Giving pills to cats is extremely difficult, even for professionals. There are several ways to give pills to your feline, but it is essential to do it correctly to ensure that your feline actually swallows the pill (and to ensure that you end up with as little damage to your hands and fingers as possible). Here, we listed the appropriate steps to give a pill to your cat.
1. Hide It in Food
You should preferably hide the pill in food. There are many different foods that pills can be hidden in without your cat knowing. This is by far the best option, as it keeps the situation low-stress and won’t lead to any scratching. Tuna, salmon, yogurt, and cheese are all preferable options for hiding pills. Simply slide it in and give it to your feline. In many cases, the cat will eat the whole thing without a problem. You will need to watch to ensure that your feline swallows the pill when they eat the food. Your cat may spit out the pill. If this doesn’t work, then you need to try other options.
2. Find Somewhere Safe to Handle the Cat
If you need to force the pill down your cat’s throat, you need a safe place to handle them. Choose a place they can’t run away easily but that isn’t stressful. The bathroom is not the appropriate location, for example. Choose a room that your cat is familiar with. Preferably, this will be a place with a closable door. Take your cat into the room. Don’t interrupt them doing anything important, though. If your cat is eating, using the litterbox, or grooming, wait until a later time to provide the dosage.
3. Wrap Your Cat in a Blanket
Next, wrap your cat in a blanket and set them in your lap. Preferably, only their head should be exposed. This method prevents the cat from scratching you and getting away. With their legs tied up, you won’t have to worry about them kicking off of your lap while you’re trying to give them the pill.
4. Lubricate the Pill
Cover the pill in a little bit of butter or margarine to make it slippery. While this will make it a bit more difficult for you to hold, it will also make it easier to slide the pill down your cat’s throat.
5. Give the Pill to the Cat
Next, it’s time to give the pill to the cat. First, hold the pill between your thumb and index finger. We recommend using your dominant hand for this part. Hold the wrapped-up cat with your other arm. Grasp your cat’s head from above with your other hand. Place your thumb on one side of the cat’s jaw and your fingers on the other side. Tilt your cat’s head back, which should make their jaw drop open slightly. Don’t push the head back so far that it hurts your feline, however. Their nose should be facing toward the ceiling. Use your dominant hand to open up their mouth a bit more if necessary. You can do this by providing slight pressure to their lower lip and front teeth. Before your cat expects it, place the pill on the back of their tongue. This should stimulate their automatic swallow reflex.
6. Keep Your Cat’s Mouth Closed
Keep your cat’s mouth closed with your dominant hand so they cannot spit out the pill. Hopefully, this won’t be necessary. They should swallow the pill quickly. If your cat doesn’t swallow it right away, you should gently rub their nose and throat. Lightly blowing on their nose may make them gasp, which will initiate the swallowing of the pill. Typically, after swallowing the pill, the cat will lick their tongue or lips. However, you should watch your feline for a bit to ensure that they swallowed the pill. If your cat has difficulty swallowing the pill, you can try flavoring it with broth or tuna juice. Cats will often have an easier time accepting the pill if it is flavored a little bit.
7. Reward Your Feline
After a successful pill session, you should provide your feline with positive reinforcement. This reinforcement should make the routine easier in the future. You never want to end a necessary routine with a negative experience. Otherwise, your cat will only try to escape harder next time.
Giving your cat a pill is never easy. However, with the proper steps, you can help it be less stressful. There are specific “pilling” treats and devices. However, we recommend trying these steps first, as they work for most people without the need for a special device.
Featured Image Credit: David Herraez Calzada, Shutterstock