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.
- 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
- 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.