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» How to Give Your Cat Medicine

How to Give Your Cat Medicine


The Basics

Liquid medications are prescribed to treat a variety of conditions. Some medicines that are usually prescribed as pills or capsules can be changed, or compounded, to a liquid formulation for easier administration. If you have trouble giving your cat pills, ask your veterinarian if compounding is possible.

Follow Recommendations

It’s important to use only medicines prescribed by a veterinarian and to treat for the full length of time prescribed. Don’t stop treatment early, even if the problem seems to be resolved. You can ask your veterinarian to demonstrate how to give the medicine.


Liquid medications should come with a dropper or syringe for administration. Fill the dropper or syringe with the prescribed amount of medicine.
Holding your cat’s head still with one hand, insert the tip of the dropper or syringe into a corner of the mouth, between the cheek and the teeth, aiming toward the back of your cat’s head.
Do not tilt your cat’s head back; this may cause him to inhale the medicine. Squeeze the dropper or depress the syringe plunger to empty it.
Hold your cat’s mouth closed and stroke his throat or blow on his nose to encourage swallowing.
Reward your cat with a treat approved by your veterinarian.

Restraining Your Cat

You may need help keeping your cat still while you give the medicine. If you don’t have a helper handy, try wrapping your cat in a large towel and hold him against your body, leaving only the head free. Be sure not to wrap your cat too tightly.

If your cat struggles, talk to him calmly, and stop administering the medicine if he becomes extremely agitated. Contact your veterinarian if you have questions or run into any problems.


If your cat develops diabetes mellitus and requires insulin, you may have to master the art of injection. Subcutaneous injections, or injections into the layer of fat below the skin, are usually administered around the back of the neck or shoulder blades. Most cats have an abundant scruff in this area and will be easy to safely inject. Medicating a diabetic cat can be expensive, but it's important to never use a needle more than once - used needles become blunt and can harbour bacteria. Feel the area you are going to inject before you insert the needle to make sure that you will not accidentally hit muscle or bone. After inserting the needle under the skin, always pull the syringe stopper back to be sure you have not mistakenly injected a blood vessel. Avoid injecting air under the skin. Pros: The good news is that most cats are highly tolerant of small needles and many will hardly notice they are being medicated. Many cats adjust well to a daily injection, especially if you make it a positive experience by offering treats and cuddles. Cons: There are strict rules regarding the disposal of used needles, and you won't want to keep them in your home for long. Speak to your vet about organising a needle disposal service so you can get rid of needles safely. Tip: If you are concerned about your cat running away when it comes time to give him his injection, offer him a treat or small amount of extra food to distract him; or offer him some of his food well before his insulin is due, and offer the rest whilst giving the injection.

Topical agents

At some point in your cat's life, you are likely to need to apply a topical gel, cream, or liquid to his skin. Be it a flea treatment or eardrops, careful application is necessary in order to avoid irritation or ingestion. Before you apply topical medication at home, always make sure that you understand how much you need to apply as well as where you should apply it. For example, some flea spot-on liquids should be applied as closely to the skin as possible, in an area that the cat is unable to lick. Pro: Topical treatments are usually quick and easy to administer. Cons: Applying medicine to tricky areas, such as the eyes, can require more than one person. Wrap your cat in a towel and handle with care if you have any worries about being scratched. Tip: If your cat is anxious when approached, wait until he is settling down for a nap to apply the treatment. Wear gloves if there is a high risk you may inadvertently get some of the medication on your skin.


The easiest way to get any pet to take a tablet is to hide it in a piece of meat or food. This technique it works best with dogs (they are less fussy!), but some cats will happily devour a tablet either their normal food or human-grade morsels. Wet cat food, chicken, tuna, or small amount of cheese make for great accompaniments to medicine, as cats are so enticed by either the smell or novelty of the treat offered that they may not even notice a tablet hidden away inside. Pros: This method works very well with small tablets or occasional treatments, such as wormers. It turns what could be a traumatic experience for your cat into a pleasurable activity and helps your mutual bond. Cons: Some cats are very good at eating around tablets placed inside food, and may even spit out a tablet when you're not looking! Take special care to ensure your cat has actually swallowed the medicine by offering only a small quantity of food, and try to supervise your cat as he eats. Tip: Crushing tablets into food can make administration easier, but always check with your vet if the medication has a special coating or comes in a capsule form, as these drugs usually need to be taken intact.
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