Medicine CabinetPet Parenting

5 Tips to Give Your Cat Their Pills

Help your reluctant cat take their medications.

cat eating out of bowl

Pet owners love to brag about how smart their cat is...until it comes to giving them pills. If your cat tries to outsmart you, these tricks might help you give them their medication.

1. Hide the Pill

You may be able to hide the pill in their regular canned food, but if your cat notices and eats around the pill, hiding it in a tasty treat may help. Yogurt, cream cheese, peanut butter, tuna, and other canned foods are popular choices. If the food is new to your cat, make sure to give them some separately first to make sure they will be able to tolerate it. Giving them a small amount of the food with the pill ensures they swallow all of the food and the pill. There are also a number of treats made specifically for hiding pills, just make sure those treats don’t have ingredients that are contraindicated by any condition your pet may have.

2. Grease the Pill

If you have to give your cat their pill by hand, greasing the pill with butter can make it easier to swallow. Place the pill as far back in their mouth as you can, and check to make sure they swallowed it.

3. Build “Pill Time” Into their Daily Routine

Help your cat build a positive association with taking pills. If your cat has a consistent time of day when they eat meals or get treats, give them their pills at this time as well. Piggybacking their pills onto their meal or treat time makes taking medication part of their normal routine rather than an ordeal. Make sure not to interrupt them to give them their pill. If you stop your cat in the middle of activities like eating, using their litter box, or grooming, it may upset them and they will develop negative associations with taking their medicine.

4. Reward Them Afterward

Positive reinforcement can make your cat more willing to take their pills. Rewarding them with a treat, playtime, or their favorite toy afterward builds a positive association with taking pills.

5. Ask your Veterinarian for Recommendations

While these are tips commonly used by pet owners, you and your veterinarian know your cat best. Ask your vet if crushing up the pill and mixing it in with your cat’s food is safe and will not alter its effectiveness. They may also give you detailed instructions for giving your cat a pill by hand safely. Depending on your cat’s unique diet and behavior, your vet might have more specific recommendations.