Cat and medicine

Getting cats to take their medicine

Getting a cat to take its medication can be difficult.

If a cat won’t readily take medication in food, then sometimes we need to pop the pill in its mouth. There are some cats that are very difficult to pill and suspect that you are poisoning them when you try to hide the medication in food.

When giving your cat its medication turns into a fight, this isn’t good for you or your cat. Your cat may start to hide from you, and you may get bit or scratched while trying to medicate your kitty.

Below are some tips for giving your cat medication.

  1. If the pill is not bitter, you can try putting it into her normal canned cat food. Fancy Feast is a favorite food for cats, but if your cat has kidney disease or food allergies, ask your veterinarian first if Fancy Feast is a good choice.
  2. Pill Pockets are a brand of treat designed to hide pills inside. These treats work great for many cats.
  3. If pills are tough for you, ask your veterinarian if there is an alternative form of the medication. For example, some medications have a liquid version or can be compounded into a flavored liquid.

Also, there are some medications, like those for hyperthyroidism, which can be made into a transdermal preparation. The medication is rubbed on the ear of the cat and gets absorbed through the skin.

Speaking of hyperthyroidism, this common disease can be treated permanently with irradiation therapy of the thyroid. With this treatment technique, you don’t need to give any oral medication.

  1. Train your cat to accept getting medication.

If your cat won’t take pills hidden in food, you may need to administer the medication. Many cats will accept getting a pill put in the back of their throat if they are handled properly.

Don’t make pilling your cat a bad experience! Prepare to pill your cat by giving some pets and treats, then wrap her body in a towel or tuck her comfortably under your arm. Grasp her upper jaw above the canine teeth or cheeks and gently pull the head back. Then, with your other hand, you can either drop the pill to the back of the throat, or gently push it to the back of her throat. Hold her mouth shut and stroke the neck until you can see a swallow.

Offer her treats and pets afterward so she will start to understand that getting a pill means lots of fun and attention. If she won’t take treats afterwards, it is best to wash the pill down with a syringe of water so the pill doesn’t linger in the esophagus. Three milliliters of water is enough.

Your veterinarian can provide you with a syringe. There are a lot of videos on YouTube demonstrating low-stress pilling of cats.

  1. Try a pill gun. Sold by most veterinarians, a pill gun allows you to put the pill in the back of the throat without the risk of you getting bit.
  2. Sometimes cats will take pills disguised in people food.  Here are some foods you could try on your kitty.
  • Chicken baby food

This is especially great for hiding powders, like Miralax for constipation, and beads of medication. For example, Prilosec capsules, used to treat nausea, have “beads” of medication inside them than can be hidden in food.

Be sure to ask your veterinarian before administering any medication to your cat.

  • Marshmallows
  • Bread (Hawaiian bread is soft and pliable and some cats love bread)
  • Cream or milk
  • Whipped cream
  • Butter

Freeze small balls of butter with pills inside. Alternately, the pills can be rubbed in butter first to try to mask the pill. Just put the buttered-up pill into some canned food.

  • Olives

Don’t give olives if your cat has high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease.

  • Cheese Whiz

The medicated Cheese Whiz can be wiped on a cat’s paws so she is forced to lick the medication off.

  • Cheese
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Chicken
  • Crabmeat
  • Liverwurst
  • Soft treats that you buy at the pet store
  • Freeze dried treats

The treats can be softened with water or sprinkled onto canned food that has the pill hidden inside to make the canned food extra enticing.

  • Hotdogs
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dry cat food

Drill a small hole inside of a kernel of dry cat food and place the pill inside. This only works if the food is in big kernels and the pill is small. Foods designed for dental health often come in big kernels.