by Soojin Um
Staff Writer

Cats and medicine. They go together like… well, nothing. Giving your cats any form of medication can be an exercise in frustration, not to mention pain. The good news is, it’s doable (in most cases) with some practice and patience. Think of it this way: at least it’s easier than giving them a bath. Well, maybe not easier, but it’ll certainly be over faster. So, let’s get on with it. Here are some tips on giving your cats their medicine. Of course, we strongly recommend that you check with your veterinarian before trying anything in this informational-only article.

Trick and treat
shutterstock_497147122Pills are notoriously difficult to give to cats because they have to eat it, which can take time. Medicine is usually bitter so there’s virtually no chance your cat will just take it willingly. Forcing your cat to take the pill can be, shall we say, excruciating for both parties. You can buy pill pockets, which are treats with a hole in the middle where the pill goes. You then seal it shut and give to your cat. If it works, great! However, there’s a chance your cat will bite right into the pill and spit it out. You can also try to make your own pill pocket with some meat or fish. Crushing the pill into a powder and sprinkling over the food is usually not a good idea because that will make the whole bowl of food taste bitter and, well, medicine-y. However, you could try it with one pill to see if it works (unless the pills are really expensive).

Giving pills by hand
shutterstock_630045131More than likely, however, you will have to administer the pills the old fashioned way. You may want to wear gloves in case your cat decides to attack your hands. It’s also advisable to get help, perhaps a family member or friend, to hold the cat (if they dare). Cup your hand over your cat’s head and hold it firmly, grasping the cheekbones. Gently tilt the head back. With your other hand, hold the pill with your index finger and thumb. With your ring finger (of the hand holding the pill), gently pry the mouth open. Position the ring finger in the middle of the mouth, between the sharp fangs. Drop the pill and then close the mouth. Now, blow on the cat’s nose. That will trigger a swallowing reflex.

Using a pill dispenser
It’s risky putting your fingers anywhere near the mouth because cats excel at biting. Luckily you can get a pill dispenser for the dangerous part. A pill dispenser looks like a syringe without a needle. You stick the pill in one end, and with the other, press the syringe plunger and out shoots the pill. Hold the cat the same way described above. You may still have to pry the mouth open with a finger. Once it’s open, insert the pill dispenser and drop the pill in. Once the pill is in the mouth, close the mouth as before, and then blow into the nose.

shutterstock_1017089053Is there a better way?
If a medicine is only available in pill form, it’s possible it can be “compounded” into a liquid form. Using a needleless syringe to squirt liquid medicine into the mouth can be so much easier than administering pills. If the liquid medicine does not have a strong flavor, it could even be poured onto wet food. Ask your veterinarian if the medicine prescribed for your cat can be compounded. Once again, we strongly urge you get proper instruction on how to administer medication from your veterinarian.

The tips in this article are just for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as official instruction. Always consult your veterinarian for proper care for your kitty.

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