Giving Cats Medication
- Hold the cat's head from the top using your non-dominant hand. The cat's cheek-bones provide a convenient handle by which to hold the head firmly without causing the cat any discomfort. (Figure 1)
- Tilt the head back and hold the pill or capsule in your dominant hand between your thumb and index finger. Use the middle finger of the same hand holding the pill or capsule, to pry open the lower jaw. Place your middle finger over the small incisor teeth NOT over the sharp fangs (canine teeth) and pull open the lower jaw. (Figure 2)
- Keep the middle finger in place to hold the lower jaw open, then either drop the pill or capsule as far back on the tongue as possible, or the index finger and thumb can be used to push the pill over the back of the tongue. (Figure 3)
- Immediately close the mouth and blow on the cat's nose or stroke the cat's neck which will encourage them to swallow.
IMPORTANT: If you use your thumb and index finger to push the pill over the base of the tongue, your fingers will be inside the cat's mouth and you must work rapidly to avoid getting bit.
How to Give Liquid Medications:Liquid medications are given in a pouch between the teeth and cheek. The medication is squirted into this pouch, the mouth is held closed and the neck stroked or the nose sharply blown on to encourage the cat to swallow.
Liquids are more likely to accidentally enter the windpipe compared to pills or capsules. To avoid the cat inhaling liquid into the windpipe, DO NOT tilt the cat's head backwards.
If you find it difficult to give your cat a pill or capsule, there are several styles of pilling devices that can be used to place a pill or capsule over the base of the tongue so that you do not have to place your fingers in the cat's mouth. You can also speak to your veterinarian about suspending the pill or capsule into a liquid. Some medications can be suspended in liquid while others lose their effectiveness when placed in a suspension. Always talk to your veterinarian before altering the medication!
When you need to give your cat medications and they seemed stressed, there's a common household item that can make the procedure go much more smoothly - a large bath towel. We like to call it a "Kitty Burrito" which entails wrapping your cat in a large towel so only there head is sticking out and all feet are enclosed. Wrapping your cat in a towel is a great way to protect yourself from claws, prevents escapes, and helps calm down a cat.