03 3489728 Straven Road Vet
03 3525749 Papanui Vet
by Francesca Matthews
Giving cats tablets is often fraught with difficulty. This article may help give some tips. However we do recommend you cnsulting with our veterianrians or veterianry nurses, if your cat is likely to make giving it a tablet difficult
Giving a cat a table by tilting its head
An example of a pill popper to help protect your fingers when tableting a cat
Hiding the tablet in very palatable food (or use a pill pocket*)
Again, if your cat is greedy or not too fussy, has a favourite food you are able to offer and the tablet is not too bitter, this method may work.
Fish, such as sardines which are very smelly, is a good option to try this method with.
*Pill pockets can be purchased from your veterinary clinic and are designed to help you very easily disguise a tablet. Pill pockets are very palatable. It may be worth breaking or cutting the tablet into pieces if the tablet is large and won't shatter. Then stuff each small piece into a small piece of the pill pocket. Make sure that it is a size that is easy to swallow.
Tipping your cats head back and placing the tablet at the back of the tongue
Cats have no ligaments holding their spine together hence why they sleep a lot. This means that their head can be extended safety backwards quite a distance. If you are able to tilt the head quite a way back, the bottom jaw drops open a little, making it easier to access the back of the tongue. It is always easier said than done, but if you can do it quickly, your cat will not end up despising you quite as much for this indignity!
One of the best methods for pilling a cat if you are on your own is to sit on the floor with the cat in between your legs, facing away from you. You can then tilt the head back with your hand (it's easiest to use your left hand if you are right handed and vice versa), and your thumb and middle finger should be placed just underneath the cat's cheekbones. Tilt the head as far back as possible, without causing discomfort to your cat, and hold the pill with your thumb and middle finger of your opposite hand. Use the index finger of your opposite hand to prise open the cat's mouth. Remember that the mouth will drop slightly when the head is far enough back. Once you have opened the mouth, push the pill as far into the throat as you can with your middle finger. Quickly close the mouth and hold the head up with both hands, stroking the cat's throat to encourage it to swallow. Sometimes it can help to coat the pill in a little butter to make it easier to go down.
Towel wrapping your cat and then opening the mouth and placing the tablet at the back of the tongue.
This is much the same method as above, but with the claws safely out of harm's way (if done properly!). The middle of the towel should be covering the entire underside of the body, with the edges as far away from the legs as possible.
Asking your veterinarian for a tablet alternative
It is ok to say you can't pill your cat. More and more people are telling us this now and in many cases there is an alternative available. If there isn't an alternative then you need to discuss with your veterinarian the benefits of the tablet versus the risks with not taking it. In the case of an abscess we need to ensure the cat gets antibiotics (and we can via tablet or liquid alternatives), however with some behavioural problems, tablets may help but the animal won't die without them and the stress of giving them may be worse than the problem behaviour.
Be honest and tell your veterinarian if giving tablets is not an option. It is better that your veterinarian knows straight away so an alternative can be provided, rather than struggling at home, before asking for help or not asking for help at all and your pet missing out on important medication that may end up being detrimental to its health
Did you know?
Recent research shows that if you give a cat a tablet then you should wash it down with water, as a high percentage of tablets can remain stuck in the oesophagus (that's the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach) for some time.