Mountainview Animal Hospital

How To Pill A Cat

Just like you, at some point in your pet’s lifetime, he or she will get sick and will require some form of medication. So far this does not sound too ominous, unless of course you have a cat and you have to give that cat a pill. Not to suggest that medicating a dog is always so easy, but pilling a cat can be a very special kind of hell. It can be so difficult that jokes have been written about it; to read the joke, scroll to the bottom of these instructions . We hope these instructions will be helpful.

Step 1: Get your cat. If you have help, one person should place your cat on a table or counter and stand behind the cat while holding the shoulders; this prevents the cat from reaching up and scratching the person doing the pilling.

Tip: If you are alone, place your cat in the corner of the sofa to stop him or her from backing away from you, or wrap him or her in a towel. The towel will also wrap up those claws.

Step 2: Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of one hand.

Step 3: With the other hand reach from behind and gently grasp your cat’s head. Your thumb and index finger should be on either side of the face holding the top of the upper canine teeth.

Step 4: Gently tilt the head up until your cat is looking straight up. Once your cat’s head is facing upward the mouth will open a just little bit.

Step 5: Bring your other hand to your cat’s mouth. Place your pinky or middle finger on the lower incisors and gently push downward on the lower jaw to open your cat’s mouth. Drop the pill to the back of the throat.

Tip: Notice the “U” shape created by your cat’s tongue at the back of the mouth. Drop the pill into that “U” shape.

Step 6: Close your cat’s mouth. Gently stroke your cat’s throat, or blow on or rub the nose to encourage swallowing.

The biggest tip ever: Do it fast, cats are not big on patience.

Step 7: Reward your cat for good behaviour with gentle attention or a favourite treat.


  • It may be easier to get the pill ready before you get your cat; holding your cat & opening a pill vial at the same time may be too much of a challenge.
  • Always read the instructions on the pill vial carefully and give all the medication as directed by your veterinarian.
  • Sometimes even the most experienced animal handler cannot get oral medications into a cat without being bit. For more aggressive cats, a pet pilling device may be used to place the pill into the cat’s mouth instead of your fingers. A pet piller is a plastic tube, similar to a syringe, with a rubber tip. It can be purchased from a veterinarian.
  • Some medications like prednisone and thyroid tablets are odorless and tasteless. These pills can be crushed and mixed in with some canned food.
  • If you don’t get the pill down the first time, your cat may get a taste of the medication. Many medications like antibiotics are very bitter in taste and will cause your cat to drool. Don’t worry; the drooling will stop as soon as the bad taste goes away.
  • If you are splitting pills, putting a bit of butter at the cut end reduces the likelihood of your cat tasting the medication and may even make the pill go down a little easier.
  • We can also have certain medications compounded into flavoured liquids to make it easier to give to some cats. Compounding medications costs a little more, but it is well worth the trouble it saves.
  • For those cats that won’t even take flavoured medicines, we can have some drugs compounded into gels that are absorbed through the skin. This completely avoids the need to give oral medications at all.


Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

Take a new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.

Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.

Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink 1 beer to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

Retrieve cat from neighbour’s shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard, and close door on to neck, to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw T-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

Call fire department to retrieve the cat from across the road. Apologize to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

Tie the cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table, find heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed. Force cat’s mouth open with small spanner. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet steak. Hold head vertically and pour pint of water down throat to wash pill down.

Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

Arrange for vet to make a house call.


Wrap it in bacon.

Toss it in the air.

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Lord Byron, the English Romantic poet, had a beloved Newfoundland named Boatswain. When Boatswain died, Byron had the following inscribed upon his gravestone: “Beauty without vanity, strength without insolence, courage without ferocity, and all the virtues of man without his vices.”