If you've ever had to force your cat to take a pill, you know it's a traumatic experience. The cat doesn't like it much, either. In the quest to get kitty to take his medicine, humans have hatched plans involving subterfuge and devised tools to get the job done.
The Pill Popper
The pill syringe is an ingenious invention that looks a lot like a traditional syringe but has a place on the tip that holds the pill. You first draw a small amount of water up into the syringe before pressing the pill into the compartment on the end. The syringe is loaded and ready to pop the pill into your kitty's mouth.
Why It Works
The pill syringe mostly works because of the water that is squirted into your cat's mouth right after the pill is popped in, but the long, tube-like design plays a part, too. The syringe is long enough that you can get the part with the pill into your cat's mouth and back towards his throat without subjecting your fingers to his razor-sharp teeth. Before Sylvester knows what's happened, you've pressed the plunger with your thumb, popping the pill onto the back of his tongue and also releasing the water from the syringe into his mouth. Your cat will automatically swallow when he feels the water in his mouth, washing the pill down his throat.
Pill guns are medical aids similar to pill syringes. The guns are almost identical to the syringes, but pill guns don't have a hollow syringe feature. They are simply long plungers with a soft rubber tip that holds the pill in place until you press the end with your thumb. The gun plops the pill out onto the back of your kitty's tongue, but without the water to stimulate a natural swallowing response, you'll have to either hold your cat until you know he's swallowed or rub his throat to encourage him to send the pill on its way. Otherwise, he'll promptly deposit the spit-soaked pill on the floor before running off to hide.
The Old-Fashioned Way
If you doubt the effectiveness of the pill guns and syringes and have a free afternoon, you can always opt for trying to manually conning your cat into taking his pill. There's always the ambush method where you corner him unexpectedly and place one hand on top of his head, inserting your thumb in one side of his mouth and your middle finger in the other side to pry it open. Then with the other hand, put the pill on the back of his tongue, right at the top of his throat. You'll have to do the throat massage thing (if he'll let you near him once you've released his head) because this method runs the risk of not ensuring he's ingested his meds.
You can also try hiding the pill in food, but cats have an uncanny way of eating around the part that holds the pill, leaving you with a messy pill and an un-medicated cat. If you like the idea of hiding the pill in food, crush it into powder and mix it into a small amount of canned food or other favorite treat. Keeping the amount of food small will guarantee that your cat will eat everything, medication and all.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.