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How to Give a Pill to a Cat

How to give a pill to a cat

Have you ever tried to give a pill to a cat?  If you’ve owned cats for any length of time there’s always the inevitable illness of sorts that results in the vet sending you home with a bottle of…pills!  How many cats do you know that take pills without resisting?  The vet makes it look so easy: just tip her head back with one hand, use a finger to open her mouth, pop the pill into the back of the throat and quickly shut her mouth; then blow on her face, rub her throat, wait for her to swallow. 

Yeah, right.  As one of my friends put it, “You don’t know my cat!”  Cats are WAY too smart to let us pull that trick at home.  You may as well put on a Kevlar vest, heavy work gloves, and all the protective clothing you can find because there’s just no way you’re coming out of it unscathed.  As one vet I used to go to humorously put it, “It has to be their idea.”


Give a pill to a cat successfully

How to Give a Pill to a Cat

In writing this post I was reminded of this famou, humorous anecdote below on how to give a pill to a cat.  Do you remember it?

  1. Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
  2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
  3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.
  4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
  5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.
  6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.
  7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered Doulton figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
  8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.
  9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
  10. Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.
  11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.
  12. Call fire department to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.
  13. Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed, force cat’s mouth open with small wrench. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet mignon. Hold head vertically and pour 1/2 litre of water down throat to wash pill down.
  14. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture store on way home to order new table.

– This piece was originally written by Bob Story for the Laguna Beach, Calif., Coastline NEWS.turkeybabyfood

Helpful tips on giving pills and meds to cats

There are several things you can try when trying to administer pills or other meds. The first one is my favorite go-to:  baby food.  My cats LOVE the Gerber baby food meats. In fact, no matter how quiet I try to be when opening the jar for the first time (it makes a pop as the pressure is released), Rocket and Gunner come running from the second floor bedroom, no matter if they are sound sleep, and the next thing I know I have an audience at my feet.

Crush the pill then mix it into about 1/2-1  tablespoon of baby food.  Liquids or powders can easily be mixed in.  If it has a really strong smell I may either use more baby food or break up the doses into smaller portions.  Either way it’s usually pretty successful!



The second thing that can be helpful when pilling a cat or giving meds via syringe is wrapping the cat in a Purrito.  While it doesn’t work for all cats, for others it works like a charm.  Poor Snowbear used to foam at the mouth as he would fight me tooth and nail when trying to give him a pill.  We even tried wrapping him up like a Purrito, but he always managed to wriggle out and make a mad dash for freedom.  I would give up–it’s just not worth ruining our relationship over a pill.  goatsmilk

Finally, using raw goats milk or bone broths to mix in pills or meds can be another effective way of masking the taste. These products are high in nutrients and many cats love the taste.  You can try syringing the liquid mixture a little bit at a time until the dosing is complete. The best way to achieve this is to hold the cat’s head from behind with one hand and squirt the liquid in from the side of the cat’s mouth.  You can even try pureeing the food, meds, and supplements with a little broth or milk in a blender to make sure it’s mixed evenly.  Syringe the mixture if the need arises.

Special flavors and rewards make giving pills & meds easier

Having a sick cat is stressful enough; getting cats to cooperate taking their pills, meds and supplements can often increase these stress levels even further.  Fortunately, compounding pharmacies can formulate certain medications with special flavors that cats actually like; for example, tuna, chicken, salmon, etc.  Giving lots of praise and offering your cat’s favorite treats afterwards can also help create a more positive association from the experience.  

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