With the holidays fast approaching, I’ve been lamenting the fact that I haven’t been able to have a Poinsettia plant in my house for almost a decade. With a few cats in the house, it’s just not worth the potential problems. Problems I have firsthand knowledge of. This incident just happened to occur in the spring, rather than at Christmas.
A few years ago I bought my first-and only-Easter Lily to give to my mom when she came over for supper the next day. Around midnight my daughter came out to my office and said she caught Sophie, our diva cat, munching on the plant. Did she ruin it? Nope. She didn’t eat much. Whew!
Meet Sophie. I would not find this position comfortable, but apparently she does!
A little while later my daughter came out of her room and said she got a little worried and Googled ‘cats and Easter Lilies’…to find they were even more toxic than Poinsettias. Great. Just great. No one ever told me that lilies could hurt cats. So then we both Googled madly to see what we should do about this.
Take her to a vet right away.
Yeah, right, it’s one o’clock Easter morning. The only option was an emergency animal clinic, located on a college campus, about thirty miles away. So off we go. Oh happy day.
Long story short, fifteen hundred dollars for a three day stay wasn’t in my budget, so we were sent home with a bottle of liquid charcoal and told to give it to Sophie three times a day. Just use the syringe and shoot it down the back of her throat if she wouldn’t take it in food.
Um…okay…us and what army? I wasn’t born yesterday. This had catastrophe written all over it. Probably the sort that involves a whole lot of stitches.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of shooting charcoal, just know that you’re going to have to get really skilled at it in a big hurry…because there’s no way an animal is going to eat any food with that stuff mixed in. You’re also going to need to recruit at least two other people to help because wrapping the cat in towels and doing it yourself is pretty much impossible. In fact, it doesn’t work all that well even with help.
So in case you ever need to know, these are the required steps…
Everyone involved needs to put on clothes they don’t mind throwing away. Liquid charcoal stains really bad and I ruined a nice shirt learning this particular lesson. One person quickly wraps the cat in a couple of old, thick towels, the second will, even more quickly, hold the cat’s head stationary while trying to pry its mouth open (that job really sucks…I suggest wearing glass-cutters gloves), and the third, with the syringe prepared ahead of time, shoves it in the cat’s mouth and squeezes fast.
After the cat spews half of it back out on your throw-away clothes and towels, you have to do it again because clearly she didn’t get the full dose. You’ll try to convince yourself that the other half made all the way to her stomach, except you can’t be entirely certain. Liquid charcoal, splattered all over three people…and the floor…looks like an awful lot of charcoal. (should have mentioned that you might want to use some sort of drop cloth…it will come off a tiled floor eventually but if it gets on carpet, you’ll be sorry)
Now the real fun begins, because this time it takes at least two people to rewrap the cat. She’s not stupid. In fact, she knows exactly why you’re wrapping her up this time…and she will resist. With unparallelled determination.
Before the second person removes their hands from the towels to grab hold of the head again, everyone will need to take a deep, relaxing breath. It helps to picture Clark Kent or Edward Cullen moving at the speed of light as you repeat the process. Twice as fast as you did it the first time.
Don’t worry about the charcoal shower. Your clothes are already trashed so this deluge isn’t going to ruin them anymore than they’re already ruined.
Now that you know the proper technique for charcoal shooting, remember it. You’ll be repeating this twice more the first day, then three times a day for the next two days. Hopefully you were wise enough to just set your newly blackened clothes aside to slip into for each session or you may need to replace your wardrobe. Nine outfits will empty nearly everyone’s closets and drawers.
And don’t worry about the cat. It may take a couple of weeks, but eventually she’ll stop trying to claw you to shreds anytime you get within twenty feet of her. Just make sure you keep all towels out of her sight for awhile.