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How to Give a Pill to Your Cat

If your cat likes treats there’s a product available called Pill Pockets that makes medicating much easier. The soft treat has a pocket where you can slip the pill in and then squish the ends together. Pill Pockets are very palatable. If you decide to try the Pill Pockets, first offer one that doesn’t contain a pill and then offer the pill-filled one. The product is available at pet supply stores and online.

books by author Pam Johnson-Bennett and a quote from Winn Feline Foundation


Another option for cat parents who don’t want to put their fingers into their cats’ mouths in order to give a pill is to use a pill gun. This is a plastic plunger-like device that holds the pill with little gripping fingers until you push the plunger to release it.

Pilling Techniques

There are a couple ways to do this. The first way is to place the cat on a table or counter. Put the palm of your hand over the top of the kitty’s head. Slightly tilt his head up. Now open his mouth by applying gentle pressure with your thumb on one side and middle finger on the other against the area behind the canine teeth. Your free hand should be holding the pill. Have it between your thumb and index finger. Use your middle finger of that same hand to press the cat’s lower jaw open and then gently drop the pill on the back of the tongue. Don’t shoot it too far back into the throat. Let go of the cat’s mouth so he can swallow but keep hold of him so he doesn’t escape until you’re sure he has swallowed the pill. Don’t clamp his mouth shut or he won’t be able to swallow. Gentle downward strokes of along his throat will also help the pill go down.

After your cat has taken the pill, offer him some water to ensure that the pill isn’t lodged in the esophagus. If he doesn’t want to drink water try offering some low-sodium chicken broth or even a few licks of moist cat food or yogurt (if the pill can be taken with food).

Here’s another pilling position: kneel on the floor and then sit back on your heels with your legs open in a “V” position. Place the cat between your legs so that he’s facing away from you. This will prevent him from being able to squirm away. You can then use the same pilling technique described above. The “V” pilling position is good for cats who are very squirmy during pilling. Just be sure and wear your jeans when doing this to avoid getting scratched on the legs.

how to give a pill to a cat

photo: istock

Practice Makes Perfect When it Comes to Giving a Pill to Your Cat

Do yourself (and your cat) a favor by training him to become comfortable with having his mouth touched and manipulated. If you start training your kitten to accept your fingers near his mouth, opening his mouth, touching his teeth, etc., it will make it so much easier when pilling time comes around. No matter how healthy your kitten is now, at some point in his life he will need some sort of medication. Train him now to accept the procedure.

three books by Pam Johnson-Bennett and a quote from AHA


If you’re dealing with an adult cat who isn’t comfortable with having his mouth touched, you can start doing some clicker training to help him gradually accept physical contact.

Help From Your Veterinarian

If you aren’t comfortable pilling your cat, ask your veterinarian to give you a lesson in the procedure. He/she will be able to guide you through the process. The more confident, quick and casual you are when medicating your cat, the less anxious he’ll be about the process.

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