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Giving medicine to your cat

Giving medicines to a cat is seldom easy! You know that it is important for the cat to complete the course as prescribed by our vets; however it can become a daily battle. This step-by-step guide aims to help you to medicate your cat in a gentle, calm and, hopefully, successful way.

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Giving your cat a pill or capsule

Giving your cat liquid medications

Hold the cat gently –use your arms and body to keep the cat still in a small area.  Holding the forelegs helps to prevent the person giving the pill from being scratched– here the front legs are being held gently between the last two fingers of each hand.


Wriggly cats can be secured in a large towel.


Place the cat on the towel and wrap the towel around leaving only the head exposed.


Place your thumb and forefinger on either side of the jawbone.  You can hold this area very firmly without hurting the cat – this gives you control of your cat’s head.


Hold the pill between the thumb and forefinger. Tilt the jaw gently upwards using the fingers of the right hand. Once the cat’s nose is pointing at the ceiling it is very difficult for him to keep his mouth clamped shut. Gently open the mouth by inserting the middle finger between the lower canines (the fangs).


Once the mouth is open, push the pill to the back of the mouth as quickly as possible. Release the cat’s head so that he can swallow with his head in a normal position.

Helping the medicine go down
Some tablets can cause damage to the cat’s food pipe (esophagus) if they sit there for
prolonged periods of time. To make sure that the tablet moves into the stomach quickly, syringe a small amount of water into the cat’s mouth.  Place the syringe gently between the cheek teeth and introduce the water slowly, giving the cat time to swallow.


Alternatively, a small knob of butter can be offered to the cat or smeared on his nose for him to lick off.



There may be other ways a medicine can be given, e.g. crushed or inside a gelatin capsule. Talk to our vets about the possibilities – some medicines are very bitter and therefore crushing tablets will not help; others may be crushed and mixed with butter or tuna oil which may help cats to take them. We have pill poppers available which may help in tablet giving, some of which introduce water as well as the tablet.