How To Give Cats Oral Medication

Your veterinarian may prescribe oral medication for your cat in a wide range of situations. For your cat's health to improve, it is important that these medications are given on schedule and according to the vet's instructions. This can be tricky, as many cats absolutely hate any kind of medication. There are a few tips that can make this process go much more smoothly. Here's how to give cats oral medication:

  1. Follow your vet's instructions. Some oral medications can be given with food, while others must be given on an empty stomach. Some are given once per day, while others must be given 2 or 3 times. Always follow the instructions when giving your cats oral medication.
  2. Relax. Cats can sense your anxiety. They will not easily go along with any plan that they sense may be uncomfortable for them. Always remain relaxed when giving cats oral medication. If you are having trouble getting the medication into the cat's mouth, take a break and come back to it later, rather than getting your cat (not to mention yourself!) all worked up about it. Speak quietly, in a soft voice, and make sure you have everything you need, including the medication, ready before you approach the cat.
  3. Feed inside food. If your cat's oral medication comes in the form of pills that can be given with food, hide the pill inside a small ball of canned cat food. First give your cat such a ball without a pill to make sure he eats it whole. Some cats may spit out the tablet, eating the food around it. Cats that take small bites may end up biting the capsule in half; this makes it much harder to medicate them on the second attempt. Some pills can be crushed to be easily mixed with cat food, but ask your veterinarian before crushing your cat's medication. Tuna fish or other strong-smelling foods can help cover up the presence of medication.
  4. Feed tablets or capsules without food. If you are trying to feed a tablet or capsule to your cat without food, hold your cat's head from the top, by the cheek bones. This method will hold the head steady without causing too much discomfort for your cat. When you tilt the head back, your cat will automatically open his lower jaw. Drop the pill into the open mouth, as far back as possible. Then close the mouth and blow on your cat's face. The air will encourage him to swallow. You must work quickly, or the cat will spit out the medication.
  5. Liquid medications without food. Liquid medications should be given into the side of the cat's mouth, in a pouch between the teeth and cheek. Use an eye dropper to quickly squirt the medication into the mouth, hold the cat's mouth closed, and blow on the nose so the cat will swallow. Do not tilt the cat's head backward when giving him liquid medications, because this may cause the liquid to accidentally enter the windpipe. You can practice with water first, if it would make you more comfortable with the process.

If you're having trouble giving your cat oral medication, talk to your vet. She may be able to mix the medication in a form that your cat may find more acceptable. If you are unable to medicate your cat, the vet may ask for you to bring in the cat daily so that medication can be administered in her office.


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