Best Practices for Administering Oral Medication to Cats at Home

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Best Practices for Administering Oral Medication to Cats at Home

Cats can be very fickle creatures, which oftentimes make routine oral medication administration sessions very difficult for some pet owners. When your cat’s health depends on timely, consistent oral medication, however, it’s imperative that they receive their treatment.

Since we occasionally hear horror stories of administration practices, we wanted to share some tips for administering both liquid and pill medications.

Getting the basics down first:

Giving Pill Medications

Here is our recommended procedure for administering pill medications: gently grab your cat’s head with your thumb along one side of their face and index finger on the other… It’s best to secure the head with the palm over the top of the ears. By gently tilting the head backwards, you should help your cat’s jaw relax so that in one quick motion, you can place the pill at the back of the throat. If your pet is stubborn, you may consider massaging the throat with your forefinger to help move the pill down.

Giving Liquid Medications

When giving a liquid medication, it’s best to use a dropper or plastic syringe. We keep both of these tools stocked in our office if you need them! Gently open your cat’s mouth as you would for a pill and squirt the medication into the space behind the upper molars. This way, the medication is too far back to spit out and naturally finds its way to the throat and allows your cat to swallow.  

Some "expert” tips for especially picky cats:

Mask the meds.

Cats are smart so we have found that masking the taste and smell of the medication is a great trick to try. We suggest rolling the pill into a "meatball” of wet food or coating it with anchovy paste. Another option for hiding treats is Pill Pockets, specialized flavored pouches designed for disguising medication. 

Use props.

If your cat wiggles a lot and finds his or her way out of your grip when administering oral medications, trying wrapping him or her in a towel. This will keep their legs from whipping around and away from you.

Stay positive.

Like kids, cats bring on a lot of stress by how you handle stressful situations. If you are calm and make the experience quick and simple, cats will adapt. Also, to avoid any grudge holding after treatments, take some time both before and after administering the medication to reward your cat with extra pets and encouraging words.

Our staff at Butte Oroville Veterinary Hospital is well versed in administering medications and is happy to provide additional tips! We know that sometimes these things look simpler in the office than in your home, so don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding tricks or even inquiries about medications. Some medications are available in both forms (liquid and pill) so we are happy to look into the options if one is a preference for you. 

Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2014