Felix Pill Postcard 1920 - photographed and uploaded by Sheffield Tiger (Flickr)
Giving a cat a pill can be tricky as we all know. And there are a lot of websites that explain how it is done. I won't read them! I'll just explain what I do and visitors can decide for themselves if it is a good or poor method. I hope, in fact, that one or two visitors will comment and pass on their own personal, first hand experiences.
Before I describe my successful method, I pass on the expert's opinion. Once again I refer to the excellent book: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated. Drs Carlson and Giffin say that if the cat is not used to taking pills (the usual scenario), you should do the following:
- Wrap the body and legs tightly in a towel.
- If doing this alone, you can then cradle the cat in one arm. If working with another person, the preferable method, this person holds the cat.
- Place the hand around the head so that the thumb and forefinger are adjacent to the gums or "space between the teeth" and apply gentle pressure which results in the cat opening his or her mouth.
- As the mouth is opened, "press down on the lower jaw."
- Place the pill at the back of the tongue.
- Close the mouth.
- Massage or rub the throat until the cat swallows.
The above method of giving a cat a pill is the professional way and it does require a fairly professional approach. I agree with the doctors that breaking up a pill and sprinkling it on food is not a good method as it changes the smell of the food and the cat won't eat it.
However, I have had good success with Timmy a stray cat who had an abscess. I had to administer a complete course of antibiotics and I succeeded pretty well by carefully placing a whole pill into a piece of chicken (by slicing it open) or other highly palatable food. I think that is has to be a single piece of solid food and the pill has to be hidden inside it. If it is placed amongst pieces of food a cat will smell it.
I then placed that piece of food on the top of the pile in the dish in such as way that the Timmy grabbed the area where the pill was at his first bite. A hungry cat will dive in and gobble that piece. Once the molars have bitten into the food and possibly broken the pill it is too late and the cat swallows the whole lot.
This system will not work with delayed reaction pills that are coated because normally the pill is split open when bitten into. The only way to get one of these pills down is the authorised way.
O.K. that's it. Not rocket science but effective. Got any better systems?
See Felix here: Black Cat Cartoons
Update...from Dorothy Wandruff a regular contributor
You are lucky Michael, that Timmy will eat the wet food where the pill is hiding. My cat Bigfoot is such a fussy eater, he wouldn't touch even the finest wet food ever invented. Even caviar! Even fresh fish! Nothing. When I had to give him antibiotics it took close to a week to find something that worked. I had the medicine mixed into two different supposedly 'tasty' liquids, that both foamed in his mouth when I gave it to him. He would shake and fuss, and I was sure he wasn't getting the proper dose. Finally, I found this little device (see Pet Piller below) that did the trick for him giving him the antibiotics in pill form. He didn't like it, but we got through it, and he eventually got used to it.
You have to be careful using it, so as not to push it in too far. The rubber tip is gentle enough, you can feel it on the roof of their mouth, close to the throat, the 'pop' - down goes the pill. Of course you have to use the prescribed method you suggest to open the mouth. Fortunately, I didn't have to restrain Bigfoot. He complained, but opening his mouth as you described was easy. Bigfoot and I got pretty used to it by the last 10 pills. I'm keeping the device for later...not that I expect him to EVER need it again.