Few things give cat owners nightmares like the thought of giving their cat a pill. Here’s what my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker, and I had for a reader facing that challenge.
Q: Argh! I have to give my cat a pill every day. Do you have any tips on how to get it down her?
A: Every cat owner dreads this day, but it doesn’t have be a struggle for you or for your cat. Here are some tips to help you be successful.
If you’re dealing with a pill, the first thing you might try is the “sneak” technique: putting the pill inside a tasty morsel of meat, cat food or cream cheese — whatever your cat loves. It should be something she doesn’t get every day. Offer one bite of the treat plain — no pill — then one with the pill, followed by another plain piece to sweeten the deal. When the sneak method works, it’s easiest on both of you.
Ask your veterinarian about having medication compounded into a flavored liquid or chew; think tuna or chicken. Another option is transdermal delivery through a patch on the skin.
When your cat turns up her nose at treats or scratches off patches, though, you have to go with a hands-on approach. Snuggle your cat into your left arm (reverse this if you’re a lefty), place your hand over the top of the muzzle in a C shape and squeeze gently so the mouth opens. Gently pull down on the lower jaw for a wider opening. Place the pill in the mouth as far back as you can, then gently close the mouth and stroke your cat’s throat to encourage swallowing. Follow the pill with a treat or a sip of water to make sure the pill doesn’t get stuck in the esophagus. You’re done!
Practice the mouth-opening motion, followed with a tiny treat, before you ever have to give a cat a pill so she learns to enjoy the handling.
There’s more – including a look at some rare dog breeds – in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.