How to Give a Cat a Pill: 5 Easy Tips

How to Give a Cat a Pill: 5 Easy Tips

Administering a cat’s medication is a delicate dance. Their resistance demands creative tactics, as well as patience and flexibility. If you’ve struggled to give your pet meds or cat supplements in the past, these tips are for you, but if you have any questions or concerns, consult your vet for alternative methods or helpful tools. Together, teamwork ensures well-being, one purrfectly swallowed pill at a time, and helps to ensure a long, happy life for your cat.

What Is the Easiest Way to Give a Cat a Pill?

Administering oral medication to your cherished feline may seem like a fierce battle, but these two proven techniques ensure a smoother process: hiding the pill or calmly direct dosing. Cats are finicky, so both of these techniques can backfire. It’s important to proceed with patience, stay calm, and explore all options. After all, neither cat owners nor their feline friends want this to be a traumatic experience. With a bit of practice and these cat-friendly tricks, you'll both be purring in no time!

5 Ways to Get Your Cat to Take a Pill

Hide It in a Treat or a Piece of Food

Wrap medicine in pill form in a soft treat or use specially designed pill pockets to conceal the medication. If you can’t fool them with cat treats, disguise it in some human food. Many cats love cream cheese, deli meat, or will eat medicine if the pill is crushed and hidden in a scoop of baby food.

Crush and Mix with Food

Use a pill crusher to turn the cat medicine into a powder. Then, mix the crushed cat pills with a small amount of wet canned food or tuna juice. Make sure your cat eats the entire mixture.

Use a Pill Dispenser (a Pill Gun)

Invest in a pill dispenser designed for cats. These devices help bypass the cat’s teeth and place the pill directly into your cat's throat.

Use Flavored Pills

Some medications come in flavored forms that cats find more palatable. Check with your vet to see if this option is available.

Try a Pill Paste

Pill pastes are designed to coat pills and make them more appealing to cats. You can apply the paste directly to the pill.

How Do You Put a Pill in a Cat’s Mouth?

Here are the steps on how to give a cat a pill.

  1. Gather supplies. Have the pill, a towel, and a pill dispenser or your fingers ready.
  2. Prepare the cat. Sit in a quiet, comfortable space with your cat. You may want to place a towel on your lap or a stable surface to prevent scratching.
  3. Hold the cat securely. Gently hold your cat by the scruff of the neck with one hand, while supporting the body with the other. This mimics how a mother cat carries her kittens. Some pet parents also have success wrapping the cat like a burrito in a blanket to contain their claws.
  4. Position the pill. Use the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand to hold the pill. Make sure the cat's head is slightly tilted back.
  5. Open their mouth. Use your middle finger to gently press on the lower front teeth, causing the mouth to open. You can also use your other hand to gently lift the upper jaw.
  6. Place the pill in the back of the mouth. With the pill dispenser or your fingers, deposit the pill in the back of the cat’s mouth. Aim for the center of the esophagus.
  7. Close their mouth. Hold the cat's mouth closed and stroke the throat to encourage swallowing. You can blow gently on the nose to promote swallowing.
  8. Offer a treat or praise. Once your cat has swallowed the pill, give a treat and praise to reinforce positive behavior.
  9. Monitor for regurgitation. Keep an eye on your cat for a few minutes to ensure they don't regurgitate the pill. If they do, try again. If you have continued trouble, consult your veterinarian.

Tools for Giving a Cat a Pill

Pill Dispenser or Pill Gun

A pill dispenser, pet piller, or pill gun is a device designed to hold the pill securely and allow you to place it directly into the back of the cat's throat. It minimizes the chance of the cat spitting out the pill (or biting you).

Pill Pockets

Many cat owners use cat treats like pill pockets because they have a hollow center where you can hide the pill. Cats often find them tasty, making it easier to disguise the medication.

Liquid Medication Syringe or Plunger

Some medications are available in liquid form. You can use a dropper or syringe to administer the liquid directly into the back of your cat's mouth. 

What If Your Cat Spits Out the Pill?

  • Re-administer the pill. Experiment with different methods of holding your cat and administering the pill. Some cats may be more cooperative if held a specific way or wrapped like a burrito, or as we call it, a purrito.
  • Try new pill hiding techniques. Use pill pockets, treats, crush the pill into a fine powder and mix it with a small amount of wet cat food. This can make it harder for the cat to detect the pill.
  • Use an alternate medication. Check with your veterinarian to see if the medication is available in a different form, such as a liquid or chewable tablet.
  • Split the dose. If the size of the pill is a factor, ask your veterinarian if it's possible to split the dose and give half in the morning and half in the evening.
  • Consult with your veterinarian if you're having difficulty. They may provide additional tips or suggest an alternative medication or method of administration.

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Categories: Cat Health