Tips on Medicating Cats (Part 1 of 2)

May 26, 2012 by     4 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

When your veterinarian recommends oral medication for your cat, most owner’s first reaction is “Are you going to come to my house? I can’t do this!”

Fortunately, there are a lot of options. Here are some tips for making the process easier for you and your cat.

  • If your cat will allow you to give a pill, tip your cat’s nose to the  sky so you have a straight shot to drop the pill into the back of the cat’s throat. Follow with a small amount of water in a syringe to help your cat swallow.
  • Pet PillerPet Pillers have flexible rubber tips. This allows you to get the pill to the back of your cat’s mouth without putting your hand in your cat’s mouth.
  • Pill PocketsPill pockets are a chewable treat, so you can put the pill inside. Try a pill pocket without medication to see if this will work; if so, put the pill inside and pinch the chew treat so the pill is coated with the treat. This works best for medications that have minimal taste, such as methimazole.
  • The “hairball medicine” trick: if your cat likes Cat Lax, put the pill in about one inch of Cat Lax and use a tongue depressor (or the back end of a spoon) to smear the Cat Lax and pill on the roof of your cat’s mouth. When s/he swallows the Cat Lax, they will swallow the pill. Some cats will tolerate butter or cream cheese.
  • Syringe with needle cut offThe “syringe and baby food” trick: ask your veterinarian for a 3-ml syringe with the needle cut off  (Precut Oral Feeding Syringes are also available).  Using strained meat baby food, put the pill in 2 ml of baby food, and squirt the baby food into your cat’s mouth.
  • Ask your veterinarian if the medication can be crushed and mixed with food – again, use this for pills that have little taste.
    • If your cat eats canned food, crush the pill and mix with a small amount of food first, then let your cat have the rest of the meal.
    • Does your cat like people food, i.e. strained meat (chicken) baby food? Or tuna fish? If so, you can crush the pill and mix with a small amount of these medications (always check with your veterinarian first, especially if your cat has food sensitivities). You may warm the food briefly in the microwave – test to be sure it doesn’t get too hot. Then mix in the pill.
    • The “melted butter trick” – this is also helpful when you’re trying to give 1/8 or some other fraction of a tablet that is very difficult to divide accurately. Crush the pill, mix with melted butter. Make an aluminum foil boat, freeze, and cut the butter into 1/8’s etc.

If your cat seems to be scratching you with all 4 legs trying to get a way, wrapping your cat in a towel can help. Ask your veterinarian or the hospital staff to show you how to do this.

If your cat is still says “Nope, not going to happen”, read part 2 here.

Dr Dale Rubenstein

Dr. Rubenstein opened the doors of A Cat Clinic, the first all-feline veterinary practice in Montgomery County, in 1986. She earned her BA in Biology from Oberlin College, her MS in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Maryland and her DVM from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. She became board certified in feline practice, one of only 80 diplomats in the U.S., through the American Board of Veterinary Practices (ABVP) in 1996 and re-certified in 2006.

Dr. Rubenstein is also a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Maryland Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), Cornell Feline Health Center, Montgomery County Humane Society Feline Focus Committee, Montgomery County Veterinary Medicine Association, as well as a member of the credentialing committee of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP).

A Cat Clinic, Boyds, MD
14200 Clopper Road,
Boyds, MD 20841

Phone: 301-540-7770
Fax: 301-540-2041

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