Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sugar-coating the (cat) pill

Our elderly fussbudget cat, Betaille, has to take metronidazole for 10 days. I couldn't figure out why she was fighting me like a wildcat when I tried to pill her until I looked up metronidazole and discovered that it's Flagyl, one of the bitterest tasting medications around.

We give the cat only 1/4 pill once or twice a day, but the quarter pills are crumbly and thus even more noxious than whole pills. The taste is so unpleasant that there is no possibility of disguising it in cat food.

I did some research online and discovered a webpage about the metronidazole adminstration problem. It was written by a compounding pharmacy in the Midwest that will put the quarter pills into gel capsules for you.

That's when I decided to try to create my own gel capsules for Betaille.

First I tried rolling the quarter pill in margarine. That was pretty funny. It was impossible for me to keep the pill in her mouth long enough to get her to swallow it. It kept sticking to her tongue and then slipping sideways out of her gnashing jaws. I couldn't hold her mouth shut because her muzzle, and my hands, were covered in margarine. Betaille would have been traumatized by the ordeal, except she was distracted by licking off all the margarine afterward.

Then, while cleaning up some drops of honey that had dried on the counter after I'd been baking fruitcakes, I came up with an alternate solution: Roll the quarter pill in honey and let the little coated ball dry in a warm place overnight. This resulted in a coated pill with a sort of a jelly-belly texture. Concerned this might stick, I then rolled the tiny "gel pill" in regular sugar until it was completely coated and dry to the touch.

I grabbed Betaille in the middle of her lunch and popped the sugared pill into her mouth. She swallowed, and I plopped her back in front of her food dish. Even she seemed surprised at how easy it was.

BTW, it is safe to give honey to a full-grown cat, at least in this tiny amount and for a short period of time — unless the cat is diabetic.

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