(Photo: By Maggie on Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
by Nomi Berger
While some cat guardians are either extremely blessed or exceptionally adept at getting their furry family members to swallow pills whole without issue, most pet parents seek a safer (sneakier?) solution, known unscientifically as “hiding.”
Sound all too familiar? Then you already know that the challenge lies in disguising the pill or capsule’s smell and taste (some smell and taste worse than others) by placing it in something tempting enough for your cat to consume. Consider then, the following suggestions as “food for thought.”
Pill pockets: Available at all pet supply stores in various shapes, sizes and flavors, and made by numerous manufacturers, they have built-in pouches to easily hide your cat’s medication. Select the all-natural treats made with such finicky feline favorites as chicken or salmon for the greatest chance of success.
Commercial cat treats: Whereas pill pockets are basically treats with a hole in them, most soft and pliable cat treats can be turned into pill pockets. How? By pressing the pill into the treat and “rebuilding” it with the pill inside. Varying flavors will keep kitty keen and prevent her from becoming bored.
Freeze-dried raw food cubes: Some cat caregivers give their cats this chilly choice by soaking a cube in warm water for a few seconds until it’s soft. They break the cube in half, place the pill inside one of the halves, and watch the cube disappear in a single swallow. The other half is then given to the pleased-as-punch puss-in-boots as a well-earned reward!
Because the next two suggestions require crushing the pills into powder, please ask your prescribing vet if they CAN be crushed. Some pills contain substances that may irritate your cat’s delicate digestive tract if administered directly, and are, therefore, safe only when swallowed whole.
If you’re cleared to crush, you can either pulverize the pill in a designated pill crusher found at any pharmacy. Alternatively, if the pill is small enough, it can be ground into powder between two spoons.
Tuna: The strong scent seems to mask the smell of the “medicinal powder” enough for most felines to feast on it with little fuss. Flaked tuna is easiest — provided there’s more tuna than powder – and once it’s been thoroughly mixed should be served at room temperature. (Since too much tuna can be dangerous to cats over time, use it in limited amounts).
Whipped cream and cheese spray: Both serve as smooth, slippery base substances for crushed pills that keen kitties will gobble up with gusto.
Should your cat either spit out the pill or refuse to swallow the “spiked” foods, don’t give up. It may simply be a matter of trial and error and experimentation with various techniques.
When all else fails, speak to your vet. Some medications can be administered in liquid form or as injections while some pills can be turned into a trans-dermal gel that you put inside your cat’s ear where it’s absorbed through the skin.
But, no matter the problem, there IS a solution – for you and your favorite fur ball.