Medicating a cat can be one of the most difficult tasks that a cat owner faces. Most cats do not like to take medications. It is difficult to give a cat liquid medications, but they can be squirted into the side of the cat’s mouth, if you can hold the cat while doing it. Some pharmacy’s will compound medications for pets, using a chicken or beef flavor, which can make giving liquid medications easier.
However, giving a cat pills is even more difficult. Most cats are hard to hold and it is almost impossible to drop a pill into the back of the cat’s mouth far enough so that they must swallow it. If you miss, the pill can become wet with saliva and fall apart or be less likely to slide down the cat’s throat on a second try.
Trying to pry a cat’s mouth open when they know a pill is coming can result in being bitten. Janna Hautala, MSc (pharmacy) is addressing this problem by experimenting with flavored and flavor coated minitablets for cats. If she succeeds, cats may enjoy taking their medications, which will be a bonus for both them and the cat’s owner.
In the meantime, a pill popper is a good way to place a pill in the back of a cat’s mouth so that they swallow it. This helps to prevent the owner from being bitten and will help keep the pill dry until it is placed in the cat’s mouth.
There are two basic types, one is the Kruuse Buster Pet Pill/Tablet Syringe with Soft Tip and the other is called a pill gun.
The best way to use them is to tilt the cat’s head back, pry open the cat’s mouth by squeezing the back of the cat’s mouth on both sides to force it open with one hand and then quickly put the pill gun in the back of the mouth and dispense the pill. Quickly close the cat’s mouth and hold it until the cat swallows the pill. If the cat loves a special treat you can give the cat the treat the instant the cats swallows the pill.
Timing and rewarding the cat is essential or the cat will fight when it is time for the next pill. Of course, the best thing a cat owner can do is teach the cat or kitten to allow you to open their mouth and give them a pill. This can be done by going through the motions of giving the cat a pill but instead of a pill, they are given a small, pill sized treat that they love. It also helps if the cat only gets that treat when you practice giving the cat a pill. Make sure that the treat is easy to swallow and does not hurt the cat’s mouth or throat.
It is essential that the cat owner practice giving the cat treat as a pill at least every other day. Hopefully in the near future, there will be cat pills that cats like to take.