How to Administer Medications to Your Cat.

 

Let’s start with pills or tablets:

 

Many cats only need to visit the veterinarian for routine health care, but sometimes they need treatment for illness or injury. This often requires giving medication, which can be a confusing, scary and difficult thing to do. Medication is sometimes given in pill form, liquid, topical or injectable.  With practice, giving pill form medications can be quick and easy. 

Some medications can be hidden in a small amount of food, such as tuna, peanut butter, small amount of butter, canned cheese spread (Cheez Whiz®) or cream cheese, but you must make sure that your cat swallows the medication. You must also be sure that the medication can be taken with food. Some cats will eat the food and spit out the pill. If hiding the pill in food is not working, try the following.

  • Firmly grasp your cat’s head using your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, use your left hand. Grasp on top of the head, just on top of the ears with the thumb on one side of the face and the fingers on the other. Avoid holding the lower jaw and do not hold it so tight that it is uncomfortable or the cat cannot swallow. You may need someone to help hold the front legs and chest of your cat to hold him still. Some people find that wrapping their cat in a towel or blanket is a good restraint technique.
  • Once his head is held in place, raise the nose to point toward the ceiling. The mouth should then open. 
  • Use your other hand to administer the pill. Place the pill between your thumb and forefinger. Use your little finger, ring finger or middle finger to lower the jaw by applying pressure to the teeth between the lower canine teeth. 
  • After the mouth is fully open, place the pill as far back in the mouth as possible. Avoid placing your hand too far into your cat’s mouth. You may stimulate the “gag reflex” and this will make the experience unpleasant and make future medication administration attempts more difficult.
  • Close your cat’s mouth and hold it closed. Gently and briefly rub your cat’s nose. This should stimulate him to lick his nose, which results in swallowing.
  • The quicker you perform this procedure, the more cooperative your cat will be.
  • Always remember to praise your cat and maybe offer a treat after receiving medication. This will help make future medicine times easier.

 

How to Administer Liquid Medication to your Cat

Several medications are available in liquid or pill forms. If you feel that the liquid form would be easier to give to your cat, make sure you ask your veterinarian if this option is available.

Most liquid medications come with an eyedropper attached to the lid. If the medication does not come with an eyedropper, using an individually purchased eyedropper or oral syringe will also work.

As a reminder:

1 ml = 1 cc

5 cc = 1 teaspoon

15 cc = 1 tablespoon

  • Draw up the prescribed amount of medication in the eyedropper or oral syringe. 
  • Firmly grasp your cat’s head using your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, use your left hand. Grasp on top of the head, just on top of the ears with the thumb on one side of the face and the fingers on the other. Avoid holding the lower jaw and do not hold it so tight that it is uncomfortable or your cat cannot swallow. You may need someone to help hold the front legs and chest of the cat to keep him still. Some people find that wrapping their cat in a towel or blanket is a good restraint technique.
  • Once his head is held in place, raise the nose to point toward the ceiling. The mouth should then open. 
  • Place the tip of the eyedropper or syringe in the mouth just behind the long canine teeth in the area where there are either no teeth or small, flat teeth. 
  • Advance the eyedropper until it is just past the tooth line (jaw bone).
  • Slowly administer the medication and be careful not to give it faster than your cat can swallow. 
  • Be prepared for some spitting of the medications. If this occurs, do not re-administer another dose unless you feel the entire dose of the medication has not been given. 
  • The quicker you perform this procedure, the more cooperative your cat will be.
  • Always remember to praise your cat and maybe offer a treat after receiving medication. This will help make future medicine times easier.

 

Give us a call if you need help or a demonstration on how to apply this to your kitty.

 

 

Administering Topical Medication to your Cat

New flea and tick products are most commonly associated with topical application but other drugs are also available, such as antibiotic creams and ointments for wound care. 

Some topical medications include an applicator for easy administration. For flea and tick products, once applied to the skin, the medication is absorbed by the skin, where it enters the bloodstream. From there, it is distributed throughout the body. Some, like antibiotic creams and ointments, are intended to work primarily at the site of injury, although a small amount does get absorbed into the system.

Administration of topical medication is quite simple but it requires your pet to remain still for a brief time. The medication needs to be placed in an area that the cat cannot lick. If the medication is intended to treat a wound, your pet may need an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking the wound and medication. For flea and tick treatments, the best recommendation is to place the medication on the skin between the shoulder blades. 

Try the following method:

  • Hold the applicator upright and snap off the tip to allow the medication to flow out of the applicator.
  • Hold your cat still. Your cat can be standing, lying down or even sitting. Just make sure you have access to the necessary area.
  • For flea and tick products, read the instructions on the medication to determine if the manufacturers recommend applying in one area or multiple areas.
  • For wound treatment, follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on the frequency of medicating the wound.
  • Place the tip of the applicator through the hair and place directly against the skin or against the wound.
  • Squeeze the applicator until all of the medication has flowed out of the applicator. Try to avoid application of the medication on the hair.

 

Administering Injectable Medications

Some cat diseases require periodic administration of injectable medications. Frequently, this is done by the owner at home. If you feel uncomfortable administering injectable medication, discuss alternatives with your veterinarian. The most common diseases that require injectable medications are diabetes and allergies. Proper administration of these medications will help ensure your cat’s continued health.

Injectable medications can be prescribed for either subcutaneous or intramuscular use. Most medications that veterinarians dispense for owners to give at home are for subcutaneous use. Discuss the proper route and technique with your veterinarian prior to administering the medication at home.

For drugs that can be administered via subcutaneously, you can try this method:

  • Clean the surface of the medication bottle with an alcohol-coated cotton ball.
  • Insert the needle and syringe into the rubber top of the medication bottle.
  • Invert the bottle and draw up the prescribed amount of medication.
  • Make sure there are no air bubbles in the syringe.
  • The skin between the shoulder blades tends to be the easiest way to give injectable medications. The skin does not need to be cleaned with alcohol prior to administering these medications.
  • Hold the syringe with the needle exposed in one hand.
  • With the other hand, gently lift a small piece of skin between the shoulder blades, at the base of the neck.
  • By lifting the skin, an upside down “V” will be formed by the tent in the skin. Insert the needle into the center of this “V” or tented area of skin. 
  • Once the needle is inserted into the skin, draw back slightly on the syringe plunger, but make sure no blood flows into the syringe. If you draw blood, you’ve hit a blood vessel. Remove the needle at once, and find another location in the skin.
  • If no blood is seen in the syringe, push the plunger into the syringe in order to administer the medication. 
  • Let go of the skin and make sure there is no liquid on the surface of the skin. If there is moisture on the skin, you may have inserted the needle through all layers of skin and out the other side of the tented skin. If this occurs, contact your veterinarian before re-dosing.Remember, if you feel uncomfortable administering injectable medication; discuss other alternatives with your veterinarian. If you are having difficulty, call our office and we can set up time for one of the technicians’ demonstrate the technique for you. 

 

 

Flavored Medications as an Option

 

If you have a finicky pet that needs medication and refuses to take it willingly, there is some help available. Physicians and pharmacists realized long ago that adding certain flavors to medicine could greatly increase a child’s willingness to take the medication. This was a great help for parents who for years have had to fight, plead and cajole to give their children much-needed medication.

Finally, veterinarians and pharmacists have realized that what works in children also works for pets. A number of specialty pharmacies throughout the country have come up with a variety of flavors that, when added to medication, can make pets more willing to take their medicine.

Some of the flavors available for cats include chicken, sardine, tuna or seafood. For dogs, beef and chicken are available. There are even fruit-flavored ones such as apple and cherry for rabbits and rodents.

If you are interested in obtaining flavored medications for your pet, ask your veterinarian about getting medicine from a compounding pharmacy. We have established relationships with certain pharmacies and can special order certain flavors. Call us if you have any questions, 360-715-1430

(Thank you to Pet Place for parts of this article.)

 

How to Administer Medications to Your Cat