It can often seem daunting to medicate your own little lion but we have some helpful tips to keep the situation calm for both of you.
First, make sure you ask your vet (or check the manufacturer’s instructions) so that you know whether the tablet can be divided or crushed, and whether it can be administered with food
Second, find the simplest and easiest method to give the tablet to your cat.
Third, have a confident approach and keep calm at all times. If you run into difficulties or cannot manage, always contact your vet or vet nurse at your local practice – they are there to help. Make sure that you:
- Have everything you need prepared and ready in advance
- Have enough time and a clear plan of what you will do
- Be gentle with your cat, keep calm, and avoid putting yourself at risk
- If possible, always have a second person (preferably someone your cat knows) to help if you are going to administer the tablet rather than put it in with food
There are a variety of medication types and methods of giving them to your cat. So let’s go through some methods of medicating your cat.
Giving medications in food
- Make sure your cat is hungry! Take all food away for 12 hours to make sure your cat will want to eat
- Some tablets are made specifically to be palatable to cats and you can try just feeding these tablets to your cat. Remember to place the tablet at the tip of your fingers rather than in the palm of your hand. However, often cats will not eat a tablet voluntarily on its own because (even if designed to be palatable) the flavour and/or texture may be unfamiliar
- If the tablet is small, your cat may take it hidden in a small amount of favourite food, such as soft cat food (or jelly from cat food) that your cat really likes, soft cheese, a small piece of soft meat or fish, or butter
- Make sure the tablet is completely hidden/buried in just a small amount of food that you offer to your cat
- You can offer the food in the cat’s normal bowl or from your hand/fingers/as you prefer (taking note if there are any precautions for handling the tablet)
- If your cat eats the food, check to make sure it has also eaten the tablet and not left it behind or spat it out
- You can then give your cat the rest of its normal meal
- Some cats are clever at finding the tablet buried in food and spitting it out, or just eating the food around the tablet. If it is safe (check with your vet or the instructions that came with the tablets) you may be able to crush the tablet and mix it thoroughly in a small amount of very tasty food. This works best with palatable tablets, and with a strong- flavoured tasty treat that your cat really loves (such as some tinned fish in oil). A pill-crusher may help to crush the tablet thoroughly
- You can also find some yummy alternatives to hide your pets medication in such as Licky Lix (meat flavoured yoghurt) or Easipill cat (a meat flavoured putty you can wrap around tablets)
Giving the tablet by hand
Having gently restrained your cat, 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, so that your cat does not get upset:
- The person giving the tablet should hold the tablet between the thumb and forefinger of one hand
- Place the other hand on the top of your cat’s head (it is best to approach the cat from the side rather than from above – this is less threatening for your cat)
- The head should be gently but firmly held between the thumb and fingers, with your thumb and forefinger extending downwards to either side of the jaw at the corner of the mouth
- Gently tilt the head upwards, and use the middle finger of the hand holding the tablet to 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. Aim for the centre of the tongue as far back as you can see – the further back the tablet goes the harder it is for your cat to do anything other than swallow it!
- Hold the jaw closed for a few seconds and wait for your cat to swallow. Gently rubbing the throat under the chin may help. If your cat licks his lips or nose, you know he has swallowed
- Sometimes your cat may not swallow the tablet on the first attempt and may spit it out. So long as your cat does not become distressed, you can try repeating the procedure. Always try to get the tablet as far back on the tongue as possible. Using a pill-giver can also be helpful
A ‘pill-giver’ (available from your vet)
- This is a little like a syringe with a plastic plunger (and no needle!)
- The tablet will fit in the soft nozzle at the end of the pill-giver, and it is released by pushing down on the plunger (practise this before using it with your cat)
- A pill-giver can help you administer the tablet right at the back of your cat’s tongue while avoiding any need to place your fingers in your cat’s mouth
- With a little practice, this can be very effective and many people find it quite easy to use
- Prepare the tablet in the pill-giver before restraining your cat, and make sure the plunger is just in contact with the tablet before use so that it is as easy as possible to release it at the back of your cat’s tongue
Remember, if you have problems and/or your cat gets upset, contact your local veterinary practice and talk to the vet or vet nurse about how they may be able to help.