GIVE A CAT A PILL...AND LIVE TO TELL ABOUT IT
Having cared for many hundreds of animals ourselves, and
having cared for thousands more at our spay/neuter clinic, we have plenty of
experience giving cats pills. Some are easy; some are the Devil
incarnate. We hope these brief guidelines help you more easily and quickly
give your cat a pill and help you escape unscathed! Better technique
equals less stress on your cat, so practice, practice, practice.
Some people prefer to do this while sitting on the floor
Indian-style with the cat between their legs. To me this doesn't make a
difference as to the ease with which I get the kitty pilled, but it may prove
useful to you until you become experienced at the technique. Some of you
may prefer to have someone stand behind the kitty and put their hands on each
side of the kitty's haunches while you learn the pilling technique. This
can help keep the kitty from backing away from you while you get the technique
Assuming you're right-handed, reach over the top of kitty's head from the rear
with your LEFT hand.
With your thumb on the right side of her mouth and your index or middle finger on the other side,
both more than half of the way to the front of her mouth, pull back on her head until her
pointing toward the ceiling. I've found that the cat is less likely to
fight you if you use just your thumb and one or two fingers versus grabbing the
cat's entire head with the palm of your hand (like you'd "palm" a
basketball). Her mouth will likely drop open a bit out of reflex.
[The reason you pull the cat's
head back so the nose points at the ceiling is that this is your power
position. if you try to go in from the front, with the cat's head
parallel to the floor, the cat has too much control and power, and this
is when you're likely to be less successful AND stand more of a chance
of getting bitten.]
While holding the pill between your right thumb and right index
finger, use your right middle finger to open her lower jaw more by putting your
finger on her lower front teeth and pulling the jaw down. Then, either drop the pill all the way back in her mouth (as far back on her tongue as you
can see) or drop it there, then give it a quick poke with your right index finger to force it a bit further down her throat.
End of step one.
Allow her head to return to its normal horizontal position, but don't pull
your left hand away yet. Slide your left hand forward so that your left thumb
is under the front edge of her chin and your left hand's fingers, without space
between them, are on her forehead just above her eyes. You're holding her
mouth closed, but not putting pressure on her throat. Blow
(not more) quick blast into her nose to stimulate her swallow
reflex. End of step two.
Immediately scratch her on the head, pet her, tell her what a good girl she is
and what a good job she did. Use as calm and low a tone of voice as
possible. Put right down in front of her a cat treat,
dollop of whipped cream, dollop of yogurt, dab of wet food, etc. You can use whatever treat
she likes best. The point is to make her forget all about what she just
went through and associate getting a pill with getting praise, attention and a
treat or food.
Once you get the hang of the pill-giving part, you should be able to do it in
about 2 seconds. The less time it takes, the less she'll dislike it.
(Duh.) Our housecat Gracie, who takes Paxil every morning to help curb
her aggression and territorialism (which manifested as indiscriminate
urination in our house), even runs to a designated spot in our kitchen and when she knows it's time for her pill/treat/praise/attention.
I hope this helps everybody. I've pilled hundreds of cats probably
thousands of times, including many quite fractious/feral types at our I-CAN
Nonprofit Feline Spay/Neuter Clinic, and I rarely have the procedure go awry or get nipped.
You can do it, too, once you get the hang of using my method. Show
the cat you're not afraid of getting bitten and the cat will let you
assume the dominant role. Done correctly, you'll be amazed at how
effortless this procedure can be.