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Giving a cat a tablet - without losing your hand!

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

I’ve got skills, they’re multiplying…

Occasionally my vet nurse skills come in handy but sometimes they are of no help to me at all. One of these situations is when giving my own pets tablets. Yes, at work I give tablets to even the most ferocious of cats, but at home I’m making up ham cheese and tablet swirls to get Tillie to eat her medication. In fact recently Hollie has grown wise to the tablets in her sliced ham and I’m reduced to buying pate just for her!  

I completely get the sad faces I see clients pull when the vet prescribes medication and I’m not the only one - there are options out there, if you would prefer not to have to wrestle with your pet to give them their tablets. There are non-tablet options, tasty food and also there’s a way to store medication so it doesn’t taste as bad. Let’s find out the skills we can all use for tabletting our pets.

Disguising the tablets

Hiding tablets in tasty food can seem the least stressful way to offer medication and we get to give a little treat – so we feel better as well! Strongly flavoured foods are best and anything with the consistency to wrap around or take crushed up tablets work well. Just remember, some tablets mustn’t be crushed, and a few can’t be given with food, so check with your vet or vet nurse first.

Over the years I’ve used spreadable cheese, sliced ham and pate, all with varying results. The cheese sticks to the tablets well especially if you can’t crush the tablet. Pate works well for crushed tablets as coarse pate can disguise any crunchy texture and the flavour is usually very strong. For sliced ham we found Tillie enjoyed smoked ham to take her tablets in – watch the video of me making her daily treat here.

Avoiding the tablets

As it’s well known that some pets, especially cats, can make giving a tablet a difficult job, pharmaceutical companies have worked hard to try and offer different ways to give medications. You often find there are palatable tablets, liquids or injectable versions of common medications for cats.

Palatable tablets are flavoured so they taste like a treat or a biscuit and are often eaten as a treat or can be put in their food bowl and happily taken.

LB our beloved smelly old Persian used to love her liquid pain medication and lapped it from the end of the dropper – check her 19 seconds of fame on the video here.

Your vet may offer to give an injection at the practice instead of tablets and this can be handy if you struggle to give medication.

Going straight in

If you decide to ‘pill pop’ then there are some great iCatCare videos that demonstrate giving a tablet to cats, including hiding it in a treat and ‘pill popping’ – check the videos here.

It’s all in the storage

If you are trying to pill pop or mixing tablets with tasty food you want to ensure that any bitter taste from the medication is kept to a minimum and there are a few ways to do that.

Keeping tablets in the fridge can reduce the flavour and if you check the packaging with the tablets it will tell you the safe storage temperatures – it may be as low as 4 degrees as a minimum so the fridge is often just fine.

The taste of medication is increased if the tablets are broken or crushed so only do this if you you really have to and you’ve checked it’s ok for that type of tablet. Keep the tablets in their designated wrapper until you need to use them to keep them in the best condition.

You don’t have to be a pet expert to have the skills to medicate your pet, you just need some help from your vet practice and an idea of what your pet prefers, then you can disguise, avoid or go straight in with tablets – the choice is yours.

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