Tuna helps the medicine go down

· cats ·

Bella recently had a bit of a medical problem. We noticed it first because one of the cats (we couldn’t tell which) was urinating on the carpet in the hall. This had never happened before, and so we worried that one of them had a medical problem or was upset in some way. Eventually, we realised it was Bella because I caught her in the act. I had to get up very early for a flight, and as I was sitting on the stairs, putting on my shoes, she peed on the door mat right in front of me. I was glad that we had finally identified who we needed to take to the vet, but 4.30am — when you are rushing to catch a flight — is not an ideal time to be cleaning up cat pee, or consoling an upset cat.

We took her to the vets and he gave us a kit to collect a urine sample from her (unfortunately we couldn’t just stick the test stick in the carpet, which would have been a lot easier). With two cats, getting the sample required an organisational nightmare. We had to shut Bianca in the living room and dining room with the normal litter box, then put an additional, clean, litter box in the bathroom for Bella, containing the special plastic, non-absorbent beads as fake litter. Eventually, we got our sample. This showed that she had a small amount of blood in her urine, which was a bit of a worry. You can’t get a properly sterile sample this way, so it’s no good for checking whether there is any bacterial infection present. She therefore had to have a cystocentesis performed, in which the vet gets a sample of urine direct from the bladder by inserting a very fine needle through the body wall. It sounds alarming, and Bella looked like an owl afterwards, but it’s a routine procedure. This showed that she did indeed have blood in her bladder, and some bacteria, so the vet prescribed antibiotics.

If you’ve ever tried to give pills to a cat, you’ll know that it is one of life’s more tricky problems. You either end up with the pill spat back at you, or with a few unplanned facial piercings. So I wasn’t looking forward to 10 days of having this battle twice a day. Since Bella is such a greedy cat, we decided to try concealing the pill in her favourite food — tuna. I don’t think I’ve met a cat yet who doesn’t go crazy for tuna — it’s like cat crack. We separated the cats before their dinner and rolled a little tuna ball for Bella with the pill concealed inside. To our amazement and delight, she scoffed the whole thing down, complete with the pill. On some occasions, the pill fell out, but we just re-rolled the ball with a little more tuna, and down it went. It’s certainly worth a try if you’ve got to give a cat a pill. The secret to the prescription sushi is to roll the ball as small and tight as possible so that they eat it in one bite, and to try not to touch the outer tuna with the hand that has held the pill, as you don’t want to transfer any medicinal smell or taste on to the treat.

I’m happy to say that Bella seems to be on the mend. Another urine test showed no blood, so we’ve just got to get another cystocentesis done (sorry Bella!) next week to check that the infection has cleared, and we’re hoping she’ll be given the all clear.