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Kitty Korner: Tips for Administering Liquid Medication
May 30, 2014

Medicating your cat is usually a daunting propsal. When dealing with pills or tablets, you can often disguise the medication inside of a tasty treat (but even then our cats seem to know when a pill is hidden inside and will refuse the offering). Giving your cat an oral liquid medication can feel almost frightening to many cat owners - we know how much they can struggle when restrained and we hate to cause them any discomfort. The best thing to do is to remember this is truly for their own good and try the tips listed below to help make giving liquid medication to your cat as easy and stress free as possible!

The easy way first

The easiest way to give your cat liquid medication is to mix it in with some canned food. To ensure that all of the medication is ingested, it is best to give a small amount of food that the cat is certain to eat rather than a large portion that the cat may not complete. You can even try adding the liquid to a small amount of tuna water either by itself or mixed in with wet or dry food (as long as you are sure your cat will drink/eat most of it). Some cats may be unwilling to eat the food or may have dietary restrictions that prevent you from using this technique. If this is the case, you will need to administer the medication directly into your cat's mouth.

How to proceed

Prepare an area where you can safely handle your cat. Have the medication ready and in a place where it will be easily accessible. If you are administering the medication by yourself, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain your cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed (for a little kitty purr-rito!).

The first few times, it may be helpful to have someone else hold your wrapped cat while you administer the medication. Make sure you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions. Verify that you are administering the correct drug and amount. Shake the medication gently if required prior to drawing the medication into the syringe or dropper. You may want to complete this step prior to holding your cat in position.

Hold the syringe or dropper containing the medication with your dominant hand. First, allow your cat to lick the medication from the tip of the syringe as you slowly depress the plunger. Your cat may accept the medication more readily if it is warmed to room temperature.

If your cat is not interested in licking the liquid, gently take them by the scruff of the neck and pull the head back.  The mouth will then open slightly.

Place the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth, just behind one of the canine ("fang") teeth.

Advance the syringe so it is placed in the mouth just inside of the teeth. Be sure to angle the syringe slightly to the side. You do not want to forcefully inject the liquid straight into the back of the throat. This can increase the risk of your cat inhaling or aspirating the liquid.

Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so your cat has time to swallow the liquid and breathe.

Most cats will spit out some of the medication. DO NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was taken.

Rinse the syringe out with warm water, and refrigerate if appropriate.

We know it can be challenging to give medication to your cat – especially liquid medication! Hopefully these tips help. If you absolutely cannot administer the liquid medication by yourself or with a partner talk to your veterinarian about what alternatives may be available. And while it can be inconvenient, you can always bring your cat into our hospital and have a vet tech assist in the process.


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