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How to Pill Your Cat (Even If Your Cat is a Pill)

August 03, 2012 | 6,956 views
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By Dr. Becker

If you’ve ever tried to give your kitty a pill or supplement in pill form, you probably quickly realized it’s not as easy as you might think.

There are a number of methods for giving cats pills. Everyone seems to do it a little differently, but I’ve found this method works well for many cat owners – especially if you don’t have another person around to assist you.

(These instructions are for right-handed people. If you’re left-handed, you’ll need to adjust them accordingly.)

8 Steps to Getting a Pill or Supplement in Pill Form into Your Cat

I recommend you read these instructions and practice the steps a few times in your mind prior to actually engaging your cat; the more efficient you are with your cat, the smoother the process will go.

  1. Place kitty on a sturdy, flat surface like a table top. Your cat will naturally try to back away from the pill, so you want to rest your right arm on the table and tuck him into the crook of your right elbow to prevent the inevitable backing up motion.
  2. Trying to approach your cat from the front will have him backing away and escaping from you and the pill. That’s why your body should be behind the cat, with both of you facing the same direction.

  3. Hold the pill in your left hand.
  4. With your right hand, place your right thumb on one side of your cat’s face on the cheek and your index finger on the other cheek and gently lift his nose toward the ceiling. This will make his mouth drop open a bit.
  5. Now use a finger of your left hand to open his lower jaw wider. This position prevents him from being able to bite because he can’t control his lower jaw.
  6. Place the pill as far back as possible into his mouth, then let go of his face, but keep him tucked into your elbow. If he licks his lips, it’s an indication the pill has gone down.
  7. Please note: It’s futile, not to mention dangerous, to try to give your cat a pill with his head in a natural position. You will likely be bitten, which is why you must position his head vertically.

  8. Many cats are quite good at pretending they’ve swallowed the pill when they haven’t. As soon as they get free, out pops the pill and they walk away disdainfully.
  9. So don’t let kitty go before checking his mouth for the pill. Cats figure out pretty quickly we’re waiting for licking motions and many clever felines have been known to make the licking motion with the pill still in their mouth.

  10. If you can still see the pill in there, re-open your cat’s mouth as described above, reach a finger in and move the pill further back on the tongue if possible. If that doesn’t work, let kitty spit the pill out and start over.
  11. If possible, you can try to squirt a small amount of water into your cat’s mouth to encourage him to swallow. A medicine dropper or plunger with water in it works well for this purpose. This helps float the pill off the tongue and sends it on its way down to the stomach.

Help! My Cat Just Will Not Cooperate!

If your cat simply will not take a pill no matter how well you follow the above steps, you’ll need to find another way to provide him with medicine or supplements. The goal is to get the pill into him with as little trauma to either of you as possible. If your cat is really fearful or is putting up a fight, don’t push the issue. Try something different.

One suggestion is to find a compounding pharmacy in your area, explain the problem you’re having, and see if they can create an alternate delivery system for whatever it is you need to give your kitty. Options could be medicine in liquid form or chewable tablets flavored to appeal to cats.

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