Thursday, March 21, 2013

What I know - How I pill a cat


I have been pilling cats for 20ish years, and I have gotten to the point where I feel pretty comfortable pilling pretty much any cat.

I'm careful saying that, as I remember fully years ago when my Tiger got an abscess. After waiting way too long past my scheduled appointment to see the vet, the vet told me I needed clavamox (which I so knew because Tig had many abscesses by that point) and had brought in a pill to pill him.  I warned the vet that Tig was not an "easy pill" and he dismissed me and proceeded to give the pill.  Well Tig was annoyed by his arrogance and ended up biting him so hard he drew blood.  I couldn't have been prouder of my boy in that moment.

Anyway.. This is what I do..

The first and most important is the grab of the head. I am right handed so I use my left hand,  I wrap my hand around the top of the cat's head, keeping my thumb on the right side


I then slip my pinkie behind the head.


This has the effect to keep the kitty in place.  You know how cats try to 'back out' of any situation, and you often have to wedge them against yourself to keep them from backing out of getting pilled, well for most situations and most cats, this covers that need to have someone hold or keep them from backing up.  It isn't perfect, some cats still try, at which point I'll stick a foot, or a leg if I am sitting down, behind the cat.

Next is to lift the head up and point the nose directly to the ceiling.  Doing this will cause the mouth to open slightly..


At this point you have a straight shot to drop the pill down the back of the mouth (aka right in front of the roof of the mouth) and have it land in the throat.  Sometimes you'll do it first shot, but some times you need to stick your finger in the mouth to push it in past the "hump" of the tongue.  This is where my last trick will help a lot.

Insert "pill" here please

You slip your thumb down into the mouth - but you bring a little bit of the lip with you.  This is not painful for the cat UNTIL they try to bite you..  Once they start to bite down it will feel uncomfortable for them and they'll stop.  This prevents you from getting bit, and will give you a few extra seconds to get your finger in there and push the pill into the throat.

Make sure you follow up with a LOT of praise and love and food.  "Dry pilling" which is what this is, can have the side effect of the pill getting stuck in the throat and causing some severe irritation which can then lead to vomiting and anorexia. If your kitty won't eat, then using a syringe with a little water to force the a little water into the mouth and cause some swallowing will help.  Your vet can provide you a needless syringe for just this purpose or you can usually get one at your local pharmacy, or even in the infant department at most major stores.

If you want you can and probably should practice pilling your kitty with treats.  They will be more inclined to let you do it because "fails" will be yummy for them. It will also give you a little bit of an advantage when the time comes as you'll have experience and your kitty will be expecting treats.

18 comments:

  1. My human just puts me on my back in her lap, grabs my head and pops a pill in my throat! But then, I hear I am relatively easy to pill.

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  2. I must say that all my kitties are pretty easy to pill. Some do try to back up but I usually sit behind them and tuck my foot behind my bum to keep them from getting away then I do all the steps you mentioned. The key is to make it quick and accurate so that the kitty doesn't get a taste of the med. :)

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  3. Simba will be waiting for you the next time he needs a pill. 16 pounds of pure jerk, that one.

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  4. Thanks for the advice. I haven't need to pill a cat for a very long time, but am sure I will need to some day!

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  5. I'm dreading the day when the boys will need meds. I've had to syringe stuff into Derry's mouth and sitting on him is worse, he struggles more. Maybe I ought to practice on them with bits of treats! :-)

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  6. Wow, those are some great how-to photos, thanks! And a great reminder to *always* follow up a pill with food or water.

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  7. This is great - the idea of pulling a bit of lip into their mouth is brilliant!!

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  8. I guess I was lucky with Smokey he was easy,I still miss him well at least I have Speedy but he is a pain to get meds into my other 2 buns were easy

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  9. Have to try some of those tricks. Most of the current crew are youngsters, and not real hard to pill, but the pirate girls are older and wiser, especially come pilling time.

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  10. Wow, Love the photos. I never get to see the Vet do it, he’s so quick. And the tip of 'pilling' with a treat for practice is a great idea. This is really helpful, Thanks!

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  11. good one - a nice primer. Can I send you Ivy the next time she needs a pill? :) I had to pill an older kitten at Petco the other night - he let me do it but then gave me the airplane ears for several minutes. haha

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    1. LOL.. I love airplane ears!

      Next time I get kittens I should do a demo on my football hold to pill a kitten..

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  12. I am a failed cat piller I'm afraid!! But have never done it right it would seem! That was a very good illustration of how it should be done!

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  13. Always butter the pill, it will slide past the hump, and it will slide down the throat without getting stuck. ;)

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  14. Um, you don't mind if we keep Mommy from reading this...RIGHT?

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    Replies
    1. would you mind so horribly if she were practicing with something really yummy?

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  15. Thanks for your very thorough explanation of your technique. Our very first kitty had to get a pill everyday and it was always difficult. We always get liquid from the vet cause they know we aren't good about taking pills. Maybe the humans will try it again now that they have a method. Purrs and hugs from the kitties at The Cat on My Head, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette

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  16. Thank you so much for the tips! Our cats are not an easy pill either.

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