It takes a village to raise a child but it also takes one to care for a sick pet. As a caregiver for some of my family members I can tell you it’s stressful. But to be honest, it’s by far easier caring for a person than it is a sick pet. I’m lucky enough to have my mom helping me care for a senior kitty with health issues in my home right now. I was also lucky enough to have her helping me with Alex when she was alive. But I get a lot of emails from people who are doing this all alone. I cannot imagine trying to give a shot to a sick and irritated cat by myself. My sister’s cat Midnight is a little sweetheart and I can pretty much pill her, give fluids, shots, etc. by myself if need be. But what do you do when it’s just you and your cat is completely uncooperative?
Things are getting better and easier in that regard thanks to new methods and medications. These days you can get a whole slew of medications compounded into either liquid form that you squirt into their mouths, or transdermals that you rub onto their ears. They also sell special bags where you can zip your kitty up for easier maneuvering. I don't know how well that works though, kitty may get even more irritated but I've heard of some using it with great success. If you can afford it you can have your vet come to your home or even call in a mobile vet for things like shots, fluids, etc. This might be a better solution than carting kitty off in a carrier each time to go to your vet’s office. Travel for most kitties is very stressful and can even be debilitating for some. My poor Alex used to vomit each and every time we went to the vet so I tried to do as much for her at home as I could. I even had the vet show me how to change her dressing for her feeding tube; something I don’t recommend unless you’re very good with this sort of thing. I had a mini hospital set up in my kitchen for her and my mom, who lives downstairs from me, would come upstairs several times per day and help me. She would hold and soothe Alex as I’d give her sub q fluids, her tube feedings, shots and pills. Again, Alex was a good patient, I was lucky. But I’ve learned that soothing a kitty by playing soft music and speaking quietly to them works great. You can also try flower essences, rescue remedy and keeping a Feliway diffuser plugged in next to the area you give kitty their medication. Never use anything like essential oils as they are toxic! Make sure there are no loud noises and/or talking going on other than the soothing and soft sounds of yours and your helper’s voice. Try to be calm yourself, kitty will know if you’re nervous, believe me. They are sensitive and perceptive. Try to stick with a routine of doing treatments and medications at the same time each day.
And I know I say this a lot but don’t forget about having support for yourself as well. Caring for them is a full time job that is exhausting. Recently I had to put out an SOS for help and the response I got was overwhelming. I always knew I was grouped with wonderful and caring people. But when you’re stressed, afraid and in need of help, that’s when you really find out how much people care about you. And I sure did! Having the support you need to get through a hard time is vitally important and for me it’s just something I cannot live without. I have found that the animal community are the best and most loving people in the world and while you won’t see me running through the streets shouting “Merry Christmas, it’s a wonderful life”, (from the movie of course), I do right now feel rich inside and well cared for. This helps me be a much better pet parent to my two healthy ones, and a better nurse maid to my sick little one. Positive energy, no matter how it comes to you, keeps you going. Whether its emails saying they love you, they are sending their prayers and hugs; or whether they help you out in other ways needed at the moment. Take it and use that energy for your sick pet and yourself. Know that when the time comes, you can return the favor because that’s what our community is all about. That’s what our worldwide village is made up of; love, support, caring and positive energy. And I’m so very grateful for that.