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How to Give a Cat a Pill

Posted by Dr. Jessica on April 02, 2021

Medical Advice
Puppy & Kitten
Wellness Care
What to do if?
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As many pet parents know from experience, giving a cat a pill can be a harrowing event. Many cats resort to using their claws and teeth when faced with a pill they don’t want to swallow. Even if a pet parent manages to successfully get the pill in a cat’s mouth, many felines are wonderful at spitting out pills. Fortunately, there are several tricks pet parents can try when giving cats a pill.

Administering Oral Medication to Cats

Some pills must be given with food, while others must be administered on an empty stomach. It is important to note that not all medication can be crushed or divided—which may limit administration options. When pet parents and a vet have discussed a cat’s medication, it’s time to see which of the several methods below will work best on the cat.

Hide It in Your Pet’s Favorite Treat

If a cat’s medication must be taken with food, try hiding the pill in their favorite treat:

  • Choose a small treat that won’t need to be chewed.

  • Give a kitty one regular treat.

  • Follow with the hidden pill and another regular treat.

If a cat’s medication calls for a full meal, provide the pill hidden in the treat immediately before their meal.

Use a Pill Pocket

Using a pill pocket can take the guesswork out of hiding treats. Choose a pill pocket in a pet’s favorite flavor, then administer their medication by:

  • Filling the pill pocket with the required medicine.

  • Pinching the treat closed.

  • Feeding a cat the pill pocket as a treat. 

Cut up or Crush the Pill

A pet parent can crush the pill and mix it with their regular meal—if their primary vet approves. Use a pill cutter or crusher to maintain an accurate and consistent dosage for a kitty. 

Pet parents will need to watch pets carefully to make sure they consume all of their meal and medication. Make sure other pets do not consume any of the mixed food and medication. 

Manually Give the Pill to Your Cat 

If possible, start by asking a veterinarian or technician to demonstrate how to administer medication. To give a cat a pill by hand, follow these steps:

  • Calmly approach a cat—watching for signals that the animal is upset or angry.

  • Hold the animal securely from behind with their head facing away. Consider wrapping more excitable or angry cats in a towel or blanket.  

  • Hold the medication in one hand while very gently tilting a cat’s head back.

  • Carefully open their mouth. Place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible.

  • Close the pet’s mouth and gently rub their throat or gently blow into their nose. Once a pet parent has lowered a cat’s head to a normal position, watch for the cat to lick their lips. This typically means they have swallowed the pill. 

  • If the pill remains, repeat the process of closing their mouth, tilting the head back, and gently rubbing their throat. 

Always reward a pet with their favorite treat and toy to build a positive association with the pill-giving process, or at least avoiding a seemingly traumatic experience. 

At-Home Support

To make sure you choose the right method for your pet, connect with Fuzzy’s veterinary support team via 24/7 Live Vet Chat. Become a Fuzzy Member and gain 24/7 guidance, night or day from wherever you and your cat are, on how best to administer oral treatments for your cat.

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