Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let's Get Organized!

Myrna sleeping on the radiator.

When you have a cat or many cats, especially a cat with a health issue, you must be organized or you will go insane. It's like having kids. The better organized you are, the more you do in advance at the beginning or end of the day, the more smoothly the time goes when it comes to dispensing meds or doing procedures.

How to be better organized? It depends on what you have to organize for the cat.  Cans of food, boxes and bags of food, meds, brushes, collars, leashes, toys, beds, litter, litter box items-all can go into containers that fit the items and fit where you want to store them.  Anything that can be contained means that it's one less thing bouncing around, taking up space, and being difficult to find or to collect when needed.  There are trays that are made to be used in cutlery drawers and in cupboards; boxes and trays for closets; all sorts of things are available in all sorts of materials which you can use to organize your cat's meds and belongings. 

Does your cat take meds that are refrigerated?  If you have medications, Laxatone, vitamin paste, lysine, anything that needs to be refrigerated, use an organizing tray that sits on the shelf in the frig to hold these together. This way, they don't bounce around in the frig and take up room, and are easy to find and easy to remove with one hand.  A tray keeps the items from getting knocked over; from being misplaced; or from being damaged. It's so nice to look in the frig and see Myrna's meds organized and in one place from which to grab.

You can do the same for the meds which do not go in the frig. Again, I use one long organizing tray to hold her five meds, the meds of her siblings, the pill box which contains her daily meds, the pill splitter, syringe, and eye dropper. Trays can hold all of the items, can sit on the counter in a contained manner, or can be put into a cupboard or wherever you store the meds during the day. Again, it's collected, out of the way, and I only need to pick up the one tray instead of five individual pill containers.

Another way to be organized is to split the pills for a day ahead of time, either in the a.m. for the entire day or the night before for the next day. Each morning I split her pills for the day and I put them in a pill box.  Her a.m. meds I set aside and give with breakfast.  Her lunch and evening meds go into the pill box and then into the tray that sits on the counter.  When it's time to dispense, I grab the pillbox, and voila-dispense! No reason to think about it or to take time to cut.  I know which side of the box is dispensed when.  Again, the tray keeps everything contained and prevents things from bouncing all over the counter and keeps the kitchen looking tidy.

I also use trays in the cupboard where I keep supplies for the cats such as brushes, collars and things.

What do you need if you have a cat taking medications or just simply have a cat?  The more items you have on hand, the better prepared you are for anything.  Aside from bandages and a good first aid or cat health book, these are the basics I recommend:

pill splitter is a must for cutting up medications.  You need one that holds a pill in place as you bring down the lid that holds the blade which cleanly cuts the pill.  We tried using a knife when she only had one med but by the time she was taking three meds, the knife wasn't working out as well. A knife cannot accurately measure nor can it contain the pill which has a tendency to fly out of my hands when I'm cutting it with  a knife.  A pill splitter holds the pill and keeps it contained as it cuts it.

Pill boxes are very handy and are easy to find at the pharmacy. You can get single ones or week long containers. I use a single day container that has an a.m. and a p.m. side which helps divide up the day's pills that I give to Myrna.

You will definitely need a plastic measuring syringe which you can get from the vet. You need one that is at least 3 ccs and maybe a slightly larger one and a few on hand. This helps to dispense water by mouth which you will need to do if your cat ever has a UTI and needs more water than it is normally taking in (twice a day is what I have done.)  Or if you need to dispense pills, squirting water into the mouth helps the cat swallow the pill.  To dispense water by mouth, place the tip of the syringe in the side of the cat's mouth and press as gently as possible to squirt a bit of water at a time into the mouth.  If you have more than one syringe, you can use it to collect urine samples to take to the vet. (Toss after using and just get more from the vet.)

An eye dropper, a normal size one especially with a bent tip, also helps to dispense water.  I have also used it to hand feed kittens.  We initially used it for only hand feeding but it has come in handy to dispense meds and water as needed. We got ours from a local, small town type of pharmacy, not the big chains such as CVS didn't carry what we needed (or at least not at the time.)

Look around at your house and see what are your needs.  The more organized you are, the better you will be able to take care of your HCM cat.

Good luck!

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