Most cat owners have experienced the trials of giving their cat oral medication at one time or another. We understand that medicating your cat can be a stressful part of the treatment process for both you and your pet. We strive to make this process as painless as possible and will provide the easiest products to administer that fit within the treatment plan set by the veterinarian.
Some felines will take pills hidden in high-value foods like, canned tuna, salmon, cream cheese, or Greenies Pill Pockets ®/MD. Alternatively, some routine medications can be compounded at outside pharmacies into a flavored liquid suspensions or chewable “treat” tablets. But there are still those patients who want nothing to do with medication of any kind in any shape, form, or flavor. With these patients it becomes necessary to administer the pill or liquid directly into the cat’s mouth.
If you are administering the medication on your own, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. You may need to have someone assist you in restraining your cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only the head exposed. We lovingly refer to this as making a kitty burrito.
Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the dosing instructions.
Lubricate or “grease” the pill with a very small amount of margarine or butter so it doesn’t stick in your cat’s mouth or throat and will be easier to swallow. This is very helpful with the administration of capsules.
- Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger.
- Gently grasp your cat’s head from above with your other hand, by placing your thumb on one side of the upper jaw and your fingers on the other. Tilt the cat’s head back over its shoulder so that its nose points to the ceiling. The jaw should drop open slightly.
- With your pilling hand, use your little finger and ring finger to open the cat’s mouth further by gently putting pressure on the lower lip and front teeth.
- Quickly place the pill as far back over the tongue as possible. Try to place it on the back one-third of the tongue to stimulate an automatic swallowing reflex.
- Close the cat’s mouth and hold it closed while you return the head to a normal position.
- Gently rub the cat’s nose or throat, or blow lightly on the nose. This should also help stimulate swallowing.
- If you have trouble with this method of opening the mouth, try placing the cat on an elevated table. Hold the cat by the scruff of the neck and lift the front paws off of the table. The mouth will drop open. Quickly place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible, as in the previous method.
- If you continue to experience difficulty, you may want to purchase a “pill gun” device.
The instructions for administering liquid medication are similar to the ones above:
- Hold the syringe or dropper containing the medication with your dominant hand.
- First, allow the cat to lick the medication from the tip of the syringe as you slowly depress the plunger. The cat may accept the medication more readily if it is warmed to room temperature.
- If your cat is not interested in licking the liquid, gently take the cat by the scruff of the neck and pull the head back. The mouth will then open slightly.
- Place the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth, just behind one of the canine (“fang”) teeth.
- Advance the syringe so it is placed in the mouth just inside of the teeth. Be sure to angle the syringe slightly to the side. You do not want to forcefully inject the liquid straight into the back of the throat. This can increase the risk of the cat inhaling or aspirating the liquid.
- Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so the cat has time to swallow the liquid and breathe.
- Most cats will spit out some of the medication. DO NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was taken.
Some of the above information is based on material written by Earnest Ward, DVM © Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license.