How to Give a Pill to a Cat

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January 13, 2013
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We’ve covered some ways to administer a pill to a dog which entailed wrapping the pill inside of something yummy like cheese or crushing it up in food and if needed, holding your dog and putting the pill in his/her mouth by hand. This half covers what to do with cats. Cats tend to have a slightly more finicky mindset when it comes to taking anything that is not their normal diet or something they do not want to ingest. There are some tricks to getting a cat to take medication without it turning into a comedy sketch or becoming a battle.

Also remember that if you’re finding the pill-giving process is just too difficult, talk to your vet – there may be an alternative form of the medication, in a liquid perhaps, that your cat would accept more readily.

Here are several ways to pill a cat

Crush it up

  1. Offer your cat a tiny bit of wet food or baby food to see if s/he likes it before a regular meal
  2. If there is then placing the pill into food may work
  3. Crush the pill with the back of a spoon on a clean surface and mix it with a small amount wet food or baby food
  4. Mix it well and watch to make sure your cat eats it all
  5. Once it’s all eaten up, you can offer your cat his/her regular meal

Slip and Slide

This method can be a little tricky and hard to explain. I looked up a few tips here and here to help find the right words when it comes to explaining how to hold a cat properly. I give my cat a pill twice a day and it’s not too tough (anymore).

  1. Try to not make a big production of what is about to happen
  2. Coat the pill in a little bit of butter. It will mask some of the taste and slide down your cat’s throat
  3. Hold the pill between your index finger and thumb with your dominant hand
  4. Hold your cat by the scruff with your weaker hand
  5. Tilt the head back gently and with your middle finger of your dominant hand, that has the pill, press down on your cat’s lower front teeth to open the mouth
  6. Once your cat’s mouth is open you may notice a U shape made by the tongue, use that as your target
  7. Drop the pill to the back of the throat straight down the middle of the U shape
  8. Close your cat’s mouth and gently stroke the chin and throat in a downward motion to encourage swallowing
  9. Reward your cat with praise and a treat (this is optional but they do associate treats with this routine and will be more cooperative as time goes on)

Straight Down No Frills

The butter technique can work wonders but some cats may also become great at sliding that pill right out of their mouths a few seconds afterwards. Sometimes the best approach is a no nonsense one that entails many of the same steps without coating the pill.

  1. Again, try to not make a big production of what is about to happen
  2. Hold your cat grasp the scruff (some recommend holding the top of the cat’s head) with your weaker hand while holding the pill in your dominant hand between your thumb and index finger
  3. Get cat from under the table and hold onto a little tighter to the scruff
  4. Tilt the head back gently and with your middle finger of your dominant hand, that has the pill, press down on your cat’s lower front teeth to open the mouth
  5. Pick up pill that the cat has kicked out of your hand with her/his front paws and go get cat from under the bed
  6. Pet and soothe your cat
  7. Repeat steps 2 and 4
  8. Once your cat’s mouth is open you may notice the U shape made by the tongue, use that as your target
  9. Drop the pill to the back of the throat straight down the middle of the U shape
  10. Retrieve pill from floor which the cat has spit out at an impressive distance and dust off fuzz make a mental note to vacuum
  11. Get cat out from behind the couch and try again also pull out that missing sock
  12. Once the pill has been dropped into the throat, close the mouth and gently stroke the chin and throat to encourage swallowing
  13. Reward your cat with a treat and get yourself one too

How do you pill your cat? Tell us!
Image from Cats.About.com

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