How to Give Your Cat a Pill

Cat Pill

Questions to Ask Vets About Cat Pills

When giving your cat medication in pill form it's important to communicate with your veterinarian about that pill. Can it be crushed? Can it be cut? Can it be given with food? Sometimes pills have a coating on them that will be destroyed during the crushing or the cutting creating possible problems with the medication.

Giving a Cat Pills With Food

If it's okay to give with food or water, those are often tools we use to make the medication process easier. It's important to have your medication and all your supplies ready. Food or treats will be a good distraction for your cat. It also makes the experience positive for your cat. Butter or margarine will allow that pill to slide down easier. Another tool you can use is peanut butter and that will help the cat swallow and help the pill act more like a food morsel that they can't spit out. It's difficult to hide pills in food for cats. They're a little more sensitive eaters than dogs and can usually pick around the pill. Peanut butter is hard to pick around.

Pill Guns for Cat Medicine

If you don't use butter or peanut butter, you may want to follow with a syringe of water. Again, to encourage swallowing and to make sure that pill goes all the way down and you don't have any problems from not being swallowed all the way. 

We have two methods to give pills. With your hand or using something called a pill gun. A pill gun is a firm plunger type tool with a soft rubber tip. There's a cut at the top of the tip that you insert your pill or capsule to and then you administer it. It prevents you from getting bit. Some cats will tolerate this, some won't. Your veterinarian will be able to supply a pill gun or most pet supply stores will have them as well.

Administer the Pill to the Cat

Just coat the pill in butter. Cats in general do not like to be restrained. If you can use your body and a towel with minimal impact, the less they know and the quicker you act the quicker it'll be. If I'm giving a pill by myself, I use my body behind the cat to prevent the cat from going backwards and I use my left hand and arm as a brace on the side of the body from going sideways. If you have a helper, your helper can be that person to prevent the backward and sideward movement and you can use both hands to help with head control and administration of the pill. 

I'm right handed, so I like to use the pill in my right hand, I have an assistant holding my cat, and I'm going to use my left hand to control the head. And then I take my right hand and shoot for the trough of the V of the tongue. Put the pill back as far as I can, hold the mouth closed and we look for the tongue, showing that he has swallowed.

Give the Cat Positive Reinforcement

After he has swallowed, I still wait a few minutes and again try and make this a positive experience. We let him down and we have our treat ready. If your cat doesn't accept the treat right where you've been working that's fairly common, you might want to put your food bowl with the treat in his usual eating spot and they usually go right for it. Your veterinarian usually will show how to give the pill in the office. And at home, you may need help, you may need a towel, or, you may be able to do it alone. The important thing is to keep it positive and short. And if you're having difficulty please call your veterinarian for other alternatives to that particular medication. 

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