We all know that giving your cat a tablet can be a daunting prospect but with a calm and confident approach and the right technique, medicating your cat doesn’t need to be as hard as you might think. The tips and tricks in this guide will hopefully allow you to medicate your cat successfully and make the process less stressful for you and your feline companion.
Hiding tablets in food and voluntary intake:
By far easiest way to give tablets is if they will take the medication voluntarily or don’t know they are being given the medication in the first place.
A lot of veterinary medications are flavoured to encourage patients to eat the medication voluntarily. Some have been specially shaped and manufactured for the tablet to be easier to chew and swallow, which all helps with the process. If your cat will voluntarily take medication it is a great stress-free option for all parties involved.
Alternatively, you can hide or crush the tablet in a small amount of wet cat food to try and encourage them to take the medication willingly. Offer them a little bit of the food/treat with the medication hidden in it and ensure they have eaten it before offering the rest of the meal.
If your cat is a particularly suspicious sort and recognises the tablet in their normal cat food, then you can try and disguise it in a special treat such as cooked fish/chicken or soft cheese. There are also specially formulated pet-specific edible pastes and putties that can be used to try and disguise the tablet.
We all know that cats are fastidious when it comes to their dietary preferences, so, if you are planning on giving medication in food you may need to be patient and persevere with multiple options to find the perfect method for your cat.
If you are planning on giving any medication with food, it is vital that you check the manufacturer’s instructions or with your vet to determine if the medication can be given in this way. It is also important to check whether any medication can be crushed into food as some medication will not be absorbed properly if it is crushed and should be given as whole tablets.
Administering a tablet by hand:
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you try and disguise a tablet in food or try and make it appealing; your cat just won’t voluntarily take the tablet, so you will need to give the tablet by hand.
Calm, gentle and safe restraint is key to success in these circumstances. If practical, it helps enormously to have two people – one person to give the tablet and one to hold the cat.
If you are restraining your cat with your hands rather than a towel, place them on the floor or a stable nonslip work surface or table. Have your cat standing or sitting upright facing the person giving the tablet. The person holding the cat restrains the front legs by placing a hand on either side of the shoulders and over the upper forelegs. Once safely restrained, the other person can then give the tablet (See section below: Giving the tablet)
If you have a particularly wriggly cat, you may need to use a towel to restrain them. To do this place a mid-sized towel laid out on a table and then place the cat in the middle of the towel facing away from you. Then bring the towel up on either side of the cat so that front edge of the towel is wrapped high up on the cat’s neck and doesn’t allow their front feet to escape out of the opening. Then continue to wrap the towel around their body until they sit safely and snuggly inside the towel.
Giving the tablet
Once you have gently restrained your cat using one of the above techniques, you can now administer the tablet. Again, this is much easier with two people – one holding the cat and one giving the tablet. Make sure you have everything ready before you restrain your cat. Try to do this quickly but calmly to make the whole process as stress free as possible:
- Hold the tablet between the thumb and forefinger of one hand.
- With your other hand gently but firmly hold your cat’s head with your fingers and thumb on either side of the cheek bones.
- Gently tilt the head upwards until their nose is nearly vertical. If their nose is nearly vertical you will find it easier to open their mouth and reduce the risk of being bitten as they will find it harder to close their mouths with any force.
- Using the middle finger of the hand holding the tablet pull the lower jaw down and open the mouth.
- Keep the head tilted up and quickly place or drop the tablet as far back on your cat’s tongue as you can – the further back the tablet goes the more likely it is that the tablet will be swallowed. A pill-giver can be useful if you are apprehensive about putting your fingers in your cat’s mouth.
- Gently hold the mouth closed for a few seconds and wait for your cat to swallow. Rubbing the throat under the chin may help. If your cat licks their lips or nose, you know they have swallowed.
If you are struggling to tablet your cat seek advice from your local veterinary practice and talk to the vet or vet nurse about how they may be able to help.