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Metairie Small Animal Hospital (MSAH)

How to Give Your Cat a Pill

Brown Cat Eating Out of Food Bowl Outside

If you’re like most cat owners, you've struggled at one time or another while trying to give your cat a pill. But with a little bit of advice and patience, you can be a pro in no time!

There are three possible methods for pilling your cat. Kitty's level of compliance and your level of comfort will determine which method is best for you.

Method 1

The easiest thing to do is to try to hide it in something that Kitty likes to eat. Here are some ways we suggest disguising your cat’s medication:

If it’s a liquid, you can dissolve it in some tuna broth. Simply pour the tuna water out of the can and add the liquid contents of the medication.

Hide the pill in a little bit of cream cheese, plain yogurt, vanilla ice cream, or other food your cat likes.

Try using a product called Pill Pockets. These are soft, hollowed-out treats that you can form around the pill.

Be sure to check the food after Kitty's done with it, though, to be sure the pill was eaten. Some cats will eat a pill willingly for a while and then, inexplicably, stop. For cats that won't willingly eat their medications, other methods must be used.

Method 2

If your cat is more cunning than the average feline (or the pill is, especially terrible tasting) and you're still having issues, then you'll have to manually pill your cat. This means that you will physically need to put it down his/her throat. If you're worried about being scratched, we recommend wrapping Kitty in a thick beach towel like a burrito. With only his/her head sticking out, you'll have more control. This technique is easier with two people, so try recruiting a friend!

Once your cat is secure, stroke the top of his head to let him know that you’re there. Next, come in with the same hand and place your fingers right behind the canine teeth. Once your fingers are placed, he'll naturally open up his mouth. Next, you'll want to point his head up to the sky and use your other hand to drop in the pill. You'll need to do this quickly, and as far back as possible. The good news with cats is, they have short faces, so you won’t have to reach back into Kitty's mouth too far.

Method 3

However, if you’re hesitant to put your hand in Kitty's mouth, you can also use a device called a pill popper. This is simply a long, syringe-like apparatus that holds the pill at the tip, protecting your hand and fingers. If you need one, you can purchase it from us or from most pet supply stores. You'll follow the same steps as pilling by hand, substituting the pill popper for your hand.

Once the pill is placed in the throat, you'll want to close Kitty's mouth and gently stroke his chin and neck to help the pill go down. If it gets stuck, cats will typically spit it out. Once saliva comes into contact with the pill it may become very slippery. If that’s the case, you may need to get a new tablet and start over.

If you have a cat that needs to take multiple medications, you can use empty gelatin capsules. With this product, you can place multiple pills into one capsule, and save yourself the hassle of pilling your cat multiple times.

If you're still having issues giving your cat a pill, or if you have any questions, we're happy to help. Contact us, here.