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How to Give a Cat a Pill

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Learn how to give a cat a pill in 5 steps
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Administering pills to a cat can be intimidating. You want to be gentle, but you also know your cat needs the medicine you’re trying to give them. If you need to encourage your cat to swallow a pill, the following tips can help.

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A Tabby cat sniffing a pill in their owner’s hand.

Familiarize Yourself with the Medication

Before you start, review the medicine you will be giving your cat.

  • Can it be crushed?
  • Can it be taken with food?
  • What is the size of the required dose?
  • How often will you need to administer it?

Ironing out these details out before physically preparing your pet for medication may save you time and frustration.

Gather Your Supplies Before Administering the Pill

Before you get your cat, make sure you have a towel on hand, remove the pill from the container, and prepare it with a pet pill dispenser, if you have one. If another person is available, ask them to assist you.

Prepare Your Pet to Take the Pill

Lay the towel flat and place your cat on the towel, securely wrapping them up like a burrito or a swaddled infant. Keep their head exposed, but make sure their paws are firmly secured within the towel.

If you’re working with a partner, have them hold the cat securely while you wrap. If you’re alone, try placing the cat between your knees once wrapped to hold them in place. Speak in a soothing voice to assure your cat that they’re safe and everything is okay.

Give Your Cat the Pill

Below are five easy steps on how to give your cat a pill:

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Step 1: An annoyed grey cat wrapped in blanket preparing to take a pill.

1. While your cat is secure, use your less dominant hand to tip their head up.

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Step 2: Grey cat’s head tipped back ready to take a pill.

2. Place your thumb and forefinger on either side of your cat’s upper jaw. Gently apply pressure to both sides, which will cause your cat to open their mouth.

3. Use your other hand to place the pill all the way in the back of your cat’s mouth. You can also use a pill dispenser, which resembles a syringe and allows you to reach into your cat’s mouth without putting your hand inside.

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Step 3: Human hands massaging cat’s head and throat.

4. After you successfully put the pill into your cat’s mouth, gently hold it closed until you feel your cat swallow it. You may also want to pet their throat to encourage them to swallow.

5. As with any oral medication for cats, watch out for vomiting afterward.

Remember: Even following these steps exactly may not work for every cat. If you’re struggling to get your cat to take their medicine, ask your vet for additional ideas and support.

Other Ways to Get a Cat to Take a Pill

If there are no restrictions on food accompanying the medication, you have a few more options to get your cat to take their pill.

You can use a pill pouch, which is a small, enticing cat treat that wraps around the pill. When the cat eats the treat, they should also consume the pill. Make sure to check that the pill has been consumed, as some clever cats might eat the pill pouch and spit the pill out when you’re not looking. Another option is to crush the pill and mix it in with your cat’s food.

Don’t be intimidated if you need to give your cat a pill. By following these simple steps, you can make the experience easier for you and your cat.

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