Nurses, Roll Your Patient In A Large Towel

By Bill Hall

I would rather have groin surgery than give a cat a pill. Sometimes you get your wish. Sometimes the cat gives you groin surgery while you're trying to give the cat a pill.

Most creatures are stronger for their size than we are. We use our brains to compete. They use muscles.

Cats and other carnivores succeed by overpowering other creatures. And we are among the other creatures they sometimes overpower when provoked. They consider the effort to poke a pill down their throats a provocation.

Cats not only show a natural resistance to pill poking but a resentment.

Any cat operator can tell you that a cat, when offended, displays its sentiments in a body language that can only be described as stomping away in a huff. Cats are real huffy and it shows.

But that's after the fact. While you are still trying to insert a pill in a cat's face, it does something that can only be described as fighting like a tiger. That should be no surprise. A cat actually is a tiger, more or less. A cat is little different from a tiger physically except in size. The smallest cat has a set of muscles on it with a strength that would make Jesse Ventura look like a sissy (except his mouth muscles, of course).

To see a grown man pick up and try to hold an unwilling little cat, you would think it would be no contest. A big thing like me could easily overpower a little thing like that. And I can, in fact, eventually get the job done. But sometimes it's a near thing.

Normally, to give a cat a pill, I put it on its back in my arms and clamp the cat in an iron embrace, immobilizing its feet and claws. My wife then grabs the cat's jaw with one hand and pops the pill in with the other.

The cat spits the pill out.

We do that again a time or two until the pill gets slobbery enough to slide down and we finally triumph. I have suggested more than once that my wife shorten this procedure by slobbering on the pill herself to slide it down on the first try. But she declines.

As the cat holder during pill popping, I am always amazed how much of my manly strength it takes to hold an unwilling cat. There is an astonishing amount of power in that little package. And it doesn't help that cats are so good at squirming out of tight spots.

The latest episode of cat nursing was far worse. My wife was out of town. I had no help. I admit I was a little scared. I have been shredded before. I know what it feels like.

I sat down with Penelope in my lap and clamped her as tight as I could in one arm, using the hand on that arm to squeeze open the mouth and the free hand to pop the pill. The cat immediately spit up the unslobbered pill, squirmed free and kicked her way out of my grasp in one smooth, bloody move. On the way out of my hold, she drove a claw deep beneath my thumb nail.

Round 1 for the cat.

I retrieved the pill and the cat. I put a large bath towel on the bed and rolled the cat up in it with just her nose and her angry eyes sticking out.

Round 2 for Nurse Bill.

I put the package in my lap, grabbed Penelope's jaw with one hand and started to feed her the pill with my other hand. The cat began thrashing her head about, freeing herself from the hand holding her jaw and grazing my knuckles a couple of times with a fang.

Round 3 for the cat.

I put a leather glove on my left hand, retrieved the cat, rolled her in the bath towel, grabbed her jaw with the gloved hand and fed her a slobbery pill that went down and
stayed down.

Round 4 for Nurse Bill and for medical science.

Once perfected, the technique worked better than I expected. The cat now capitulates as soon as she is rolled into the towel. She gives up and relaxes, making the task easy for both of us. And she doesn't seem especially riled anymore. If anything, she seems to like me better. Deep down, all children respect discipline.

When my wife got home, I told her what had happened. She looked at my butchered thumb and insisted I soak my hand in disinfectant.

I declined at first -- until she threatened to go get a leather glove and a very large towel.



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