At some point in your cat owning career, the veterinarian will probably innocently tell you that you need to give your cat a pill. You may not think it’s a big deal until you get home and then wonder how exactly you are going to get that large pill into that small uncooperative feline.
The easiest way to give a cat a pill is to put it in food. If you are lucky enough to have a cat that wolfs down anything put in the food bowl, he may not notice the pill. Of course, this approach only works if your cat eats all his food at one sitting. If the cat doesn’t eat it all, she might either miss the pill or not get all the medication.
Some cats may tolerate a pill hidden in a special treat like a bit of tuna, cheese, or canned cat food. Sadly, my cats tend to know I’m up to something, so this approach never works for me, but some people report success if they give the cat some of the food first minus the pill, then sneak the pill into a later treat.
If food doesn’t work, you have to take the direct approach. You might have seen your vet quickly open the cat’s mouth and stuff in a pill. Years of practice makes them good at the process; I can assure you, it’s not as easy as it looks.
First take a moment to get yourself ready. Make sure the pill is out of the bottle and very nearby. Getting the pill into the cat is a two-handed process. Basically, you use one hand to open the cat’s mouth and the other to place the pill as far back in the cat’s mouth as you can.
The trick to opening the cat’s mouth is to have your hand over the cat’s head and grasp one side of the jaw with your thumb and the other side with your fingers. You press in a bit on the hinge of the jaw, and tilt the cat’s head back. The lower jaw should open, so you can use your other hand to put the pill in as far back as you can get it.
When the pill is in, close the cat’s mouth and hold it closed. You can try stroking her throat or blowing gently in her nose to stimulate her to swallow. Unfortunately, many cats are good at spitting out pills, so you may have to go for a second try.
Plus, once you’ve gone through the process once, the cat is wise to you and will be less tolerant of later attempts. It can be helpful to wrap the cat in a towel to keep her in position. Of course, having someone to help you hold the cat is even better. Here’s another hint. If you have to pill your cat, you might want to check the claws first. If they are really long, a nail trim is a good idea. Think about doing the trim long before you plan to give the pill. Most cats get annoyed being "messed with" too much in one sitting.
It is helpful to have your veterinarian show you the pilling process before you leave the clinic. Some vets also sell a special "cat piller" device that can help with difficult felines. If it’s really a problem, you should ask about possible alternatives to pills.