At some time in your cat’s life, he will probably need to take some medication. Giving pills or injections to a cat can strike fear into the most stalwart cat guardian! The best way to proceed is to find out what works best for your cat – what will make taking the pill or getting the injection the most fun. 

Medicating your cat : The feline purrspective…




From the cat’s point of view, taking a pill is unnecessary and unpleasant. When you least expect it, your person levers your mouth open and shoves something down your throat. You feel like you are going to choke! You gag and spit that thing back up; then run and hide.

As cat guardians, we don’t wish to distress our cats but we do want them to take their medication. After all, we just spent money for an exam and possibly diagnostics to find out why our cat is not feeling well! We just want her to feel better. Medicating your cat can be feline friendly – pick a spot, pick a treat, and give the pill!

cat in prefeered spot
A favorite spot with a soft blanket.

Pick a Spot

Does you cat have a favorite spot, a preferred basket she sits in, a blanket she likes?

Make this spot pleasant – offer treats, attention, play time here.


What does your cat like?

Does you cat have particular treats that he values? Can we get something that is special – say some of the lickable treats, chicken baby food, crunchy hard treats? If your cat is not all that food-motivated, pick up food a few hours before giving medication. He will more inclined to eat the pill if he is hungry.

Establish a Routine

Offer your cat treats or head rubs when in her favorite spot.
Get her favorite spot ready and give the medication close to the same time every day.

You may think that surprising your cat and sneaking up on him to give pills would be a good way to pill him – after all, he is not expecting it! But…sneaking up on him can result in his being fearful and hiding from you – after all, you may be coming with the dreaded pill at any time! A routine lets him know the pill comes at particular time and once the pill is taken, it is over with.

Medicating Your Cat – taking a pill in a treat or a stream of treats

Your cat is in her favorite spot.  What next?

You can use a commercial treat such as “Pill Pockets” – these are soft, flavored treats with a modeling clay consistency – to disguise the pill. Break a small piece off the pill pocket and mold it around the pill. Alternatively, you could mold a piece of sliced cheese, a bit of liverwurst, or anchovy paste around the pill.  Some cats will eat the pill in a treat.

Your cat, being a solitary hunter, may be suspicious of this new food item. You may need to entice him to accept it. If your cat has treats he likes, you can start by offering a treat, followed by another, then a “blank” (the pill pocket without the pill), followed immediately by more preferred treats.  Wait a bit then offer the treats, the pill in the pill pocket, then more treats.

Give the medication around the same time every day in the favorite spot. You may find your cat will anticipate the activity and go to her spot and wait.



Be Creative!

Let’s say your cat likes laser pointers.  You may be able to guide him to a treat with the pointer, then the pill wrapped in the pill pocket, then another treat. Finish with a fun laser pointer session.

“My cat is not falling for these tricks and she needs her tablet! ” Each cat is an individual and each medication is different. In the next post, we will look at other ways of making your cat feel safe and secure, and giving a tablet or capsule using traditional pilling or a pet piller! 

Cats staring

Do you have a cat that is picked on by your other cats? Everyone else seems to get along okay but this one cat seems to be singled out for torture.  He or she does not fight back, just tries to slink away and hide. You may have heard the term pariah used for such a cat – a pariah is an outcast, someone who is not part of the general social group.

Often, one or more cats will pick on the “pariah”. These feline bullies may..

  • stalk and track their victim
  • stare directly at their victim
  • attack her or him
  • prevent the pariah cat from using critical resources – litter boxes, food, sleeping places.
  • Bullies can exist within any multi-cat household – like human bullies, they tend to pick on the timid, old or sick that respond to threats.

Why should you intervene when cats don’t get along…

  1. The victim may develop a stress-related illness due to the constant threat presented by the bully.
  2. A out and out cat fight may result – fear and anxiety can lead to overt aggression on the part of the bully or the victim.
  3. Unlike the outdoor colony, the victim cannot vote with his or her feet and leave.

In an outdoor colony, “membership” is loosely “managed” by the group of core females. If a cat pushes the limits with bullying behavior, the core females may drive him or her off, if they perceive a threat to their kittens or resources.

Our indoor colonies rarely have a group of mother cats at the core – as the surrogate mother cat, the cat guardian must police the bullies and promote harmony in the group when cats don’t get along.

When cats don’t get along: the bully/pariah emergency

First Aid: Separation

  1. Separate the cats involved. You may need to redirect the bully (with a laser pointer, wand toy) to allow the other cat to escape or separate the cats physically and herd them away from each other
  2. Remember cats are socially flexible – they can live alone or in groups. Put your pariah cat in a room of his or her own with litter box, cat tree, food and water while you figure out what to do.  The pariah may need to remain in this room for several weeks.  Make sure to give him or her attention and play time!

Assess the Situation:

  1. Identify the social groups in the house : identify the bully(ies), the pariah(s) Social Groups of Cats
  2.  Evaluate resources – enough litter boxes, feeding stations, water sources? Are these separated so that all cats have access?
  3. Is there enough room for cats to avoid each other? Try to “think like a cat” and draw the paths a cat must take to get to his food, water and litter boxes.  These paths must give enough room for cats to pass each other comfortably. Beware of potential ambush spots – you may need to move some furniture.
Houseplan cat resources
A sketch of your home can help with locating resources, eg. litter boxes


Your cat is indoor-outdoor and is being bullied by a neighborhood cat…

  • keep your cat inside or accompany her when she goes outside
  • identify the aggressor cat and where he or she comes from
  • if possible, speak with the owner and find out when the bully cat goes out and see if a time-sharing arrangement can be worked out


Restoring Harmony…

Once you have gotten the cats separated, consider veterinary exams to determine if any of the cats are sick. Sickness can be frightening to healthy cats – their housemate may not smell right or behave quite right.
If all cats are healthy, make a plan to reintroduce cats slowly and gradually with some environmental modifications if needed. Introducing Cats: A Short Guide

Other Options if Aggression continues or become worse…

  1. Consider re-homing the victim.
  2. Under the direction of your veterinarian, give the victim and/or bully anti-anxiety medication and implement a behavior modification plan. If you decide to choose this route, make sure you are willing to work with your cats daily to desensitize them to each other. 

When Cats don’t get along: A Tale of Two Siamese Cats

Demian and Rupert were two neutered Siamese cat who had lived amicably for over a year. Rupert would bully Demian, stalking and attacking him; there were no injuries.  The tables turned one day and the victim became the aggressor – Demian stalked and attacked Rupert and backed him into a corner behind the toilet in the one bathroom in the 1 bedroom apartment.  Demian would not let Rupert move. After separating the two cats, Demian went to stay with a family member for about 10 days.  Fortunately, we were able to reintroduce the two cats afterwards.

How Cats Get Along – Timesharing

Sharing Resources


If there is plenty of food around, free-roaming cats often form groups called colonies. Within the colony, there are smaller social groups of 2 or more cats that prefer to spend time together. Cats belonging to a particular social group, will share food, water, latrine areas, sleeping and resting places.

Social Groups of Cats

Timesharing in the Cat Colony

Cats in different social groups tend to keep their distance from each other.  How cats get along is to “timeshare” or “take turns” using essential resources such as resting areas and feeding stations. When one  social group is done, another cat or group of cats will move in to use the resource.

Timesharing in the Multi-Cat Home

Like cats in a colony, cats in a multi-cat home timeshare resources. You may notice that different cats will occupy a particular favored resting place at different times. If you watch carefully, you may see a cat watching this place, waiting for the resident cat to vacate the space, before moving in to use the space.


Cats Timesharing Bed
Cats timesharing a resting place – one cat will use this bed if the other is not in it

If there are enough beds, litter boxes, etc. available, this system usually runs smoothly. But if too many cats want the same thing, bickering can occur and more dominant cats may push other cats away from these resources. How cats get along in an outdoor colony may be to vote with their feet and move on – indoor cats do not have this option.

Cat society does not have a rigid hierarchy – there is no alpha male or female. There are simply some cats that have more dominant personalities.  Unlike dogs, where a lower-ranking dog will surrender the prize to a higher-ranking dog, cats don’t have a hierarchy that dictates who gets what.

If a fight arises between cats over resources, the relationship between the cats involved may be damaged – they may not be able to tolerate each other after this. Needless to say, if the contested resource is a litter box, cats may be forced to find other places to eliminate and we, as caretakers, will not be happy.

In this video, 3 cats have worked out a way to avoid fighting over the nighttime treats. While not timesharing, the video shows resource sharing set up by cats.

Owner Managed Timesharing

If the cats are unable to timeshare resources on their own, we must set this up for them.

Setting up a Timesharing Plan

Diagram social groups cats
There are 3 social groups in this 4 cat household.

Identify social groups

Social Groups of Cats

House map cat resources
A simple sketch of your house can help with locating litter boxes.

Map out locations of the primary resources: feeding stations, litter boxes, resting places, scratching posts

The Cat Friendly Home: Litter Box Basics

Feeding stations for cats
Gus is much more relaxed when eating away from the other cats.

Are there enough feeding stations, litter boxes, beds, scratching posts? The rule of thumb is (#cats +1) or (#social groups + 1)


Are resources separated enough so that cats of different groups can access them?


Can access to these resources be blocked by another cat?


Is there enough room for cats from different social groups to pass each other “out of paw-swipe”?

If resources cannot be spaced appropriately and conflict continues, you may need to keep one social group in another part of the house, while the other is using the main area.  Have different social groups use critical areas in shifts. Slow, planned re-introduction may be possible between cats who “have fallen out” with each other. Introducing Cats: A Short Guide

Managing multiple cats in a confined, indoor space is a balancing act. We must ensure that all cats have access to essential resources and be able to use them without fear.

Carrier Training Your Cat

Cats tend to be homebodies. Most are not very fond of traveling. However, with some training and attention to their needs, trips to the vet and even cross-country do not need to be a traumatic experience.

Choosing A Carrier for Your Cat

There are lots of options out there. The traditional plastic box works well; it is secure and easy to clean. Make sure the top is easily removable – some carriers have more bolts (9+) than necessary. If you have one of these, you can often remove about 1/3 of the bolts even if your cat is heavy.

There are more and more styles of fabric carriers – if you are looking for one, choose one that has side panels that open up, or a top that zips open. Think: How will you get your cat out of the carrier?  How will you get him back in (if he is reluctant)?

Make sure the carrier is big enough. Cats are masters at squeezing themselves into small spaces but the carrier needs to be comfortable in case your cat must stay in it for a bit. Your cat should be able to stand up and turn around in her carrier.

Method #1- Feeding in the Carrier


Using method #1 for carrier training your cat, you will feed your cat in his carrier.

Place your cat’s food bowl near his carrier.  Over the next few days to a week, you will move the food closer to the carrier, then put it just inside the carrier, then finally put it in the back of the carrier.

Gus was trapped as a feral cat.  He was reluctant to enter the carrier, so we removed the lid for him.

Once Gus was comfortable eating in the bottom of his carrier, we placed the top on the carrier without the gate.

Once he was willing to eat in the carrier with the top on, we introduced the gate.

First, we had him eat with the gate open; the next step was to close the gate for a minute.  Some food on the gate helped him stay calm for this.

Feeding in Carrier Bottom


Cat eating in carrier


cat closed in carrier

Method #2 – Using Targeting

Carrier training your cat using method #2 is based on a clicker training technique called targeting.

  • you start by luring your cat to the back of bottom half of her carrier using the target stick.
  • once she will sit in the bottom half of the carrier calmly, place the top on the carrier. Have her enter following the target stick and then sit.
  • work up to having her stay for the count of 5
  • once she is calm with this, close the door and have her stay for the count of 5

Extra Credit:

Once your cat is comfortable in her carrier, lure her in with a snack or target stick, close the door and move her to another room. Upon arriving in the other room, open the door and reward her with a snack!

Make sure to take your time.  Cats are individuals and some learn faster than others. You may need to break up the training into smaller steps if your cat is reluctant to enter the carrier.  Gus, a former feral cat, is leery of things that may be traps – it took longer for him to accept the carrier than Zelda, who appears in the video above.

Cat in Carrier

A Better Vet Visit for Your Cat

From Your Cat’s Purrspective…


You know something’s up – your carrier is out. You hide under the bed but your human pulls you out and proceeds to squeeze you into the dreaded box.

You swing along in the air and then are loaded into a larger box that moves and smells funny.

You finally stop moving and swing through the air some more and arrive at another house where you smell lots of other animals. Oh no, not this place again! You can smell other cats – most of these cats too are afraid. As you move through the fog of smells, you arrive in a small room with a metal table.

A strange human opens your carrier door and tries to coax you to come out – you’re not sure what is out there but now your carrier seems like a good place to stay. Suddenly, your world tilts and you slide out of the carrier onto the cold, hard table.

You hiss your displeasure. Another strange human proceeds to look into your eyes, put a hard plastic thing in your ears, and presses a cold metal disc against your chest. Then, the strange human pokes you with a needle and you are finally allowed to escape back into the dreaded carrier – at least, it has taken you back home before.

A Better Vet Visit for Your Cat – What We Can Do

Cat Carrier Comes Apart


  • The plain-vanilla plastic carrier sometimes is the best option – safe and secure, easy to clean, and sturdy.
  • For your veterinary team, the removable top is a bonus. It allows your vet team to work with your cat in a place he knows – the bottom of his carrier.


cats with carrier and treats


  • It should  have a comfortable blanket or towel in it that smells like her.
  • Leave the carrier out a home – your cat may nap or play in the carrier.
  • Offer some food close by or in the carrier for her to enjoy. 
  • Play games in and around the carrier.


Cat and Car
Athena is ready to get in her carrier for a ride!


  • Start with short rides, maybe just around the block.
  • Work up to longer rides to pleasant places – if you have a cat stroller, you could work up to going for walks in the park.
  • ALWAYS move at your cat’s pace – if he is hunched up and hiding, slow down and shorten the ride.



  • Take time at home to handle her feet and head
  •  Work up to gently lifting her upper lip to look at her teeth.
  • Get her used to being picked up.
  • Make sure to reward her with tasty treats!


Spray Carrier Facial Pheromones
Spraying the carrier with feline facial pheromones signals that this a familiar place.



Treats to reward cats


  • Limit kitty’s food prior to the appointment
  • he will be more willing to eat some treats