How to give your cat a pill


What is it about cats and pills? Simple. Cats HATE pills, especially when their owners try to trap them and shove the darn things down their throats. See if any of these pill-giving tips help you out before you get mauled by that sweet little pet you call your precious kitty and she never lets you near her again!

1.  Simple Tip: Disguise cat pill in your cat's food.

You can easily disguise some pills, especially the ones that are flavored, like Cholodin for Cats and Cosequin for Cats.  Just sprinkle pill contents onto wet food, or smash the pill and mix it up really well into the food.

  • Make sure your cat is hungry when you include pills in his food, so he will lap it right up. 
  • Make sure canned food is fresh and moist, as it will be at its most attractive to your cat.
  • Mix the pill with a small to average size moist meal to make it more likely your cat will eat it all up.  If a portion of the food remains, moisten the remainder and give it to your cat again a few hours later.
  • Try mixing the contents of the pill with a bit of chicken broth before adding it to wet food.


2.  Simple Tip: Disguise cat pill in a really special meal.

Although this method may interrupt your cat's regular diet, I have found my cats would eat the yuckiest smelling pills if they were crushed or sprinkled into half a can of sardines (with olive oil rinsed off). You should ask your cat's vet if this is okay for your cat, considering what may be her health condition, but if you get the okay, I haven't heard of a cat yet who won't eat a can of sardines. See the bullet ideas in Simple Tip 1, above for related tips.


3.  A Bit Trickier Tip: Disguise cat pill in a treat.

This is a quick but more difficult way to get your cat to take a pill. Nevertheless, if you can get away with it, it won't disturb your cat's regular diet, and it will be fun for your cat. The key here is that you don't break up the pill or smash it; you leave it whole and bury it in the treat.

What treats does your cat like best? What will make him come to you from nearly anywhere he is?  With my current kitty, that treat is cream cheese. I am lucky because cream cheese is very easy to wrap around a pill and it's very smooth, so he doesn't attempt to chew it. It just slides down his throat.  Whatever you can wrap around a pill that is soft, like some cheeses or meats, can work well then, as long as your cat absolutely goes crazy for it.


Greenie's Pill Pockets for Cats

Greenies Pill Pockets For Cats


You may want to vary pill-wrapping treats.  Although I feed my cat a grain free diet, I make exceptions for treats like Greenies Pill Pockets For Cats, which use real salmon or chicken in their pill wraps. They are very malleable and smoothly slide down a kitty's throat.

Here's a method of administering cat pills without getting caught!

  • Prepare three treats - one with the pill snugly inserted in it. 
  • The order of giving these three treats is: 1) give only treat; 2) give treat wrapped around pill; 3) give only treat.
  • Once the first treat, the teaser, is given, the other two treats should follow rapidly.

Summary: So, first you entice kitty to 'beg you' for the treat, which you will hold in your hand.  Tease her a little, so that she sees it as a game.  Give her the pill-less treat, follow it quickly with the treat containing the pill, and follow that quickly by the remaining pill-less treat.


4. Tricky Tip: Use a pet 'piller.'

Your cat may be prescribed a pill which cannot be given with food.  That's a challenge. So you will have to administer by hand (below) or by pet piller.

A pet piller is designed like a syringe, except it doesn't generally hold liquid; it holds pills. It requires you to hold your cat still while you open her mouth with one hand and quickly shoot the pill down the back of her mouth with the other hand. Then, you rub her throat or blow air on her face to encourage her to swallow.

You could start to get her used to a piller by putting a treat at the end of it and just using it to feed your cat, depositing the treat at the front of her mouth.

Ideally, one person can administer one pill to one pet, but with cats, who knows?


Kruuse pet piller

Kruuze Buster Pet Pill/Tablet Syringe


One of the most popular pet pillers is the Kruuze Buster Pet Pill/Tablet Syringe. Once you insert the pill in the pill-holder at the end, you push the plunger into the middle-back of your pet's mouth for her to swallow it. This syringe does hold water (most pet pillers do not), which really helps get that pill down.

Now, one problem faced by pet parents is that not every pill syringe can adjust to hold small pills, or pills that are cut in half or in quarters to get the right dosage. The solution to this problem is to place the pill into an empty gelatin cap (size 4 or 5) and then administer it.


5. Very Tricky Tip: Take a deep breath and use (or lose) your hands.

I'm not trying to be flippant here.  If you have the kind of kitty that's docile and cool with you putting your hand down his throat, go for it. As affectionate as my cat is, that is a no-no for me. But here is a great short video put out by Dechra, manufacturer of veterinary pharmaceutical products, that shows a (suspiciously) calm cat getting pilled by a brave veterinarian. Seriously, you should watch this, as it gives you some tips applicable to other cat interactions.



If you can master this activity (and, perhaps for cats on long-term pill treatments, it would be a good idea to try using your hands to pill your cat), make sure you give your kitty some really good treats for her cooperation. If she can't take the medication with food, then play her favorite game as a treat for her, or pet her on her favorite spots. Your cat's cooperation takes a great level of trust in you, and your cat should be rewarded for that.


One or more of the above tips for pilling your cat should work out for you. If you have your own unique tips, feel free to share them in the comments section below this article.


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