Having Trouble Pilling Your Cat?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, discusses how to make giving medicine more palatable to your cat.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: March 11, 2011, 3 a.m. EST

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Q: My cat has difficulty taking pills. Do you have any suggestions on using medication in different forms?

A: First I will remind all readers that I am not a veterinarian so please check any medications and proper procedures with your vet. However, I have given plenty of cats plenty of medicine (or tried to) and happy to share my commonsense advice with you.

Trying to pop a pill in a cat’s mouth can be very stressful for both you and your cat. Even if you do succeed getting the pill in her mouth, there is usually a lot of drooling due to the bad taste of the pill dissolving in her mouth. It is also likely you will end up with a few scratches in the process. However, there is a wonderful product that forms a pocket in a food treat that the pill goes into that I have great success with. If a pill remains a problem there are alternatives.

Sometimes owners ask me to medicate the cats that I care for when they are away. Tiger was one of these. He had a thyroid condition and needed a topical cream placed just inside the ear, but not in the ear canal, once a day. I had to use a pre-measured syringe and alternate ears each day. I kept a chart so I knew which ear I’d done each day and also wore rubber gloves so the ointment would not get absorbed into my skin.

Transdermal patches make administering medicine much easier, especially if your cat’s life depends on it. Liquid meds can be made with a flavor such as beef or tuna, which your cat should like much better. Your vet and a specialized vet pharmacy should be able to provide the meds in the form you need. Now you just have to convince your cat!

As in most things with our wonderful kitties, patience is important. They are never going to be thrilled with medicine (who is?), but hopefully you can make it more palatable. As always I welcome your comments and stories.

See more articles by Jeanne Adlon >>

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Reader Comments

Barbara Winter    Lancaster, PA

3/30/2011 3:54:46 PM

I found it easier to give a pill with a pill shooter. My husband would hold our cat while I gave her the pill.

Donna    Austin, TX

3/22/2011 11:36:59 AM

I've also crushed pills (check with your vet first to be sure this is OK) and mixed it in with wet food or the greasy hairball stuff.

Joyce    Indianapolis, IN

3/21/2011 7:22:43 AM

My Weegie just cannot be pilled. Thankfully my vet has checked with the local Apotehcary and every med she has been put on after bladder surgery has been the topical ointment. It has been a blessing, and I know she is truly getting what she needs. I scratch under her chin as I am putting the ointment in her ear.The directions are super easy.

karen    cheektowaga, NY

3/17/2011 4:34:25 PM

Great advise !!!

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