Kitty medication can be a bitter pill to swallow-literally. Dogs usually fall for a pill hidden in peanut butter, cheese or a slice of bacon. Or, just tossing a pill in the air works for the dog sitting around begging for a tidbit. But most cats are savvier than that. Somehow, they know the “treat” isn’t what it appears. Since most cats taking a pill must do so because they’re sick, it’s even harder to convince them to eat something they know is weird. Greenies Pill Pockets treats have hollow center in which you can tuck a treat; however, if this doesn’t outwit your kitty, try these tips.

Get a helper to assist in restraining the cat as needed. Butter the pill so it’s easier to swallow. Approach your cat when he’s sleepy. You may be able to slip the pill in when he’s not quite awake and not totally aware of what’s going on. Hold him in your lap. Wear a thick shirt and drape your lap with a heavy blanket for more protection from claws. 

Or, you could try James Herriot’s classic method of cat wrapping. Use a bath sheet or beach towel and swaddle your cat with only his head peeking out. Work quickly because your cat will not like this. 

Spring his jaws open by capping his head with one hand and applying pressure just ahead of his cheeks with your thumb on one side and fingers on the other. Tip his head back (as if he’s looking at the ceiling) and pop the pill in on top of his tongue. You could also use a pill popper (aka pill gun) to shoot the pill inside, which keeps your fingers safer. Aim for the back of his mouth. With his head still tipped back, rub his throat to encourage swallowing or blow on his nose.

Release him once he swallows a couple times. Offer chicken broth or a treat afterwards to make sure the pill goes down all the way and to help make amends for this indignity. 

If your cat must regularly take pills, ask your vet about a capsule that you can open and mix with wet food. Serve only a small amount of food with the medicine, not an entire meal, in case he doesn’t finish it. That helps ensure you don’t feed only a partial dose. 

For medication not available as a capsule, ask if you can crush the pill for mixing it with wet food. Place the pill in a heavy-duty freezer bag and whack it to powder with a hammer if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.

Ask your veterinarian if you have any questions on your pets’ medication. 

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant