Pills, ugh. No one likes them, especially your cat. Pilling your cat can be very tricky (and worse if they know what you're up to).
We've all done it. Tried to be all casual, going into the kitchen, opening the pill bottle, setting one pill on the counter, trying to act like you aren't looking for the cat...
Whatever. They have your number, all right. It's like they are hearing the Jaws theme when you try to "casually" walk by them. As soon as you reach for them, poof, they're gone.
Rather than give chase - which only winds them up before the actual pill giving event - I leave the pill on the counter for about 15 minutes or so and go do something else, like watch TV or read. Their curiosity gets the better of them and they come back to see what I'm doing.
As soon as I nab them, I go to the kitchen and sit on the floor with my knees bent, so that the cat is facing away from me and my legs form a "v" around them. This will give you a better sight line for pilling, and the cat's natural instinct when you open their mouth is to reverse. This way they have nowhere to go.Always be on a non-carpeted surface when pilling your cat.
If you miss the first time and your cat spits out the pill, it makes it worse to have it stuck to the rug.
Pinch the pill with one hand. With the other hand, you will need to "hinge" their jaw open. Tilt the head back gently and, from underneath the jaw, place your thumb and index fingers on the spots where the jaws meet and push gently. This will trigger the cat's reflexes to open their mouth, even if they don't want to.
Drop/place the pill at the back of the tongue, but not actually down the throat. The pill must be far enough back so that they can't spit it out, but without causing choking. If this takes a few tries, don't be discouraged. Cats are the masters of getting pills out of their mouths. Also, don't put the pill in the cheek pouch - cats can easily spit it out.
After the pill is in the mouth, quickly remove your fingers from the jaw hinge and hold the cat's mouth shut (without covering the nose) and stroke the underside of the jaw down the throat area gently while their head is still tipped back. This is another cat reflex trigger - it causes them to swallow.
Be quick when pilling your cat, use the element of surprise to your advantage!
When you think the pill has gone down, release the mouth and head (but not the cat). Hold them in place for a few seconds to make sure they really swallowed the pill, or if they had it in their cheek pouch and will spit it out.
If you need to repeat the pilling, your cat will probably begin to drool. This is normal, it is their reaction to a foreign substance in their mouth.
Some cats can be VERY difficult and almost impossible to pill more than once. Our cat Coma is such a cat. She is small but mighty!
Our vet introduced us to a life-altering device for pilling your cat - the Pet Piller. It is a tube about 4-5 inches long with a soft rubber cup on one end to hold the pill and a plunger on the other. It allows me to get the pill into her mouth, and back far enough, and still keep all my fingers intact. It was pretty low cost and it is re-usable (we have had ours for years), and I can't recommend it enough!
You can also try "buttering" any pills that are not coated. Chalky pills are a lot more difficult to keep in their mouth, and the butter coating helps it slide down. De-worming pills are a good example of chalky, uncoated pills.
Liquid cat medication is given the same way as the pills, only aim the liquid towards the back of the tongue and off to the side. Don't aim straight on to the back of the mouth, the cat could inhale the liquid. Use an eyedropper (or something similar) and do small amounts at a time. Hold the head and stroke the underside of the jaw in the same way as a regular pill. You don't want the cat to be able to shake their head and spray the medication everywhere.
While pilling your cat can be tricky, I have had no luck in crushing pills and mixing them with food. Cats have a very sensitive sense of taste and our cats always know that there is something they don't want mixed in their food. They take a bite and walk away, and I've wasted a pill.
Pilling your cat might take a few tries. If your cat is getting really agitated, let them go and come back to it in a bit.
With practice, you can pop that pill in like a pro!
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