How to Give a Cat a Pill

Follow the steps below to make this task less stressful for you and your pet. Here’s what to do:

  • Check the label to make sure the medication is for your cat, and for the specific medical condition she’s being treated for. Make sure the medicine is not out of date.
  • Place the cat where she’s comfortable-on your lap or on a textured surface such as the carpet, a couch or a bed.
  • Kneel or sit beside your cat with the pill or capsule in your right hand, between your thumb and index finger.
  • Place your left hand on your cat’s head. Put your thumb on her jaw behind her right canine tooth (that’s the long fang) and your left index finger on her jaw behind her left canine tooth.
  • Lift her lips gently-don’t pinch-and place the middle finger of your right hand on the incisor teeth (the flatter ones in the back) of her lower jaw.
  • Open your cat’s mouth by pushing down on her lower jaw with the middle finger of your right hand while tilting her nose upward with your left hand.
  • Deposit or drop the pill or capsule in the back of your cat’s mouth, behind her tongue.
  • Close her mouth and quickly point her nose down at a sharp angle. This will cause your cat to swallow automatically.

Give your cat a treat right afterwards, if you can (with some medications it is not advised; check with your vet). This will help lessen the trauma, and will also ensure that kitty swallows the pill. Here are some additional tips:

  • Remain calm and relaxed. Your cat will sense if you are anxious and react accordingly.
  • Do the whole thing as quickly and as matter-of-factly as possible.
  • Have a friend hold the cat’s front legs so she will not attempt to pull your hand away.
  • Trim your cat’s nails before your start the course of medication, to avoid being scratched.
  • Call your veterinarian and ask for a demonstration or a different form of medication if you are unable to give it as prescribed.

Check with your veterinarian to be certain it’s safe to handle the medication if you are pregnant. Do not attempt to conceal the medication in your cat’s food or water. If your cat refuses to eat or drink, she will not get the proper dose of medication and will become dehydrated, which could worsen her condition.