How to Give a Cat a Pill

Knowing how to give a cat a pill is an important process to understand and master if you are a cat owner. Even a healthy cat may need to take medication at some point in his life, such as an antibiotic, vitamin or other oral medication. Cats can be fussy and non-cooperative when it comes to taking pills, but by following these steps and suggestions you can safely administer his mediation without harming the cat.

How to Give a Cat a Pill

Always follow your veterinarian's cat dosage instructions for all medications.

  1. Place your cat on a flat, elevated surface, such as a table. A slippery surface can be helpful to prevent your cat from easily running away. Keep the medication nearby so it can be easily grabbed. It may help to coat the pill in butter for easy swallowing.
  2. Ask a friend to hold the cat from behind with one hand on each side of the cat, holding the elbows of the front limbs to limit the cat's movements. It may help to wrap a T-shirt or a towel around the front of the cat to prevent scratching.
  3. Hold the pill between the index finger and thumb of your dominant hand. Tilt the cat's head back with your other hand. It helps to grasp the cheek bones of the cat in order to get a good hold of the head. Many cats will automatically open their mouth at this point.
  4. If the cat does not open his mouth, use the middle finger of the hand holding the pill to gently lower the cat's bottom jaw. Do not put your finger on the sharp "fangs" of the cat; push down on the bottom front teeth (incisors).
  5. Push or drop the pill as far back on the tongue as you can. Opening the jaw and dropping in the pill must be done quickly to avoid bites and create the least amount of discomfort for your cat.
  6. Massage the cat's neck, blow on the cat's nose, or sharply tap the cat's nose to encourage him to swallow the pill. Always check the cat's mouth to ensure the medication has been swallowed, even if the cat has licked his lips and appears to have taken the pill.
  7. Offer your cat a treat or some of his favorite food after administering medication so the pill doesn't get stuck in the throat of the cat, and as a nice reward.

Other Methods

Pilling devices, such as pill guns, can be helpful for cats with particularly disruptive and aggressive behavior, such as biting and scratching, and prevent owners from putting their hands in the cat's mouth when administering medication.

Putting the medication in your cat's food generally doesn't work if your cat, like most felines, is a picky eater; cats will generally eat around the pill rather than swallowing it whole. Wrapping the pill in soft food may work, but again, some cats will catch on to the ruse and merely spit out the medication.