Pilling Your Cat and giving medication


Giving medication on a empty stomach

Question: Dear Dr. Richards,

About how long after eating is a cat's stomach empty? I have a cat, Precious, who was diagnosed a little over a year ago with cholangiohepatitis and pancreatitis. Researching her illness is how I discovered your very helpful and informative website. I'm sure in the next couple of weeks, I'll email to ask your opinion on how her case is being treated. Anyway, we've just started her on a new pill SAM-e (in addition to many others) and the package recommends giving it on an empty stomach for maximum absorbancy. I feed her 1/4 cup of dry Science Diet w/d twice a day. I guess to give the pill on am empty stomach ideally would be to give it an hour before feeding her, but the minute I get home at night there's no peace until I feed her and my other cat, and in the morning, they're up way before the alarm wanting to be fed. So, about how many hours after a meal does it take for a cat's stomach to be (near) empty? Thanks.


Answer: Marylou-

It takes about 2.5 hours for a cat's stomach to be half empty after meal. Then it takes an additional eight to ten hours for the stomach to be nearly empty. Many cats do not eat two large meals a day, though. If a cat is a nibbler and eats small amounts all day, its stomach may not ever really be empty.

The recommendation for the use of SAMe (Denosyl Rx) is to use 1 tablet per cat or 20mg/kg per day (use the higher dosage of the two, in order to give whole tablets as much as possible). The recommendation is to give this medication on an empty stomach, to the extent this is possible to do.

I think that you will have to figure out which is easier, putting up with the cats bugging you to be fed for an hour or so in the morning and after work, or waiting for at least three to four hours after meals, if that is practical to do with your work schedule. An hour should be long enough prior to meals to allow maximum absorption of the medication, based on the information I can find (which isn't specific to this medication).

Good luck with this. SAMe has the support of specialists such as Sharon Center, who is nationally recognized for her work on liver disease.

Mike Richards, DVM 7/31/2000

Pilling a cat - Just can't get that pill in the cat

Q: I've been to the vet and got metronidazole. My question is: I am having a great deal of difficulty getting my cat to take her pills. We have an extremely difficult time dropping it into her mouth (even the vet had trouble), she spits it out if she can, then it disintegrates and never gets into her. We have tried crushing it up and putting it in margerine, tuna and wet food--no luck (i know it must taste bad ) Our final method, which still very difficult but more effective is disolving it in a small amount of water and squirting it into her mouth with a syringe. Any suggestions to make the two weeks of medication administration go by with out such a production (and believe me it is a production with her!)? Thanking you in advance

A: Metronidazole tastes really really bad. It is very difficult to administer to some cats due to this.

Three things that might help:

1) lightly crush the tablet into chunks and buy gelatin capsules from the pharmacist to pack the chunks into, then give the capsule to your cat. This keeps the taste down and may limit her reaction to the medication.

2) find a compounding pharmacist and see if mixing into a strong tasting gel formulation (like anchovy or something similar) can disguise the taste enough for your cat. We have had some successes and some failures with this approach. It is nice when it works.

3) use a pill gun. We have nice pill guns with soft rubber ends but I can't remember who makes them -- I'll try to remember to look it up and send you the name.

Good luck with this! Mike Richards, DVM

Pilling a cat

Q: Dr. Mike, Your information is great. Please keep up the good work. Any tips for giving my cat pills by mouth. I try to put them in the back middle of her tongue and then hit under her chin to swallow... but I have a lot of pills to give her and she sometimes holds it in her mouth between her teeth and starts foaming, then I let go and she spits the pill out. I try honey-works sometimes-but sometimes pill sticks to me. Any vet tricks that would help or lubricant for the pill. Thanks so much.

A: My favorite way to give pills to cats is with a "Pet Piller". This is a plastic rod with little rubber cups on the end that hold the pill until a plunger is pressed. It doesn't seem to upset the cat much. Not as much as putting fingers in their mouth, anyway.

Alternatives are to extend your cat's head backwards just enough that her nose is pointing straight towards the ceiling. Most cats will open their mouth slightly at this point. Open the bottom jaw a little more with the little finger or ring finger of the hand holding the pill. It may be necessary to hold her top jaw with the other hand while doing this. The drop the pill or lightly throw it so that it hits beyond the slight hump in the tongue. Most cats will swallow instinctively. Some pills are small enough to hide them in food. A good "last resort" is to find a compounding pharmacy and have them make a flavored gel or liquid out of the medication.

Hope that helps. Mike Richards, DVM

Last edited 12/05/02


Michael Richards, D.V.M. co-owns a small animal general veterinary practice in rural tidewater Virginia. Dr. Richards graduated from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979, and has been in private practice ever since. Dr. Richards has been the director of the PetCare Forum...