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Master class on cat worming?

April 12, 2013

By Corinna Carew

I’m thinking of suing the manufacturers of worming pills for cats. Let me explain. They said the tablets tasted of liver and cats would snatch them out of your hand as if they were titbits! I, never one to be fooled by false advertising, decided in my infinite wisdom that my cats would not be fooled by this and decided to crush them into some pate. A treat for the cats and death to any lurking worms. Chaos loomed.

I should point out that I have six cats. How I arrived at this number is a question I ask myself every day. The first four were a given, as in given to me after I solicited their owners. Two moggies arrived first, shortly followed by two Siamese half breeds. The family was complete until Mother came to visit, and noticed the stray living under the decking. She immediately informed me that I had to adopt this moth eaten slightly rabid creature, or it would surely die. I was in two minds at this point but cat number five did a passable impression of a sick old fella, and the family grew.

Unfortunately introducing an old belligerent cat to a harmonious family is fraught with danger, not to mention flying fur and deafening growling. An uneasy truce was achieved after much hissing and swearing, and a demarcation zone established in the lounge and so we settled down until number one son noticed a kitten begging at the empty bowls. Obviously the word was out in cat circles that we were an easy mark. Kitty joined the gang and was accepted by everyone except cat no. 5 and the fun began. With this many kitties in residence, I decided that a good worming was in order. Looking at the shiny packets on offer, I picked the one that would eradicate the most worms with the tastiest pill. Not being a cat or riddled with worms, I was not in a position to question the manufacturers claims. Several hours later I felt better informed.

I craftily hid the offending pills in our best farm house pate. It should be noted and reiterated that cats are not stupid, they have managed to train their humans remarkably well, so it was rather short sighted of me not to realise that they would smell a rat as it were, immediately. My cats are not given pate (it’s not a love thing, more a monetary necessity), therefore the first whiff of pate sent the red flags flying. Cat number one, always game for a new adventure, went first. He ate the pate and then looked at his fellow cats as if to say, “they think they have us fooled but let me tell you there’s something dodgy going on here, get out while you can”.

Stupidly thinking we had them bested, we sallied forth to the next victim. Cat number two, the latest member of our gang, is still a tiny wee thing.  Wrapped in a blanket in my husband’s manly arms, she acted docile and loving until the pate drew near. Prising open the mouth of a very angry cat is not for the faint hearted – shoving sticky pate into said mouth is just plain dumb. I can also tell you that pate that has been spat out by a cat is very sticky, and there isn’t much to wipe it on in there which won’t draw blood. Finally after a lot of hissing and swearing (and that was just us), we managed to stick the pate to her palette where she was able to swallow at leisure.

Cat number three, so shocked by our tactics, almost succumbed with ease. That is until we let her go and she proceeded to spit it all out under the table. Now I am unaware of the exact amount that the manufacturers think is suitable to kill worms in cats of this or any size, and am unsure if they take into account a cats habit of spitting it out again, but I’m assuming they expect most of the tablet to land in the stomach of any cat foolish enough to swallow.  With this in mind, I was given the job of going under the table and scraping up soggy pate for the next try. Husband had to leave at this point. Coward. So number one daughter was roped in. While her holding technique seemed better, her squealing and laughing proved off-putting.

For cat number four, we decided that stray old man would be grateful for any treat and we were proved right, for about half the pate. Placing it on the arm of my leather settee, he proceeded to scoff away until he decided that the entertainment involved watching the cat wrestling was far more enjoyable and promptly forgot that he was eating at all; he is very old and slightly smelly. We decided to come back to him as he can be a cantankerous old bugger at the best of times.

Cat number five is a Siamese crossed with a moggy. She spends her life in a kind of grey area, slightly cross-eyed with a tendency to run into glass doors. We felt confident that she would be the least bother. How naive. Pate I can tell you forms a stinky foam around the mouth of cats. I am sure Pate makers around the world are not aware of this, and I can inform all you cat owners that it is a pointless exercise to try this experiment at home. This is just one fact you should take my word for. By the time we decided, in the spirit of Kiwi ingenuity, to use the tablet delivery device that I had picked up from the vets previously, the pate was practically matted into the fur around her face; I’m assuming she thought twice before cleaning.

catOf course, by now all the tablets were crushed and mixed with pate, and as they cost $20 we weren’t in a position to throw them out and start again, so the only way was to stick the pate onto the end of the tableting device, and force it past the teeth. It would have been so much easier if the tablets had been whole, but hindsight is a luxury you can’t afford while holding 5kg of angry cat. Cat number six is the boss. He weighs in at about 27 stone and has more attitude than a bull dog. Just getting him into the protective blanket was an ordeal. Prising his steel gated mouth open demanded all our attention, and then I had to carefully position the tablet delivery claw into the correct area. Too shallow and that pate just shot out again. He also seemed to be related to fish, as he suddenly became very slippery.

With cat number six dealt with, we had to back track to cat number four. Not an exciting prospect. He had not moved from the leather settee but neither had he eaten any more of the treat left on the arm. It was time for the blanket. Daughter got into position over the cat. We were not even going to try to wrap this guy up. She dropped on top of him and held him firm while I took advantage of the hissing and deep throated growls to shove the pate in. Out of all of them I think he was actually the easiest to treat, angry cats as well as children it seems are easily subdued by shoving something in their mouth.

Feeling very heroic and brave we congratulated each other while the cats made a quick escape through the cat flap. I decided not to venture outside to see how much they had spat back up believing that ignorance was the best bet here. On reading the packet, I am informed that we have to do it all again in a month. I have decided that my cats will be fine as they are and any worms they may have will be frightened out of them before that. There is, after all, only so much one can do in the line of duty to your pets and I think in the future I may ask the liver flavoured manufacturer to pop round and show me how it’s done. Let them offer the treats to the mob. I might then decide not to sue…

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