Do you know how to give a cat a pill? If you’ve ever needed to feed your cat medicines, you probably know that there’s no one-fits-all recipe for success.

Now I know how to feed my cat tablets without any fuss, but it took me some good practice before managing to do it without spending hours and nerves. There’s a funny side to persuading a stubborn cat to swallow big pills, but you can rest assured that having to give a cat medicine three times a day when you know that his life depends on it is nothing to laugh about.

I want to share this with you. I’m sure there are so many people out there trying to find out how to pill a difficult cat, so my article will probably help some.

What a Cat Would Do When You Want To Give Him a Pill

When it comes to swallowing pills, cats are like children: they would not gladly open their mouth, in spite of your greatest efforts.

Unlike children, though, cats have fangs and claws, and I can tell you they use them if needed. The situation in which someone shoves a pill down their throat is maximum emergency, so you’ll surely get some nasty scratches and bites.

I remember the first time I had to give my cat medicine three times a day for a few months. I experimented several methods, such as:

  • Asking somebody to hold the cat, while I tried to sneak the pill into her mouth. This was a complete failure, we got scratched all over and wasted several pills in order to make her swallow one.
  • Crushing the pill, mixing the obtained powder with a sticky food (such as butter or processed cheese) and putting the mixture on the cat’s fur; she could not stand to be so dirty, so she licked the mixture. This worked fine, but she made such a sad face while cleaning herself, that I felt really bad for doing that to her.
  • Wait until she yawns, then throw the pill in her mouth. This would have worked, but the cat could not be convinced to yawn at fixed hours (the pill was supposed to be taken at exactly the same hours every day).

The Best Method To Give My Cat Pills

After searching the web, asking friends and cat breeders, and a lot of practice with small pieces of food, here it is the best solution to feed your cat a pill:

1. Grab the cat from behind the face

Make sure that your thumb and index are positioned on the maxillary joint. It is good if you can do this with the cat sitting on a high place, so you do not need to bend over.

give your cat a pill 1

2. Slowly, shift the cat’s head backwards, gently raising his mouth.

He does not like it, but he does not object, either. Apply a slight pressure on the joint of the jaws, with your thumb and index (or middle finger). The mouth will still be closed.

give your cat a pill 2

3. Gently sneak your middle or ring finger between his front teeth, and push down the bottom jaw.

The cat has no power in it when her head is bent backwards, so he won’t bite back. Before attempting this, take the pill and hold it with your thumb and your index finger.

give your cat a pill 3

4. Now, as the cat’s mouth is wide open, throw the pill as fast and as deep as you can inside.

Try to aim the bottom of the throat, in order to avoid the contact of the pill with the tongue. Thus, the cat cannot detect the unpleasant taste, so she won’t spit the pill (yet!).

5. Keep his mouth closed and gently rub his neck, until you feel the swallowing of the pill.

give your cat a pill 4

6. Release the cat and watch him closely for about 10 seconds:

if he licks her mouth, it means that he swallowed the tablet. Nevertheless, look around, because some cats are tricky: they pretend they swallowed, and when you don’t watch, they spit the pill which was all the time in their mouth (my cat tried this trick with me, when I did not manage to throw the pill deep down his throat).

7. Give him a nice treat, so he gets used that this is part of the cat pilling ritual.

He might even give you a smile at the end 😉

happy cat

The Cat Pilling Troubleshooting guide:

  • Problem: What to do if the cat manages to run away before you immobilize him?
  • Solution: Show him a toy, so he gets out from behind the sofa, and try again.
  • Problem: You caught the cat and placed him into position, but you cannot sneak your finger between his teeth.
  • Solution: Try to sneak your fingernail first, but be very gentle (long nails help a lot here).
  • Problem: You managed to open the cat’s mouth, but you threw the pill directly on his tongue, so he spat it and ran away.
  • Solution: Give your cat a nice treat, take another pill and repeat the procedure.
  • Problem: You aimed at the throat, but the cat scratched you when you tried to rub his neck, he spat the pill and ran away.
  • Solution: Try again, but try not to position yourself in front of the cat. Stay behind him, so he cannot reach you with her claws.

Don’t forget that practice makes perfect.

I managed to give my cat a pill without incidents only after five or six trials.

Good luck, and happy cats to all of you!

About the author

Violeta Matei is a freelance writer with a technical background. In the beginning of her working career, she had the opportunity to learn Microsoft Excel, Word and Powerpoint and to apply these learnings in her daily work. She even wrote two e-books on the most useful keyboard shortcuts in Excel and in Word. Since embracing an online career path, Violeta has been writing detailed guides on using and troubleshooting Windows, MS Office and WordPress and she started to learn photography. Since she works from home, she shares various tips and tricks that can help people improve their life and make their homes better.