Pilling cats can be a “nightmarish” experience.
Cats don’t want something pushed down their throats, and they’ll fight with all their might to prevent it. In fact, it’s amazing how powerful their small bodies can be. Here are some ways to make the pilling process easier and less stressful – for both you and your cat.
The easiest way of pilling cats is to crush the pill into a powder by using mortor & pestle or by putting the pill between two spoons. Then mix the powder with a small amount of wet food (preferably a preservative free, healthy wet food). If your cat usually eats dry food, she will probably view the wet food as a treat and eat it up.
If the medication is a capsule, just pull the capsule apart, sprinkle the contents on the wet food, & mix, & serve.
If your cat won’t eat the wet food that contains the pill or if she is too ill to eat, you can get a “pill gun”, also called a “pet piller”. This is a plastic rod with little rubber cups on the end that hold the pill until a plunger is pressed. It’s best to get a long gun with a soft tip.
Your vet can show you how to use the pill gun, but here are some basic instructions. Getting your cat’s mouth open is going to be the most difficult part. First, be sure the pill is in a handy place. You can put your cat on a bookshelf with her bottom in a corner or you can put her on your lap firmly braced. Have your cat facing to the right if you’re right handed, & vice versa. With your left hand, grip your cat at the cheekbones, putting your palm at the top of her head. Keeping your finger off the trigger, with your right hand, insert the pill gun until the pill is positioned over the tongue & open throat. Then pull the trigger & withdraw the gun quickly. Be sure to give your cat a treat directly after giving the pill.
If you don’t feel comfortable using a pill gun, you can try giving the pill by hand. Extend your cat’s head backwards just far enough so that her nose is pointing towards the ceiling. At this point, most cats will slightly open their mouths. With the little finger or ring finger of the hand holding the pill, open the bottom jaw a little more. You may need to hold her top jaw with your other hand while doing this. Aim straight and lightly throw the pill or drop it so that it hits beyond the hump in her tongue. (Be sure to drop or lightly throw the pill rather than shoving it down so that your cat is not as likely to gag and so that you lessen your chance of getting bitten.) Most cats will then instinctively swallow the pill.
In case none of these “pilling” strategies work, as a last resort try to find a compounding pharmacy, and have them make flavored liquid or gel out of the medication.
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