How to Give a Cat Medicine

Three Methods:Deciding on the Best MethodAdministering Medicine With FoodAdministering Medicine Without Food

Getting your cat to take its medicine can be a daily struggle, but it is crucial to maintain your cat’s health. If you have been struggling to get your cat to take his medicine, there are a few things that you can do to help make the process a little easier, such as asking for a demonstration by your cat’s veterinarian, using special pill delivery treats, or using a towel to restrain your cat. Keep reading to learn more about how to give a cat medicine.

Method 1
Deciding on the Best Method

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    Talk to your cat’s veterinarian. Before you give any medication to your cat, you should talk to your veterinarian first. Your veterinarian will examine your cat and determine the best course of treatment for his/her condition. If medication is required, your veterinarian will prescribe it and explain how to administer it to your cat. Ask if you are unsure about any of the instructions.[1]
    • Ask your veterinarian for a demonstration. If you will be giving your cat pills without food, you may benefit from a demonstration by your veterinarian. Before you leave the vet’s office, ask if he or she can demonstrate how to give the medication to your cat. That will allow you to see the process and ask any questions that you have at the time.
    • If your cat is sick, do not attempt to diagnose your cat yourself. Take him to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
    • Never give medicine to your cat that was prescribed for a human, a different cat, or another pet.
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    Read the medicine instructions carefully. Before you administer the medication to your cat, read the instructions carefully and make sure that you understand them. If you have any questions or concerns about the medication, call your cat’s veterinarian.[2] Some questions you may want to ask your veterinarian include:
    • What time should the medication be given?
    • Should the medication be given with or without food?
    • How should the medication be given? By mouth? By injection?
    • What are the potential side effects of this medication?
    • How do I keep myself safe when administering the medication? Should I wear gloves?
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    Decide how to administer your cat’s medicine. Before you give your cat the medicine, make sure that you are clear on the best way to give the medication. If you are able to give your cat his medicine with food, that will be the easiest and most pleasant method for both of you.[3]
    • With Food If the medication can be taken by mouth with food, then your best option is to use Pill Pockets or another type of food that your cat likes. You may need to experiment with different types of food before you find something that your cat really likes.
    • Without Food If your cat needs to take his medication on an empty stomach, you will need to use a pill syringe or carefully place the pill in your cat’s mouth while you restrain him. If you need to administer a liquid medicine, you will need to use a medicine dropper to put the medicine into your cat’s mouth while you restrain him.

Method 2
Administering Medicine With Food

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    Purchase some special treats meant for medicine administration. If your cat can take his medication with food, your best bet is to use a commercial product like Pill Pockets to coat your cat’s pills. You can find Pill Pockets in pet stores. If you cannot find pill pockets or if your cat does not like them, try using wet cat food to make tiny meat balls to coat your cat’s pills.[4]
    • You can also look for Flavor Doh, which is another brand of pill concealing treats.
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    Prepare the treats. Put your cat’s pill into a Pill Pocket or Flavor Doh. Make sure that the treat is sticking to the pill so that your cat will not be able to separate the pill from the treat. Have a few other non-medicine treats ready to give your cat after he eats the pill treat.[5]
    • If you are using wet cat food instead, make four tiny meatballs using a cat food that your cat likes and then insert one of the pills into one of the meatballs. Keep track of which meatball you put the pill into!
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    Give the treats. Give your cat the treats you have prepared in a location that he likes, such as where he normally eats or a favorite roosting spot.[6] If you are using the Pill Pockets or Flavor Doh, simply give your cat the treat and make sure he eats it. If he spits it out, you can try again with a new treat or use wet cat food to make tiny meatballs.
    • To give your cat the treat using the wet cat food, give him two of the four meatballs that do not contain the pill. Then, give him the pill meatball and wait for him to swallow it. Follow up with the last non-medicine meatball to help get the medicine taste out of his mouth. The last non-medicine meatball will prevent him from associating the cat food with a bad taste, which will make it easier to keep using this method.
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    Follow up with a medicine-free treat. After your cat has taken his treat using either method, make sure to follow up by giving him one of his favorite treats. You can also pet him and play with him if he is feeling up to it. Just do whatever you can to make the experience pleasant for him so that he looks forward to taking his medicine in the future.[7]

Method 3
Administering Medicine Without Food

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    Prepare the medicine. Before you restrain your cat, you will need to get his medicine ready to go. If you have not done so already, read the medicine label carefully before you prepare your cat’s medicine. Call your cat’s veterinarian if you have any questions about how to administer the medicine.[8]
    • Your vet may give you a pill pusher if you will be administering pills without food. A pill pusher is like a syringe for pills, so that you do not have to stick your fingers into your cat’s mouth. If your cat will be taking liquid medicine, your will need to use a medicine dropper.
    • Double check the dosage for your cat’s medicine and make sure that you have prepared the correct amount.
    • If your cat has to take a pill without food, prepare a medicine dropper with about 5ml of water as well. You can give this water to your cat after administering the pill to ensure that your cat swallows the pill and it doesn’t get stuck in his esophagus.[9]
    • Place your cat’s medicine someplace close to where you will be holding your cat, so that you can grab it as soon as the cat's mouth is open. For example, you could place the medicine on a paper towel on a nearby surface or ask someone to hold it for you.
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    Wrap your cat in a towel with only his head exposed. Wrap your cat up like a burrito by placing him onto the middle of the towel and quickly pulling the sides up around him. If you have to administer a pill to your cat without food, you will have to restrain him and put the pill into his mouth. If your cat is not used to taking pills, then there is a good chance that he will struggle to get free. By wrapping him in a towel with only his head exposed, you can prevent him from finding traction on your body and getting away from you. The towel will also help to prevent him from scratching you.[10]
    • You can also try holding your cat in your lap while you administer the medicine, if that feels easier for you. You should still wrap your cat in a towel because there is still a good chance that he will try to get away.[11]
    • You may also want to enlist the help of a friend or family member if this is a new experience for your cat. That way, one of you can hold your cat and the other can administer the medicine with both hands.
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    Use an elevated surface such as a high counter, dresser, or washing machine. Any surface that is at least waist high will make it easier for you to administer your cat’s medication. Hold your cat (still wrapped in the towel) while allowing his body to rest on the surface.[12] If you are administering the medicine by yourself, you will want to have one hip against the side of the surface and your arm around your cat.
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    Open the cat's mouth. Use your thumb and ring finger to press the corners of your cat’s mouth. Your cat’s mouth should begin to open as you apply pressure. If your cat’s mouth is not opening wide enough to give the medicine, use your other hand to gently push down on your cat’s lower jaw.[13]
    • Do your best to keep your fingers out of your cat’s mouth as you hold it open. Keep them on the edges of his mouth so that they are out of the reach of his teeth.
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    Put the medication in the cat's mouth. If you are using a pill pusher, put the pill towards the back of your cat’s tongue. If you are using a medicine dropper, insert the dropper between the cat's cheek and teeth. Do not squirt liquid medication into the cat's throat or tongue. Liquids are likely to go down a cat's windpipe, making the cat choke.[14]
    • Follow up with the 5 milliliters (0.17 fl oz) medicine dropper of water if you are give your cat a pill without food. Make sure to administer the water between your cat’s cheek and teeth.
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    Close your cat’s mouth and stroke his throat. After you have administered the medicine, close your cat’s throat and gently stroke his throat under his chin. This will help to encourage him to swallow the pill.[15]
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    Reward your cat for his cooperation. Even though you cannot give your cat a treat to reward him for taking his medicine, you should still do something to let him know you are happy with him. Pet him, play with him, and praise him immediately after you finish giving your cat his medicine.


  • Speed and sure aim help get the pill or dropper into the mouth before there's time for stress or a fight. This is why it is best to prepare the medications before you even pick up the cat.
  • You can also try hiding tablets in the cat's food.
  • Try to calm your cat down before so it doesn't freak out and run away. Prepare the medicine, behave calmly, and then give it the medicine.
  • If your cat bucks it's head every time you open it's mouth, try firmly holding the loose skin at the back of it's neck for a better grip.
  • If your cat repeatedly gets away from you before you can administer his medicine, bring him into a small room without any hiding places, like a walk in closet or bathroom, and shut the door. The medicine process will go much faster if you don't have to search the house tracking the cat down every time it manages to get away from you.
  • Consider asking your veterinarian about compounding your cat’s medicine into a powder or liquid. You can then combine the medicine with some tuna oil to administer it to your cat. The tuna oil will help to conceal the flavor of the medicine.[16]
  • Getting your tomcat neutered is a good option as they will be less argumentative and won't protest as much. It also avoids AIDS, provides birth control, reduces pheromone marking ( spraying odorous urine to mark territory) and make your cat a lot more pleasant to be around.


  • Do not give your cat human medicine. It can be harmful or fatal!

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