Pilling a cat is not impossible

By Randall W. Haveman, DVM, MS
Sunnyside Veterinary Hospital, PC
Happy Valley, Oregon

There are many reasons for giving pills to our pets.  It can be one of those times when your cat can seem like an exotic and wild beast.

The old joke is that to pill a dog is two steps:
1.)    Wrap the pill in a treat like peanut butter, baloney, or cream cheese.
2.)    Toss it to the dog and you’re done

Giving a pill to a cat is much more difficult, because they are “the cat” and have the royal entitlement that goes with their species.  Here are some tips to medicate a cat.

KISS (keep it simple, stupid)  For some cats, you can place the pill in a tasty treat that the cat likes, like Feline Pill Pockets or some cat treats.  Or place the pill in a small amount of a tasty food the cat loves is a very easy means of giving a pill, but try it first without the pill.   Cats may not respond to any of these methods.

The manual method is sure fire and involves grasping the cat’s head in one hand, opening the jaw with fingers of the other hand, and putting the pill over the cat’s tongue.  Keep the mouth closed until the pill is swallowed.  A little margarine on the pill will help it go down.  A Veterinarian or Veterinary Technician can demonstrate on your cat.  See at: http://www.fabcats.org/owners/medicating/pill.html

Pill guns are available, too.  I like one that combines a syringe with a pill holder.  It offers the advantage of being able to place the pill in the mouth and follow it with a small amount of water to ease swallowing.

For owners of kittens, early training by manipulating the head, lips, face, and mouth helps later.

For the cat that can’t be pilled, compounding into fish, beef, or poultry flavored liquids or a transdermal gel may be the answer.  The gel is rubbed into the skin of the ear.  IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE OWNER NOT USE AN UNCOVERED FINGER, BECAUSE THEY MAY ABSORB THE MEDICINE, TOO.  A finger cot or disposable glove works well.

Some antibiotics and anti inflammatories come in an injection that lasts up to two weeks with one injection.  We love these products, especially for the very difficult cats.

Remember, if you have difficulty giving medication to your pet, you can contact your Veterinary office for help or alternatives.  It is very important that you give all the medications that are prescribed and that you give them according to their label directions.

Randall W. Haveman, DVM, MS
Sunnyside Veterinary Hospital, PC
16416 SE Sunnyside Rd
Happy Valley, OR  97015

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