How to Give Your Cat a Pill in 12 Easy Steps
Editor's Note: Brian's article originally ran on Thought Catalog. We're rerunning it here with his permission.
Last month when I left the vet, neither my cat nor I were in a particularly good mood. She was upset because she was in her new ultra-comfortable carrying case, which she likes to celebrate riding in by immediately and repeatedly throwing up. I swear when my cat eats she says to herself, “I’m pretty full, but I better have a few more bites just in case I gotta go in that carrier thing later and puke the living hell out of it.” I was upset because the vet had given me a giant jar of pills and the worst homework assignment ever: Give your cat one of these daily until the end of time.
Your instinct is to feel bad for my cat, but seriously, don’t. She’ll be fine. She just has to swallow some vitamins everyday -- the one to feel bad for is me, because I’m the one that’s gotta make her do it. Giving a cat a pill is like playing paddy-cake with a bear trap, but we are cat people, so this is what we do. On my way out of the office, I saw how the other half lived. A dog owner was in the waiting room giving his pooch the daily pill, and clearly they were having the time of their lives.
“Here ya go, buddy!” the human said, stuffing the medicine in a piece of bread and tossing it in the air.
His dog leapt, like it was the greatest gift he’d ever seen, caught the bread in his mouth, then gobbled it down and looked around for more. The dog finished his medicine AND LOOKED AROUND FOR MORE! What a showoff. Dogs, am I right? If my cat wasn’t there to restrain me, I totally would’ve given him the finger.
If this article were titled “How To Give Your Dog a Pill,” it would be one sentence long. “Shove the pill inside a food your dog likes,” it would begin, and then “let your dog eat it” would be the stirring conclusion. Dogs are neanderthals, they would eat their own tail if you could find a piece of cheese big enough to stuff it in. Cats are, however, a refined pain in the ass. Getting a cat to swallow a pill is like teaching an elephant to make a chocolate souffle, except much much harder. It’s just you against a dagger-filled mouth, and that mouth wants nothing to do with the medicine you’ve got tucked in your hand.
After several weeks of trials, here now is the method I’ve established for getting any cat to take any pill. In 12 easy steps. Enjoy!
- Pretend your cat is a dog and hide the pill in her favorite food, like chicken or tuna fish. Watch your cat sniff the food and walk away.
- Pretend your cat is stupid and mix a crushed pull in with the the fanciest wet food money can buy. Watch your cat sniff the food and walk away.
- Pretend your cat is desperate and sandwich the pill in between two of her favorite treats, like a glorious Oreo cookie for kitties. Watch your cat sniff the food and walk away.
- Call your pet store and find out if you can return “lightly used” cans of food and treats.
- Say, “OK, no more screwing around” to no one in particular. Pry open your cat’s mouth and get bit. Put the pill inside your cat’s mouth and get bit again. Hold your cat’s mouth closed around the pill and get scratched. Certain that your cat just swallowed, let her mouth go and get bit and scratched simultaneously. Say, “Well, at least that’s over with” as the pill falls out of your cat’s mouth and she runs under the bed. Shake bloody fist at the heavens.
- Turn to the Internet for answers. Discover the “Burrito Method,” wherein you wrap a towel around your cat like a burrito so she can not claw you while you give her a pill. Forget that burritos fall apart when they’re filled with nothing but rice and cheese, so it’s hard to imagine how filling them with angry feline would go any better. Tentatively approach your cat with a ratty old towel who somehow knows exactly what’s coming. Get scratched and bit, and realize that the chief benefit to the Burrito Method is having a towel handy to clean up all your blood.
- Clean up all your blood.
- Call your vet. Listen to her suggest sneaking the pill into your cat’s food, or maybe this surefire thing called the Burrito Method? Tell your vet to go $@!*% herself.
- Realize your cat now recognizes the sound of the pill jar being opened, and immediately runs and hides. Turn on loud music so your cat can’t hear you open the jar. Receive a complaint from your landlord wondering why the music is so loud. Explain. Understand that now everyone in your building thinks you’re insane. Totally get where they’re coming from.
- Reason with your cat. Look her in the eyes and say, “You really need to take this medicine. Trust me. It will make you feel better.” Hold it in your hand. Get excited when it seems that she miraculously understands you. Watch her cautiously lean in and examine the pill. Applaud yourself for treating her with respect and dignity. Say gleefully, “See, this is why cats are the best! A dog would never understand simple reason!” Watch your cat sniff the pill, wait, and walk away. Start to cry.
- Cry loud and long enough that your cat begins to worry about you. Lie still as she sniffs your face, trying to figure out what’s wrong. She may be a pain in the ass, but your cat does understand when you’re upset. Do nothing as your cat guiltily licks the pill out of your hand and swallows it, apologizing for her behavior. Give her a big hug as your use her fur to dry off your tears. Love your cat more than you ever have in your entire life, right up until the time you have to give her another pill.
- Repeat every day for the rest of your life.
See, not so bad, is it?