Thomas Magnifico, R.Ph., FACA - September 1, 2022

Cat owners know their furry friends have a mind of their own. The sentiments of the popular saying, "like herding cats" may be most aptly applied when trying to medicate our feline companions. If the medication doesn't smell good or doesn't interest our cats, very often they won't take it.

So what can you do for a cat who refuses to cooperate? Try one of the following ways to help your cat take its medicine:

  • Pill Pockets: Pill Pockets are a soft chew with a hollow center with room for a pill inside. We recommend giving them to your cat as a treat first, getting your cat hooked, then spiking one with the pill. Pill Pockets also make great treats for healthy cats knowing they will likely need a pill at some point in the future.
  • Flavor Doh: Similar to Pill Pockets, Flavor Doh is a tub of flavored moldable dough - but you use only what you need to cover the pill or capsule completely. This option allows you to hide larger pills or capsules.
  • Baby food: Did you know that cats love single-ingredient human baby food? Next time you need to administer a pill, crush the tablet and mix into a teaspoon of baby food. Be sure to check for any additional ingredients, such as onion powder, that can be harmful to your cat. I recommend Gerber Second Stage Chicken and Gravy, Turkey and Gravy or Beef and Gravy.
  • Tuna water: While tuna meat is not good for your cat, the water that is poured off can be a great medicating tool. Simply crush the tablet and mix into the tuna water. You can also mix liquid medication into tuna water to ease administration.
  • Canned cat food: Many medications can be disguised in your cat's favorite canned food. If your cat is used to eating canned food, it may be helpful to choose a different flavor from their everyday fare. When administered in small amounts, the special flavor will help them take the medication.
  • Kitty burrito: If your cat tries to push your hand away with her paw, try wrapping her in a "kitty burrito." Place your cat in the center of a towel and wrap one side at a time over her, leaving only her head sticking out. Make sure it is not too tight around the neck, but tight enough so she can't get her paws out.

To make your cat's medication apart of your daily routine, try keeping medications and supplies in an area where you already spend time with your cat. Keeping things as normal as possible will make it easy for you and less stressful for your cat. This will also often prevent your cat from "catching on" and hiding from you at meds time.

Remember to be calm when trying to medicate your cat. If you are stressed or your kitty is upset, take a break and try again later. Always remember to reward your cat after administering any type of medication or treatment. Treats, play time or affection will help your cat associate taking their medication as something positive.

Ask for Options

If you are having trouble medicating your cat, don't give up. Ask if there are other options available. Some tablets are available in a liquid form and a compounding pharmacy, like Keystone Pharmacy, may be able to offer you flavored chewable treats or, in rare instances, a transdermal gel that is simply rubbed on the skin.

Give us a call at 616-974-9792, ask for Tom and I'll help get the medication you need in a dosage form that works for both you and your cat.