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General Health & WellnessTraining & Behavior

Training Your Cat to Love Medications

By February 6, 2024 No Comments

One of the biggest problems cat owners have is when their cat needs medication. You’ve seen the veterinarian and technician do it and it seems easy, but when you try at home, your cat may become frightened, run away or hide, and struggle and accidentally scratch or bite you if they are very scared. You cannot imagine how you will be able to do this day after day, whether it is short-term or long-term. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be a challenge!
Learning to give oral medication is an important step. Fortunately there are tricks to maintain the wonderful relationship you have with your cat while treating it. In fact, for me and my cats, it has become one of the most fun parts of the day!
The easiest methods are to find a treat or food that your cat really likes and mix or hide the medication within. Instead of forcing your cat to take it, call “Treat” and this now becomes a fun way to medicate. If your cat does not need medication, this is still a great time to start. Start by giving a treat as below once daily. Give to all cats if possible because a cat will become suspicious if the other cats don’t get it!
Here are some examples of “treats” which work to hide medications

  • Pill Pockets (several different flavors, although chicken is the most popular with my patients)
  • Canned food or Fancy Feast enough to hide powder or well-crushed pill (some pills are bitter and don’t work so ask your veterinarian)
  • Cheese in a can: Cheez Whiz, Easy cheese, or other
  • Pill paste or Pill Masker
  • Anything else your cat likes to eat that is not toxic (Poisonous foods for cats include onions or onion powder, grapes or raisins, and chocolate)
  • Bonita fish flakes

Some cats will never fall for hiding medication into food and others have food allergies and cannot have these tasty treats. The good news here is that it is very easy to train a cat as long as the rewards are highly desirable for them. Start by training a cat to sit by taking a favorite treat or food and it close to the cat’s nose and slowly moving it up over the head. As the head goes up, the bottom goes down. Say “sit” calmly when the bottom goes down and reward immediately with the treat. Do this once to twice a day until your cats learn the pairing of the word “sit” and the behavior of sitting. Never get impatient and don’t do it too frequently or your cat will be suspicious of your behavior.

The next step is to quietly and calmly come from the side or behind and massage your cat’s face or muzzle. Give a treat. If your cat is not interested, do it again tomorrow until it becomes routine. If you are already brushing your cat’s teeth, the next step will be easy. Hold the cat’s muzzle and slightly open the mouth. Give a treat. The next step will be to cradle your cat – my preference is with them on the floor turned away from me but with their hind end gently between my legs to keep them in place. Again reward this behavior. Another option is to use a towel to swaddle your cat. The first video demonstrates this. Always remember to give your cat a treat if still problems.

Pictures and videos make this more clear and here are some good suggestions:

How to Give a Cat Medication

How to medicate a cat

Giving Oral Medications to a Cat
Examining and Medicating the Eyes of the Cat
Examining and Medicating the Ears of the Cat

Some cat owners may still have challenges depending on their cat or their own health. Having a technician come in to medicate your cat or bringing your cat to the veterinarian for medications are all options. If you are still having problems, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We are always happy to help!