How to give an older cat medication

One of the more challenging moments you're likely to come across as a cat owner will be Pill Time: those instances when you have to try to get some medication into your beloved pet.

The chances are that, normally sweet-natured and docile, they'll suddenly discover quite a temper or simply run away.

So, how do you get your cat to take that pill? No one of these methods is in itself any better than another – it's purely down to which technique your cat seems to favour most. You may want to try a few different methods until you find a way that your cat is happy with.

Of course, you may find that none of the methods below work for you. If so, don't panic. Many medications will be available in different forms – as a liquid, say, or a paste, or perhaps a gel that you simply rub into their skin. Just ask your vet for advice.

Indeed, seeking help from your vet is something we'd recommend whenever you face a challenging situation like this. A specialist senior cat insurance policy should allow you to seek veterinary advice whenever you feel the need, without the worry of running up additional expenses. And with Petwise, you have a 24-Hour Vet Helpline to call as part of your older cat insurance benefits, too.


Keep things calm

Whichever method you use, take a calm approach and don't make too much fuss over the whole procedure. For one thing, your cat may pick up on your tension. What's more, if they get the sense that you're giving them something out of the ordinary, they are more likely to make a fuss or simply reject it outright.

Cats are naturally predisposed to turn away from anything that looks, smells or tastes different – so, if possible, avoid giving them any clues that the pill is something unusual or suspicious. If you can, try disguising it as something they already know and enjoy.

Another general tip is to give your cat their medication just before a meal. Hunger should make them more receptive – plus, if they're feeling cross about being given the pill, the sight of some nice food should quickly make them feel more positive about the whole thing.

Here are a few ways of getting that all-important pill into your furry friend.

1.Place the pill on their lips or paws

Cats love to clean themselves. As such, they will carefully lick off anything you place on their lips or paws – so this could be a good way to get that pesky pill into their system. Simply crush the pill (if suitable) and mix it into a paste or putty. Smear onto their paws or lips, and see if they go for it. Be aware that this could get a little untidy, so a nice wipe-clean floor is probably the best place to try this one.

cat licking paw

2.Hide it in a treat

This is a fairly obvious one, isn't it? Much as you might with a small child who's refusing those all-important vegetables, if you can secrete the pill within something more appetising there is a decent chance that your cat will lap it up.

But what to wrap it up in? Try something like Greenies Pill Pockets, where you can actually hide the pill within a pocket or cylinder of a tasty treat. Elsewhere, a product like Easypill allows you to bury the pill within a tasty putty.

If your cat becomes suspicious (or simply doesn't go for the treat), you can try crushing the pill into some cat milk or a flavoured yogurt sachet. The chances are that your cat will love the product so much that they'll put up with whatever's hidden inside!

3.Use a syringe

If your cat has a taste for liquid treats you may be able to use one of these as a solution for the finely crushed tablet. Then you can simply draw some of the solution into a syringe and try to administer this to your pet.

You'll need to be in a position where both you and your cat are calm and comfortable – we recommend kneeling on the floor with your cat between your legs. Then, gently slide the syringe between their teeth.

Don't worry, you won't have to force their mouth open – you'll just need to lift their top lip a little. You can now syringe the mixture in. Remember to be gentle, especially if your cat has any dental problems or has had any recent dental work.

Remember to reassure them all the time.

cat licking lips

4.Hide it in food

This is another obvious solution – but it's not quite as simple as it sounds. Most cats will simply eat their way around anything that's clearly an unknown quantity. So, again, you'll need to try to mask the medication a little.

You may be able to secrete it into a small amount of wet food – and we'd recommend giving it to them before their first meal of the day, when hunger will mean they won't be too suspicious (although, as we've noted elsewhere on our blog, a partial loss of appetite is one of the changes you'll notice as your cat ages).

Crushing the pill into food will make it easier to mask – but check, before you do so, that the pill doesn't lose efficacy when crushed.

So, there are a few possible methods. We hope at least one of them works for you and your furry friend! We mentioned at the start that, whatever method you use, you should always approach it without any fuss. And the same goes for the moment after you've given your cat the pill.

You want to create some happy associations so that your pet is willing, not wary, next time you need to administer. So, follow the pill with a nice stroke, a chin rub, a favourite treat, or whatever will put them at ease again.

Older cat insurance from Petwise

Here at Petwise, we know how much you love and treasure your beloved cat – and how much you want to keep them healthy and happy throughout their life. That's why we're delighted to be able to provide the right level of older cat insurance to suit you and your pet's needs.

Contact us today to find out more.