How Do You Give an Uncooperative Cat a Pill?

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
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It’s no secret that cats can be quite willful and stubborn. Felines have their unique characters, and will often surprise you with their sassy behavior. However, some owners could find their kitty’s temperament a bit challenging, especially when faced with important tasks that require patience and precision. One such task is giving your cat a pill. When the vet prescribes a treatment, it is up to you to administer it. Needless to say, cats are not always cooperative in these situations. They can scratch, scream, jump, and run away – anything just to avoid getting the pill in their mouth. So, how exactly do you go about giving an uncooperative cat a pill? You can’t just avoid it altogether – it has to be done one way or the other. Read on to find out how to do it without ending up covered in scratches!

Giving an Uncooperative Cat Pills: Step-by-Step Process

Giving a pill to an uncooperative cat can be a very challenging task, but with some patience and the right technique, it can be done without much fuss. Following these few simple steps can make the process much smoother and lead to a satisfying result. 

#1 First things first - gather your supplies. Of course, this includes the pill that was prescribed by your vet. If the medicine is in liquid form, however, you will need a small syringe without a needle. Also, place a towel or a small blanket nearby, you’ll need it. Last, but not least, is a treat - to reward your cat’s good behavior. Personally, I tend to go for freeze-dried cat treats since I know they are the healthier alternative – my cats love  tuna treats specifically, but you’ll want to pick your pet’s favorite flavors for the best results.

#2 Next, you should prepare your cat. It is best to find a quiet and comfortable spot to do this, away from other family members or pets. Make sure that your area of choice is well-lit, so you can see well what you are doing. For cats that are uncooperative about taking a pill, you should use a towel or a blanket to wrap your cat into it – a kitty burrito, so to speak. Leave only the head exposed. Do it gently, however, not to alarm your feline friend. The towel will help curb the cat’s movements and potential scratches. 

#3 Next up is the pill. Hold the pill in one hand. Use your other hand to gently hold your cat's head from behind, tilting it slightly upward. With your cat's mouth slightly open, use a pill dispenser or syringe to place the pill as far back in the mouth as possible, beyond the tongue's reach.

This  pill shooter for cats is super handy if the medicine is in the form of small tablets – but if you want to be covered and get a set that will be useful for all types of pills, capsules, and even liquid medication, go for this  3-in-1 set. You can also use your fingers to do this if you don’t have any tools on hand. When all that is done, it is time to close your cat's mouth gently and hold it closed.

#4 If all goes well, the cat should swallow the pill. If not, however, you should encourage swallowing. One way to do this is by stroking your cat’s throat, or gently blowing on their nose. Another trick is a gentle throat massage that encourages swallowing. Now that the pill is swallowed, the job is done. Still, you should make sure that your feline friend understands that they did a good job by being cooperative. Offer them their favorite treat as a reward. This helps create a positive association with the pill-taking experience. 

#5 Remember that cats can be real tricksters. Just because you think the task was successful, it doesn’t mean that your pet actually swallowed their medicine. Observe them for a bit and make sure the pill is not spit out or regurgitated. If it is, you may need to administer another pill if your veterinarian recommends it.

Ultimately, you just need to be patient. Stay calm and composed and refine your pill-giving tactics. In time, you should master it and make it a straightforward experience. Of course, it goes a long way to have useful tools close at hand and to have a plan – after a few successful tries under your belt, you will be much more confident when the time for administering medication comes.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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