How to Pill a Cat – A Step By Step Guide to Pilling a Cat

  • Author

  • Pilling a cat is one of the most dreaded aspects of cat care. Cats are smart and will often be able to sniff out any ideas we may have about tricking them into taking a pill such. Hopefully, this article will help cat owners to pill their cat with minimal stress to both themselves and their cat.

    • Using your left hand, place your thumb and forefinger on either side of the cat’s face, on the gum line. Tilt the cat’s head up until the jaw opens.
    • Hold the tablet between your thumb and index finger in your right hand. With the middle finger, place it on the front teeth of the bottom jaw to open the mouth fully and place the pill well onto the back of the tongue. You will see a ‘V’ shaped area, this is the best place to aim for.
    • Close the mouth and blow on the cat’s nose and massage the throat. This will stimulate your cat to swallow. If your cat licks his nose, the pill has been swallowed.
    • Follow up with a syringe full of water to help the pill go down.

    If you have difficulty keeping your cat still, you can try wrapping his body and legs tightly in a towel before administering the pill. Alternatively, you can ask somebody to hold the cat for you while you administer the pill.

    Use a pill gun

    Purchase a pill gun or pill dispenser from your veterinarian or pet shop. This is a hollow plastic dispenser making it easier to get the pill into your cat’s mouth. It also reduces your chances of being bitten.

    • Put the tablet in the dispenser and hold it in one hand.
    • Place your cat on a table and put one hand on top of his head, circling the muzzle with your fingers. With the middle finger, place it on the front teeth of the bottom jaw to open the mouth fully.
    • Place the pill gun onto the cat’s tongue so that the end of the syringe is at the back of the mouth. Push the plunger and release the pill. Remove the pill gun immediately.
    • Close the mouth and blow on the cat’s nose while massaging the throat, this will stimulate your cat to swallow.

    Difficult to pill cats

    If your cat is proving difficult to pill there are several methods you can try.

    • Wrapping your cat tightly in a towel and following the instructions above.
    • Have somebody help hold the cat while you give him/her the tablet.
    • Gelatine capsules can be purchased from some suppliers. These are empty capsules in which you put the tablet in, making them easier to administer.
    • Compounding pharmacies can take a tablet and compound it into liquid form, which carers may find easier to give to their cat.
    • Some medicines may be able to be administered via injections, speak to your veterinarian about this.
    • Transdermal patches are an alternate way to give medicines or drugs to a cat. These patches administer medications through the skin, usually via the inside of the ear which has considerably less hair.


    Pilling a cat

    • Make sure you follow the dosage instructions and finish the entire course.
    • Never give pills to a cat that are for humans (such as aspirin).
    • Avoid breaking up pills. Some tablets have a protective coating that delays the release of the medication in the intestinal tract.
    • Always store cat medicines separately from human medications to avoid administering the wrong drug to your cat.
    • One person should be responsible for medicating the cat to reduce the chances of him receiving a double dose of medication.


    • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

      Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio