Your first attempt is your best attempt, cats learn quickly and are usually much less cooperative as time goes on so be prepared. Close doors and lock cat door before you get any other equipment out. You will be surprised what body language your cat will pick up on and disappear.
Stay calm. If you get nervous an hour before it’s time to tablet so will they. Move slowly, harsh movements scare your cat and they are more likely to lash out.
You may need to change techniques as your cat gets wise. If you waste a tablet or are trying 2 different methods, get replacements from your vet rather than cutting the course short.
Place the tablet between the thumb and index finger, with the other hand (left if right-handed) hold the top of the cat’s head gently using your thumb and index finger to grasp the cheekbones near where the mouth ends.
Gently tilt the cat’s head back and the jaw will naturally open. Use your ring finger to gently lower the bottom jaw and drop the tablet towards the back of the tongue.
The further back in the mouth you get the tablet the better chance you have the cat will swallow the tablet.
Whilst still holding the cat's head stroke the cat’s throat to encourage swallowing. Blowing on the nose lightly also stimulates swallowing.
To help your cat swallow the pill, it is best to squirt some water into the mouth after you give the tablet.
Pill poppers can be very useful to keep your fingers out of the way of the teeth. The pill is lodged in the end of the tip, head held back as above with the left hand. The pill popper tip is then gently inserted to the back of the mouth and the pill is deposited there. These can be purchased from your vet.
Wrapping the cat. This is very helpful when there is only one person. Use a towel to wrap the cat up tightly so that the legs are all tucked away and only the head is protruding. Tuck the cat under your left arm on a flat surface (for right-handed people), and use your right hand to administer the tablet as explained above.
Syringe technique. Crush the tablet into a fine powder; an easy way to do this is between 2 spoons inside one another, collecting the powder on a sheet of paper. Take the end out of a syringe (available from your vet) and place the powder in the syringe with about 1.2 mls of water. Shake gently to dissolve the powder. Use the corner of the syringe gently between the cat’s teeth and aim on an angle backwards but not directly down the cat’s throat. It can be helpful to have cats wrapped (as above). This technique can also be used with powder mixed with very runny/pureed cat food. Your vet will have cans that are runny enough to do this with. Please check with your vet that it is ok to crush the tablets before you try this method.
Hiding the tablet in food/treat. Hiding tablets in food works best for a hungry cat, so if you leave food down all day normally, it is best to change to feeding twice daily for the duration of the treatment, and pick up leftover food between meals. Use a small amount of food or treat to hide the tablet in and don’t feed anything else until it is gone. Tasty treats include sardines, cream cheese, vet recovery diets, baby food (meat flavoured), butter, fresh meat/mince. Avoid onion or garlic in products. The tablet can be placed in whole or can be crushed and powder added. Small dots of treats laid in a trail can be used, hiding the tablet in the 3rd/4th dot and following on with a few more dots after the hidden tablet.
Butter on the leg. Cats are naturally very clean animals and will clean off anything they get stuck to their coat. We can use this to our advantage by mixing tablets crushed into powder as described above with butter. Use as little butter as possible (start ¼ teaspoon) and smear on front legs for the cat to wash off.
If you really can’t get the medication into your cat let your vet know so an alternate arrangement can be made.
1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.
4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.
6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.
7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil, and blow down drinking straw.
9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink 1 beer to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
10. Retrieve cat from neighbour’s shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard, and close door onto neck, to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.
11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of Scotch. Pour shot, drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw T-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.
12. Call fire department to retrieve the damn cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.
13. Tie the little @!!@#@#$%’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of steak filet. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.
14. Consume remainder of Scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.
15. Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.
1. Wrap it in cheese.