How to Give a Cat a Pill

Facebook Icon Twitter Img Email Img Print Img

Getting an unwilling cat to swallow a pill is a challenge many owners struggle with. Check out our video and step-by-step guide below on how to get your cat to accept medication – avoiding any claws, wriggling or spitting the pill back out!

A Note on Cat Medication Guidelines

It’s important to know that different medications need to be taken differently. While some pills can be split into smaller pieces, or crushed up and combined with wet food to make them more palatable for your cat, others need to be swallowed whole.

Always double check with your veterinarian before providing medication to your cat, to ensure your cat stays safe and receives their medication in the most effective way possible.

How to Give a Cat a Pill

  1. Prepare the pill. Never give a cat a dry pill, as it may get stuck in their throat. You can either try coating the pill in a small amount of food (such as tuna, salmon, cream cheese or plain yoghurt) or hide it in a treat specifically designed to hide pills. At Small Door, we like Pill Pockets – they’re small chunks of treat that you can mold around the pill. This ensures it’s nice and soft to slip down their throat.
  2. Prepare your space. If you’re administering the pill on your own, it may be easiest to place the cat on your lap. If you have a partner to help hold your cat, you may find an elevated surface like a table is easiest.
  3. Hold your cat. Use one hand to cup your cat’s head from above. Gently hold their head with your thumb and finger, placed under their cheekbones. Tilt their head back – this will usually cause their jaw to naturally drop.
  4. Administer the pill. With your other hand, gripping the pill between your thumb and finger, use your middle finger to open their mouth and then push the pill in. Try to place it as far back in the mouth as you can. Quickly close their mouth, and hold your fingers under their chin.
  5. Encourage swallowing by blowing on the nose, or gently rubbing your cat’s throat.
  6. Watch to make sure your cat swallowed the pill. Some cats may keep the pill in their mouth for a few seconds and then spit it out, so be sure to watch to check they’ve swallowed it. If you see them lick their nose shortly afterwards, this is a sign they’ve swallowed it.
  7. Provide positive reinforcement. After your cat has successfully swallowed the pill, be sure to give her plenty of rewards to encourage this good behavior. This could include praise, pets, treats, playtime, brushing – anything your cat particularly enjoys.

Watch our video on YouTube to see this method in action!

Reach Out to Your Veterinarian for Advice

If you’re still struggling to get your cat to swallow pills, reach out to your veterinarian for advice. They may have other tips they can provide, or may be able to prescribe an alternative medication that can be taken in another form (either an oral liquid or a pill that can be crushed and combined with food).

Facebook Icon Twitter Img Email Img Print Img

Related articles

Pet Travel Certificates Explained

If you’re planning a trip and your furry friend is tagging along,…

Kitten 101: Creating Positive Behaviors

Instilling good behaviors in your new kitten takes practice and patience. It’s…

CBD for Pets: Everything You Need to Know

The use of cannabidiol, or CBD, is well researched in human medicine.…

Kitten 101: Introducing a new cat into the home

A kitten or cat of any age needs time to adjust and…

Pet Dental Health Myths

When it comes to our pets, an element that often causes confusion…

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Nail trimming is something that many dogs (and dog owners) dislike. And…

How to Keep Dogs and Cats Safe when De-Icing

De-icing is a fact of life for many of us living in…

Is flea & tick preventative needed all year?

For a lot of people—and their pets!—summer means spending time outdoors. That also means…

Icon of a white arrow in a black circle Back to Learning center