How to Give a Cat Medication (It Needs to Be Their Idea)

Posted by Stacey Venzel
medicating cats

Know how to safely and swiftly medicate your cat so that no one gets hurt.

An intimidating set of teeth sit inside a cat's mouth. Plus, they've got those claws.

No matter how lovable an animal is, there's always the possibility that it can and will bite out of self-defense when giving your cat medication.

Medicating cats can be especially tricky, and it creates an easy opportunity for even the most adorable, friendly feline to bite or scratch because they're made to take some medication that they probably don't want to take.


The first thing to try with medicating cats is to let them freely take the cat pills or liquid themselves, usually by hiding it in the food or a favorite treat, such as a pill pocket or soaking it in tuna juice. Canned food or wet food is always a fan favorite, too.

Many cats are picky, though, and won't take well to a strange object in their cat food or special treat, particularly if it doesn't taste so great.

Thankfully, it's relatively easy to get medication into a cat's throat by playing off of their mouth's anatomy and a feline's natural reaction.

medicating cats
YouTube/Animal Medical Center of Chandler

Tilt your cat's head upward and lift the top part of the mouth open by grabbing it at the sides near the incisors or canine teeth. The lower jaw will reactively drop, opening the mouth and creating an easy entry for you to drop in the medication.

Liquid medicine should not be administered all at once to prevent the liquid from flowing out of the side of the cat's mouth. Instead, offer small doses back to back, usually one milliliter (1 cc) at a time, or according to dosing instructions.

READ MORE4 Essential Tips for Giving Your Pet Medication

A cat's tongue forms into a trough when you do this, effectively gliding the oral medication downward along the throat and toward the stomach. You can also coat the pill in butter to help it slide down easier and to make sure the cat swallows.

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Pill poppers can be employed to administer capsules and tablets. These are helpful with cats who tend to bite.

With pillers, syringes, and droppers, note that the tube should not go all the way into the cat's mouth. Just insert the tip to give a small amount and that will be sufficient, and will keep your cat comfortable.

You can also rub your cat's chin to calm him down and entice swallowing. Cats have developed a strong gag reflex, meaning you're unlikely to send medication down the wrong pipe.

And even though they'll give you a dirty look afterward, or ignore you for a few days, you'll rest easy knowing that you succeeded.

Do you have tips to share on medicating cats? Tell us in the comments below.

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How to Give a Cat Medication (It Needs to Be Their Idea)