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How to Give Your Cat Medicine
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How to Give Your Cat Medicine

Cats
Health & Safety

Felines are known for their persnickety attitudes when it comes to food, grooming, and companionship. It can be very difficult to compel a cat to do anything it does not want to do, which can cause problems when it comes time to break bad habits or visit the vet. For some cat owners, administering medicine is amongst the hardest tasks of all! Read on for advice on how to give your cat his medicine, whether it's a tablet, liquid, injection, or topical agents.

Tablets

The easiest way to get any pet to take a tablet is to hide it in a piece of meat or food. This technique it works best with dogs (they are less fussy!), but some cats will happily devour a tablet either their normal food or human-grade morsels. Wet cat food, chicken, tuna, or small amount of cheese make for great accompaniments to medicine, as cats are so enticed by either the smell or novelty of the treat offered that they may not even notice a tablet hidden away inside.Pros: This method works very well with small tablets or occasional treatments, such as wormers. It turns what could be a traumatic experience for your cat into a pleasurable activity and helps your mutual bond.Cons: Some cats are very good at eating around tablets placed inside food, and may even spit out a tablet when you're not looking! Take special care to ensure your cat has actually swallowed the medicine by offering only a small quantity of food, and try to supervise your cat as he eats. Tip: Crushing tablets into food can make administration easier, but always check with your vet if the medication has a special coating or comes in a capsule form, as these drugs usually need to be taken intact.

Liquids

You can try to put any liquid medication in with food the same way you could with a tablet, however a large dose may spoil your cat's appetite. Owners may opt to give oral medication directly by inserting a syringe into their cat's mouth and slowly releasing the medicine. The ideal way to perform this technique is to sit with your cat in your lap, tilt his head back, and use your thumb and middle finger to open his mouth. Then, place the syringe into his mouth at a diagonal angle and release the medicine at a steady pace. Never squirt the medication directly down his throat, as this may cause choking. If you are concerned your cat may spit out the medication, gently hold his jaw shut until you are sure he has swallowed it.Pros: This technique is fast and reliable once mastered. You can be sure your pet has had his medication on time and don't need to worry about wasting drugs or food if your pet won't voluntarily eat his medicine.Cons: Some cats will become fractious when restrained or handled around the mouth, and you may get only one chance to attempt this method before your cat runs away or becomes aggressive.Tip: You can also insert a tablet with this method, but be quick in order to avoid stressing your cat or inciting aggression.

Injections

If your cat develops diabetes mellitus and requires insulin, you may have to master the art of injection. Subcutaneous injections, or injections into the layer of fat below the skin, are usually administered around the back of the neck or shoulder blades. Most cats have an abundant scruff in this area and will be easy to safely inject. Medicating a diabetic cat can be expensive, but it's important to never use a needle more than once - used needles become blunt and can harbour bacteria.Feel the area you are going to inject before you insert the needle to make sure that you will not accidentally hit muscle or bone. After inserting the needle under the skin, always pull the syringe stopper back to be sure you have not mistakenly injected a blood vessel. Avoid injecting air under the skin.Pros: The good news is that most cats are highly tolerant of small needles and many will hardly notice they are being medicated. Many cats adjust well to a daily injection, especially if you make it a positive experience by offering treats and cuddles.Cons: There are strict rules regarding the disposal of used needles, and you won't want to keep them in your home for long. Speak to your vet about organising a needle disposal service so you can get rid of needles safely.Tip: If you are concerned about your cat running away when it comes time to give him his injection, offer him a treat or small amount of extra food to distract him; or offer him some of his food well before his insulin is due, and offer the rest whilst giving the injection.

Topical agents

At some point in your cat's life, you are likely to need to apply a topical gel, cream, or liquid to his skin. Be it a flea treatment or eardrops, careful application is necessary in order to avoid irritation or ingestion. Before you apply topical medication at home, always make sure that you understand how much you need to apply as well as where you should apply it. For example, some flea spot-on liquids should be applied as closely to the skin as possible, in an area that the cat is unable to lick. Pro: Topical treatments are usually quick and easy to administer. Cons: Applying medicine to tricky areas, such as the eyes, can require more than one person. Wrap your cat in a towel and handle with care if you have any worries about being scratched.Tip: If your cat is anxious when approached, wait until he is settling down for a nap to apply the treatment. Wear gloves if there is a high risk you may inadvertently get some of the medication on your skin.

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