Cats don’t like taking medication any more than humans do, so getting your cat used to being handled and finding treats he enjoys in a relaxed atmosphere will prove invaluable if you ever need to give him medication.
You could even practice opening your cat’s mouth so that you and she aren’t doing something unfamiliar as you attempt to administer the first pill.
Opening Your Cat’s Mouth
- Put your thumb on one side of your cat’s mouth
- Put your middle finger on the other side
- Press down gently on both sides of his lower jaw
- Your cat will open her mouth
Once your cat opens her mouth pop in a cat treat, this will help her associate this action with something good and will hopefully make your job easier if and when you have to give medication.
There are essentially four ways to give your cat a pill and we’ll consider each in turn.
Never try and crush up pills to mix with cat food unless your vet advises that this is an acceptable way to give the medication.
Always keep your cat enclosed in one room when you give medication so that you can make sure he doesn’t spit the pill out as soon as he thinks the coast is clear.
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Giving Your Cat A Pill
Enclose the cat in one room and provide carpet or a towel for her to stand on so that she can grip.
You may want to wrap your cat in a towel or sheet with just his head showing so that he’s swaddled and feels secure.
Keep yourself and then environment as calm as possible and give yourself plenty of time as cats react badly to a stressed human.
- Hold onto your cat with one arm
- Open your cat’s mouth as described above
- Pop the pill into the back of your cat’s mouth
- Hold his mouth closed
- Gently massage his throat to encourage him to swallow
- You could follow up the pill with a syringe of water gently squirted into his mouth
Use a pill shooter
- Put the pill into a pill shooter
- Hold your cat as above
- Gently open her mouth
- Insert the pill shooter
- Deploy the plunger
- Hold your cat’s mouth closed and massage the throat
If you’re lucky the medication might be easily hidden in a handful of your cat’s regular treats, this will particularly be the case if your cat simply gobbles down their cat treats and swallows them rather than chewing.
Hold a small handful of treats, give your cat a couple of treats in the usual way, then give the pill and follow with another couple of treats.
This is certainly the easiest method, but it will only work if the pill is of a similar size to the treats and doesn’t have a strong smell.
Related: Calming Chews for Cats
Hiding the pill
If giving your cat her medication alongside regular treats doesn’t work you could try hiding it inside some food (I’m reliably informed that enclosing a pill in the minced meatworks for cheetahs).
Pressing the pill into a ball of cheese or a roll of ham and offering it to your cat as a treat will work provided she doesn’t simply suck the coating off revealing the pill, which she might then spit out.
You could buy dedicated pill pockets, treats designed to have a pill hidden inside. Give your cat a couple of unfilled pockets, followed by the filled one, followed by some ordinary treats to keep her happy.
Whichever way you decide to give medication to your cat it is important to keep an eye on him for a few minutes in case he has sneakily kept the pill in his mouth ready to spit out when you’re not looking.
If he does spit it out you will need to repeat the process. Remember though that you must not get stressed, as this will upset your cat.
- Ernest Ward, DVM, Giving Pills to Cats, VCA Hospitals
- How to Give a Cat a Pill, Best Friends Animal Society
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.