Better Living through Chemistry and a little Chicanery


Fourth in a series

Some cats would rather take the life of their loving pet parent than take a pill. The antianxiety medication Reconcile, that I prescribed for “Sophie,” is a beef-flavored tablet. I told Anna, my colleague and friend, that if Sophie refused this tasty morsel it could be crushed and added to her food or mixed in Churo, aka kitty crack.

For this petite black and white hellion to quit whupping on Elliott, her grey tabby urine spraying housemate, her brain and her skin would need to be less agitated. Claritin (loratadine) is often a good first choice antihistamine for itchy, allergic cats; it’s safe and works fast. But it’s a pill, a non-starter for this prickly pussy cat.

A compounding pharmacy can mix medications in tasty liquids but we first needed learn whether Claritin would help. So I counseled Anna and Tom on little butter balls. If they were patient their feline fussbudget would very likely play along.

Step one: Pre-cut the pills into quarters and coat each with a thin layer of butter. Freeze these delicacies on one plate, along with multiple bits of frozen butter, sans pill pieces, on another. Step 2: With Sophie sitting contentedly, Anna’s job was to offer one tiny blank butter ball after another for a few minutes. I advised repeating this charade twice daily for a couple of days.

Now the ruse would begin in earnest. Sophie, motivated by a delayed breakfast, would snap up one fatty frozen tidbit after the next, then a coated pill quarter, and then a few more blank butter bits. This delightful event, repeated every day, never led to stress or struggle. Pill time was fun time.

Allergies were not the only possible trigger for Sophie’s itching. Hard-to-detect mange mites like demodex had to be ruled out. Bravecto is a safe spot-on treatment that would reliably wipe them out.

Urine marking is actually a normal feline communication, often associated with conflict between cats. If Sophie felt better, would she stop thrashing Elliott?

Next week: Treat Elliott too? How about Tom and Anna?

For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom ( Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Email pet behavior or physical questions to or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.

The post Better Living through Chemistry and a little Chicanery first appeared on Dr. Jeff Nichol – Residency Trained in Dog and Cat Behavior.