Pilling a Cat

Every cat needs medications from time to time.  It's up to each caregiver to figure out what works best with their own feline friends.  Ginger S. has a cat named Silver who has been prescribed a course of antibiotics.  Ginger writes:

My veterinarian has no problem getting Silver to take his pills, but when I do it, he spits them out. What am I doing wrong?

Ginger, if your vet can get Silver to take his pills, you should be able to do so as well.  It's really just a matter of technique.  You should get Silver up on a table or counter so that you can better control him.  Don't try to pill him while he's standing on the floor or sitting on your lap.  Once he's at counter height, hold the pill between your thumb and index finger of your dominant hand, and use your other hand to hold his head back at a 45° angle.  Use the other fingers of your dominant hand to gently pry Silver's mouth open.  Then you can drop the pill onto the back of his tongue.

It'll also help to follow this with a little bit of water.  We've found it works best to hold a little bit of water in our mouth and drool it in behind the pill.  You can also use your own saliva.  Yes, it sounds gross, but it will insure that the pill doesn't get caught in Silver's throat where it can cause him great harm.

There's a video by Dr. Alan Kosno that clearly illustrates the process.  Please be aware that Dr. Kosno is a veterinarian with many years of experience caring for cats.  He's an old-school vet and he behaves as such, treating cats as patients instead of as pets.  Don't let that put you off the very good information that he imparts in his video.

Ginger, if you still have difficulty, you may want to explore giving Silver liquid medications.  In many cases, the medicine can be compounded into a solution that many cats actually like.  Look up compounding pharmacies in your area or ask your veterinarian if he or she could suggest one.  With a little effort, you should have Silver done with his course of antibiotics in no time.

Once you're done, you may find that you need to administer a probiotic to restore the good flora in Silver's system.  That's especially important if Silver has stomach upset or loose bowel movements while on the antibiotics.  Be sure to mention this to your veterinarian and take his or her recommendations on the subject.  We wish you and Silver all the best!