Question of the week: How do I give my cat oral medications?

pill bottleGiving medication to a cat can be an intimidating and overwhelming task. Owners will all to often end up either “wearing” the medication or finding unswallowed pills craftily deposited on the floor. Many of us adore cats for their independence and cunning but  these traits work against us when trying to give medication. This week we hope to make the task a little easier with some tips and tricks.

The first thing you want to do is be prepared. Have the medication ready and within reach. Elevated areas such as tables or counters may be easier than the floor. If possible, make sure your cats nails are trimmed to avoid scratches. If your cat goes outside, ensure that doors are shut in the event of an “escape.”

The following is directed toward the right-handed, but of course you can adapt this method for the left-handed. direct the cat’s hind end towards the crook of your left arm so it can’t scoot out backwards. Take the pill between the pointer finger and the thumb of your right hand. Taking your left hand, hold the top of the cats head and tilt it upwards. With the free fingers you have on your right hand, pry open the lower jaw. At this point, drop the pill into the mouth (gravity is your friend here) and then close the mouth. Rub the cat’s throat to stimulate a swallow reflex. You can also blow softly on the the nose for the same reflex.

If you are having trouble picturing what we are describing, this video is a useful visual aid.

Sometimes we don’t have the advantage of a second person to help us out. In some cases, the job is made easier with what we call the “kitty burrito” method. Basically, you take a towel and swaddle the cat so that they are immobilized. This may save you some wrestling with your cat.

Many pharmacies now formulate liquid versions of medications in flavors that are palatable to the cat. When giving pills is not an option for you ask the doctor if there is a liquid version you can try.

Our veterinary technicians are adept at giving medications and can always give you a demonstration of the best approach with your animal. Ask them to show you their technique before you leave the clinic or give us a call so we can talk you through it.