How To Administer Medication To Your Cat Without Taking Some Yourself


Have you ever tried to give your cat medicine? Do you find it a hopeless task, tantamount perhaps, to making a hole in water? Well, don’t look here for any help. I can’t do it either. I have, however, learned to administer medication to myself in a much better fashion! Read on… if you dare.

As a writer of mysteries and horror fiction, I am no more tested along creative lines than when the hour of the syringe or the pill or the liquid or the ointment has arrived.

Once, when I lived in New York City, one of my cats broke through a screen, went for a stroll along the roof of my building and returned with ear mites. As a generous creature, he could not help but share them. At the time, I owned three cats and the medication had to be dropped into each ear twice a day. That was down to six ears times two. That made twelve ear drops a day with the odds that I succeed barely better than one in ten. Today, most ear-mite medications require application only once a day. Where was that when I needed it?

I now live in a big house in the country and own seven cats. That’s fourteen ears, twenty eight eyes, seven tails, many teeth, seven mouths and twenty-eight legs. My cats don’t go out, and the mites don’t get in.  Still, sickness, like bills and taxes, sometimes happens.

Recently, my oldest cat was quite sick with a malady three vets and numerous tests could not diagnose. After a month all they could tell me was that he didn’t have cancer. All together, the poor creature needed one diarrhea medication, two antibiotics, and a steroid– all to be applied at different times of day with different syringes. I was instructed to administer the second antibiotic in pill form which for me is like that nice song Perry Como recorded a long time ago called: It’s Impossible. The vet made it all look so easy. He took a long tweezers, held the cat’s head back and placed the pill at the very back of its mouth. The cat swallowed the pill. The vet said I would have the same results. Well, he was wrong! I opted for the diluted pill in water and the syringe because by this time I was getting pretty good at using one and only hitting my hair and clothes instead of the cat’s mouth about once in every three or four times.

So how does one administer medicine to an unwilling feline? The first rule of the road is to hide the medication from the cat in question. They are smart and will associate the medicine with a certain place and run if they see you “busy” over there. Just make sure that you remember where you put it. I still haven’t found the last dose of diarrhea medication which is in a small bowl with a syringe all ready to go somewhere in the abyss which is my house.

Put on your running shoes and place yourself in a patience mode. Aim carefully. Cats will give you a run for your money if you should miss your mark. Also, keep a change of clothes and a washcloth nearby because here’s where things can really get messy.

Prepare a stockpile of little dishes and syringes clearly labeled and ready to go. In the case of the steroid, the pill needed almost a half-hour to dissolve while the antibiotic fizzled within about ten minutes. Synchronize your movements. It won’t help, but it will make you feel better. Try a timer to add to the confusion or maybe even more than one placed strategically all over the house.

Pretend that you really are not interested in finding the cat or giving the little darling anything at all. Pretend to not be looking under every nook and cranny of the house. Whistling sometimes helps here. And sometimes it doesn’t. Speak softly and carry your medicine camouflaged in some way. If the cat is not near where you have prepared things, be prepared to travel a bit and seek the creature out. In my case, whenever the medication was upstairs, the cat was downstairs… and vice versa. Perhaps you will have better luck.

If all else fails, try crying. The cat may feel sorry for you and come out of its hiding place. You can only use this once, however, so make sure that you have exhausted all other possibilities. And if all else does fail, return to the vet and cry. That’s what I did and he kept my cat for a few days just to monitor him and make sure he got the medication.

Now my cat is better and he doesn’t need any medication. I, however…

Originally published in Cats and Kittens, 2001.

(photo courtesy of Fotosmile/