Pill My Cat Tips Giving pills and medications to our cats is often a source of dread for owners. Medications can have strong smells and bitter tastes that cats pick up on very quickly. Some medications will even irritate the esophagus if not swallowed quickly. Here are some tips to help prevent such adverse reactions and help with the pilling process:

The safest and least stressful way to medicate is to try and see if your cat will take the medication voluntarily in treats or in canned food. You can try small pieces of cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, or any other treats that your cat likes. There are also treats made especially for this purpose called Pill Pockets or Pill Pals which we have available at the clinic. A whole Pill Pocket is sometimes too big and, if used whole, will cause your cat to chew and bite into the medication. Instead, break a Pill Pocket in half and use just enough to cover up the pill.

Another option is crushing and mixing the pill into a small amount of wet food that your cat likes and make sure she or he eats it all before giving the rest of the meal. You can also try adding in a probiotic called FortiFlora (also available at the clinic) to the mixture to further encourage palatability of the medication in wet food as it has an enticing flavor. Strong medication smells and tastes often makes this method more challenging.

Pilling directly into the mouth is the best way to make sure the medication gets in the mouth. It is a good idea to follow up the medication with a small amount of food to make sure it gets into the stomach. When pilling directly, do not make a big scene or project out of it. Putting them on a table or something out of their usual pattern will become a signal to them and make everything more difficult. Hold their head gently, but firmly, tip their head up, open the mouth and drop it to the back of the tongue. Gently close the mouth and rub under the chin and they will usually lick after swallowing. Reward with a treat or small amount of food. Some cats will learn to associate a meal after getting their medication which acts as positive reinforcement!

If your cat is on to you and too smart to let you pill them directly or in some form of treat, you can try to put the medication in an empty gel capsule and see if that hides the smell or taste enough to let you pill them directly or in a treat or food. This can also work well in a Pill-Aid which is a plastic medication administrator that helps get the medication to the back of the mouth so it is swallowed.

With some medications we can also have them made into a flavored liquid suspension to administer by ad dropper directly into the mouth or sometimes in the food. Some medications can be made into flavored treats. Also, with a few medications we can consider having it compounded into a transdermal form that absorbs from the inner part of the ear. This is not an option for most drugs as large molecules do not absorb. In drugs that we can administer this way, the dose regulation is much more difficult as absorption is more variable. There also is greater risk of the drug being absorbed into the bodies of the feline caretakers!

Remember to wash your hands after administering any drugs.

Finally, we all understand at the Chicago Cat Clinic that medicating the feline patient is often a challenge. Please let us know if you are having trouble and we will do the best we can to help.