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How to give your cat a pill
Most of us have seen the humorous version of “How to Give a Cat a Pill in Twenty Easy Steps.” The version starts out…
“Sit on sofa. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your elbow as though you were going to give a bottle to a baby. Talk softly to it…”
The reality of giving a cat a pill is not a laughing matter. Certainly not for the cat that quickly ducks under the bed every time she sees you coming. And not for you, because you witness her fight, her struggle, her drooling, as you are ducking claws and teeth.
Cats must pick-up on our facial features, or perhaps the air of urgency we assign when it comes to pilling our cat. Sad to realize, but now our cat actually fears us; ducking under objects, hissing at us when we get close, growling ready to do battle at any cost. Don’t they know that this is for their own good?
No they don’t! So how do you lower the stress when it comes to pilling a cat?
Thankfully, there is a wonderful product on the market now called Pill Pockets. Available at PetCo, these are flavored soft treats (fish and chicken). The treats are hollow and supple (like uncooked bread dough). You simply take the pill and tuck it into the center of the pocket then roll the whole thing in your hand until the pill is covered. Give your cat two empty Pill Pockets, and a “loaded” one all at the same time and she will never catch on to your trickery.
Pill Pockets accommodate even the larger tablets or capsules. You can break the tablets in half, insert each half into a pill pocket, or take two Pill Pockets, roll them together, stretch mold them around the larger medication. When it comes to the liquid medications, Pill Pockets fall short. If you don't have Pill Pockets, there are other ways to medicate your cat.
Here are some tips about medicating a cat:
The floor method:
Get down on your knees, spread your legs and cross your ankles. Place your cat so her rear is flat against and in-between your legs (cats backpedal when they are scared).
Some people use a towel to wrap their cat up in.
You need to remember to keep your cat’s head angled and pointed up to the ceiling when you are giving a pill. This will relax their throat allowing the process to go smoothly and prevent you from being bit.
If your cat will not take pills or liquids, talk to your vet about compounding pharmacies. Compounding pharmacies like this one: http://pets.flavorx.com/ will take the medication and put it into a paste or liquid that is pleasant-tasting. The cat will eat it without question.
You can also use the following foods to hide pills in:
Many times the stress of the experience, or the taste of the medicine will cause the cat to drool especially if given worm medicine. If the drool is constant and excessive, call your vet! If you see any signs that your cat might be allergic to the medication, call your vet!
Medications such as Amoxicillian or Clavamox can cause digestive upset, nausea (a cat will constantly lick its lips when nauseated) vomiting or diarrhea. If these symptoms persist, call your vet!
Give all medication until it is gone, unless the vet tells you otherwise.
Ask your vet beforehand what the side effects of the medication are.
If you are dealing with feral cats or stray cats, the best way to medicate them is in food. Crush the pills into canned food that contains a lot of gravy (Fancy Feast works well) or dissolve the capsules beforehand in tuna juice or broth.
You do not want to handle captured stray cats and feral cats to give medication if you can help it, because this sets you back on the socialization of the cat. Even a domesticated cat may start hiding from an owner who has to pill her every day. Feral and stray cats and kittens will simply begin to attack you to keep you from coming close.
Mary Anne Miller is a freelance writer, website content provider and member of The Cat Writers’ Association. Her expertise lies in feral cat socialization, bottle babies and animal abuse issues.