.  It was more of a come up here now type of yell.  Well, he does this sometimes to get us to go to bed with him, so we didn’t think anything of it.

I did think it was a little different, but didn’t go to investigate because all of a sudden Skip comes running downstairs.  He jumps up on my lap and looks at me like did you hear me.  I told him it was OK and he could go to sleep on me instead of upstairs.

Fast forward to time to go to bed.  I head upstairs and go into the laundry room which is also where the litter box is.  I see something on the floor and realize what Skip was yelling about.

He had accidentally tossed a pooh turd onto the floor when covering up and was upset about it.  That’s why he was hollering for me to come upstairs.  LOL So honest about his mistake.  🙂

Note: His litter box had just been cleaned, so it wasn’t like it was full.  He just made an honest mistake when covering up.

I turned around and there he was sitting there with a look that said, “See I told you something was wrong.” 🙂  I praised him for letting me know and apologized for not coming upstairs earlier.  I got the scooper out and put it back into the litter plus I helped by covering it up for him.

After checking that all was good with his potty and satisfied that the issue had been fixed, Skip turned around went into the bedroom and flopped down on the bed.  He had stayed up to ensure that the problem was resolved before going to sleep for the night. 🙂

You gotta love cats!!