Pilling Your Furry Feline
Posted: Jun 10, 2018
The subject of administering a pill to your normally sweet, laid back kitten or cat can sometimes strike fear into the hearts of many pet owners and sometimes breeders as well.
There are two considerations when discussing tips on how to pill your cat. The first is the safety of the pet owner, as most would prefer to avoid a trip to the emergency room after attempting to pill their cat. The second issue is the correct way to pill your cat for your cat’s own safety.
We will start with the first issue, which is the method used to give your cat a pill. Keep in mind that the tips described in this article are helpful, but practice makes perfect.
Step by Step Instructions on Giving Your Cat a Pill
First, you must position your cat against your body, so that the cat is facing the same direction as you. This way, the cat cannot back up to get away from you. This is most easily done by kneeling on the floor with the cat between your legs, facing forward, the same way you are facing.
Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger of your dominant hand. Gently bend your cat’s head back until they are looking straight at the ceiling.
Using your middle finger, open your cat’s mouth by placing it between the canines on the lower jaw.
With the mouth fully open, drop the pill to the back of the throat, and try to get it in the center of the throat.
Close the cat’s mouth and hold the head level, not up, until your cat has swallowed the pill. Usually, you will see the cat lick their lips, which is an indication that the pill was swallowed.
Second Part of the Pilling Process
The pilling procedure must be followed by a second step, which covers the issue of correctly pilling your cat in a manner which is safe for your kitty.
Have you ever dry swallowed a pill? If not, perhaps you have experienced the sensation of swallowing a pill that gets "stuck." It is a very uncomfortable feeling and dry swallowing a pill will cause the same sensation for your cat, and it could also be detrimental to your cat’s esophagus. The lining of the esophagus is very delicate and not intended to be exposed to irritating medications for a prolonged period. Pilling a cat without following it with a "chaser" could cause painful irritation or an ulcer to develop. Some medications are more prone to cause this, such as doxycycline.
To avoid having the pill get "stuck," immediately following the pilling of your cat with either baby food, cat food, water, chicken or beef broth or tuna flavored water. If your cat will not drink or eat on their own after pilling, you will need to administer the fluid. You should give the cat 4-5 ccs of fluid after giving a pill. The best way to give the fluid is by using a 1cc tuberculin syringe. The cat will not mind you slipping such a narrow syringe (without the needle of course) on the side of her or his mouth. You should also limit the amount of fluid you give in each syringe full to one cc. Take the syringe filled with one cc of fluid and insert it into the side of your kitty’s mouth towards the back of the mouth and syringe the fluid in. Repeat until you have given 4-5 ccs of fluid. Give the fluid slowly to avoid having your kitty inhale the fluid and start coughing.
Alternative Pilling Method for the Faint of Heart
You can also try to put the pill in your cat’s wet food or try a portion of a pill pocket. If you use a whole pill pocket, there is a likelihood that your cat may bite down on the pill. In my experience, while pill pockets or putting the pill in food may work initially, but my cats have always figured it out and found a way to eat around the pill. However, it is certainly worth a try. If you are going to use pill pockets, start by giving your cat a few pill pockets with no pills in them as a treat. Then take a portion of a pill pocket and wrap it around the pill and see if your cat will swallow it. If this works for your kitty, it is the least stressful way to pill a cat for both you and the kitty.
Kathy Hicks is a writer who focuses on articles about cats as well as feline health.