What's the Best Way to Give a Cat Medicine?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, shares tips for medicating cats with pills and liquids.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: October 8, 2010, 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: What’s the best way to give my cat medication?

A: This is a frequent question with my cat-sitting clients. It really depends on your kitty and her willingness to let you do what’s best for her — and as we know that’s not always easy.

Some time ago one of my client’s cats, Ollie, needed an antibiotic. I was asked whether I thought a pill or liquid was easier and I said liquid, thinking one quick squirt into Ollie’s mouth and we’d be good to go. Boy, was I mistaken. I managed to get the full dropper of bright pink liquid squirted into his mouth, but it must have tasted awful because he proceeded to vigorously shake his head, spraying me and the walls with the sticky pink goo. He then drooled the rest down his face and neck. Yikes, what a mess. But I learned my lesson: A tiny pill is often better than a sticky, unpleasant liquid.

Be it pills or liquid, you must medicate your cats without becoming the enemy. If pills are too difficult or stressful to get into your cat’s mouth, ask your vet if you can crush the pill and mix it into your cat’s food. Make sure the pill does not lose effectiveness when crushed. If all right to crush, put the crushed pill in a small amount of cat food, let your cat finish that and then refill the bowl with the remainder of the cat food. You can purchase pill crushers at the pharmacy.

If you have liquid medication, it would certainly help if it tasted good. Check with your vet to see if it comes in a “cat-friendly” flavor like tuna. This can help if your cat needs medicine daily. Follow all instructions, check the expiration date and if the medicine needs to be stored in the refrigerator, please do so.

After medicine I also give my kitties extra treats — it helps them quickly bounce back and I am redeemed in their eyes. As always I welcome your comments and stories.

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Reader Comments

Barry    Alameda, CA

4/12/2015 10:53:10 AM

Be super careful shooting any liquids into your cat's mouth. They can aspirate on it. It will go to their lungs and give them pneumonia. Try and squeeze slowly it between the inside cheek jowls and teeth.

JoAnn    Ligonier, PA

1/6/2015 11:44:39 AM

I found that mashing the pill up in a little butter or spread & then sticking it into the side of their mouth works best for kitty that hates all other methods. If you don't get it all into the mouth it's smeared on the side & they just lick it off.

Jo Ann    Lodgepole, NE

11/9/2010 4:03:44 PM

Putting a pill in a small drop of cheese (especially soft cheese from a spray can) works sometimes.

Nola    Richland, MI

11/5/2010 9:39:42 AM

You are silly - crush a foul tasting pill into pet food and you think they will eat it. Cats are not dogs they do not inhale their food - they can tell in an instant that you put something into it and refuse to eat it.
Even worse is trying to put a pill down a cat's throat - they have the ability to bring it up and spit it back at you with a sweet smile as if to say 'Got Ya'.
I'll take liquid any day - at least you can get some of the medicine into them - and it is a joke about good tasting if flavored- the medicine still tastes foul - I know because last time she managed to give me a taste when she spit it back out.

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