Second Chance: Cat Pilling Scratch Free?

Second Chance: Cat Pilling Scratch Free?

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View our shelter pets and services online:


Dear Pet Column, 

have to give my cat antibiotic pills for a week and am terrified about doing it …help!


Scaredy Cat

Dear Scaredy,

Not sure what you are afraid of (I say as a sparkle of light reflects off of my sharp upper fang), but I can certainly give you some pointers to hopefully stay scratch- and bite-free as you pill your cat. (For legal reasons I must add that I cannot guarantee a blood-free experience.) Or at least give you a nudge of confidence in what you are doing.

The easiest way to give your cat a pill is to hide it in enticing food.

My preference is tuna, but you can also try salmon, yogurt or cream cheese. Use only a small amount so you know your cat has consumed it entirely. If your cat persists in spitting out the pills or if dietary restrictions prevent you from hiding the pills in an appealing food, you will need to administer the pill directly into the cat’s mouth. (Yes I hear your heart rate racing.)

To begin, place your cat on your lap, depending on your cat’s demeanor you may want to try wrapping the cat securely in a blanket or towel with only the head exposed. (And maybe do the same for yourself – heh.)

Lubricate the pill with a very small amount of margarine or butter so it doesn’t stick in your cat’s mouth or throat and will be easier to swallow. Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger and gently grasp your cat’s head from above with your other hand, by placing your thumb on one side of the upper jaw and your fingers on the other.

Tilt the cat’s head back over its shoulder so that its nose points to the ceiling. The jaw should drop open slightly. With your pilling hand, use your little finger and ring finger to open the cat’s mouth further by gently putting pressure on the lower lip and front teeth.

Quickly place the pill as far back over the tongue as possible, with a goal of the back one-third of the tongue to stimulate an automatic swallowing reflex. Close the cat’s mouth and hold it closed while you return the head to a normal position. Gently rub the cat’s nose or throat to stimulate swallowing.

At this point you will have a solid idea if your cat is having fun or not.

Usually, your cat will lick its nose with its tongue if it has swallowed the pill. Perhaps try squirting some tuna juice or water into your cat’s mouth with a syringe to encourage swallowing.

Congratulations. Now you only have to do it six more times!

If you experience difficulty or lack of courage, you may want to purchase a “pet piller” device or see if it is possible to have the medication compounded into a flavored formulation.

My name is Paradise, because I am looking for my little slice of heaven for my new home. I am a sweet and sassy five- month- young female Tortoiseshell who showed up on someone’s doorstep in Ridgway because I knew I couldn’t make it out there on my own. I will certainly show you that paradise comes in a furry purry bundle of joy. Come meet me today!

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