Tips for Pilling Cats
Getting a cat to take their medication is sometimes not an easy task! If your cat won’t readily take medication in food, then sometimes we need to pop the pill in their mouth.
There are some cats that are very difficult to pill and suspect that you are poisoning them when you try to hide the medication in food. When giving your cat their medication turns into a fight, this isn’t good for you or your cat. Your cat may start to hide from you, and you may get bit or scratched while trying to medicate your kitty. Below are some tips for giving your cat medication.
If the pill is not bitter, you can try putting it into her normal canned cat food. Fancy Feast is a favorite food for cats. (If your cat has kidney disease or food allergies, ask your veterinarian first if Fancy Feast is a good choice).
- “Pill Pockets” are a brand of treat designed to hide pills inside. These treats work great for many cats.
- If pills are tough for you, ask your veterinarian if there is an alternative way the medication comes in. For example, some medications have a liquid version, or can be compounded into a flavored liquid. Also, there are some medications, like medication for the disease Hyperthyroidism, that can be made into a transdermal preparation. The medication is then rubbed on the ear of the cat and gets absorbed through the skin. (Speaking of Hyperthyroidism, this common disease can be treated permanently with irradiation therapy of the thyroid. With this treatment technique, you don’t need to give any oral medication).
- Train your cat to accept getting medication. If your cat won’t take pills hidden in food, you may need to administer the medication. Many cats will accept getting a pill put in the back of their throat if they are handled properly. Don’t make pilling your cat a bad experience! Prepare to pill your cat by giving some pets and treats. Then wrap her body in a towel or tuck her comfortably under your arm. Grasp her upper jaw above the K9 teeth or cheeks and gently pull the head back. Then with your other hand, you can either drop the pill to the back of the throat, or gently push it to the back of her throat. Hold her mouth shut and stroke the neck until you can see a swallow. Offer her treats and pets afterward so she will start to understand that getting a pill means lots of fun and attention. If she won’t take treats afterwards, it is best to wash the pill down with a syringe of water so the pills doesn’t linger in the esophagus. 3ml of water is enough. Your veterinarian can provide you with a syringe. There are a lot of videos on YouTube demonstrating low stress pilling of cats.
- Try a Pill Gun. A pill gun allows you to put the pill in the back of the throat without the risk of you getting bit. Most veterinarians sell pill guns.
- Sometimes cats will take pills disguised in people’s food. Here are some foods you could try on your kitty.
- Chicken baby food: This is especially great for hiding powders (like Miralax for constipation) and beads of medication (for example, Prilosec capsules, for nausea, have “beads” of medication inside that can be hidden in food). Be sure to ask your veterinarian before administering any medication to your cat.
- Bread (Hawaiian bread is soft and pliable and some cats love bread)
- Cream or milk
- Whipped cream
- Butter: Small butter balls can be frozen with the pill inside. Also, the pills can be rubbed in butter first to try to mask the pill, and then put the buttered-up pill into some canned food.
- Olives (Don’t give olives if your cat has high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease).
- Cheese Whiz. The medicated Cheese Whiz can be “wiped” on her paws, so she is forced to lick the medication off.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Soft treats that you buy at the pet store
- Freeze dried treats that are softened with water
- Freeze dried treats can be sprinkled onto canned food that has the pill hidden inside to make the canned food extra enticing.
- Drill a small hole inside of a kernel of dry cat food and place the pill inside. (This only works if the food is in big kernels, and the pill is small. Foods designed for dental health are often big kernels.)