Whenever someone asks me if I can give medicine to a cat my very first questions is, “Tel me about your cat. That’s because there are many different ways to give a pill to a cat and not all of them work for every cat. Below I have listed five ways to pill a cat, and trust me they are ranked by personality type as much as method going from least to most intrusive.
1. Put the Pill in Food or Pill Pocket
Not all cats are difficult when it comes to giving a pill. Many of them will eat it out of their food or in a pill pocket. This is obviously the easiest and least intrusive way to pill a cat. As anyone that has a cat or has dealt with a cat knows this is one of the least successful methods. Cats can be picky or finicky eaters without introducing a foreign substance into their food and the second something tastes a tad bit off they will stop eating. Even without a pill I have to switch my cat’s wet food up regularly to keep him interested, but not all cats are this picky and will eat the pill right from their food or in a pill pocket.
2. Give them the Pill with Treats
This is a little bit like the first one but for the cats, like mine, that will eat around a pill or go on a hunger strike if a pill is introduced to their food. For our cat we can’t just give him a pill we do have to coax his mouth open and put it in. The treats make this method work. Without it he would run under a bed or to another hiding place and we’d never get him to pill him. As the method has continued to work he has gotten better and, while he doesn’t look forward to being pilled, he is far more accepting of it than he was at first.
3. Dissolve the Pill in a Liquid Syringe
It would be nice if cat medicine came like kids medicine but liver flavored instead of cherry flavored. The good news is that any hard pill can be dissolved in water. The pills are made to dissolve anyway and this is a method that can easily work for many cats. It is even possible to add a bit of liver flavoring to the liquid to make the concoction more palatable for our discerning cat friends.
4. Pill Gun
Not quite like a liquid syringe and for the cats that are still unwilling to take the pill there are pill guns. They look a little bit like a syringe but instead of anything going into them the plunger exists to push an intact pill quickly into a cats throat area. Here we are getting into some more intrusive methods, but when a cat needs medicine they need medicine and it is better to be a little unkind to them to get them to take what can sometimes be life saving medicine. This is also a method for cats that are starting to fight a little but haven’t gotten to the point of full out raging claws.
5. The Towel Burrito Method
This is the method for the cats that turn into feral beasts of destruction when it is time to take a pill. Here we have the cats that simply aren’t going to take a pill without a fight, and if you try any of the above methods there will be blood, tears, sorrow, and regret. Even the friendliest house cat can turn into a whirling ball of claws in the right circumstances and unfortunately for cat owners and pet sitters alike that circumstance is often taking a pill. This is when, for the health and well being of the cat, we wrap them in a towel, making certain to secure the front and back claws. This can and often is a two person method as it will take everything one person has to hold the cat in place while the other uses either to above mentioned pill gun or is brave and hinges the cats mouth open and shoves the pill in. Again this is the most intrusive method and should only been used if all else fails and the cat needs the medicine to survive.
As a pet sitter I have had to perform every one of the above methods when pilling a cat. If you or someone you know needs any help with their cat feel free to send us a message or give us a call. We’re always happy to help a pet lover in need.