September 1, 2000
by Randy Lang, DDS, D. Ortho
Earlier this year my dental assistant came to work one morning carrying a large blue cage with a handle on top. She explained it was a “cat carrier”, and sure enough her pet cat was inside.
She asked if it would be all right if she left work half an hour early so that her vet could show her how to give her cat a pill. Being the animal lover that I am, I naturally said yes.
Unfortunately, later that afternoon a few unscheduled emergencies put us nicely behind schedule. So I leaned over to my assistant and pleaded, “I’ll tell you what. If you can stay until the end of the day I will personally show you how to give your cat a pill, and you won’t have to go to your vet.” (Certainly any dentist worth his or her salt could easily drop a pill into a stupid cat’s mouth). She agreed to stay.
What follows now is my step-by-step guide on how a dentist gives a cat a pill:
Raise dental chair to upright position, pick up the cat and lay back in your dental chair. Gently cradle the cat on its back in the crook of your left arm as though holding a baby. Rub its tummy to get it purring. Position your right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently squeeze his cheeks. When cat opens his mouth, pop in the pill.
Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind dental chair. Repeat the process.
Retrieve cat from under receptionist’s desk and throw away soggy pill.
Get second pill, cradle cat in left arm again only this time holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of throat with forefinger. Clamp cat’s mouth closed for count of 10.
Retrieve pill from aquarium and cat from top of dental light. Call for receptionist to come and help.
Kneel on floor with cat laying on back wedged firmly between your knees, thus totally immobilizing front and rear paws. Ask staff to hold cat’s head firmly. Force tongue depressor into cat’s throat. Roll pill down tongue depressor with forefinger and rub cat’s throat vigorously.
Retrieve cat from on top of waiting-room curtain valance.
Carefully sweep up pieces of shattered curing light and set aside for later gluing. Get third pill.
Totally wrap cat in operatory hand towels. Ask assistant to lie on top of cat with cat’s head barely visible under assistant’s armpit. Put pill in end of rolled up paper you have made from instrument tray cover. Pry cat’s mouth open with orthodontic pliers and place paper tube in cat’s mouth and blow forcefully.
Call vet to make sure pill is not lethal to humans. Rinse with mouthwash to take bitter taste away. Apply bandage to assistant’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with detergent and cold water.
Retrieve cat from neighbour’s roof. Get fourth pill. Place cat in empty operatory cupboard and close door with cat’s head and neck outside cupboard. Force mouth open with headgear face bow. Shoot pill down throat with large orthodontic elastic.
Fetch carpenters tools from basement and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and call physician for date of last tetanus shot. Throw ripped and bloodied clinic gown into garbage.
Apologize to last patient who just crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat.
Call 911, ask fire department to retrieve cat from top of hydro pole.
Get remaining pill.
Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with two spools of orthodontic ligature wire and then securely duct tape cat to dental chair. Put on two pair of heavy-duty sterilizing mitts. Force cat’s mouth open with tire iron. Drop pill, previously hidden in one ounce of raw hamburger, into cat’s mouth. Hold head vertically with nose pointed to ceiling and pour one-half liter of water down cat’s throat and two shots of Crown Royal down your own.
Ask assistant to drive you to hospital. Sit quietly while doctor administers local anaesthetic, sutures your fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from eye.
Drive assistant and her cat home. Promise large bonus if you never see her cat again and if the events of the day are kept secret forever.
Try not to notice cat sticking paw through the bars of the cat carrier, giving you the finger.
In real life, Dr. Lang is an animal lover who has two dogs and five cats at home, all of them well-treated and much-loved.