Cat Medicating

Tablets – General Advice

Giving tablets to a cat can be a daunting and difficult task. This section arms you with some simple techniques for stress free pill giving.

Techniques are in order of how much restraint is used. If it is safe to do so, try the easiest technique with the least restraint first.

  • Try to stay calm and talk reassuringly to your cat.
  • Leave breaks between trying each technique to allow your cat to calm down.
  • If your cat starts to breathe through its mouth or ‘mouth breathing’ stop attempting to give the medication. This is a sign that your cat is extremely stressed, it could be dangerous to continue. If your cat is still mouth breathing after one minute telephone your vet for advice immediately.
  • If you don’t manage to give the tablet after a couple of attempts or if your cat becomes aggressive or distressed, talk to your vet about alternatives to tablets, don’t struggle on alone. For example :
    • Full worming treatment for roundworms and tapeworms can now be given to cats by a prescription ‘spot ons’ applied onto the skin.
    • Many drugs are also available in injectable forms. This may mean repeated visits to the vets but many cats will find this less stressful than being given tablets. Some drugs are available in long acting forms which only need to be injected once.
    • Your vet may be able to recommend a different form of treatment.

Giving Tablets to Cats

Method 1

  1. Hide in smelly, tasty food eg. Pilchards (not if your cat is on a special diet)
  2. Offer a small amount of food containing the tablet before the main meal.

Method 2

  1. Have an assistant hold the front legs down
  2. Hold the top of your cat’s head and gently but firmly tip it backwards. The mouth will open slightly
  3. Use your finger to push the tablet to the back of the mouth (not if your cat bites – take great care)
  4. Close your cat’s mouth and allow to swallow. Offer some food or syringe some water.

    It may help to do this on a table rather than on the floor.

Administering drugs to a cat
Administering drugs to a cat


Method 3

  1. Hold the scruff of the neck and use it to tilt your cat’s head upwards. The mouth will open slightly. This looks unpleasant but carefully holding a cat’s scruff is safe and often has a calming effect. Use the side of your restraining hand to push the shoulders gently downwards.
  2. Use a finger or a pill giver or pill popper to introduce the tablet into the mouth.
  3. Move the tablet as far to the back of the mouth as possible and release. The cat should swallow by reflex.
  4. Offer some food or syringe some water. It may help to do this on a table rather than on the floor.

Administering drugs to a cat
Administering drugs to a cat


If you are worried that you may get bitten or scratched, or if you are unable to get the tablet down, do not keep trying, CONTACT YOUR VET.

Spot on administration

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the preparation. Most commonly the fur needs to be parted over the base of the skull.

Wriggly cats can be restrained by holding the scruff of the neck; you will need an assistant for this. Usually spot ons should be administered onto the skin, not the fur. It may help to administer the spot on in a few different places in the required area to make sure it all goes onto the skin.

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More Useful Information

Examining your pet

Simple ways to check the health of your pet. Vets use these techniques as part of their clinical examiniation.

Medicating your pet

Arming you with the same simple techniques for stress free pill giving.

Worming & Flea Treatment

Information and advice in treating your pet for worms and fleas.