The Secret to Effortless Pill Popping


Pill time is never fun. Hiding it in food is more effective for dogs than most cats. Skeezix can smell subterfuge a mile away and will eat everything but the pill, which often means the pill disintegrates and goes to waste.

Most cat owners use the finger method, in which you use your finger to place the pill in the back of your cat’s throat, then close the mouth and force her to swallow. However, you risk being bitten with this method, depending on your cat’s temperament.

Many people have had success administering pills with Greenies Pill Pockets. They’re a cat treat with a hollow core. You drop the pill into the cavity and feed it like a treat to your cat. We’ve had mixed luck with these. Our Siamese will eat everything but the pill, then spit it out, and sometimes refuses it altogether. You can get a free sample of Pill Pockets to see if they work for your cat.

When my geezer cat, Rocky, was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I dreaded the prospect of giving him his pills twice daily. The usually mellow tuxie turns into exorcist kitty anytime we even start thinking about giving him medication, and I wasn’t looking forward to fighting with him morning and night for the rest of his life. My fingers would start to look like pincushions.

We tried a topical gel that is applied to his coat, the theory being that when he licked it he’d ingest the medication. But the efficacy of that method is questionable, and after a retest of his thyroid levels, it was apparent we’d have to buck up and go the pill route.

I discussed the challenge of pilling him with our vet, who sent us home with a pill gun (shown below). It transformed an epic battle into a walk in the park. Rocky never puts up a fight with the pill gun, and our fingers are never in danger of being bitten. We reward him afterward with his favorite treat, and I swear, I think he might even look forward to pill time now.

I’m surprised by the number of people who have never heard of the pill gun, or assume erroneously that it’s a veterinary tool to which they don’t have access. You can buy them online, and they’re cheap (in fact, they’re currently on sale for $2.49 at, definitely worth a try if you’ve exhausted all other methods of pill giving.

Of course, use whatever method works best for your cat. If you’ve never given pills before, ask your vet for a demo so that you thoroughly understand the process before you have to give your first pill.

To help you perfect your pill-popping technique, Cornell University offers an informative video on how to give a cat a pill. Click here to watch the video.

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