65: Tuna Time with Ida

65: Tuna Time with Ida

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Tuna Time with Ida

Essentially, you do not so much teach your cat as bribe him.

~Lynn Hollyn

Ida was sick. She’d been wheezing off and on for a few weeks. But since she seemed to feel well otherwise, we’d ignored it. Then suddenly, it seemed, she became extremely lethargic, lying around the house. Her usually robust “meow” had become a whiny “mew.”

Sure that she was on her last legs, and overcome with guilt for not doing something sooner, I placed a panic-stricken phone call to the vet. “Bring her in this afternoon,” they said. Ida is by nature a very strong-willed kitty, and no one holds her still if she doesn’t have a mind to. But that Tuesday afternoon, Ida had very little fight in her for the vet. She was poked, prodded, and even had her temperature taken with barely a mew. My daughter Beth and I exchanged looks that said, “This can’t be good.” The vet couldn’t find anything conclusive: no fever; lungs and heart sounded good; the wheezing seemed nasal. Maybe they would do some blood work or even surgery if antibiotics brought no improvement. “Give this to her twice daily and come back in two weeks.”

Antibiotics twice a day — the vet even demonstrated how to force Ida’s jaws open to wedge the medicine dropper between her teeth. Not feeling overly encouraged, we brought Ida home to try the antibiotics. My husband Dale felt we should call our son Daniel at college to let him know Ida was sick. As I said, we weren’t feeling very optimistic about things.

When we got home, I filled the eyedropper and Beth took hold of Ida. Beth grabbed her jaw just like the vet had shown us, and I held the eyedropper against Ida’s clenched teeth, waiting for them to open. It didn’t happen. We traded places to see if I’d have better luck. Nothing doing — Ida was not going to allow those antibiotics to pass her little kitty lips.

“Oh great,” I thought, “the cat’s going to die because we can’t get her to take her medicine.” I seriously considered calling the vet to ask if we could bring Ida by twice a day for the next ten days so they could give her the antibiotics.

Suddenly a light came on. Tuna fish. I had some cheap watery tuna in the cupboard — maybe I could disguise the medicine with that. I put a little tuna on a plate, stirred in a dose of antibiotics, and prayed as I carried it up the stairs. I set the plate down on the bed next to Ida. She looked it over, suspiciously sniffed at it, gave it a cautious lick, then proceeded to lap it up as though she couldn’t believe her good fortune. For the next couple of days I brought tuna and meds to Ida where I’d find her lying upstairs with no energy to move.

By day three Ida had dramatically improved. She started to look forward to her twice-daily treat, following me around the house when the time drew near, getting underfoot whenever I walked into the kitchen. It got so I could just say, “Ida, come on — it’s tuna time,” and she would run into the kitchen for her treat.

Well, Ida finished her meds quite some time ago. And she was soon back to her old self, racing around the house, playing with the bunny, meowing at full throttle.

It’s four years later now, and every evening between 8:00 and 9:00, I’ll be sitting on the couch and feel as though someone is staring at me. I’ll look up and there will be Ida, looking expectantly at me as if to say, “Come on, it’s tuna time!” And it is!

~Laurie Carnright Edwards

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