How to Medicate a Cat
Cats are notorious bad pill-takers and liquids can be a challenge as well with your cat wearing the medication instead of swallowing it. But there are ways to make medicating cats easier and to ensure your feline friend receives proper treatment which is important in both acute and chronic illnesses to ensure your cat gets well.
Cats are smart. They also like routine. Teaching your cat to take medications can be done with a little work and patience. If you have a young kitten who does not need medication, you can potentially set him or her up to learn how to take medications in treats by offering soft treats early on. If the kitten learns to accept the treats, it is easier to disguise a pill in a soft treat or bit of food. If you have an adult cat, a variety of treats can still be offered to see if she will accept one. This may then allow pills to be hidden and administered in a bit of food.
Once your cat is acclimated to receiving soft treats (such as pill pockets or others of similar texture), you can often get him to take his medication with this method: Have several treats ready. Place the pill in one of the soft treats. Offer one or two (or more!) “blank” treats to your cat. Once he is eating and excited about the treats, offer the treat with the pill inside. Chances are, he’ll eat it up just like the others. Then give another “blank” treat or two. Small amounts of soft food such as tuna, canned chicken, cheese or canned cat food can also be substituted. DO NOT use your cat’s regular cat food to administer medication. It may create an aversion to the food if the cat associates it with stress or a bad taste.
Liquids can be a bit trickier, but you can do a similar process by offering a treat or something soft like baby food or clam juice—you can even offer these with a syringe to get the cat used to it—then giving the medication in the syringe, then another treat. It also helps to approach your cat from the side or from behind when delivering medications.
Finally, some cats are more challenging than others, and, despite best efforts, they may not take their medications as directed. If you are having problems administering medication to your cat, please call your vet. We can offer tips, tricks and alternatives to ensure your cat is properly medicated. We know how difficult it can be to get cats to take pills and liquids, but we want your cat to get well. Talk to your vet or vet tech to make sure your kitty recovers or remains on his medication for chronic illness.
This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.
Clinician’s Forum: Reducing Feline Stress While Treating Chronic Disease. Rodan and DeBoeor. pp 5-7.