How Not To Burrito A 17 Pound Cat


Lest you think I could in any way be referring to my cat and the kind of burrito one might eat, let me set your mind to rest. To “burrito” a cat is to wrap it tightly in a towel in order to calm it down enough to clip its nails or administer medication, which, in this case, was the reason for my attempt.

The whole sad story started when my cat, Michou, displayed symptoms of a urinary tract infection. I, myself, was in the middle of a yucky head cold at the time, and wished the whole situation would just go away. Michou is five, but because he’d always been a very healthy indoor only cat, I’d never had reason to take him to a Vet. Now, unfortunately, I needed to. So after doing a little research, I made a plan.

Step one was to borrow a carrier. A big one. One that had both a side and top opening. Which I was able to do, thanks to my friend Karen. But one that big turned out to be awkward to maneuver and to weigh almost as much as my cat, which was over 17 pounds.

Ragdoll cat Michou
My ragdoll cat Michou

Step two was to get the carrier inside the house without Michou seeing it and taking refuge on the top shelf of a closet, or anchoring himself between the storage boxes underneath the bed. I’d tried to put him in a carrier once before in order to bring him to the friend who takes care of him while I’m out of town. It hadn’t worked. Now, I just throw him quickly into the car and go. But for the Vet, he needed to be confined.

When Karen brought over the carrier, I’d asked her to leave it outside, out of sight. Before bringing it in, I coaxed Michou into my bedroom and gently closed the door. Then, I brought the carrier inside the house and placed it in the center of the bathroom, the smallest room, one from which he couldn’t easily escape.

Step three was getting him inside the monster transporter. At this point, sneezy and voiceless with an aching head, my stomach became queasy with apprehension. Michou was not like any other cat I’d had. First of all, he was a he. I’d previously only had shes. And all those females had found their way to me on there own, were sweet and shy. Michou was a Ragdoll cat, which I’d gotten from a breeder as a 10 week old irresistible ball of creamy fluff that, from day one, had made it very clear he was the King of Everything.

Back to step three. I partially closed the bathroom door leaving a small gap so Michou wouldn’t immediately see the carrier. Then I opened the bedroom door, and in one fell swoop scooped up Michou, bolted toward the bathroom, kicked open that door, carefully dropped him into the carrier through the top opening, and secured the locks. Michou was not happy. I, however, was, even as I also hated to have to trick him, not only into that contraption, but into a visit with a Vet.

Ragdoll cat 10 weeks Michou
Michou at 10 weeks

When we got there, we had to wait, but the exam went better than expected…at least at first. Michou was upset and nervous, not at all liking to be handled and probed, but he mewed only a little and didn’t show any teeth or claws. The Vet could not, however, get a urine sample, and strongly suggested that I leave him there for a few hours so that they could inject fluid and hopefully get him to use a special litter box. Even though I seriously doubted that would ever happen (they did not know this cat), I consented. Two hours later, I called to find out how things were progressing (still no urine sample), and asked if they could cut Michou’s nails, something he hadn’t let me do in probably a year. An hour after that, I received a call.

“I’m afraid Michou is very upset. Can you come and get him as soon as possible?”

“I don’t suppose there’s any way to get his nails cut now,” I only half joked.

There was no reply.

Well, of course my poor kitty was upset. The Vet had made a big mistake. Without even telling me, she had given Michou a rabies shot. That was when he showed his true colors—teeth, razor claws, and all 17 pounds of feline fight.

So I went to pick him up, pay the exorbitant bill (which included boarding charges in 15 minute increments waiting for him to pee), and get his meds—antibiotics in liquid form to be given to him out of a syringe squirted into the side of his mouth.

The image made my solar plexus spin itself into a frazzle.

“How in the world do I do this,” I asked Amber, the twenty-something, vivacious Veterinary Assistant.

“Do you know how to burrito a cat?” she said.

“No,” I replied. I knew this meant trouble.

“Let me show you with Maxwell, one of the cats that stays here.”

She left and returned with a one-eyed, ridiculously docile Tabby.

“Let’s go in here,” she said, leading me into a small room.

The cat was already lying on the floor of his own accord. Amber took a large towel, threw it horizontally over his back. The cat didn’t budge. Effortlessly, she plopped down on her young, agile knees and sat back onto her heels, one bent leg straddling each side of Maxwell, which made my own knees tense with anticipated pain. She then pulled up on Maxwell’s shoulders so he was sitting, and wrapped first one side then the other side of the towel around the front of his body closing up the burrito. Holding him against her with her elbow, she smoothed the cat’s brow, held onto his head with one hand, and with the other, inserted the syringe into the side of his mouth where she said there was a natural space for it.

I wanted to cry.

Later, at home— Well, I won’t go into all the gory details, so let’s just say that Michou would have no part of being burritoed in any way, shape, or form. And there was not a chance in hell of getting any meds into him from a syringe inserted in the side of his mouth. Numerous claw scratches, two bites, three wasted doses of antibiotics, dozens of website visits, and countless tears later, I finally came up with a new plan.

Ragdoll cat Michou

The next day, I went to the compounding pharmacy and got a syringe of chicken flavoring (Michou is probably the only cat on the planet that doesn’t like tuna). When I got home, I mixed a dose of his meds with the flavoring and a tablespoon of his favorite wet sliced food with gravy (he turns his nose up at any kind of pâté) and put the bowl down on the floor. At first, he wouldn’t go near it. Then, slowly, cautiously, he approached, sniffed, backed off a little, came forward a little, and voilà! lapped up the whole thing. Winning a billion dollar lottery couldn’t have made me happier.

So now, Michou is well and back to his old antics, which includes dismembering crickets, trying to pry glass covered hanging art off picture hooks, and using my headboard for a scratching post. Those claws desperately need to be clipped. I wonder if it’s safe to give a cat Xanax.