As pet parents knowing how to get your cat to take a pill is very important. Cats can get sick at any age, but elderly cat health problems start to arise as your kitty gets older.
This is when the chances of having to give your kitty pills increases. Fortunately, routine worming and flea treatments can now be administered as drops on the neck.
However, most medication is in tablet form, and as cats are notoriously hard to handle, how can you do this safely? Cats as we all know have sharp claws and teeth which can do a lot of damage.
If you’re on your own with no one to help, there are a few simple methods you can try. Keep reading as I explain some of the ways you can give your cat a pill without getting hurt.
I’m all in favour of causing the least amount of stress as possible. You don’t want your cat to fear pill time! This could make your cat scared and anxious.
Adding a pill to your cats food without arousing suspicion!
Of course, the easiest way to give your kitty a pill is by breaking it up and mixing it in with her food. Not all medication can be given this way though, as in some cases it can reduce the effectiveness.
Always ask your vet first before breaking up pills. You may also be able to hide the pill in food, but cats are clever and can’t always be fooled!! Plus, some medication requires you take it on an empty stomach.
If you are allowed to break the pill up, I recommend crushing it with the back of a teaspoon. That’s how I’ve successfully got one of my cats to take her medication.
Don’t let your kitty see you do it though, they’re not daft!! If you decide to try this method, only mix in with a small amount of food. Ideally tasty tuna! If you add too much in her bowl she may not eat it all in one go.
A gentle approach to get your cat used to swallowing a pill whole.
Adding a pill to food without crushing hasn’t worked for me as my cat would spit it out. You could give it a go, but there is a better way.
This may work for your cat, but you need to get kitty used to this before the need to give pills. Start by gently touching the sides of her mouth when you’re stroking her.
Getting your cat used to being touched near her mouth without biting you is a start. Reward her with a couple of tasty treats. This will help your cat associate this with being a positive experience.
The next thing is to try and get your cat to open her mouth. Easier said than done, but with lots of patience and treats it can be achieved!
Very gently place your thumb and middle finger on the side of your cat’s mouth and try to open it. Don’t stress her out if it doesn’t work. Just reassure her with cuddles and leave it a while before you make another attempt.
The idea is to place a small treat in the side of her mouth so she gets used the idea of you opening it. Continue to do this regularly so she expects a nice treat when you do this.
Disguising the pill so kitty doesn’t know!
If the time comes when you have to give her pills follow this next step. Wrap the pill in a tasty treat such as tuna, then using your thumb and middle finger with one hand try and open the cats mouth keeping your fingers near the back of the mouth to avoid sharp canines!
Gently tilt your cat’s head back and using the index finger and thumb of your other hand, place pill near the base of the tongue.
Carefully rub her throat to encourage swallowing. Do this for a few seconds until it’s swallowed as cats are masters of spitting out pills!! Don’t worry if it doesn’t work first time.
Some medication is given in capsule form. As they’re tasteless when whole, but bitter if broken, try to get your cat to swallow it in one go.
It’s always easier with two people, but if you live alone you’ll need to find a way that your cat is comfortable with, and you can manage.
how to give your cat tablets using a pill popper
A pill popper is a plunger with a soft rubber tip. You place a pill in the tip and gently squeeze the handle to dispense it into the cat’s mouth.
It can be a lot easier than using your fingers, but you still need to open kitty’s mouth. Gently rub her throat and follow the pill with a few drops of water using the plunger.
Giving your cat liquid medication using a dropper the right way
All liquid medication should come with a dropper. It’s quite easy, but you must do it correctly or it will go everywhere except into the cat!
Hold your cat’s head still without tilting it back. Making sure you have the correct number of drops in the dropper, gently insert the tip in the corner of the mouth and squirt, aiming towards the back.
Gently massage the throat for a few seconds to ensure it’s all gone down ok. Another useful tip is to gently blow on your cat’s nose as it encourages swallowing.
Kneeling on the floor holding your cat between your knees.
Kneeling on the floor and holding your cat between your knees can work, well but as with all other methods it’s trial and error.
gently, open her mouth using your thumb and middle finger. Then either using a pill popper or your fingers place the pill as far back in the mouth as you can. Remember to massage the throat and give a few drops of water.
Just the same as if you tried to swallow a pill without water, it could get stuck in the throat. Squirt a few drops of water in the corner of the mouth using a syringe.
If none of the above work you may it easier by kneeling on the floor and gently holding the cat between your knees. Make sure your cat is facing away from you and
Always reward your cat
You may Always reward your cat for allowing you to handle her. The more you reward good behaviour the greater the bond between you.
Cats are very intelligent and soon get to know the routine for getting a treat! Reward your kitty everytime and you’ll find it much easier to pop a pill in her mouth!
Handling an aggressive cat at pill time
All cats are different, with some being more laid back than others. If your cat gets aggressive you could try wrapping her in a towel. It won’t hurt your kitty and saves you from being scratched!
The only downside to this is she may get stressed and associate pills with an unpleasant experience. Vets are used to handling cats this way and there are often two people involved.
If all else fails tell the vetinary clinic. They may offer you an alternative such as liquid medication. This can be administered by using a dropper in the side of the mouth.
The least stress your cat experiences the better. I don’t think you’d ever find a completely relaxed cat at pill time though unless you can put it in the food.
They may also be able to give you your cat meat flavoured medication. This will make it seem like you’re offering a treat and not a pill!
Always make sure you follow the instructions carefully and finish the course. A good idea is to create a chart so you can tick off each dose given, or download my free pet planner.
Finding what works so pill time isn’t a battle!
Once you’ve discovered how to get a cat to take a pill without losing your fingers, stick to it! Getting your cat used to being touched around the mouth is a good start. Don’t wait until your cat gets sick and needs medication.
You can start right now, and by doing this your cat will only associate pill time with good things! If you’re at all worried about giving your cat a pill ask your vet for advice.
Remember to keep your cat insured as some treatments and medications can be very expensive. Pet insurance is very competitive these days so always shop around for a good quote.
Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂