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  • Writer's pictureLonsdale Place Veterinary Clinic

How to Give Your Cat a Pill: A Stress-Free Guide

Lonsdale Place Veterinary Clinic North Vancouver Vet

At Lonsdale Place Veterinary Clinic, we understand that getting a cat to do anything unwillingly is a challenge most owners prefer to avoid. Unfortunately, there are times when giving your cat medication is necessary. Here’s a guide to help you give your cat a pill with minimal stress for both of you. North Vancouver Vet

Things to Consider Before Giving Your Cat a Pill

Before you attempt to give your cat a pill, consult your vet to understand any restrictions on how the medication should be administered. Some pills can be mixed with food, while others cannot. Certain pills can be crushed or divided, but doing so with the wrong medication can harm your cat's esophagus or stomach by removing the protective coating. Knowing these details will help you decide the best way to give your cat the medication. North Vancouver Vet

What’s the Easiest Way to Give a Pill to a Cat?

One of the simplest methods, depending on the type of medication, is to hide the pill in food. This can be done with wet cat food, a bit of tuna, or a treat, but make sure it’s a small amount so they eat it all. North Vancouver Vet

What If My Cat Spits Out the Pill?

Some cats are clever and will spit out the pill. Stay with your cat while they eat and check the food afterward. If they continue to spit the pill out, you may need to try another method. North Vancouver Vet

Five Scratch-Free Methods to Give Your Cat a Pill

  1. Use a Pill Popper A pill popper allows you to administer the pill without putting your fingers in the cat’s mouth, but improper use can damage their throat. If using a pill popper, have your vet demonstrate the correct technique. Place the pill in the device, then use the plunger to release the pill into the cat’s mouth. Practice with treats to get your cat accustomed to the device.

  2. Mix Medication with Food If your vet says it’s safe, mix the pill with your cat’s favorite treat. Ensure the treats are small enough for the cat to swallow whole. Avoid putting medication in your cat’s food bowl as it may dissolve or be spat out. This also prevents other pets from accidentally consuming the medication.

  3. Use a Pill Crusher If allowed, crush the pill and mix it with a small portion of your cat’s food or water. Ensure your cat eats the entire portion containing the medication. Avoid letting other pets consume the mixed food.

  4. Ask for Alternatives If your cat refuses pills, ask your vet about alternatives like oral liquids or injections. Not all medications have these alternatives, but it’s worth asking.

  5. Give the Pill by Hand If other methods fail, you may need to give the pill by hand. Here’s a step-by-step guide to doing this safely:

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How to Give a Cat a Pill by Hand in 10 Steps North Vancouver Vet

  1. Stay calm and minimize stress for your cat. If you’re unsure, ask a vet or vet nurse for a demonstration.

  2. Place your cat on a flat, stable surface. A towel can help prevent slipping.

  3. Approach from behind or the side to avoid startling your cat.

  4. A second person can help, but it’s not essential. Hold the cat securely against your body.

  5. Hold the pill in one hand. With the other hand, gently hold your cat’s head, tilting it upwards.

  6. Open the cat’s mouth with one hand, and place the pill on the back of their tongue with the other.

  7. Close their mouth, rub their throat gently, and wait for them to swallow.

  8. Check their mouth to ensure the pill is swallowed.

  9. If the pill is not swallowed, try again or use a small amount of water to help them swallow.

  10. Reward your cat with their favorite treat and toys.

Safety Tips When Giving a Cat a Pill North Vancouver Vet

  • Wrap your cat in a towel to restrain them.

  • Hold the top of their head to reduce the risk of bites.

  • Have someone assist if necessary.

  • Take breaks if you or your cat become stressed.

  • Seek medical advice if bitten, as cat bites can lead to infection.

  • Train your cat to get used to having their mouth opened gently with treats.


Giving a cat a pill can vary from being cooperative to challenging. If your cat refuses to take the pill, consult your vet for alternative methods. It’s crucial that your cat receives prescribed medications to avoid health problems. At Lonsdale Place Veterinary Clinic, we’re here to help with all your pet care needs. Contact us for advice or to schedule a visit. North Vancouver Vet

We hope this guide helps make pill-giving a less stressful experience for you and your cat! North Vancouver Vet



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