If you have just returned home from a veterinary visit with oral medication for your cat, you may wonder, “How on earth am I going to get this pill into them?” Administering medication to our feline friends can be tricky, but preparation, patience, and a little creativity will help set you up for success.
Remember that all kitties are unique individuals, and you may have to try a few different methods to see what works best for your cat. Keep reading to learn how to give your cat a pill in five easy steps.
The 5 Tips on How to Give Your Cat a Pill
1. Double-Check the Directions on the Label
It is vital to give your cat’s medication exactly as directed by your veterinarian. Even experienced veterinary staff double-check labels before administering medication to patients! Taking a few extra seconds to read the label (especially if it is a new prescription) can help you avoid a mistake that might affect the success of your cat’s treatment plan or even be dangerous (in the case of an overdose, for example).
2. Confirm That No One Else in Your Home Has Given the Medication Already
If multiple people in your home will be giving your cat’s medication, it is a good idea to develop a system to ensure doses are not doubled up or missed.
3. Collect All of The Treats and Tools You Will Need Before Getting Started
Have everything ready before finding your cat.
A second person can be helpful, too!
4. Disguise the Medication
Many kitties will readily accept medication if it is hidden in something delicious. Try wrapping the pill in a specially designed treat (e.g., Greenies’ Pill Pocket) or a soft food that can be molded around the pill. You can ask your vet to suggest some appropriate options for your cat.
It is vital to handle the pill with one hand and the treat with your other hand so the outside of the treat does not taste like medication. Mikkel Becker, a pet behavior expert, recommends using a 3-step approach:
Each time you give your cat’s medication, change the number of treats and their order so they do not figure out which treat contains the pill. Some kitties appreciate variety in their treats. Remember to keep the treats small so your cat does not have to chew them.
If your veterinarian gives the okay, you can also try crushing the pill and mixing it with wet cat food or canned salmon juice. However, a risk with this method is that your kitty may not get their full dose of medication.
5. If Necessary, Place the Pill in Your Cat’s Mouth
If you have a finicky feline who is too discerning to take their medication disguised in food or treats, you may have to place the pill directly in their mouth. It is important to go about this the right way to minimize stress and make sure you and your cat do not get hurt!
IMPORTANT: if your cat becomes agitated or tries to bite or scratch you, stop what you are doing and try again later!
If you are uncomfortable placing your fingers in your cat’s mouth, ask your veterinarian to show you how to safely use a tool like a pill gun.
Giving your cat a pill does not have to be a scary or stressful experience! If you have worked through our recommended steps and are still having trouble, ask your veterinarian for help. There may be a longer-acting or injectable medication available. As surprising as it sounds, some cats are more tolerant of injections than oral medication.
Some medications can be compounded into forms that are easier to administer. Examples include flavored liquids, chews, and transdermal gels applied to the skin.
One of the best things you can do is practice giving your cat a pill before they need medication! It is ideal to begin when your cat is a kitten and make it a regular part of their training, but it is never too late to start. Check out this handout with great tips for a fear-free experience.
Featured Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock
- The 5 Tips on How to Give Your Cat a Pill
- 1. Double-Check the Directions on the Label
- 2. Confirm That No One Else in Your Home Has Given the Medication Already
- 3. Collect All of The Treats and Tools You Will Need Before Getting Started
- 4. Disguise the Medication
- 5. If Necessary, Place the Pill in Your Cat’s Mouth