Pills can be a tough pill to swallow, even for our feline friends. But sometimes they’re necessary to help your cat feel better. Whether it’s a vitamin supplement or medication, here are a few tips and tricks to give a cat a pill.
As the parent of a kitty with heart disease – who must take 9 pills a day in order to live comfortably – I’m no stranger to the struggles of medicating my cat. Fortunately, we’ve developed a 3-times-a-day routine and he tolerates it well.
There are several different ways to get the medication down the hatch and I’ll describe a few of them here, starting with the easiest:
For those who have very food-motivated cats, pill treats are a Godsend! Available at most pet stores, these are soft treats with empty centers. You simply put the medication into the treat, pinch it closed, and offer it to your cat. There are several brands and flavors available, the most common being Pill Pockets. You might also find pill treats in solid form, similar to Play-Doh, where you just pinch off the amount you need to cover the pill.
The downside of pill treats is that once your cat realizes he’s being tricked into taking medication, he may no longer accept the treat. Or, he may eat the treat and spit out the pill – so watch him until he swallows all of it.
Hide it in his Food:
This involves crushing the pills, so you need to talk to your vet first. This is VERY important, as some medications are time-released and cannot be crushed.
If the medication is safe to crush, try using a pestle and mortar, a pill crusher or two spoons and crush the pill into a powder. Then add it to some delicious canned food or pureed treat (We swear by Churu lickable treats!). The stinkier, the better. Remember, you don’t want him to realize you’re sneaking medicine into his food, so mask it with something smelly and high in flavor. Make sure your cat eats all of his food, so you can be sure he’s getting his full dose of medication.
The downside of hiding medication in your cat’s food is that, if he’s ill, he might not be eating. Sometimes you just have to force the pill down your cat’s throat.
A piller is exactly what it sounds like…it’s designed to help pill your pet! It looks like a syringe with a rubber tip. The tip holds the pill in place, you insert it into your cat’s mouth as far back as you can, press the plunger, and it shoots the pill into his throat. This allows you to get the pill into his mouth without actually putting your hands in his mouth, reducing your chance of getting bit.
Pilling by Hand:
This method takes some getting used to. But, once you get it down, and if your cat is cooperative, it can be quick and easy and the best way to guarantee that your baby is getting his medicine.
Kneel on the floor behind your cat with him facing forward. Use your legs and feet to hold your cat in place, so he can’t run away or back up. Use your left thumb and forefinger to pry open the corners of your cat’s mouth. Quickly, as he opens his mouth, use your right hand to pop the pill in so that it goes back as far as possible. Then hold his mouth closed and point his nose up. Gently rub his throat and, if necessary, softly blow on his face until you see him swallow.
Tips to Give A Cat A Pill:
Offer your cat a real treat after he gets his pill. That way, he can associate pill time with treat time and hopefully put up less of a fight when the time comes. This is especially helpful for kitties that require long-term daily medication.
Also, it’s a good idea to offer your cat a small meal or at least a drink of water to help move the pill into his stomach. Some medications can damage your cat’s esophagus if not followed up with water or a meal, and many medications may cause upset stomach that will be less noticeable with food.
If you find you’re unable to reliably get medication into your cat, talk to your veterinarian about having it compounded by a pharmacy into an easier-to-give form, like a flavored liquid, a chewable treat, or even a transdermal gel that can be applied into your cat’s ear.