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To the Rescue: Getting Kitty to Take a Pill

Cat owners look forward to medicine giving probably just slightly less than the actual animals themselves! Few friends with felines have never suffered a bite or scratch from even the friendliest pet. You'll need to watch her afterwards so you don't see the pill you thought was swallowed . . . come back up onto the carpet. Try crushing the pill into small pieces and mixing it with tuna or hiding the meds inside canned food or a savory piece of meat or fish. While "sneaking" the pill into food is the easiest way, some picky kitties will go on hunger strike, forcing you to put the tablet in their throats yourself. To see my six easy steps to do this,


  1. Don't make it a chasing game. Start by grabbing your cat from behind the face with your thumb and index fingers placed on the maxilars joint (as shown here).
  2. Slowly shift your pet's head backwards by raising her head and placing slight pressure on her jaws.
  3. While her head is still bent backwards with one hand, grasp the pill between your thumb and index finger of the other one. Gently sneak your middle and ring fingers of that hand between her front teeth and push down on her lower jaw.
  4. With her mouth wide open, throw the pill as deep as you can in her mouth towards the back of her throat, avoiding her tongue at all costs. If she can taste it, she may try to struggle.
  5. Close her mouth with the hand holding her head and softy rub her neck and throat area until you feel that she has swallowed.
  6. Release the cat and watch her closely for a few minutes. Many times cats will lick their noses or mouths after this, meaning success! Be certain to have a favorite treat on hand – if she eats that, it's likely the pill has already gone down, and offers a nice reward for her good behavior!

Got something to add? Share your pill-giving techniques for cats in your comments below!


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katalibria katalibria 7 years
This is a very useful article in addition to the comments. Thanks Pet Sugar!
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I wouldn't specifically buy pill pockets for my dog; I just stick pills in any semi soft treat to get her to eat them. I got lucky with my cat; I just have to put pills in a tiny amount of Science Diet i/d food (the smelliest wet food on earth) and he'll wolf it down. When I worked as a vet assistant, I had to "pill" several cats and we had a pretty good technique for it: hold their head firmly and pry their jaws open, put the pill in its throat, hold their mouth shut and then let them jump down to the floor. The vet I worked for knew the "drop and swallow" thing too!
chameleon7 chameleon7 9 years
Putting pills in cream cheese, cheese or some thing similar works too.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I use Pill Pockets now and even my finiky eater will take her pills. easy peasy
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
Another tip with a cat or dog that is difficult to pill is to put their butt in while you are sitting and to hold one hand on their chest. That way, when they try to put it in reverse, they won't get very far!
Rally-RE Rally-RE 9 years
ntshlv - try the pill pockets. they are moist treats and the pill goes in the center and you smoosh it closed. the dogs love them. hopefully that'll do the trick so you don't have to hold your little down anymore.
ntshlv ntshlv 9 years
my baby isn't a cat but she refuses to take medicine... if i crush it and mix it with her food, she will not even touch it and since it's a cocker spaniel (not as easy to hold it still and open its mouth as a cat would be), it would take at least 3 people to get her to open her mouth and put a pill in her mouth... she's well behaved most of the times, but she becomes a monster when we're trying to give her medicine! even when i had some of it made into liquid form and flavored she wouldn't take it!! the only way i found to give it to her is to crush the pill, mix it with some water and put it on a oral syringe, then i hold her down against the sofa, so she can't move much, push the liquid inside her mouth and hope she will swallow it instead of trying to spit it out...
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
mannylove, I hope your vet is short! ;)
mannylove mannylove 9 years
My vet showed me the craziest technique I had ever seen...but it actually worked! Pretty similar to the steps above including holding back kitty's mouth and shoving pill in mouth, but then the vet, who had my cat under her arm, dropped him down to the floor....! I was in shock, but she said that was the key, the dropping motion makes them actually swallow the pill before they land on the floor, and it was true!
brittanyk brittanyk 9 years
Thanks for all the great tips! I have the worst time giving my cat any type of pills or medicine.
kourt kourt 9 years
I put my pills (for both my cat and dog) in pieces of cheese. They both love it thinking it's a regular treat for them.
TigerRose TigerRose 9 years
Veterinarians offices can sell you a "pill gun" which really isn't a gun at all, but looks a little more like a hypodermic syringe. You put the pill in the end of the "Pill Gun" insert the contraption into your kitty's mouth and quickly and gently depress the plunger, easily giving the pill to your pet. Then just stroke her throat, as mentioned. Super easy to use, painless and makes medication time so easy, your cat should not fear it. The Pill Gun is easily cleaned & reusable.
Rally-RE Rally-RE 9 years
runnergeek - those pill pockets are great! my dogs love them. and, they have yet to spit the pill out of them. re: the post of grabbing kitty from behind - that would get me mauled! i suggest wrapping up kitty in a towel beforehand. and, leave the medicine in the other room - my kitty can smell the medicine and heads for under the bed!
runnergeek runnergeek 9 years
max isn't a cat, but my poor baby just tested positive for lyme disease. he is fine, but the vet gave him a 28 day course of antibiotics. yes 28 DAYS! anyway, parents found these pill pockets, made by the same company that makes greenies. it is this little rolled up thing, basically looks like a snack combo (remember those? they are like pretzel on the outside and cheese or peanutbutter on the inside?), except without the inside stuffed. you put the pill inside the combo like snack and voila. maxie LOVES them..
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I actally had to go through this last week because my kitty got spayed. She was easy to give the pill to though. I just snug her between my legs, pushed on either corner of her mouth so she would open it, and stuck the pill in her mouth and she was fine :)
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
lawchick, All I have to say is "Oliver want chickens?" and pandimonioum erupts! He sounds like a hippo running to the kitchen! ;)
lawchick lawchick 9 years
that is a GREAT tip fuzzles!!
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
If you can find a compounding pharmacy in your area, they can make most medications into a liquid form. Mine even offers flavors. Oliver gets so excited when it's time for his chicken flavored mediction! He just laps it up from the oral syringe! :)
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