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Cat with pill

Cats and medications

Q: I adopted my grandmother’s cat, Sally, who is supposed to take medication but often puts up a fight. How do I get her to take her pills?

A: One of my cats, Carlie, happily takes her medication. Perhaps my technique will work for you.

While Carlie is eating yummy canned food, I tip her head up, open her mouth and drop the pill on the back of her tongue. Then I praise her and let her resume eating.

Offering tasty food before giving the pill lubricates the throat, which facilitates swallowing. The food reward afterward ensures the pill finds its way to the stomach and helps make the procedure easier the next time.

Another way to give a pill is to hide it inside a tasty treat, such as a Pill Pocket. Pill Pockets come in a variety of flavors and are available at animal hospitals and pet supply stores.

If Sally still refuses, try a pet piller, also called a pill popper. These handy devices come in different styles and are available at animal hospitals and pet supply stores. Remember to praise Sally and reward her with food or a treat.

If pilling continues to be a challenge, ask Sally’s veterinarian about an alternative dosage form. Some medications are available as flavored liquids, long-acting injections or transdermal gels that are rubbed onto the ear flap and absorbed through the skin.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

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