Administering Feline Medications

The idea of administering feline medications can seemoverwhelming, depending on what the cat medicine is or the form it is in. Forthat reason especially, it’s important to educate yourself about your optionsand to discuss different possibilities with your veterinarian. While it mightseem impossible to medicate your cat, there are many ways to making sure yourcat gets the treatment he needs.

Cat medicine forms vary from pills and liquid suspensionsgiven by mouth to even transdermal gels that get applied on the skin of an ear, beneath the tongue or on the cheek,chewable treats, patches and at-home injections. Finding the right form ofmedication with your veterinarian will help you provide the best treatment foryour cat. Any cat with any disposition can be given medication with persistence and  by experimenting with the various forms of cat medicine available today!

Pilling a Cat

Most commonly, and often least expensively, when you have asick cat, your veterinarian will prescribe an oral tablet or capsule medicationfor your cat. The problem with this is that many people are uncomfortable withthe idea of giving a cat a pill. However, it’s actually quite simple! The videobelow demonstrates how to give a cat a pill:

It’s important to remember that you will not choke or hurtyour cat by placing the pill as far back in his mouth as you possibly can. Infact, the further back you get the pill, the easier it is for him to swallowit, and the less likely he is to get a taste of the coating on the medication.In some cases, getting a taste of a pill can cause your cat to droolexcessively or vomit, so it’s better to try your best to get the pill as farback as possible.

If your cat will absolutely not tolerate being given a pillin the method shown above, there are other things you can try to give your cata pill or capsule:

  • Put the pill in a Greenies Pill Pocket. Some cats will wise up to the fact that the pill is there and eat around the treat, but many “fall for it” and will eat a yummy treat that contains their medication.
  • Crush the pill (if it is safe to do so – check with your veterinarian about whether your particular medication can be crushed and/or if a capsule can be opened). You can then place the pill in a little bit of tuna water or canned cat food to mask the taste. However, be sure to use as small of an amount of food your cat will tolerate to ensure he gets the entire dose of medication. It’s generally best to use a teaspoon or so of food so you know your kitty eats it all!

Generally speaking, it is my opinion that tablets or capsules are the bestform of feline medications because the dosing tends to be most accurate andthe administration of the pill is nearly fool-proof if you give your cat a pillmanually. Even if given in a Pill Pocket treat, it’s usually pretty easy toverify that your cat has in fact swallowed her pill. Some other cat medicine forms,as described below, are harder to verify accuracy.

Other Forms of Feline Medications

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If you have difficulty giving your cat a pill, or if a pillform is not available, you can talk to your veterinarian about other forms ofadministering feline medications. Options include:

  • Liquid Suspensions: Some feline medications come in a liquid form, while other medications can be custom-compounded at a compounding pharmacy. The benefit of custom-compounding liquid medication is that the pharmacies often offer cat-friendly flavoring, like chicken, beef, tuna, salmon, or turkey, which means your cat is more likely to not be bothered by the taste. The disadvantage of liquid medication is that during administration, it can be messy, and your cat may spit small amounts of the liquid out or it can get caught in her fur. This may mean that your cat is not getting her full dose of cat medicine.
  • Transdermal Gels: These are often made by a compounding pharmacy and come in a small syringe. A tiny amount of medication is placed on the skin on the inside of your cat’s ear, in an area with as little hair as possible, and rubbed in using a latex or rubber finger covering. The benefit of this method is that skittish cats are easy to medicate while they are sleeping, and it’s relatively non-invasive and will not require opening your cat’s mouth. The disadvantage is, again, that the dosing may be slightly off, depending on how much medication gets stuck in your cat’s fur instead of applied directly to the skin.
  • Chewable Treats: Again manufactured by a compounding pharmacy, virtually any cat medicine can be formulated into a chewable treat in a cat-friendly flavor like chicken or fish. If your cat likes the taste, this is probably your best custom-compounding option, as you’ll know your cat has completely consumed his medicine.

If you’re interested in trying one of these alternativeforms of feline medications, you should discuss the option ofcustom-compounding with your veterinarian. Many vets already work with acompounding pharmacy and/or would be happy to write a prescription for you.

Less Common Ways to Give a Cat Medicine

Certain feline medications only come in certain formulationsand/or are usually only dispensed for home use with a particular formulation.Most medicines you will give your cat through the course of his lifetimeinclude pills and/or liquid, chewable, or transdermal options. In some cases,though, like with at-home pain medication or insulin for diabetes, your vet may dispense a rarer-used form ofcat medicine such as:

  • Buccal or Sublingual Medication: This medication is usually a somewhat liquefied form and is applied with a syringe to the inside of your cat’s cheek between his gums. Similarly, sublingual medication is applied beneath your cat’s tongue. It does not get swallowed, but is absorbed through the mucus membranes in the mouth. This is often the preferred method of dosing for pain control.
  • Patches: In rare cases, pain medication is given through a patch, similar to the ones used in human medical care. This method is less frequently used, however, because it involves having your cat’s fur shaved very regularly to allow the patch to make contact with the skin.
  • Injections: Sometimes a cat may require injections at home, as is the case with cat insulin for diabetic cats in particular. Injections given at home are given subcutaneously, meaning just under your cat’s skin, not into the muscle or a vein. For more on giving injections like insulin, please see this page.
  • Eye Drops or Ointment: If your cat has an eye-related infection or other cat eye problem, your veterinarian may prescribe a drop or ointment to be applied to the eye.

Overcoming Your Fears of Medicating a Sick Cat

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If your cat is sick or needs medication for any reason, besure to discuss your concerns and reservations with your veterinarian. Also, ifyou’re having difficulty administering medication to your cat, contact your vetright away. Just as with children or us human beings, if a medication should begiven at certain intervals, it’s important your cat always gets her dose ontime. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for when and how to administerthe medicine, and if you’re struggling to do so, ask for help as soon aspossible. Together, you and your vet can figure out the best solution to theproblem.

With all of the different medication forms available, anycat can successfully receive treatment for any condition, as long as you openup any concerns with your veterinarian right away. Different forms of felinemedications may be tried, or sometimes even a different drug will be prescribedto decrease the frequency of administration. Remember there is no shame inhaving trouble pilling a cat, giving liquid medicine, or successfully trickinghim into consuming it, but your vet will have tips for helping you to get yourcat the medicine he needs!

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