How to give a cat a tablet

We recommend that from kitten hood that you practice opening your pet’s mouth to get them used to the handling and the administration of tablet medication. If you practice this on a regular basis you will find it easier to give medication when needed. Always praise your pet for allowing this practice and follow it up occasionally with a food treat to reinforce the praise.

Three important things about giving cats oral medications

  • They are not small dogs so you must use a different method to give drugs.
  • They are faster then most dogs and if not handled properly you will find yourself injured or the cat will become scared of handling.
  • You may find that some cats are impossible to medicate and even using a pill popper may not work!

Steps to follow – do the same when practicing tablet administration

  • Make sure that you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions.
  • Have the pill ready and easily accessible. You may find it helps to lubricate the pill with a very small amount of margarine.
  • Praise your cat and keep talking to your cat. Select an area where the cat can not escape and make sure you have a table or bench with a non-slip cover. Place the cat on the surface and pat/stroke to make them feel safe. You should be able to easily reach the bench surface yourself and be ready with anything you need.
  • If you are Right handed then you will hold your cats head with your left hand. Use a “cricket ball grip” as shown in the photo.
  • Rotate the head by pivoting at the base of the skull – with gentle downward and backward pressure you will be able to rotate the head such that the nostrils point to the 12 O’clock position – if you have rotated the head correctly the mouth will open for you.
  • Holding the pill between your thumb and pointer finger (use your dominant hand – for example, if you are right-handed, use your right hand) you will then use your index finger to pull down the lower jaw (making sure you do not release any pressure on the grip of your cats head)
  • Look in the mouth and you will see a “groove” down the middle of the tongue – drop the tablet down to the base of the tongue along this groove and swiftly follow through with your pointer finger to push the tablet over the base of the tongue. For the average hand you will find the incisors at that point in time will be just below your knuckles.
  • Close the cat’s mouth and hold it closed while you return the head to a normal position. Wait until the cat swallows – at times rubbing the mouth/neck or even briefly placing your fingers over the nostrils will stimulate swallowing.
  • This procedure can be repeated without tablets to get your cat used to the handling. Make sure you give plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat or extra playtime after giving the medication: Positive reinforcement is the best form of training.

What if I can not do this?

  • Some cats will not allow this in which case we will use a pill popper.
  • You start in the same manner with your preparation but will pre-place the tablet in the pill popper.
  • You can either hold the head as previous described but some cats will accept it better if you scruff the neck and bend the head back.
  • You use the pill popper to aid opening the jaw. You will then place the rubber tip right over the base of the tongue – once in this position you press the plunger to release the tablet. You will feel as if you have placed the pill popper right down the throat!
  • After this hold the mouth closed until the cat swallows.