Sep 25 2015

How To Pill A Cat And Not End Up In The Hospital

Just adopted a kitten?  Well this may be the best piece of training advice you will get from anyone!  Already have an adult cat it is not too late it just may take more time and more patience.

Over the last 23 years of being a veterinarian in Abbotsford, one of the most difficult things I have to solve has been finding ways for owners to be able to get medication into their cat.  We have pills and liquids and chews but cats quickly tire of you popping things into their mouths.  Cats are not about to gobble up a pill hidden in a peanut butter ball and most are too smart to try and be tricked by hiding the medication in their food.  I have read, seen and heard some crazy things when it comes to medicating a cat including spitting into the cats mouth after you drop the pill in, not something I recommend.

As a kitten owner, or owner of a young adult cat, you may not be thinking 15 years down the road when Tigger has high blood pressure. Oh sure it is easy enough to control, just a pill once a day, everyday, for the next 3 to 5 years.  Yes there are the few cats who are great to medicate, but typically I have owners stare at me blankly when we discuss treatment.  They have images running through their head of wrestling their precious Tigger and knowing that the innocent cat quietly sitting on the exam room table will instantly turn into and fierce creature able to make a grown man cry.  I know the owners want to do what is best for their cat, but both of us know that Tigger will win the battle and we will be lucky if he manages to get his medication 50% of the time.

So the magic trick is to train your cat to take medication by practicing with tuna when they are young.  YUP!  Pill you cat or kitten everyday with a small amount of tuna until he/she is well trained.  Your kitten/cat will love the treat and will become familiar with the motion of you putting things in his/her mouth.  As an added bonus you are actually also training yourself so that you are a proficient “piller”!   If the time comes when you actually have to go to battle with real medication you are confident and not afraid of hurting your cat or your cat hurting you – and sometimes this is half the battle.


  1. Do not do your training sessions when the kitten or cat is all fired up and is doing her daily sprints around the house.  Choose your training time wisely so you do not set yourself up for failure.
  2. Watch the video so you learn the technique.
  3. Never force your kitten or cat.  Once you scare them then it is much harder to train them so always progress slowly.  So for some cats your need to just start with petting and holding his head – stop and then give a reward.  After a few weeks, when your cat is comfortable move on to raising the head.  Gradually as your cat gets used to each step then progress to the next step.
  4. Once your kitten/cat is well trained you decrease the daily “medication of tuna” but you want to make sure you still do it on a regular basis – say monthly – so your cat doesn’t forget the training.


Now watch this great video so you can learn the technique of pilling a cat.  This video actually will go through many different ideas of how to get medication into your cat and gives some great suggestions!

Many years from now when your veterinarian is recommending medication for your cat’s thyroid condition you will be glad you took the time to do this!

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