by Barbara George
Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Cats are renowned for being difficult when taking tablets and medicine. As so often happens it is the few who resist that make the media and create the perspective.
Preparation is important; have everything ready before collecting your cat. Measure out the correct dosage and cut tablets to the right size using a tablet cutter (available from pharmacies). Check if your vet offers an option to cut tablets when dispensing if you cannot cut them yourself. For liquid medication a dropper or plastic syringe – without the needle! – is useful, again both are available from a pharmacy. A pill-popper can be used for tablets; these are avian able from your vet or pet shop. If you need any other items, a towel, treat or toy, have them ready to hand.
Liquid medicine is the easiest to give, insert the syringe or dropper into the cheek pouch and gently squirt the liquid into the back of the mouth and down the throat. Be careful how much liquid is given at a time, that depends on the size of the cat and the volume that can be safely placed in the mouth without spilling.
The quickest and easiest way to give a cat a pill or tablet is to pop it down their throat, either with a finger or a pill-popper. Simple, clean and quick.
Placing tablets, either whole or crushed, in food is not usually a good alternative for cats. They will either eat around the tablet or refuse to eat, wasting both the tablet and the food. In a multi-cat household the wrong cat could eat the medicine which could have undesirable results.
For cats that will not take tablets the first option would be to ask your vet if there is a liquid alternative. If not, and it is not possible to have assistance when giving the tablet, here are some alternative ideas. Please check with your vet before crushing tablets as there may be a reason for them to be given whole.
Crush the tablet between 2 teaspoons and mix it with a very tiny amount of something nice – a match head of butter or peanut butter rubbed into the crushed tablet, or mix with maximum 1/8 teaspoon of milk, cream, gravy, chicken stock, anything tasty. The amount of additive must just be enough to hold the crushed tablet together, any more and he may not eat it all.
Mix the crushed tablet with 10-12 drops water and syringe it into his mouth. Any more water and he may spit it out or turn his head and it all falls out. Ask your vet for a syringe or buy from a pharmacy.
Make it a routine process, tablet before dinner; no tablet no dinner! Sometimes if he does not need a tablet or at other times of the day give him the treat part without a tablet as a reward. It may also work to change the treat mixture every now and then if he becomes suspicious.
Praise, attention, a cuddle or a game after giving medication will take his mind off it and leave him with a more pleasant memory of the event.
There are many websites and YouTube videos available, here is one that gives a good description: