How to Give Pills to Your Cat

How to Give Pills to Your Cat

Last update: 12 November, 2018

It’s always risky, but sometimes you have you do it. Giving pills to your cat can be a challenge and involve a lot of scratches. But it also means having a healthy, happy cat. It’s quite a delicate matter so preparation is really key.

Cats are surly and intelligent by nature, so it’s not easy to fool them. They also have sharp teeth and claws. But with a little creativity, you can get them to take pills in the most stress-free way as possible.

  • The first thing you need to do is take your time and be patient. Let them get used to you touching their face and mouth. As part of a game, lean their head back and open their mouth as if you were going to give them a pill. Then reward them with a treat or pet for letting you do it. This will help them get used to in a friendly context.
  • Now that they’re more relaxed, begin opening their mouth with the thumb and middle finger of your left hand. Place them on your cat’s face in a “C” shape.

Your cat may also need to get used to needle-less syringes in their mouth. If it’s a pill you’re giving to them, the form of the pill matters (crushed or swallowed whole), as does whether it can be dissolved in liquid, and whether it should be ingested with food or on an empty stomach. Once you’ve worked this out, you can begin.

How to Give Pills to Your Cat

Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of your right hand. Hold your cat close to your body with your left arm, with their head facing forward in the same direction as you.

Vet giving pills to your cat

With the fingers of your left hand, lift your cat’s head. Push downwards on their jaw with the middle finger of your right hand to open their mouth, and then place the pill as far back on their tongue as possible.

Rubbing their neck under their chin while their jaws are closed will help them swallow. If they lick their lips or nose, then you know that it’s been a success.

However, you may fail on the first attempt. It’s possible that your cat might spit out the pill and you’ll have to begin all over again, as long as they don’t look too upset or aggressive. As a tip, this whole process is a lot easier with two people.

Tricks to Give Pills to Your Cat More Easily

One option is to put the cat on a table. We recommend you wrap them in a towel to avoid scratches and bites, and to do this you need to be careful with your hands.

You can use treats to give pills to your cat. Make sure you do this at a good time between meals so that they’re hungry.

Once they’ve started to trust you touching their face and mouth, start giving them small, soft snacks that they can swallow without chewing. If they’re used to chewing the food in question and it contains a pill they’ll just bite it and spit it out.

After a certain number of these snacks, one of them should contain the pill. It should be well camouflaged, so they can’t smell it. It’s important to vary the amount and order so that your cat can’t tell which one contains the medication.

Owner cuddling their fluffy ginger cat

Crushed, Whole, or With Water?

It doesn’t matter if you crush them at home or buy them crushed. The important thing is to consult your vet about whether they should ingest it whole or if you can make it into a fine powder. If you can, you can use a syringe, but this also requires preparation.

You can smear some food over the syringe and let your cat smell and lick it. This way your cat will get used to the syringe being close to them or in their mouth.

If they feel comfortable taking liquids, you could give them the medication diluted in water so they won’t gag from the taste. If you don’t do it properly, it could cause pneumonia. You should never pour any liquid into their mouth quicker than they can swallow.

As a final note, always follow the instructions printed on the label.