If you search for “monoclonal antibodies”, most of the search results are about COVID-19 and its variants. But did you know that monoclonal antibodies form the basis of the newest treatment for arthritis in cats? This new treatment is called Solensia.  Solensia is a monthly injection for arthritic cats that won FDA approval this  month. It should be available through your veterinarian later this year.

arthritis in cats: a tale of biotech and a chinese hamster


what are monoclonal antibodies?


  • Monoclonal: refers to a cell or organism that comes from a single individual or cell.
  • Antibodies are proteins in the blood that our immune system produces to counteract a foreign substance such as a bacteria or virus (think COVID-19).

antibodies and the immune system


Immune cells in our bodies called B-lymphocytes mount a response to a foreign substance or antigen (e.g. a virus), binding to it and deactivating it. The presence of the antigen and immune cells called T cells activate the B-cells. The B cells then propagate and release antibodies that are able to bind to and deactivate the specific antigen that stimulated their formation!

Monoclonal antibodies are derived from clones or copies of activated B cells. They can be harvested and grown in the laboratory and used to fight infections caused by the antigen they were developed to target.

Where do monoclonal antibodies come from?


  • Blood cells from convalescing patients: Due to the large numbers of convalescing COVID patients, there was a ready source of blood cells containing B-cells with antibodies to COVD 19 that could be used to make monoclonal antibodies to treat newly infected patients.
  • Transgenic mice: Mice that have been genetically altered to carry human antibody genes instead of mouse antibody genes are the usual source for monoclonal antibodies. These mice can be injected with a specific antigen and produce fully human antibodies that can be used by human patients to combat that antigen.  Being human antibodies, they are less likely to be rejected by the human immune system.

Arthritis in cats: using monoclonal antibodies


Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a protein that is key to the development and survival of nerve cells or neurons, particularly sensory neurons that transmit pain, temperature, and touch sensations.

When NGF binds to pain receptors inside the sensory neuron, a series of events is triggered that ultimately sends a “pain” signal to the brain.

Instead of binding to a structure on a virus, monoclonal antibodies can be developed to recognize and attach to NGF, preventing NGF from binding to the pain receptors on the sensory neruron, blocking the pain signal.

Motion is Medicine

A reduction in pain means our arthritic cats will be more likely to move around more. Increased mobility will strengthen the cat’s muscles, so they can better support and assist the deteriorating joints.  Increased activity and reduced pain result in a better quality of life.

Biotech Magic

The active ingredient in Solensia is frunevetmab, a monoclonal antibody that targets NGF. The antibodies are sourced from Chinese hamster ovary cells. Like the mice that have human antibodies instead of mouse antibodies, the hamster cells are “felinised”using recombinant biotechnology. Sections of the hamster antibodies are replaced with their feline counterparts. “Felinization” ensures that the cat’s immune system will not reject the monoclonal antibodies but allow them to function as part of the cat’s immune system.

Of cats and hamsters: no hamsters harmed


Frunevetmab is sourced from the cells of Chinese hamster ovaries. In fact, cells from an individual Chinese hamster, harvested back in the 1950s, produced the cell line which dominates biotechnology today. These cells are easy to propagate and maintain in the lab, providing a ready source of monoclonal antibodies.

multimodal therapy for arthritis in cats


Solensia is a pain medication and does not directly aid in preserving the synovial tissues. Most likely, Solensia will be part of a multimodal treatment that will include drugs and supplements like Adequan or glucosamine that are thought to help maintain synovial tissues in addition to weight loss and exercise.

Unlike other arthritis pain treatments such as NSAID’s, monoclonal antibodies are eliminated in the same way other proteins are, with minimal effect on the kidneys and liver, a concern for our cats with Chronic Kidney Disease.

Treatment using Solensia will consist of monthly injections under the skin. Most cat owners can become proficient in giving subcutaneous injections and treatment can be done in the safety and comfort of the cat’s home.

Thanks to a Chinese hamster years ago and advances in biotechnology, our cats may be able to spend their “ golden years” without pain from osteoarthritis!

 

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cat in carrier with removable topMany of us (cat owners) dread taking our cat to the vet. There is the ordeal of the carrier and car trip; once there, your cat seems miserable. However, regular veterinary care is the key to a happy and longer life for your cat. Can medication before your cat’s vet visit help?

Not every cat needs medication at the vet.  Some cats are fine just having some familiar things with them.  Familiarity can help reduce situational anxiety – the anxiety you experience when you are in a strange place. Things we can do to increase familiarity for your cat at the vet visit include:

  • Training her to be comfortable in her carrier
  • Choosing a carrier with a removable top to allow examination in her carrier
  • Getting her used to the car and taking her on some drives that don’t end up at the vet
  • Bringing your cat’s favorite treats
  • Spraying the carrier with pheromones (Feliway) before the visit

For some cats, this may not be enough. Your usually nice kitty becomes a raging demon or just freezes like a rock and doesn’t move – both reactions can be the result of anxiety and fear.

I recently took my youngest cat in a for a rabies vaccine and to have a tooth evaluated. Gus accepted handling and food but had a whopping heart rate of 230 beats per minute! He was anxious even though I was there with him.

We would like our cats to associate good things with going to the vet but they may not be feeling well when they are there or they anticipate getting poked with a needle for vaccinations or blood tests.  So, when the carrier comes out, your cat may associate it with negative emotions and understandably becomes anxious.

Anxiety actually has a function in our lives – worrying about something in the bushes pouncing on you probably saved a lot of cavemen and feral cats; anxiety can improve your physical and mental performance. But anxiety at the vet clinic does not benefit your cat and can actually make things worse. An unpleasant visit can become an unpleasant memory.

Medication before your cat’s vet visit


Have you ever had elevated blood pressure at a doctor visit?  Anxiety before medical appointments is common for people as well as cats.  Because cats don’t speak human language, we can’t reassure them and let them know exactly what is happening. It is worth considering medication before your cat’s vet visit to help reduce his anxiety.

Gabapentin and trazodone are two medications commonly used to reduce the stress of the vet visit.  These medications must be prescribed by your veterinarian.

Gabapentin


  • Developed as an anti-convulsant
  • Has anti-anxiety properties – reduces the release of excitatory neurotransmitters
  • Is a pain reliever

Gabapentin is commonly used in the veterinary practice to reduce anxiety in cats.  There have been a few studies evaluating fear and stress in cats having taken gabapentin – these studies found a reduced CSS (cat stress score) after administration of gabapentin.

The typical dose is 100 mg given 1.5 – 2 hours prior to the vet visit. Frequently, a dose is also given the night before. Doses can vary for individual cats – some cats may do well with a 50 mg dose while others may need 150 mg.

Gabapentin is available in capsules, liquid and small tablets.

  • Capsules: The capsule is opened and the powder is mixed in a small amount of tuna fish or canned cat food. Gabapentin is bitter and some cats may not eat it in food. The capsules may also be given using a pet piller or a squeeze up treat.
  • Liquid: The liquid may result in foaming at the mouth.
  • Tablets: Gabapentin can also be compounded into small, flavored tablets – these can be given in pill treats.

Your cat may be a little sleepy or wobbly after taking gabapentin. You may want to watch kitty near the stairs or jumping up on things!

Gabapentin is a pain reliever for cats – reducing pain may be one of the ways it helps reduce anxiety and fear

 

Trazodone


  • Antidepressant that is commonly prescribed for insomnia and depression in humans
  • One of its side effects is drowsiness

There have been a few studies looking at cats receiving trazodone. One study in particular found that the CSS (cat stress score) was the same in the treated group as the group receiving the placebo. So, trazodone appears to be more of a sedative (makes you sleepy) than an anti-anxiety drug.

Typical dose is 50 mg given by mouth 90 minutes before the stressful event.

  • Can result in lower blood pressure in cats
  • There is a risk of serotonin syndrome if used with other anti-depressant medication such as fluoxetine (Reconcile).
  • Available as a tablet or can be compounded into a liquid or capsule form.

 

There is increased interest in identifying medications to reduce stress and anxiety in cats at veterinary visits. We should expect to see more medications becoming available in the near future.

Medication before your cat’s vet visit can be part of a low-stress veterinary visit.  However, it will be most effective  when combined with training to reduce situational anxiety and low-stress handling techniques.

As for Gus, I will make sure to give him some gabapentin before vet visits.

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Giving your cat a pill can be a challenge for many cat owners. Often, the pills are bitter or seem too big. The veterinary staff demonstrates the technique but when you get home, you end up with a cat under the bed and the pill on the floor!

I had medicated cats before I became a veterinary technician, using a plunger style pet piller. In tech school, I adopted a 3 yr old Birman cat, Marley, who needed a daily dose of medication for anxiety. It was a daily struggle giving that little blue pill, which could end up in his mouth, but I often found it under the bed or in the hallway on the floor.  Marley would see the pet piller in my hand and run.

Giving your cat a pill – daily medications


So, I cringed when my cat Athena was found to be hypothyroid after radioactive iodine treatment. She needed thyroid pills twice a day. She is a cat who could be difficult to handle alone. However Athena liked the soft treats the pill was hidden in, and life was good, for a time….

After a while she tired of the pill treats and we were back to the drawing board. I turned to some low stress techniques –  I first offer Athena a treat, then the treat-coated pill, and follow with a few more treats.  When I adopted Zelda and Gus, who will eat anything that is not locked up, I finally trained all the cats to sit in a circle and stay, while Athena takes her medication. Then all the cats get treats!

I still have to “pill” Athena occasionally – she does not like having something slid down her throat and quickly goes back to eating the pill by herself. 

cat whispering – pill training


Giving your cat a pill for a chronic condition can be different than medicating her when she does not feel well. Say she is diagnosed with pancreatitis or an upper respiratory infection. Either one of these can reduce appetite and then your cat is not interested in treats. This is when having done some “pill training” comes in handy.

If you are doing a treat time every day or a treat time a few times a week, mix it up a bit and give some treats using “pilling” techniques.

A Pet Piller to give medication
A pet piller with a hard treat.

Treats by Pet Piller

  • Start by offering your cat the pet piller with a lickable treat on it.
  • Then try offering hard treats using the piller
  • Get your cat accustomed to having you behind him while giving treats.
  • When your cat needs medication and he is not well enough to take it in treats, the pet piller will be familiar.

 

Giving your cat a pill – think outside the box


Sometimes, you need to think outside the box when giving your cat a pill. A few months ago, my youngest cat, Gus, got loose with his harness and leash on when we were hiking. After 2 hours, we found him – his harness and leash were gone, and he was painful when walking. An MRI of his spine showed lots of inflammation but fortunately, no nerve damage. He was so painful that he would growl when he changed positions. His appetite was down and taking a pain medication in a treat was not an option.

I considered using the pet piller since he is familiar with it but then decided to try a technique I had recently seen at a conference on senior cat care. This technique uses one of the popular “squeeze up” treats for cats that come in tubes (Delectables, Churu).

Cut the end of the tube so that you can squeeze the paste up for the cat to lick.

Put the tablet or capsule in the opening.

Squeeze the tube and the tablet goes up into the cat’s mouth with the paste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

giving your cat a pill – practice makes purrfect!


Why wait until your cat is sick to come up with a strategy for giving your cat a pill? Do some “pill training” – set aside some time to accustom your cat to different ways of taking “pills” (disguised treats).  When the time comes to give that pill, your cat will be familiar with the pet piller or squeeze-up treat and you will have had some practice with pilling.

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Zelda gets a snack from a plastic cup

Feeling “gutsy”? “Butterflies” in your stomach? These are the signs that your brain and your gut are communicating with each other. There is constant “crosstalk” between these two organs.

The tiny microbes that call the gut their home form a community or “microbiome”.  Some of the ways this microbiome communicates with the brain are:

  1. Millions of neurons line the GI tract and signal the brain of changes in the microbiome.
  2. If the brain triggers the release of fight or flight hormones, the movement of the intestines and the content in them changes.
  3. The GI microbiome affects the development of neural systems that control stress.
  4. Gut microbes can affect immune cells in the GI tract. These changes are picked up the neurons in the walls of the GI tract.
  5. Gut microbes produce short chain fatty acids and neurotransmitters that directly affect the brain.

Our cats are also mammals with a similar gut-brain communication. Imbalances in your cat’s GI microbiome can result not only in diarrhea but also can affect mood, anxiety, and conditions such as dermatitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

How and what we FEED our cats affects the microbiomes in their guts. As we learn more about how the gut talks to the brain, we are finding specific ways to influence these microbiomes through diet. This gives cat owners a low-stress way of managing their cats’ health by feeding them.

probiotics for cats


A microbe is microorganism, usually a bacterium, that causes disease or fermentation. We can influence the GI microbiome through prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics.

  • Prebiotics refer to indigestible fiber that feeds the “good” (beneficial) bacteria in the GI tract.
  • Probiotics are live bacteria or yeast that are beneficial to the health of the host – human, cat, dog… – who consumes them.
  • Synbiotics refer to the combination of pre- and probiotics – fiber and bacteria/yeast.

The bacteria/yeast can be freeze-dried and packaged as a supplement. The bacteria remain in a “dormant” state until they are exposed to the right conditions of acidity, temperature and water and become active and “live” once more.

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS FOR YOUR CAT’S GI MICROBIOME


Some of the more common probiotics for cats include Fortiflora and Proviable.

Fortiflora is manufactured by Nestlé-Purina. The supplement contains the bacterium E. faecium SF68 and has been shown to reduce viral and antibiotic-induced diarrhea in cats. A newer version of this supplement, Fortiflora SA, includes the prebiotic psyllium, resulting in an improved resolution of diarrhea. Fortiflora has also been studied with regard to reducing side effects from feline herpes virus.  Fortiflora is available over the counter; Fortiflora SA is available through your veterinarian.

Nutramax Proviable is another powdered synbiotic for cats found to be effective in  resolving feline diarrhea . Proviable contains seven strains of bacteria: E faecium,
Streptococcus (Enterococcus) thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L bulgaricus, L casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and L plantarum. Proviable is available over the counter.

Another probiotic on the market features the bacterium Bifidobacterium longum, that has been shown to help cats and dogs stay calm. Calming Care is a Purina product available over the counter.

a diet to maintain your cat’s gi biome


Hill’s Pet Nutrition has developed a canned and dry diet for cats designed to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome. The food incorporates a blend of prebiotics designed to encourage the growth of “good” bacteria in your cat’s intestines.

Research on cats at the Hills Pet Nutrition Center showed that feeding the “biome” diet increased the “good” bacteria and post-biotics – those short chain fatty acids (SCFA) from fiber fermentation. SCFA are thought to regulate processes in the Central Nervous System and ultimately shape behavior and cognitive function.

MORE ABOUT probiotics for cats


A company called Animal Biome offers to tailor the use of probiotics to the individual cat or dog. The company cites problems with the “one size fits all” approach using probiotics to manage the microbiomes. The composition of the your pet’s microbiome is identified using DNA sequencing. Supplement therapies are available to restore your cat’s microbiome balance.
Other companies offering similar services include Nom Nom and MIDOG.

Probiotics provide us with additional ways to manage not only GI upset but possibly anxiety, skin issues and IBD in our cats. More research should identify additional probiotics for cats that target specific conditions.

SHOULD I USE PROBIOTICS/SYNBIOTICS FOR MY CAT?


For an occasional bout of diarrhea, a probiotic such as Proviable or Fortiflora can be effective. If the diarrhea persists or recurs, see your vet.

Prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics are dietary supplements and, as such, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many dietary supplements claim to treat medical conditions and are basically unapproved drugs.

a word to the wise…

Stick with the supplements that have some clinical studies supporting their use. The supplements mentioned in this post are used in many veterinary clinics, have substantial amount of research supporting their development, and are safe to use with your cat.

postscript…

I am moving into a new home and I am concerned about how the process of moving will affect The Feline Purrspective team. As things are getting boxed up, some of my cats were more clingy; my ex-feral cat seemed edgy and paced more. I decided to give the Calming Care supplement a try. So far, the kitties do seem calmer after about a week on the supplement, although, maybe they are just getting used to the moving boxes!cat in moving box

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We want to feel good; we want our cats to feel good. Supplements that can be bought over the counter are popular. The claims are appealing – there are dietary supplements to make you feel happy, calm, or pain-free; there are also essential oils that make  similar claims.

Supplements for Cats -Which Ones are Safe and Effective?


The Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is a branch of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The CVM regulates food and drugs for animals. There is not a separate category for animal supplements – a supplement is either determined to be a food or a drug. If the product claims to treat or prevent disease, it is a drug.

There are many veterinary supplements available over the counter. Many of these supplements claim to treat medical conditions, for example, urinary tract infections, and are basically unapproved drugs.

An Unregulated Market


Unofficially, supplements for cats are treated like supplements for humans – they are not reviewed for safety, effectiveness or quality prior to being marketed. The active ingredient can vary among different supplement brands. If problems arise with one of these supplements while it is being sold, the FDA can take action against the manufacturer – this process would most likely take a long time.

The National Animal Supplement Counsel is a group of supplement manufacturers that is trying to regulate the safety of commercial supplements. They require their members to provide a certificate of analysis indicating potency, per-dosing unit, all ingredients and the presence of metals or pesticides.
Cat with catnipn plant
Marley nibbles (supervised!) on a catnip plant. A little catnip is OK; too much can cause GI distress.

Herbal Supplements for Cats


Herbs like chamomile and lavender are touted as calming for humans. These herbs can actually be toxic to cats. There are few clinical studies showing any benefit of herbal infusions for cats. Even catnip is not 100% safe – if a cat eats too much of the herb, he can have vomiting and diarrhea. Do your homework with herbs and check their safety.

Essential Oils and Cats


Just because something is natural does not mean it may not be harmful. Essential oils can be found in diffusers and can also be applied topically. Many of these oils are actually toxic to cats.

  • Diffusers release droplets of these essential oils into the air. If your cat breathes in these toxic droplets, her lungs can become inflamed. She may cough, vomit or drool; her eyes may water. In some instances, your kitty can develop pneumonia.
  • Topical administration of essential oils also present risks due to toxicity and possible ingestion. Kitty can ingest the oil while grooming.

Human Drugs/Supplements – NOT for Cats!


  • Cats’ DNA lacks certain genes that code for some of the enzymes that metabolize human drugs and supplements. Notable examples are aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
  • The length of time a drug stays in your cat is different than how long it remains in your body – they are smaller and have a gastrointestinal tract that is different than ours.

     

Dietary Supplements for Cats


There are lots of supplements on the market meant for cats to take by mouth.

  • If you are feeding a high-quality cat food, supplementation with vitamins and minerals is most likely unnecessary.
  • Other popular supplements for cats include fatty acids for skin/haircoat and joint support, such as glucosamine.
  • While most of these supplements are safe, consult your veterinarian regarding which supplement to buy and how much to give.

 

Choosing a Supplement for Your Cat – An Example


What do you need the supplement to do?

Make an older cat with arthritis more comfortable.

Are there any environmental changes that can help?

Steps to high places, heated beds, low walled litter boxes, daily play time can help. Caring for Your Older Cat

Clinical studies for this supplement?

Few clinical studies for cats – some studies in dogs

What form is the supplement? Will you be able to give it easily?

Glucosamine  and Green Lipped Mussel come in capsules and chews; Adequan is an injection that is approved for dogs that can be used in cats

Side effects? Other concerns?

Arthritis supplements may effect how long it takes for your cat’s blood to clot – they must be dosed properly.

If your cat is overweight, losing weight can reduce the load on her joints.

Is your cat on any prescription drugs? Are there any interactions with these and the supplement?

Your veterinary team is your primary resource when navigating the stormy sea of supplements. Your veterinarian can recommend a supplement if your cat needs one, advise you of possible side effects and monitor your cat while taking the supplement.

If you are concerned about the feline expertise of a veterinary practice, consider choosing one of the American Association of Feline Practitioners’   Cat Friendly Practices.

Cat Accepts pet piller

 

 

The easiest way to avoid the drama of giving your cat pills is to train your cat to accept medication. Establishing a daily “treat time” can be fun and rewarding for your cat. The idea here is to get your cat accustomed to accepting “fake pills” – treats that are wrapped in pill pockets, cheese, or liverwurst. When your cat needs medication, she is already used to accepting treat-wrapped things.

Getting Ready


  • choose the place and the time – try to go to the same place every day around the same time.
  • cats don’t tell time, so pay attention the household routine – maybe treat time should be after dinner time or before bed time.
  • Have everything ready when giving the “pill”. Have a chair or stool nearby to park treats and “prepared” pills on.  If you are giving a capsule, have some butter to lubricate the capsule.
You may want to train your cat to a particular mat or blanket that is used just for treat time!

Method 1 – Starting from Scratch


  • Lure your cat onto the mat or blanket using treats or a toy.
  • Once on the mat, reward with several treats and head rubs.
  • Work up to having your cat accept a “blank” pill in the stream of treats.
  • The next step is make a “fake” pill – break a treat into small pieces. Wrap one of these pieces in the pill treat, cheese, or liverwurst.
  • Put the doctored treat in the stream of the treats.

   Method 2 – Using Previously Trained Behaviors


 

 

 

If you have trained your cat to target and sit, it is easier to train your cat to accept medication.

  • Using your target stick (or chopstick or laser pointer), direct your cat to the “pilling” spot and reward her with a treat.
  • Ask your cat to sit and again offer a treat.
  • Offer your cat the “blank” pill followed by a treat
  • Work up to offering the fake pill.
  • End session with the all done signal and another treat.

Method 3 – Train Your cat to Accept Medication Using a Pet Piller


I find the piller particularly useful when you are faced with giving a capsule.

  • Start by offering a treat on the piller – you can start with having your cat lick some baby food or pureed treat off the piller.  This will get him used to having the piller in and around his mouth.
  • Offer hard treats using the piller; work up to using the plunger to put the treat in your cat’s mouth.
  • Accustom your cat to getting the treats off the piller with you behind him.
  • Give a stream of treats with the “fake” pill in it.
  • End the session with a reward and the all done signal.

Something to consider: If the medication you need to give is bitter, putting it in a capsule lubricated with some butter or petroleum jelly avoids risking your cat biting into a bitter pill.

It is a good idea to have your cat get used to you being behind him when offering the treat on the piller. This gives you more control when offering the pill and kitty will be more focused on the treat than on you giving the pill.

 

Where the Pills goes

 

Giving your cat a pill is not difficult if she will readily eat the pill in a treat. However, she may refuse to eat her medication in a treat if the medication is bitter or she does not feel well. Regardless, she needs her medication.

Other Techniques for Giving Your Cat a Pill


What about giving the tablet or contents of a capsule in his favorite food?

Pros


  • Not very stressful for your cat
  • Some medications, for example, the antibiotic doxycycline, are associated with inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus when given directly
  • It is often recommended to open the doxycycline capsule and mix the powder in tuna fish (or other strongly flavored food)

Cons


  • Many pills are bitter and may result in your cat refusing to eat his food
  • If you mix the crushed pill in his food, he may not get the full dose if he does not eat the entire portion
  • If your cat is on a restricted diet for, say, food allergies, avoid putting crushed pills in his food – you don’t want him to develop an aversion to the one kind of food he can eat
  • If you need to give medication in food, choose a different food than the one your cat usually eats.
  • Limit the amount of this “doctored” food to about a teaspoon, so that you can be sure your cat gets his full dose of medication

  • Make sure your cat is hungry when he is offered the medication in food – you may need to pick food up several hours before giving medication.

Giving Your Cat a Pill “by Hand”


Often, you will get a demonstration of how to pill your cat at your vet. The accepted technique is to hold your cat’s head like a baseball with your non-dominant hand, tilt his head back, gently open the lower jaw with your third finger, then pop the pill in as far back in the throat as possible with your index finger. Often, the vet team will recommend “massaging” your cat’s throat to help him swallow the pill.  IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO FOLLOW THE PILL WITH SOME FOOD, WATER OR TUNA JUICE.

This technique takes practice to master and a wily cat can still manage to gag and spit the pill back up! At the veterinary hospital giving a pill may seem to go smoothly – Please remember, the veterinary team pills cats frequently AND your cat is not in the comfort of his home.

Using a towel wrap when pilling


Does your cat like to snuggle? She may appreciate a towel wrap or a ThunderShirt when being medicated to make her feel more secure.  A towel wrap is also helpful if your cat paws at your hands when you are giving the pill.

Test your cat’s acceptance to these when NOT giving a pill. Your cat may struggle initially with towels or pressure wraps but should calm and STOP struggling. Count slowly to 5 – if she is still struggling at that time, these are not for her.

Giving Your Cat a Pill using a “Pet Piller”


A Pet Piller to give medication

Another technique to aid in giving oral medication to your cat is using a pill gun. A pill gun is a plastic tube with a plunger. The tip should be soft so that it does not cause any trauma to the throat when pilling.

Introduce your cat to the pill gun by letting her examine it and lick some baby food or other treat off the end. If she likes hard treats, see if she will take a treat from the pill gun.

  1. Lubricate the tablet or capsule with petroleum jelly or butter.
  2. Load the lubricated tablet into the pill gun.
  3. Have some snacks ready for rewarding your cat after the pill is given.
  4. Kneel down on the floor and gently snug your cat between your legs – this will keep him from backing up, away from the pill gun
  5. Hold kitty’s head gently and
    gently guide the piller into the side of Kitty’s mouth.
  6. Depress the plunger to release the pill.
  7. REWARD!

Contercondition Pet Piller

Offer Treats with the Pet Piller


Guiding the Piller into Kittys mouthGuide the Piller into the side of Kitty’s mouth


 

Pilling a Cat with Pet Piller

Work the Piller toward the back of the mouth and depress the plunger


 

Giving My Cat a Pill is Impossible!


If you are running into difficulties…Take a break and come back to giving the pill in 15 minutes or so.
Are there other treats you have not tried – “lickable treats” in tubes? Chicken baby food? Catnip or playtime?
Talk to your veterinary team – are there other forms of the medication?  Some medications are effective as transdermal gels that can be applied to the inside of your cat’s ear; other medications can compounded into flavored tablets or liquids or given by subcutaneous injection.

Make giving the pill a positive experience – have something good happen!

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!