As professional pet sitters in Dallas, we are there to take over the regular care of your pets when you need to be away from home. That means trying to emulate the pet’s regular routine as closely as possible while caring for them, so that the pet(s) feel comfortable and calm despite their regular caregiver(s) being absent.
Sometimes this daily routine means having to provide a pet with their regular medication. As many pet owners know, it is not always an easy task to give a pill to a pet! That is why all of our Dallas pet sitters receive training in the best practices of giving pills to pets when they are hired.
Today, we wanted to share some of the pill-giving training tips our stellar Dallas pet sitters receive, in hopes that we can make everyone’s pill-giving experience more pleasant for both the pet and pill giver. These tips were compiled for us by pet behavior expert (and our dear friend), Arden Moore.
Today we will outline two recommended techniques, and their associated steps to follow—the first is utilizing a towel to help give the cat their pill, and the second is using a pill gun.
How to Give a Cat a Pill Using a Towel
- Get into the Right Mindset: Cats are masters at reading our moods and body postures. So be very conscious of your body language and state of mind before you start either process. Take a deep breath. Be calm. Move slowly. Never force or yell at the cat. Gather all the right items that you will need before approaching the cat. Gently pet the cat before and after giving medicine. You want pill time to be paired with love and affection, so that the cat will view it positively.
- Play It Safe: One great technique to utilize when giving a cat a pill that also protects the pill giver is to utilize a fluffy bath towel. It works well with both cats that are cooperative when being given pills, and for those that unfortunately are a bit less than cooperative. A thick towel is ideal for both covering the cat’s eyes and holding their paws in close to their body. This limits movement. It also creates what Arden Moore calls a “purr-ito,” essentially a swaddled cat. When cats are swaddled inside a towel, it has the same effect on them as it often does on babies. It makes them feel secure and relaxed—the ideal state for giving the cat a pill!
- Opening Their Mouth: Once the cat is swaddled and their movement is limited, then proceed by using one hand to open their mouth gently by grasping both sides of their mouth simultaneously near their jawline, and applying slight pressure. This forces them to open their mouth. Then use your 2nd hand to open the front of their mouth like a drawbridge. Have the pill in your second hand so that once the mouth is open you can push or drop the pill into the back of their mouth. Once the pill is inside their mouth, use one hand(s) to close their mouth, tilt their head upwards, and gently stroke the cat’s neck with the other hand. This will encourage the cat to swallow the pill. After about 5-10 seconds of this, the pill should be swallowed.
- Praise and Love on the Cat. Once the pill has been swallowed, be sure to give praise and speak in a loving and sweet voice to the cat. Thank them for being so cooperative and give them some kisses, a treat or two, or some play time with their favorite toy wand. Our Dallas pet sitters know that pairing pill giving with something the cat loves will make the process smooth the next time they have to give the cat a pill.
How to Give a Pill When Using a Pill Gun:
Prepare. Place the pill in the pill gun. If available, place a tiny amount of canned cat food, tuna or other food that your cat likes on the tip of the pill gun to hide the pill and make it smell palatable. Sit behind the cat or position them against a wall so that they cannot back up. Place your fourth and fifth fingers behind the cat’s skull to keep them from moving their head backward.
Position the Cat’s Head. Tilt the cat’s head back and open their mouth with your other hand.
Use the Pill Gun. Insert the pill gun into your cat’s mouth and deposit the pill at the back of the tongue. It is important that the pill is placed as far back in the cat’s mouth as possible so they are less likely to be able to spit it back up.
Massage the Throat. Remove the pill gun and quickly close the cat’s mouth while continuing to tilt their head up. Massage their throat gently to induce swallowing. Scratch behind their ears and speak in a loving tone to them to help make it a positive experience.
Reward Them. If available, follow up with a syringe filled with water or tuna juice to ensure the pill has been properly swallowed. Give them a couple of treats, or play with them for a few minutes. Tell them they are the best kitty in the world.
That’s it. So the next time you need to give your cat a pill, give one of the two techniques we just detailed a try. Our Dallas pet sitters have been trained to administer pills to cats regularly and safely, and we know you can do it too!