At some stage, we all need to give our feline family members medicine – whether it’s for regular worming treatments or to help them recover from illness.

Like humans, some cats are more comfortable taking medicine than others. Some cats may be more unsettled by it all – the smell, the taste, the process. They may run away from you, or bite or scratch you when you try to give them medicine.

Here are some tips to ease the stress of what is a necessary, but sometimes uncomfortable, experience for your cat and for you when you try to give them oral medication.

Remember to always speak with your vet about what you should do if your cat won’t take the medicine at all or only takes some of it.

Tips for giving your cat pills

There are a couple of usual options for giving your cat a pill or capsule. Which option you go with will depend on:

  • how willing your cat is to have you place the medicine in their mouth
  • whether your vet says it’s OK to place the medicine in your cat’s food, and if you can crush it or not.

If your cat will accept a pill or capsule from you directly:

  • Place your cat on the floor or on a table that isn’t slippery.
  • Your cat can sit or stand, but ideally their face should be away from you so you can hold them more easily.
  • Gently hold your cat’s body steady with one of your arms.
  • Open your cat’s mouth and place the medicine in the centre of their tongue, toward the back of their mouth, but don’t force it down their throat.
  • Hold your cat’s mouth closed for a few seconds and hopefully they will swallow the pill.
  • You can also gently massage your cat’s throat or gently blow on their face to encourage them to swallow it. You can also give them a small food treat to help the pill go down.
  • If your cat spits out the pill but doesn’t appear distressed, try this process again.
  • If your cat gets a bit wriggly, it may be helpful to have someone else with you – one person can gently hold the cat and the other can give the medicine. If this isn’t possible, try wrapping your cat in a towel before you give them the pill.
  • If your cat repeatedly won’t swallow the pill, you can try using a pill popper for pets. You can ask your vet or pet store about pill poppers and how to use them.

If you can place the pill (whole or crushed) or capsule (whole or separated) in your cat’s food:

  • Wait until your cat is hungry. It may be worth delaying their feeding time by a couple of hours to ensure they are really hungry and will eat all of the food and with it, all of the medicine.
  • Choose one of your cat’s favourite wet foods. If your cat only eats dry food, use one of their favourite non-dry treats or try giving them a stronger-smelling fish or gravy-based wet food as a treat.
  • Give them a smaller amount of food initially with the pill or capsule hidden at the bottom. If your vet has advised it’s OK, you can also crush the pill (or open the capsule and pour the contents) underneath the food or mix it together with the food. Again, be sure to ask your vet if it’s ok to crush the pill or open the capsule because this is not appropriate for some medicines.
  • You can also pop the whole pill inside a Churu Bite or Churu Fun Bite.
  • Once your cat has eaten, check the bowl to see that they’ve consumed the medicine too.
  • If they have, give them the rest of their usual portion of food. If they haven’t, try this process again.

Tips for giving your cat liquid medicine

If your cat has been prescribed liquid medicine, ask your vet if the liquid has to be given via a syringe or if you can add it to their wet food.

If the liquid has to be given via syringe, follow the steps above about how to give your cat a pill directly in its mouth. But with liquid medicine, it is very important not to tilt your cat’s head too far back when you squirt the medicine in their mouth, as they may choke.

If you can place the liquid in your cat’s food, follow the steps outlined above about how to mix the medicine into their food.

What to do after you’ve given your cat medicine

Firstly, well done to both you and your cat!

Giving your cat medicine can be a challenge for both of you so offer your beloved furry friend a treat afterwards.

If they haven’t run away and will accept them, give them some extra kisses and cuddles. These kitty kisses and cuddles may help you too!

And then focus on the positive feeling of having done what you needed to do to help your cat!