Tips for Feline Oral Medication Administration

by | Dec 3, 2018 | News

If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know how stubborn they can be at times. If they don’t want to do something, they will let you know. Unlike dogs, cats are a little less trusting about what’s being fed to them; they aren’t as willing to try new things. Due to the difficulty and stress that can be put on both you and your cat while administering oral medications, there are different techniques to try in hopes that one is a good fit. Most pet stores carry a pilling device or a pill pocket; these products are helpful in assisting in the pilling process.  Canned cat food and certain human foods can also be used to entice your cat to take the pill without struggle. Some pills can be ground up into food or dissolved in water. Sometimes, it’s best to just pill your cat by hand. It is recommended to speak with your veterinarian or technician to find out the best way to give the medication; some methods mentioned may not work for that specific medication. Below you will find various ways to pill your feline friend and a video or two to demonstrate the process.  

  1. Pilling by hand
    1. With this method, the pill can be lubricated with butter, or margarine, prior to administration, or the pill can be given as is. Tilt your cat’s head back until his/her nose points towards the ceiling; this will cause the mouth to open slightly. Use your ring finger and pinky finger to open your cat’s mouth further. Using your thumb and forefinger, place the pill as far back in the mouth as possible. Quickly close the cat’s mouth and begin to gently massage the cat’s throat, blow in its nose, or dribble small amounts of water into the cat’s mouth to stimulate swallowing.
      1. Video Link:
        3. (this video shows several methods)
      2. Using a Pill Pocket
        1. A pill pocket is a type of soft treat designed to hide a pill; it’s intended to prevent the cat from tasting or seeing it. Place the pill inside the treat and close the open end(s) with your fingers to enclose the pill. This method works best if the cat doesn’t typically chew his or her food. Pill pockets can be purchased at any pet store or online; they come in many different brands and flavors as well.
      3. Using a Pill Popper/Pilling Device
        1. A pilling device allows you to put the pill in the back of the cat’s throat without the risk of being bitten. It is usually shaped like a long syringe with a rubber tip at the bottom and a plunger at the top. The rubber tip holds the pill in place until the device is positioned correctly in the mouth. Once positioned, press the plunger down to release the pill. This method should be done quickly but gently. Once the pill is released, stimulate swallowing by using one of the methods mentioned above. There are many different types and brands of pilling devices but they all serve the same purpose; they can typically be found at pet stores and online. We occasionally have some in stock as well so feel free to ask us.
          1. Video Link:


  1. Mixing pill into food or water
    1. Sometimes, the easiest method for administering pills is to simply cover it in your cat’s favorite human food or canned cat food. Some human foods that cats typically enjoy are chicken baby food, marshmallows, bread, butter, cheese, and hamburger. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to give your cat a sample of the food without the pill inside to make sure the cat does indeed like the food. With some medications, you can try grinding up the pill and mixing it into wet canned food; it is important for the cat to eat all the food though.
    2. Some pills can be made into a slurry. Please note that it is never a good idea to make a slurry unless it has been authorized by your veterinarian. Some medications can be very bitter tasting and others can lose their effectiveness. To make a slurry, place the pill in a small amount of water and dissolve. Once dissolved, you’d be able to administer it like a liquid. With this method, it is not advised to tip the cat’s head back as the liquid can accidentally enter the windpipe. The best way to administer a liquid is by placing a syringe in the back corner of the cat’s mouth and squirting the medication into the pouch between the teeth and cheek. Quickly close the cat’s mouth and stimulate swallowing.

Whether you purchase a device or treat to help administer a medication or use food you have at home, it is always a good idea to confirm the method with your veterinarian. Some medications can lose their effectiveness if given with food or dissolved in water while others are just very bitter. We are always willing to answer any questions you may have so don’t hesitate to call!

Sources: Washington State University (, West Gate Pet Clinic (, All Feline Hospital (

Miranda, CSR