Linda's Feline CRF Hints
Originally, we used #3 gelcaps for medications. Snowball had no problems. When his medications increased, I tried #1 gelcaps. Snowball seemed to have no problem, but after a few days he began to hide with it was med time. I went back to #3s, and although he needed more gelcaps each day, he was happier again.
To fill gelcaps with a powder, I put the powder in a shallow plastic container, then scoop it into a 1/8 or 1/4 tsp measuring spoon. With the spoon over the container, I use the gelcap as a mini scoop, and slide it into the powder. This works especially well if you don't need a specific amount of powder, but just want to fill the gelcap (as with phosphorus binder or potassium).
If you are filling a gel cap with a pill (or part of a pill) and powder, put some powder in first, then put the pill in and push it into the powder (a fork tine works), then fill with the powder.
I use a syringe (no needle) for Lactulose. After I rinsed it out, it was always falling through the dish drainer. Then I put a plastic funnel in the corner of the drainer (wide part up), and put the syringe in that to dry. The funnel is the size so the syringe stays in the top part. I don't loose the syringe, the water can drain through the funnel, and the syringe is mostly hidden from curious cats who might steal it.
I asked my local pharmacy (a small place in our little town) if they had amphojel or basaljel tablets, and of course they didn't. Then, I got smart and asked if they could order them. Not only could they order the tablets, the pharmacist determined that the distributor didn't have any amphojel, but did have the basaljel tabs. The pharmacy had the tablets the next day.
After calling all around for some #4 gelcaps with no luck, I got smart and again asked the local pharmacy if they could order the gelcaps -- they were in the next morning.
Therefore, don't ask the pharmacy if they have the things you need, ask if they can order it for you. You won't get everything, but they can usually order a lot more stuff than what they have in stock.
Compounding pharmacies dispense liquid medications in bottles with special caps; the caps have holes (and an attached cover for the hole). The syringe is put into the hole in the cap, the bottle turned upside-down, and the required amount of medication is taken into the syringe. This is much more sanitary than immersing the syringe into the liquid. And much less messy (especially for lactulose, which must be one of the stickiest liquids created by man).
If you have liquid medication bought at a regular pharmacy, check if a compounding pharmacy will sell an empty bottle, cap, and syringe (I paid $2.00).
Although there is controversy over this, we injected epogen into the port of the line while we were giving Sub-Qs. This saved Snowball (and us) another injection. My vet did some research and found that humans were receiving epogen this way. The method for this is: (1) have the epogen in the syringe before starting Sub-Qs, (2) after the Sub-Qs have started, crimp the line between the port and the fluid bag, (3) inject the epogen into the port, and (4) release the crimp in the line.
We bought Epogen from the pharmacy at the local hospital -- $25 for a 2000 u/ml vial. So it is a good idea to check local sources.
PILLING WITHOUT PAIN (TO YOU)
When I pill Mittens, he tries to push my hand away; unfortunately his claws are usually out, so my hand was covered with puncture wounds. I bought some inexpensive cotton work/paint gloves, and cut off enough of the thunb and index finger so I could hold the pill. Now his claws don't bother me. These gloves are usually big, but that just makes it harder for him to scratch me.
A simple Lazy Susan is great for meds; by spinning it you can reach them all easily. You can put the Lazy Susan in a cabinet of on the counter.
I use a weekly pill dispenser to separate daily pills, so I can make up the capsules the day before. For instance, Sunday has Norvasc, Monday has Potassium, Tuesday had Phosphorus Binders, etc. You quickly remember which is which, or you can label it.
I also use a pill dispenser for various sizes of empty gel caps. I fill it about once a week from my supply.
There is a bookcase next to the counter when I make up capsules. I bought one of those 3-drawer units which fits onto a shelf. This works great for measuring spoons, pill cutters, and even cat food covers.
I use a separate pill cutter for Norvasc. Then I can leave all the little bits that break off in there, and when there are enough I have another dose of Norvasc.
HINTS I RECEIVED FROM OTHERS
For pilling, a pill gun works wonders, especially the one with the blue rubber tip.
Whiskas treats are not good for CRF kitties, but if all else fails, they are very pliable and can mold right over a pill; they work great for the non-chewable pepsid.
Mail order pharmacies may be cheaper for medications that your CRF cat takes on a continuing basis.
Gelcaps can often be bought at natural foods or health food stores.
Splitting Norvasc Pills:
I mentioned to a friend on the phone that I was sitting there trying to split these freaking pills while I was talking to her. She said "use tweezers". So I put the phone down, went and got a pair of tweezers, and tried it. After a bit of trial and error, I found that using tweezers makes splitting Norvasc very easy to do.
For the first split, I found that just using your fingers to snap the pill in half is the easiest. For the second split, take the half-pill and grip it firmly in the tweezers so that the edge of the tweezers are gripping the piece right in the middle. Then just grasp the other half of the piece with your other hand, and snap it off. It was amazingly easy to do. I was able to split 10 Norvascs in no time, with no crumbling of pills at all.
Always put pills in gel caps. No taste for the cat and medications can be combined to make administering them easier. And it's easier to see if the cat spit it out.
Use lactulose for constipation (preferably with fiber supplementation too). Even cats with only moderately dry BM's can benefit.
My vet showed me something helpful yesterday. He cut the protective shield off a 2-piece
eyedropper (which left the very tip exposed from which the liquid is expelled). He pulled the 2 pieces apart, said to put a tiny bit of warm water in the eyedropper, put in the pill, and let set for about 5 minutes. The pill will dissolve and you can squirt the liquid into his mouth.
Note that you should practice just a bit with water only to be sure the syringe doesn't leak or lets the water run out the end before giving the meds to the cat. I have to hold my finger over the open end when I run the water in and add the pill; then, I find that I can lay the syringe down like a cigarette on an ashtray, keeping it level, and the water/meds will stay inside.