“I Can’t Get My Cat to Take His Medicine!”

By September 27, 2016Uncategorized

No one likes the idea of having to medicate their cat at home, especially if you have an uncooperative kitty. Don’t be discouraged if you’re having a difficult time, though. With the right technique, it can be much easier!

The Basics

  •  Familiarize yourself with the directions for the medicine. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet or pharmacist if you have any questions. Note – If you try all of these steps, and you’re still having trouble, ask your vet if there is another form of the medicine you can give to your cat (i.e. liquid, pill, injection, or transdermal gel).
  •  Prepare all of your supplies in advance so they’re ready when you get your cat (i.e. medication, syringe/piller, towel, and reward).
  •  Have a plan.
  •  Always be calm and gentle.

How to Give Medication with Food

First, ask if it’s possible to give the medication with food. In fact, some medications might have to be given with food! Others, however, cannot be given this way so always make sure to check with your vet.

1. Mix the pill/liquid into a small amount of your cat’s favorite canned food or other similar treat.

2. Keep any other pets away from their bowl.

3. Keep an eye on them to make sure they eat everything. It’s not uncommon for some cats to try to eat around a pill or spit it out.

How to Give Medication by Hand

If you can’t mix the medication into your cat’s food, then you will need to give it to them by hand. Sometimes, it can be helpful to ask a second person to assist you.

1. Prepare your supplies.

2. Face your cat away from you with their back end against you (i.e. tucked into the crook of your arm) so they can’t back away.

3. If they like to squirm, then try using a towel to help restrain them. Place them on the towel and wrap it around the front of them so they can’t get their front legs out or scratch you. Just make sure it’s not too tight around their neck.

4. After you have restrained them, you can now give them their medication.

5. Approaching your cat from the side, place your hand on top of their head with your thumb and forefinger extending down on either side of their cheekbones.

6. Gently, tilt their head up to allow their jaw to drop open. If you are giving them a liquid medication, however, then avoid lifting their head up so they don’t accidentally inhale it.

7. Place your syringe/piller in the back corner of their mouth and administer the medication. Try to avoid putting your fingers directly into their mouth so you are less likely to get bit. (Sometimes, cats won’t swallow everything on the first try. To avoid this, keep their head up for a few seconds after you administer the medication and blow on their nose or gently stroke them under their chin a few times to encourage them to swallow.)

8. Congratulations, you did it! After you’re done, make sure to reward your cat so they can start to think of this as a positive experience.

If you have any questions, then we welcome you to contact us at our animal hospital in Lake Oswego. We’re here to help!

7 Comments

  • Laurie Cunningham says:

    I have had a horrible time getting meds down my 6mo old Ragamuffin, but recently I found a better way than forcing him to take it… less stress on the cat and me. If I pet my cat to calm him and get him to lay down, then put the liquid med on his front paw a little at a time, he will lick it off. It takes a bit longer to do, but works for us.

  • Jodie Lutz says:

    This sounds like a fantastic idea Laurie. I have a little stray who hates any confrontation and needs medication twice a day at the moment and would prefer to starve than eat it in his food. I will try the paw trick

    • Cindi says:

      Jodie How did that work? I have THREE cats that need meds and it Has to be liquid (doesn’t come in pills)
      I have tried the technique in the video above HA!!
      I have put the meds in expensive wet food, tuna, cat milk (my one kitty loves milk)
      So far NOTHING they will not Touch it.
      The meds must be nasty if they turn up their noses at their favorite food. I am at a loss

  • Christina says:

    If dogs and kids can have fun flavors, why are cats being left in the lurch? Our cat is peeing blood due to some unknown stress, and they want us to shoot 3 vials into his mouth twice a day. He has had about a single drop of one. The rest has been a waste of $200. So unhappy about all of this

    • Cat Care Professionals says:

      Hi, Christina! We’re sorry to hear that you’re having trouble. We know how upsetting it can be when cats refuse to take their medication. We recommend asking your vet if there is a compounding pharmacy that can add a flavor into the medication for you or if there is another form of the medication you can give him (i.e. an injection, a transdermal gel, or a pill). We hope this helps! Just let us know if you have any other questions.

  • Stephanie says:

    I have a 10 year old female cat that has become increasingly aggressive over the last five years at any form of physical manipulation. She now poops and pees and screams like a mountain lion when I need to force her out of a room, put her in a carrier, take her to the vet, or medicate her. She is a loyal and loving cat, but when I need to put hands on her, no matter how calm or non threatening I am, I am literally scared of her. She has diarrhea and today I am taking her to the vet, I am sick to my stomach. She will get poop and pee all over everything and probably scream and attack me just trying to get her in the carrier, not to mention how much they will have to sedate her at the vet just to touch her. Then I will have to give her 14 doses (2ml twice daily, 7 days total) and I know that I will not be able to give it to her and I am betting my life she will not eat it in food. I feel like I might have a complete breakdown and don’t know what to do. If you handle her she will get so messy she will need a bath and that won’t happen either. What can I do? The vet does not understand and doesn’t seem to care that I am at the end of my rope.

    • Cat Care Professionals says:

      Hi, Stephanie! Thanks for reaching out to us. We’re so sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your kitty. Unfortunately, we are unable to give medical advice unless one of our doctors has examined your cat. Do you take her to a feline-exclusive clinic? We highly recommend it because mixed-species clinics generally can’t provide the same level of care or understanding that a feline-exclusive clinic can provide. Cats are much different than dogs, and most mixed species clinics only spend a small portion of their time caring for cats so they don’t have as much experience with them. It’s also less stressful because these types of clinics tend to tailor their facility toward cats. (Plus, there are no barking dogs.) We hope this helps! Just let us know if you have any other questions.

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