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Cats and Medicine: Best Ways to Give Your Cat Pills and Medication

10 Mar 2023.

Convincing a cat to take medication can be tricky, even for the most experienced cat sitter, paw parent, or veterinarian! Our feline friends have minds of their own (after all, they did domesticate themselves!) and getting a cat to do something against their will is a challenge. Not sure what’s the best approach for giving a kitty a pill? Read on for Cat in a Flat’s tips on the best ways to give a cat medication while minimising stress for the both of you. 

 What to do before giving your cat medication

First of all, you should NEVER administer over-the-counter medication to a cat. Just because it works for you doesn’t mean it will work for Mr. Whiskers. Even something as simple as eye drops intended for humans can be incredibly harmful and hazardous to a kitty. 

If you’re giving a cat medication, it should be pills or other medicine prescribes solely by your fur friend’s vet. Paw parents: before giving your cat medication always check with your vet to find out if there are any restrictions in how it needs to be administered. Cat sitters: make sure you have a clear understanding of how to give your kitty clients their medicine. For example, some pills can be crushed and divided, while others may need to be given whole in order to work properly. 

What are the best ways to give meds to a cat? 

Hide it in the cat’s food

One of the most effective (and easiest) ways to get a kitty to take their medication is by hiding it in their food. You can mix the pill in with some of your fur friend’s wet food or in a spoonful of canned pumpkin. But be careful about feeding your kitty too much food when trying to give them a pill. Make sure they eat the pill by mixing it with just a little food. This is especially important if you can’t crush the medication and mix it in. If there’s too much food, your feline friend may just eat around the pill. 

Use a pill pocket

If you have a cat or kitty client who is refusing to take medication mixed in with their food, a pill pocket might be a good alternative. These tasty treats have hollow interiors where you can insert the pill. Simply put the pill or capsule inside the ‘pocket’ and mould the treat around it before feeding it to Mr. Whiskers. Pill pockets come in a variety of tasty flavors and are easy to source online

Use a syringe

Sometimes it’s necessary for a paw parent or cat sitter to use a syringe to give a cat medication directly into their mouth. If you need to give your fur friend a pill, check first (either with the vet or the kitty’s owner) that it’s okay to dissolve the pill in water and administer it with a syringe. Here’s the best way to give a cat liquid medication using a syringe: 

  • Get everything ready before you get the cat. This means filling the syringe with the proper amount of medicine and placing it in an easy to reach location. 
  • Approach the task calmly. Felines are excellent at reading our moods and if you’re tense it will definitely make your kitty feel nervous too. 
  • Position the feline so they are facing away from you. Make sure the kitty is tucked into your arm so they can’t wriggle free.
  • If you have a particularly wriggly feline, you may need to wrap them in a towel or blanket. However, wrapping a cat should be a last resort as it can stress them out more. 
  • Gently hold the cat beneath their jaw and tilt their head slightly up toward the ceiling. 
  • Carefully insert the syringe in the side of their mouth. This will encourage your furry friend to open up. Once they do, squirt the syringe’s contents toward the back of the cat’s tongue. Don’t squirt too quickly—this could cause your kitty to gag or spit some out. 
  • Remove the syringe and count to three while gently holding Mr. Whiskers’ head. It may help your fur friend to swallow (and calm them down) if you stroke beneath their chin. 
  • Always give your cat treats and cuddles afterwards so they don’t see the interaction as purely negative! 

Give a pill orally 

You may need to give a kitty a pill that can’t be dissolved or crushed and your fur friend refuses to eat it in their food too. If this is the case, you can use the same steps as above to place the pill directly in a cat’s mouth, but with a few alterations: 

  • Once the cat is in the proper position, take the pill in one hand and place your other hand on top of the kitty’s head. Position the thumb and index fingers of this hand on each side of your furry friend’s jaw. 
  • Gently tilt the feline’s head upwards and using the hand with the pill, carefully open their bottom jaw. 
  • Using your index finger, place the pill as far back on the feline’s tongue as you can. 
  • Close their mouth and hold it for a few seconds, stroking the bottom of their chin to help them swallow. 
  • Don’t forget to reward Mr Whiskers with a treat for being such a brave kitty!

Transdermal gel

Some medication can be dissolve into a transdermal gel and applied to a kitty’s skin instead. Once it’s placed on the skin, the medication will be absorbed into your cat’s bloodstream. This is a great option as it’s one of the easiest ways to administer medication. However, it’s important to note that not all medications can be made into transdermal form. Currently, there are very few (such as flea and worm meds) that can be administered like this. If you’re a paw parent, you may want to check with your vet to see if this is an option, as it may be easier and less stressful for you, your kitty, and your cat sitter. 

Can a cat sitter give my cat medication?

Cat sitters provide a variety of services beyond just feeding and cleaning up after your kitty. Many cat sitters are more than happy to give your kitty medication if needed. However, when booking a pet sitter, always check with them beforehand to make sure this is something they’re willing to do. Some sitters are more experienced than others, and not every single one may feel comfortable giving your cat medication while you’re away. 

If you do need your cat sitter to administer medication to your feline, ask them to come by before you leave so you can go through the medication and clearly explain the best approach. If possible, wait to administer that day’s meds to your feline until your cat sitter arrives. This way you can demonstrate how to do it or ask your cat sitter to do it while you supervise. Always leave the information for your vet and another number (like your partner’s or a local friend’s) in case there’s an emergency with your cat and your sitter has trouble getting a hold of you. 

Looking for more great tips on caring for your cat or a cat client? Check out our blog posts on how to safely trim a cat’s claws, and how to spot and treat feline food allergies

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  • #catsitting
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  • Cat Care
  • cat sitting
  • giving cat medication
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