This section is from the book "The Book Of Cats", by Charles Henry Ross. Also available from Amazon: The Book Of Cats: A Chit-Chat Chronicle Of Feline Facts And Fancies, Legendary, Lyrical, Medical, Mirthful And Miscellaneous.
"So sickly Cats neglect their fur attire, And sit and mope beside the kitchen fire."
A WRITER on Cats, when speaking of the necessity of administering physic in certain cases, says that the bare thought of so doing is sufficient to daunt at least nine-tenths of the lady Cat-owners of the kingdom; and gives these directions to assist the timid fair one in her arduous task:"Have ready a large cloth and wrap the patient therein, wisping the cloth round and round her body so that every part of her, except the head, is well enveloped. Any one may then hold it between their knees, while you complete the operation. Put on a pair of stout gloves, and then with a firm hand open the animal's mouth wide!"
Poor Pussy! From the formidable nature of these preparations, one would almost fancy that it was a full-grown tigress about to be doctored, and its iron mouth required a firm hand to wrench apart the jaws. To such inexperienced ladies as could require these directions, the writer's further advice not to pour down the Cat's throat too much at a time, comes very seasonably, but I am not too sure that Pussy will not be choked for all that. When properly managed, says he, "a sick Cat may be made to take pills or any other drug without risk of a severe scratching on your part, and danger of a dislocated neck on the part of suffering Grimalkin."
I can readily understand that there is small fear of the Cat's claws penetrating through five or six folds of stout calico, but about the safety of its neck I have my doubts. One, indeed, feels almost inclined to add, as a further safeguard for the trembling doctor, a suit of chain-mail or a diver's dress, such as the man wears who braves the dangers of the tank at the Polytechnic.
Seriously speaking, a lady who is kind to her domestic pets will have no trouble in giving them medicine. When they are Kittens, they should be taught to lie upon their backs, and in this attitude, with the head raised, the physic is easily enough administered. A sick Cat, too, does not fly from those for whom it has an affection; on the contrary, I have always known Cats to come for sympathy to those who nurse and feed them. Administer the physic with a teaspoon, if liquid, and be most careful when the dose has been given, to gently wash from the Cat's face or breast any drop of the stuff that may have fallen there, so that she may not find the nasty taste lingering about her when she goes to clean herself, as otherwise she has the unpleasantness of the physic long after the doses have been discontinued.
These are some of the complaints from which Cats suffer, and the best methods to be adopted for their cure: A cat is sometimes affected by a sort of distemper which attacks it between the first and third month of its life. The Cat or Kitten, when thus suffering, refuses its ood, seems to be sensitive of cold, and creeps close to the fire or hides itself in any warm corner. A mild aperient - small doses of brimstone, for instance - should be administered. Whilst ill, feed the Cat upon light biscuit spread with butter. A little manna is a good thing if the Cat will eat it, and the animal should be kept warm and quiet. If, however, you see the sick Cat frequently vomiting, the vomit being a bright yellow frothy liquid, be very careful of the animal should she be a pet, for then the distemper is taking an ugly turn, and requires special attention. Probably before long the sickness will change to diarrhoea, which in the end will turn to dysentery if prompt measures be not taken. When the vomiting first comes on, give the Cat half a teaspoonful of common salt in about two teaspoonsful of water, as an emetic, for the purpose of clearing the stomach. Then to stop the sickness, give half a spoonful of melted beef marrow free from skin. If this is not found sufficient, the dose may be repeated.
Cats just reaching their full growth are liable to have fits. Male cats almost always have, at this time, a slight attack of delirium. When coming on, it may easily be known by an uneasy restlessness and a wildness of the eyes. In bad cases, the Cat, when seized with delirium, will rush about with staring eyes, sometimes fly at the window, but more often fly from your presence and hide itself in the darkest place it can find. If it have a regular fit, with frothing at the mouth, quivering limbs, etc., as in a human being so attacked, Lady Cust recommends that one of the ears be slightly slit with a sharp pair of scissors in the thin part of the ear. You must then have some warm water ready and hold the ear in it, gently rubbing and encouraging the blood to flow, a few drops even will afford relief. During the attack, the Cat does not feel, nor does it resist in the least, therefore the most timid lady might perform this little operation without fear. But where the symptoms are not so violent, a gentle aperient may do all that is required. A good alterative for them is half a teaspoonful of common salt in two tea-spoonfuls of water, as mentioned above, though in this case it will not cause vomiting. Female Cats, Lady Cust says, are less subject to fits of delirium, and never have them after they have once nursed young ones, unless frightened into them, which all Cats easily are. In this, however, I think she is mistaken, for I have had a Cat so affected when nursing her second litter of Kittens. Another Cat of mine was seized with delirium, rushed suddenly out of the kitchen, and disappeared mysteriously for three days.
At the end of that time, the servant going to light the fire under the copper, the animal crawled forth from the copper hole very thin and weak, but otherwise seemingly cured of its strange complaint. All cats are subject to diarrhoea, and the signs of their so suffering are to be found in dull eyes, staring coat and neglected toilet, and the animal is very likely to die of the complaint unless the proper remedies be applied. As soon as it is discovered, give the Cat some luke warm new milk, with a piece of fresh mutton suet (the suet the size of a walnut to a teacupful of milk) melted, and mixed in it. If the patient be too ill to lap, administer the mixture a teaspoonful every two hours. Take care not to give it too much so as to make it sick. If there is no bile, you should give the Cat (full grown) a grain and a half of the grey powder used in such cases. If the diarrhoea still continue, Lady Cust suggests that a teaspoonful of the chalk mixture used by human beings, be tried, with seven or eight drops of tincture of rhubarb, and four or five of laudanum, every few hours until the complaint ceases. Cats will continue ill, her Ladyship says, for a few days, their eyes even fixed, but still with watching and care they may be cured. A teaspoonful at a time of pure meat gravy should be given now and then, but not until nearly two hours after medicine, to keep up the strength, until appetite returns.