Tricks to Medicating Cats

Give medication like a pro! Read below for some tips and tricks to help you medicate your difficult kitty!

Giving medicine

  1. It may be a two person job, especially if your cat is difficult to tablet.
  2. Place your cat on an elevated surface with a towel.
  3. The holder – holds the body in a comfortable position, not too tight but ready to hold if the cat moves.
  4. The pill person – gently hold the cat’s head under the eyes with a thumb on one side and forefinger on the other over the bony ridges below the eye. Tilt the head backwards till about 11-12 O’Clock. Usually this will cause the mouth to open a little. Using your other hand gently pull the lower jaw down.
  5. Drop or place the tablet deep into the back of the mouth over the middle of the tongue. Closer down the throat the less likely they are to spit it back out, this may take some time and confidence to get right. Look for a swallowing action to be sure the medication is going the right way.
  6. Stroke the cat’s throat or blow sharply on its nose to encourage the cat to swallow, if needed.
  7. Follow up with a yummy cat treat. This will help to encourage swallowing and make the whole process less stressful.
  8. The quicker and better you get, the less stressful it is for both cat and owner!

Using a pill popper

  1. A pill popper is like a syringe for pills, the rubber tip holds the pill and a plunger pushes it out when the time comes.
  2. A syringe full of water can help to ensure that your cat actually swallows the medication.
  3. Use the above methods, but instead of your fingers, use the pill popper.

Administer thick gel like medications from a tube

  1. Place the required dose onto your finger and insert your finger into their mouth. They lick it off easily.
  2. If they resist or leave some on your finger, just wipe your finger with the gel onto their paws or outside their mouth. They will wash their paws and mouth, and digest the gel.

Alternative methods for difficult cats

  1. To give your cat a pill, crush the pill and mix with cream cheese, butter or vegimite. See if your cat will eat it, if not wipe the mixture onto their front legs. He will instantly lick it and therefore consume his medication.
  2. For cats requiring long-term medication, some can be formulated for transdermal use. This is where the medication is applied to the underside of the ear flap. It can be costly but great for cats that tableting is difficult or not possible.

Topical ointment/Spot-on’s

  • Read the instructions – some products must be applied at two different locations
  • Gently restrain your cat – having a second person to help will make it easier, or you can try wrapping the cat in a towel or blanket if they are wriggly
  • Apply to the area where they cannot groom – head/neck area
  • Part the fur/hair on the back of the cat’s neck (between the head and shoulders) so you can see the skin clearly
  • Apply the product onto the skin itself, not the hair
  • Warning – Never use dog flea preparations on cats

Eye drops or ointment

  • Hold your cat gently but firmly, wrap in a towel or have another person may help.
  • Hold your cat’s head in your hands, tilting the head so the nose is pointing upwards
  • Open the eyelids gently on one side with a thumb and finger
  • Place a few drops or a line of ointment on the surface of the eye or just inside the lower lid. (as directed by your veterinarian)
  • Close the eyelids and massage gently to spread the medication over the whole of the eye

Ear drops

  • Hold your cat gently but firmly, wrap in a towel or have another person may help.
  • Hold the head and ear in your hands and tilt the head a little to one side so that the ear to be medicated is uppermost
  • Squeeze the required number of drops into the opening of the ear.
  • Keep holding the head and ear firmly to prevent the cat shaking its head
  • Massage the ear base gently to distribute the drops within the ear canal
  • The second person can distract the cat by firmly stroking it along the body or scratching the chest or chin.

Tips and tricks

  • Stop your cat from wriggling while giving medication, spread out a towel, place the cat in the middle and wrap the cat up like a burrito; leaving its head sticking out.
  • Cats have a gap at the back of their teeth. With dropper medicine, you can point the tip of the dropper into this gap to instantly open its mouth to quickly administer medicine.
  • Some cats may back away, kneel on the floor with the cat between your knees, facing away from you. Coming from behind and not front on is less intimidating.
  • When giving tablets, try dipping the tablet in butter. This help to keep the pill from becoming lodged in the throat, help to swallow the tablet and cover up any unpleasant taste.
  • If the cat repeatedly gets away from you, get them into a small room without any hiding places, like a bathroom and shut the door.
  • Do it once and do it well, the more times to try to medicate, the more stressful it is for you and your cat and more practice they have to get away from you
About the author: Megan Reilly

Megan is a Veterinary Nurse Technician - the highest qualification available to Veterinary Nurses in Australia, Megan has a fun loving spirit and brings a positive energy to Heights Pet Hospital. She is a talented nurse who has a love for all patients and is continuously updating our processes and procedures, always finding a better or more effective way. She has been at the hospital since its opening in 2011 and in the veterinary industry since 2000, starting out as a kennel hand and then completing veterinary nursing cert IV in 2006. She has also undertaken additional study, gaining her qualification as a Veterinary Nurse Technician in 2015.

Megan runs our puppy school classes and has a special interest in canine behaviour. She continues to give back to the industry with her dedication to training new veterinary nurses and work experience students.

Megan has Trevor, a black domestic short hair cat with a penchant for extravagant bow ties! and Howard, a fiesty Border-Terrier.

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