How to give a pill to a cat?

04th April 2014

How to give a pill to a cat?

Possibly every cat owner's worst nightmare! How on earth to give a pill to a cat? I'm sure through prayers and hope, most cat owners will say....some may even say that it should be classed as a new Olympic sport!
As a trained veterinary nurse, I'm incredibly good at doing this and it's not something I need to even think twice about. No fancy tools or tricks required - just the confidence & knowledge - and lightning speed.

But for most cat owners (my mom included) giving a pill to a cat is a bit of a nightmare, so lets go over the options:

1) pop it in the wet food and hope they don't spot it
this may work a few times but rarely continues to be a success. Cats aren't stupid, nor easily fooled. More often than not, after the first few times, you'll find that the pill is left neatly and cleanly pushed to the side. Quite untouched.

2) crush the pill finely and mix into the wet food
this could work and often works well (unless the pill is particularly bitter). Worth trying but it must be crushed as fine as powder and mixed into some wet food. To do so, you can get a pill crusher.

3) wrap pill in a bit of tasty meat (chicken, ham or salami) and hope they don't spot it
this method works quite well most of the time - however this depends on how long the pills need to be given for and how big they are. Again, after a few times, they'll start to spot the pattern and eat the meat, spitting the pill out.

4) using a pill popper such as this one
many vets use these and I think that whilst it's OK to use for the occasional pill, this is not a pleasant experience for the poor cat. A tad traumatic even. Would you like to have one of these things shoved down your throat and rattling your teeth on the way down - perhaps scratching your gums or palet? It can't be nice.

5) wrapping cat in towel, pinning it down and force pill down mouth (I've even heard of putting cat in a shopping bag!)
this is horrid and really traumatic for the poor cat. Might work once or twice - under huge protest and with almost certainly some damage to the owner. Just not worth it.

6) scruffing cat very gently & calmly whilst cat is with his back against you - just through positioning it - not by physically holding it against yourself on purpose (so it can't back away) - and then swiftly pop the pill right in the back of the mouth via the side
this is the method I use and I find by far the least stressful for everyone involved. Unless you're confident to do it this way, you'll find that the cat will probably just run off or try to bite your fingers if you don't put it in far back enough. But by all means, give it a go and see if you can get the hang of it.

7) Pill Pockets - now these I haven't come across before until recently - how/why, I'm not sure. But they look and sound pretty amazing to me and I've heard many great things about them from some of my clients. I'll now recommend these to owners who need to give their cats regular pills. If any of you have experience of using these, let me know - I'd love to hear how you get on with them :-)

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