Tag Archives: therapy

Drugging My Cat – An Update

It’s been more than three-quarters of a year since I wrote about medicating one of our resident felines. Yes, Wiley’s done well and continues act like his old self – thanks for asking! His weight’s dropped about a quarter pound from a year ago. Our vet raised an eyebrow at that change, “cats his age usually gain and gain,” but I think it’s because he’s much more relaxed. That, and the two-year-old almost-kitten gives him a run for his money. Wiley recently turned ten.

Anyway, I ran into a situation the other day that calls for some comment.

It was time to renew Wiley’s prescription. I buy a 30-tablet bottle – the quarter-tablet doses last 120 days. But when I cracked the seal something was different: these tablets were noticeably smaller and lacked the usual blue coating.

I first checked the veterinarian’s label. It was correct. I needed to see the manufacturer’s label beneath. Over-labels are notoriously difficult to remove, I suppose to prevent abuse, but with patience I was able to peel back label to see what I needed.

I learned that the origin of this latest bottle was India and not the usual Israel. (The cost was $2.10 less, too.)

The label told me that per-tablet dose hadn’t changed. But the tablet mass was clearly different. Now I needed to re-weigh and re-calculate my capsule fills. Here’s where it got weird.

I won’t bore you with the 30-tablet list, but the variance between tablets quickly became clear. The smallest and largest measurements were 0.099 g and 0.107 g! Tablets from Israel were way more consistent, tablet-to-tablet.

The average worked out to 0.1023 g, yielding a quarter-tablet dose of 0.0256 g. This would be near the lower end of the capabilities of my scale: 20 grams with milligram resolution.

I’m pleased to report that my first 12-day compounding run worked out perfectly. Finished capsules are less full than usual, naturally.

But I’ll still be bringing my feedback to the vet with my next refill.

Wiley’s only been using the new batch for a few days now so it’s too early to tell if this change will have any effect on him. It should not, but you never know.

Drugging My Cat

Wiley lounging on my Dyna.
Wiley lounging on my Dyna.

Imperial Star Wiley Raz-Ma-Taz, our flame-point Siamese, was born April 21, 2007. I think he’s had a pretty good life so far but, poor guy, he’s been having some trouble coping lately. Maybe he’s been watching the news too much… Whatever, we set out to help him.

I won’t bore you with the details. But over the course of a month or so working with a local veterinarian we settled on a successful drug regimen. The miracle drug? Fluoxetine, better known as Prozac. Yeah, this is an off-label use of the drug. I’ve since learned that it’s more common than one might think.

Wiley’s always been an easy cat to pill. Maybe it’s a trust thing. Sometimes he appears to look forward to his next dose, perhaps he somehow knows that it brings comfort.

Unfortunately his dosage requires that the 10 milligram tablet be quartered. That breaches the coating and that means it tastes awful! It’s bitter (self-tested) as all get-out. Mixed with saliva from an angry cat it foams and dribbles and… well, you get the idea.

Never underestimate the fury of an unhappy feline – especially when you’re working near its mouth!

Medication time quickly turned into a nightmare to which none of us looked forward. Even though the drugs helped Wiley this was putting a serious hurt on our relationship!

Pam found a place in China to buy unfilled gel-caps online and ordered some.

Size-5 gel-caps, sourced from China.
A thousand size-5 gel-caps, sourced from China. They were cheap, too. The estimated ship estimate spanned the better part of a month, which was a little scary, but they actually showed up in a week or so. You can click this or any other image in this article for a larger view which will appear in a new window or tab.

The quartered tablet fragments fit pretty well into the gel-caps. Life started to improve. Still, the quartering process troubled me. No matter how careful, no matter how sharp the razor blade, the size of the quarters varied and sometimes even became damaged beyond being useful.

Imprecise dosage and waste: there were still two problems to solve!

Back to Amazon… And in a couple of  days I had what I needed:

  • mortar & pestle  [ link ]
  • spatula  [ link ]
  • milligram scale  [ link ]

I had a few tablets on hand because I had just stocked up so I began by weighing each of them. There was a slight variation – just a couple of milligrams. I averaged the weights and divided the result by four – my quarter-tablet goal. Then I went to work.

Ready for crushing.
Two 10 milligram tablets are ready for crushing. 10 mg is, of course, the amount of the drug and not the weight of the tablets!


Tablets crushed to a powder.
In a few seconds I’d reduced the tablets to powder. If you look closely you can still see some flecks of the tablet coating. It’s kind of like the candy coating a plain M&M, but much thinner, very hard and brittle.


The weighing.
I’ve used the spatula to transfer 53 milligrams of pulverized tablet to a small square of waxed paper sitting in the weigh pan. They make anti-static squares for this purpose but I guessed that the Florida humidity would keep static under control. I guessed right. I creased the waxed paper to make filling the gel-cap easier. Needless to say, the scale is zeroed with the waxed paper in the weigh pan before adding product.


The setup and work product.
Here’s the setup and the finished work product. The hardest part is dumping the weighed powder into the size-5 gel-caps; it takes a steady hand and a good eye, but it gets easier with practice. Notice, there’s very little residue on either the waxed paper or the spatula, indicating that my static is under control.

The final result? Worth every nickel of cost and every moment of work!

That the evil, bitter taste is now gone is a clear win. And I’m convinced that consistent, accurate dosing is exactly what Wiley needs. He’s back to his old self! Our relationship is back on track, too.



Neuroenhancement, brain boost, mind hacking, or simply drug abuse?

I just read a fascinating article in The New Yorker that really opened my eyes. On the one hand, I’ve been known to quaff a Red Bull or two to get me through a particularly trying meeting (or maybe to get a few more hours out of a good Friday night) but on the other I’ve been known to speak out against our over-medicated society.

Go check this out, I practically guarantee you’ll learn something.

Brain Gain – The underground world of “neuroenhancing” drugs
by Margaret Talbot
The New Yorker – April 27, 2009

Smart Bathrooms

My dad was fiercely independent until his last days, turning away all kinds of help even though accepting it would have certainly prolonged his life as well as improving his quality of life. As his health declined after his strokes I found myself with a growing interest in technology-based assistance.



Some people, back in the old days, would simply tie a string around their finger to remember something.


Brief Ride Report

Yesterday was quite a day.

I ‘celebrated’ eleven years of shaving my head. I went ‘down the shore’ with my wife and kid to walk the boardwalk, eat some boardwalk food (the Midway Steak House at Seaside Heights has the best sausage sandwiches around), play some games (a Ziplock full of quarters equals an afternoon of mindless fun), have a few beers (Jack & Bill’s). I’m not going to mention how the cost of such a trivial (in the days of my youth) afternoon has risen – what’s the point? When I got home I found my dad’s cat, Buffy, had died. Buffy was an old cat, suffered advanced kidney disease (just like dad), and wasn’t in the best of health. Still, I was stunned. I’ve been caring for Buffy since my dad’s hospitalization in mid-May, and he was looking pretty good. They say that pets get attached to their owners that way, maybe with dad gone he figured he had had enough. So you could say the day was kinda packed. And if that wasn’t enough there were a few other things rattling round in my head. I retired to an uneasy sleep.

This morning dawned beautiful, though. We’re two days into the first ‘heat wave’ of the season (it never gets hot enough, long enough for us, but everyone else complains) and it was almost 80 F a little past 7am. After a pot of coffee I put the computer aside and set off to do a hundred miles before breakfast. I’m breaking in an engine on the Dyna, so this would be perfect blend of varied travel. Plus, I needed some time to think.

Route 27 south toward Princeton is a good start, nice to get the fluids up to temperature. Few lights and little traffic. Passed through Princeton and picked up 295 south near Lawrenceville for a bit, a bit of freeway to let it breathe a little. There were some clouds ahead, but I figured if I hit a little rain so be it. I wasn’t dressed for it, but so what. Below Trenton I jumped on 29 north: through the tunnel, alongside Trenton proper, and soon onto the two-lane toward Lambertville. Traffic remained light, permitting a good pace that didn’t exceed the posted limit by too much. At Lambertville I peeled off to 179; the number of bikes on the road seemed to grow with every mile. I guess others had the same idea. By Ringoes, 179 changes to 514 but keeps its name – Old York Road – but where 609 crosses it changes to Amwell Road while retaining its 514 number. Who said New Jersey roads made sense? The clouds I mentioned earlier had given way to blazing sun, but there was evidence here that it had rained earlier. On through Amwell, Cloverhill, Neshanic, and into Hillsborough. I decided to divert a bit through Raritan, grab a bottle of water at the Wawa there, and stop out at Branchburg Park. My dad spent many hours there flying model planes. It would be good to sit, hydrate, and watch the models. This map shows where I parked. After that I headed home, with a much clearer head. Riding is good therapy! The roads home were more suburban and a good deal less interesting. 202 to 22, then Foothill Road to 607 into Bound Brook, followed by a quick hop over the Raritan River onto 527 into New Brunswick. Through the city – it’s a campus town – and onto US 1 south for a final blast home.

99 miles, close enough for government work. Time to fire up the grill for some breakfast.


Dental Work

I’m not myself today.

The remaining two quadrants of root planing were completed this morning. The discomfort, while mild, has been enough to be distracting. I didn’t get much done – I wrote a couple of articles and added some pictures of our new kitten to my gallery. The list of stuff I didn’t do is considerably longer.

I haven’t eaten much so I’m a little hungry. If experience is any guide then tomorrow will see me back on track. After this single-malt I may or may not have another before retiring early.

Grumble, grumble.