How to Pill a Cat


This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr. Ivan Duong BVSc

Watch Dr. Carla demonstrate our step-by-step guide to pilling a cat without a pill popper; using her own kitty, Smudge! For more helpful pet care videos, check out Pet Circle's Youtube Channel.

The idea of pilling a cat can be daunting to many pet owners, however it is an important skill to master in the event that your cat may require medications when they're feeling unwell. The easiest way to pill a cat is to use food as a disguise, you may attempt to make a 'meatball' by hiding the tablet or capsule within a small ball of canned food or cheese. Avoid making the meatball too big and you can gauge your cat's reaction to a meatball without medication first.

If you’re unable to 'trick' your cat into eating the medication hidden in food, you may have to physically give the medication. A pill-popper is a great tool to aid the procedure. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to safely pill pop your cat.

Step By Step Guide To Pilling A Cat

1. Prepare with a pill-popper

Prepare by placing the tablet or capsule onto the end of the pill-popper. If you have multiple pills, you may use some wet food to make a meatball and place that onto the pill-popper.

2. Hold your cats head in position

Start by holding your cat's head over the head, with your thumb on one side of the mouth and index finger on the other side and your palm resting on the top of their skull.

3. Tilt your cat's head back

Gently tilt the cat's head back and their lower jaw will often open, if they do not, you may use your other index finger to gently open the lower jaw by pushing down on the incisors

4. Gently insert the end of the pill-popper

Gently but efficiently, while the mouth is open, use your other hand to place the end of the pill popper as far back over the tongue as possible (base of the tongue) and release the pill.

5. Hold your cat's mouth shut

Hold your cat's mouth shut while having the head pointed up to ensure they don't spit the tablet out and encourage them to swallow by gently stroking their neck from nose to chest.

6. Give your cat a reward

Once your cat has swallowed, provide your cat with their favourite cat treat to make it a positive experience! Repeat as necessary.

If you do not have a pill popper, you may consider using your hands but please be cautious that bites may occur. A cat's mouth is filled with many bacteria, if you are bitten, clean the wound thoroughly and seek medication attention.

Some cats may be very resistant to the idea of being pill popped, if this is the case, consult with your veterinarian. They may be able to demonstrate the best pilling technique and discuss alternatives with you. Some medications may be compounded into a tasty liquid medication.

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