Friday, September 21, 2012

The $1300 bute tablet

Wednesday morning, I was dishing out feed for the evening. This included a tablet of bute for Cash, who managed to twist something out in the pasture the other night. (I explained that he's 24 and shouldn't gallop around like he's two, but he didn't listen. Sigh.) As usual, Maddy was in the feed room, nibbling dropped feed off the floor and twining herself around my legs. When I dropped the tab of Bute into Cash's feed dish, Maddy came over to investigate. That in of itself wasn't unusual - she occasionally licks the probiotics off his feed, but what she did next was completely unexpected. SHE ATE THE ENTIRE BUTE TABLET OUT OF THE FEED TUB.

It happened so quickly - she just licked it up and it was gone. I immediately reached down and scruffed her, then tried to fish the tablet out of her mouth. In just an instant, she had already swallowed it. She then took offense at being scruffed, scratched me with a front paw, and when I let go, dashed off.

I finished up in the feed room, then looked for Maddy. I called and called, looked in all her favorite spots, but couldn't find her anywhere. I went inside and did some research on cats and Bute, and found almost nothing. Well, except for the part where cats are extremely sensitive to NSAIDs. Even a single aspirin, or a dog's dose of Rimidyl (100 mg), can kill them. Maddy ate a full GRAM of bute - or about 10 times the lethal dose. Awesome.

I eventually left for work without finding her. I spent the day worrying about her, and started looking for her again when I got home. I took care of the horses, and about 8 p.m. I was sitting on the couch when she staggered down the hallway. She was drooling profusely and could barely walk. I have no idea how she even got into the house, but I am so glad she did, or I never would have found her. I snagged her, put her in a crate, and immediately drove her to the emergency animal clinic. On the way, she had a seizure. It was terrifying.

Once at the clinic, they rushed to put her on IV fluids and start some Pepcid and carafate to try to ease the trauma to the GI tract. Amazingly, all her blood tests came back normal, despite the fact that she was ataxic and in pretty bad shape. She spent the night at the emergency clinic, but I had to move her to my regular vet in the morning. She had improved some during the night, but the 30 minute drive to the regular vet's office really set her back.

Fortunately, additional IV fluids, carafate, and Pepcid, along with a quiet environment, seem to have done the trick. The vet is fairly convinced that she vomited up most of the pill shortly after she ate it, since the full dose almost certainly would have killed her. After 48 hours of the best care (and $1300 in vet bills), Maddy came home tonight. She's still wobbly and is spending most of her time resting, but she's purring whenever I pet her and she's started eating again. She's not entirely out of the woods yet, and the vet warned me that she may never quite be her old self, but she's definitely on her way to a solid recovery.

The strangest thing about this whole experience is that a cat WILLINGLY ate an entire Bute tablet on her own. If you've ever tried to pill a cat before, you'll know that the concept of one actually voluntarily eating a pill is completely foreign, much less something the size of a Bute tab. I ended up having to explain to four different vets that yes, she did actually eat it, and yes, it really was that big. And yes, I was ABSOLUTELY SURE she'd eaten the Bute and not gotten into something else.

The hubby is due home next Wednesday. I guess Maddy was our "broken" thing for this trip. Poor little Mooster.

21 comments:

  1. Oh, poor kitty. Glad she's ok!

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    1. TBA, me too. She's my favorite kitty - so loveable. And she's a good mouser too.

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  2. I was owned by a cat who had a slew of medical problems. I had gotten pretty good with the pill popper, because hiding the pills in food was completely useless. I would find pills on the floor in different rooms, indicating that my cat walked away and spit his meds when I wasn't looking. He even learned how to swallow while holding the pill in his mouth. A can see why you and the vets were totally shocked that Maddy ate a horse-sized pill. That is incredible and incredibly unfortunate. Was it flavored or something? I hope she heals up completely.

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    1. Val, sounds like you have had ALL the experiences with pilling a cat. Isn't it fun? (NOT).

      And no, the Bute tablet wasn't flavored. It was just a plain old Bute tablet on top of Cash's Senior feed. I even licked a different tablet to be sure - they're horribly bitter and nasty.

      Why do animals do these things to us. Whyyyyy???

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  3. That is totally crazy that she would willingly swallow something that big and that bad tasting. Maybe she assumed it would be "yummy" like the probiotics?

    I've licked bute before too so I could see what the fuss was all about... sooo bitter.

    Poor kitty - I'm glad she came home so you could save her. Happy (but expensive) ending. ;D

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    1. CFS, who knows what she was thinking!!! I am just glad she's home and appears to be on the mend. Now if only I could get her to eat...

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  4. Oh no! Poor kitty! I can't believe she did that! I worry about my little dog. He thinks he's the Barn Manager, and whenever I give the horses carrots out of the fridge in the tack room, he has to have some. That's fine, except I keep some meds in there too, and when I get them out, he thinks I'm getting carrots. We haven't had a mix-up, but now I will watch him like a hawk! Thanks for the heads-up.

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    1. After this, I will NEVER let any of the critters in the feed room when there's meds in the feed.

      Your dog sounds like he keeps the place running smoothly. ;)

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  5. Wow, it's even a pain to have gotten any of my dogs past and present to take their tiny pills. The bute must of smelt good or something. I'm so glad she seems to be improving, that's a miracle. Sucks you had to pay that much thou, but glad it was worth it.

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    1. Critters are impossible to give pills when you want to, aren't they? Who knows what possessed her to eat that pill, but I'm glad she's going to be OK.

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  6. wow!!! sounds like a crazy situation and I am glad she is ok (and you!)!!

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  7. Wow, that is scary! My cat was sick a while back and I had to give him pills twice a day, it was a total nightmare trying to get them in him and get him to swallow, wish he had been so willing!

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    1. It's so true, they NEVER take them when you want them to!

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  8. Poor little kitty!! I wonder what in the world possessed her to eat an entire bute tab?! I'm so glad to hear she's feeling better and I'll be hoping for a full recovery!

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    1. It's totally crazy! But she seems to be doing great (is currently sleeping next to me), so it looks like all is well.

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  9. OMFG you poor thing! Horses are definitely the most expensive hobby... even when the horse isn't doing anything wrong!

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    1. You're right, they ARE the most expensive hobby. Sigh!

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  10. That is bizarre. Will remember that when I give horses meds. I have heard of a dog that was poisoned by eating horse poop full of ivermectin--one day after the horse was wormed. And another dog recently died of eating "Sluggo"--slug poison labeled as "safe" for use with pets. I threw out all my Sluggo--won't be buying it again.

    So glad your cat is doing OK--sorry about the $1300 though.

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