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How To Give Medicine to Your Cat: 9 Tips & Tricks (with Video)

Ed Malaker

Having a sick cat can be a traumatic experience for you and your pet, and when you need to give them medication, it can be even more difficult, especially if you lack experience. If this sound like your situation, keep reading while share with you several tips and trick you can use to make sure your cat gets healthy. We’ll carefully explain each method and provide you with a video or image where possible to help you provide the best care possible for your pet.

Tips and Tricks for Giving Your Cat Medicine


Giving Pills to Your Cat

1. Pheromones

Quiet Moments Pheromones
Image Credit: Chewy

One of the first things you need to do if you want your cat to take its medication is to get it in a relaxed state. If the cat thinks you are trying to do something, it will be much faster to react to anything up your sleeve. Provide a quiet area without other people or pets where your cat can feel safe, especially if it isn’t feeling well. Pheromones can be extremely effective on some cats to help keep them calm and make them more likely to cooperate. Pheromones are natural chemicals that a cat creates and uses for many things, including marking its territory and finding a mate. You can purchase synthetic pheromones that many owners say can help reduce aggression and promote a calmer temperament.

2. Laser Pen

If your cat is healthy enough, another great way to make sure your cat is relaxed when you try to give it medication is to run it for a few minutes using a laser pen to burn off any excess energy that the cat has. Even the laziest cats will have difficulty resisting the urge to chase after the tiny red dot with all it has. Our cats bump into furniture, try to climb walls, and race back and forth through our home at top speed. It only takes a minute or two to tire them out, and they are much less likely to struggle while we give them their medication. You can find these laser pens in most grocery stores, and they are usually quite inexpensive.

Check out these cats playing with the laser pen on FunyPlox:

3. Trim The Nails

If you anticipate that you will need to pick up your cat to give it medication, we highly recommend carefully trimming the nails of your pet beforehand. Most cats don’t like when you handle them, especially if they don’t feel good and you are doing it weirdly like you might when you are about to give them a pill, so trimming the nails can help minimize the damage you receive.

Check out this video from Healthcare for Pets:

4. Wrap Your Cat In A Blanket

Aggressive and frightened cats can still cause damage with trimmed nails, so we recommend carefully wrapping your cat in a blanket so you can administer the medication safely without harming the cat. The towel will keep the cat stable while providing the cat with safety, comfort, and warmth.

Here’s a video showing how to wrap your cat in a blanket from Our Pets Health:

5. Feed The Pill

With the cat comfortable, you can place the pill in the cat’s mouth by grasping the top of the head with one hand and lift it, so the nose points at the ceiling. When the cat is in this position, its jaw will usually drop open, or you can gently open it while holding the pill between your index finger and thumb. Place the pill inside the mouth toward the back of the tongue and close it before returning the head to normal position and gently blowing on the nose while stroking the throat. Blowing on the nose causes the cat to lick its nose and swallow.

VetVid has a great demonstration video:

6. Hide Medication in Food

Unfortunately, cats are not as easy to trick by putting the medicine in their food. Most owners will tell you that mixing the pill with wet food works well to get your cat to eat it, but it will only work once. The same goes for most treats with a pocket for medication. The best way to use food to get your cat to eat a pill is to chop up the pill into tiny pieces. You will want to do the same with your cat’s favorite treat. You want the pieces to be small enough that the cat can’t sort through them or spit them out.

If the cat eats the dry mixture, let it. Otherwise, you can attach it to your finger using a soft teat like the Hartz Squeeze Up and feed it to your cat like that. This extra treat, along with the attention, can often convince the cat to eat the pill.

You can see a demonstration of this method by watching this MeloCat video:

7. Take Your Cat to The Vet

Vet looking for swelling in cat paws

If none of the above methods work, and you are desperate to give your cat medication, most veterinary clinics will give your cat the medicine for a small fee. Going to the vet often causes other problems because most cats don’t like traveling in cars or cat carriers. It can also get quite expensive if your cat needs medication long-term.

Giving Liquid Medication to Your Cat

8. The Syringe Method

You will usually deliver liquid medication via a syringe that you squirt into the cat’s mouth. This method is often easier than pills but still takes practice. Most medicines use a 1 milliliter or a 3-milliliter syringe, and the one you use depends on the medication and personal preference. Larger syringes are faster but can create a larger mess. The steps to deliver the liquid are the same as for feeding the pill, except your cat can taste the liquid better, so it’s harder to use tricks like putting it on your finger, so the syringe is the only option. Many cats will have a violent reaction to the medication if they get it too close to the tip of the tongue. When a cat tastes something it thinks is toxic, it will start to drool and foam at the mouth, which can be a terrifying experience to unsuspecting pet owners, so you need to make sure it gets to the back of the tongue.

Watch a great video demonstrating the syringe method from the Helpful Vancouver Vet:

9. See if it’s Available as A Transdermal Medication

Many liquid medications are also available in a transdermal form, and these are much easier to administer. You give your cat a transdermal medication by applying it to their skin, most often to the inside of their ears. Most cat owners prefer this method, but not all medications are available, and there may also be an additional cost to get it in this form.



Unfortunately, unless your cat only needs a single dose of the medication, hiding it in the food isn’t as likely to work on cats as dogs. We found that crushing them up and mixing them with treats works well, especially if your cat is used to eating off your finger. However, that method can make the process long and drawn out. Once you learn to hold the head and insert the pill, the process will take less than one minute and won’t cause any stress for you or your pet.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide and found the answers you needed. If we have helped you nurse your cat back to health, please share this guide to giving your cat medicine on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Piskova Photo, Shutterstock

Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.