How to Administer Oral Medication to a Cat

A cat laying on a bed with its mouth open.
Tricking your sick cat to take oral medicine requires some extreme measures. harpazo_hope / Getty Images

An important part of cat care is knowing how to tend to your sick cat, especially giving them oral medications. Cats don't like taking medicines any more than children do. But it is also difficult because cats don't understand what you're doing and why you're doing it. It's important that a cat receives the medication he or she needs without spitting it out. Below are some methods to help you administer oral medications, either liquids or pills, to your cat.




Method A

Step 1a: Restrain the cat. Reach with your right hand over the cat's body and under its chest so the chest is resting in your palm. Lift the cat firmly toward you so its body is secured between your forearm and your body.

Step 1b: If an assistant is available, place the cat on a table or counter. Have the assistant place both hands around the cat's shoulders and gently but firmly push the cat down on the table so it cannot use its front paws to scratch.


Step 1c: If the cat is somewhat aggressive, have an assistant wrap the entire cat, except the head, in a large towel.

Step 2: Gently hold the cat's mouth shut and tip its head up slightly.

Step 3: Using a plastic eyedropper or dose syringe inserted into the corner of the cat's mouth, place the fluid into the mouth a little at a time, allowing each small amount to be swallowed before giving more.

Step 4: Gently rub the cat's throat to stimulate swallowing.




Method B

Step 1: Place one hand over the cat's head so that your thumb and index finger fall just behind the long canines (fang teeth), the cat's head resting against your palm.

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Method B, Steps 1, 2, and 3

Step 2: Gently tilt the cat's head back so its nose is pointing upward.


Step 3: Push your thumb toward your finger; the cat's mouth will open.

Step 4: Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of your other hand. Use your middle finger to push down on the lower jaw to keep it open. Place the pill as far back in the throat as possible.

Step 5: Close the cat's mouth quickly, and gently rub its throat to stimulate swallowing.

If the cat is difficult to handle, you will need help restraining him or her. If the pill is unusually large, lubricate it with white petroleum jelly or butter.

©Publications International, Ltd.