How-to guide on giving tablets to cats

Giving your cat a tablet is a common issue that many pet owners face. It can be a daunting task for anyone, but by approaching the task with a calm demeanour and a breadth of knowledge, it can be easier than you think. If you find yourself in the situation where you need to give tablets to your cat, keep reading as we walk you through our how-to guide, so you can minimise the potential stress for both you and your pet.

Before administering any medication to your cat, it’s important to consult with your vet on the best ways to give your cat the care it needs. It’s important to know how often, what time of day and which way the pills should be taken, either by hand or with food. 

Some cat pills can be mixed in with food, while some tablets should not be mixed with food and instead given on an empty stomach. Knowing the restrictions surrounding the specific medications allows for any potential risk to be avoided, and also helps you decide the best way to give your cat its medication. 

It’s also important to be aware of how best to approach your cat. As a pet owner, you’re likely to be familiar with the way your cat reacts to stressful environments, so it’s important to keep in mind that your pet may become anxious or distressed while giving them medication. 

Now that you’ve established the do’s and don’t of giving your cat tablets, there are two main ways in which to get past your feline’s natural defences and give them the tablets they need.

Step-by-step guide on how to give your cat tablets

Knowing your cat and how they behave is essential to knowing how best to approach them when giving them medication. Making sure that both you and your cat are calm when giving them tablets is important, as you don’t want to scare your cat or make them anxious. 

Prior to giving your cat tablets, ensure you prepare everything you may require in advance. It’s also important to have a clear plan of what you will do and to remember to be both gentle and patient with your cat. If possible, it’s a good idea to have another person with you to help administer the tablet, preferably someone your cat is familiar and comfortable with. Often cats will not eat a tablet voluntarily due to the unfamiliar flavour and texture, therefore disguising it within food is an easy way to administer the medication without your cat noticing.

Here are a few simple steps on how to give your cat tablets with food:

  1. Firstly, make sure your cat is hungry! Take away your cats food for 12 hours beforehand, to make sure your cat will want to eat when you give them the tablet
  2. Pick their favourite food. Hide the tablet in food your cat is likely to love. Whether it’s soft cat food, fish or soft meat, the pill is more likely to go unnoticed if they’re eating one of their favourite foods
  3. Make sure the tablet is completely hidden or submerged in food that you’re offering to avoid any chance of them spotting it and refusing it
  4. Give the food and concealed tablet in their usual food bowl or from your fingers, whatever you and your cat usually prefer
  5. Once they’ve eaten the food, be sure to check that they have consumed the tablet and not left it behind or spat it out
  6. As you’re likely to know, cats are clever pets! They may find the tablet buried in food and choose to avoid it or spit it out, in this case, you can choose to crush the tablet and mix it into the food to make it unnoticeable. However, here at Direct4Pet, we would always recommend checking with your vet to make sure this is a safe way to consume the medication

In some cases, specific cat tablets shouldn’t be taken with food, in this instance, you should find a way to give your cat tablets by hand. Some tablets are made specifically to be palatable to cats, which can make it easier to feed them the tablets by hand.

Follow our suggested steps below on how to give your cat a tablet by hand:

  1. First of all you must safely restrain your cat. Make sure they are on a stable, non-slip surface and allow them to sit upright, facing away from you. Carefully hold their front legs down and press gently on the sides of them. This prevents them from running off and controls their legs and claws, keeping both of you safe.
  2. With your cat gently restrained, place the tablet between your thumb and forefinger. With your other hand, firmly hold their head, with your thumb and forefinger tightly extending  either side of their jaw
  3. Tilt their head upwards and use your middle finger to pull their lower jaw down and open their mouth
  4. With their head tilted up, quickly place the tablet as far back on the cat’s tongue as possible. The further back it goes, the easier it is for the cat to swallow it!
  5. Hold their jaw closed for a few moments and wait for them to swallow. You can rub their throat softly to help them ingest the tablet at this stage
  6. If your cat then licks their lips or nose, you know they have swallowed the tablet!

Remember: If your cat shows any signs of distress or pain, stop immediately and contact your vet for further advice.

In some cases your cat may not swallow the tablet on their first attempt. If your cat does not appear to be distressed, you can try repeating the above steps again. This can be made easier with the help of another person who can hold the cat whilst you place the tablet in their mouth or with a pill-giving tool. 

How pill-giving tools can help

A pill-giver tool can help you administer tablets to your cat more easily by ensuring the tablet gets right at the back of your cat’s tongue, avoiding any need to place your fingers in their mouth and running the risk of getting bit by your pet. 

Pill givers such as the Buster pill giver and Catac pill giver are easy to use and safe for your cats. The Buster pill giver features a soft tip that holds the pills whilst also protecting your cat’s mouth. Using the pill giver is simple, simply; 

  1. Fill the syringe with water and place the tablet into the rubber tip
  2. Place the pill giver into your cat’s mouth and press the plunger
  3. It then squirts both water and the tablet into your pet’s mouth and they swallow. Easy!


How do you trick a cat into taking a pill?

From a young age you can train your kittens to take medicine by using treats as an incentive. If you put the effort into teaching your cats to take pills when they’re younger, you can make the process a whole lot easier when it comes to administering medication as they get older. 

Hiding the pills inside of their favourite food is also a good way to trick them into taking their tablets as they will likely not notice it.

Can you crush cat pills?

Yes and no. We would recommend talking to your vet to find out whether it is safe to crush up your cat’s medication to make it easier to mix in with food. 

Certain tablets are able to be crushed into smaller pieces to make giving  your cat pills an easier process, whereas some tablets shouldn’t be divided as it can damage the protective outer coating, which can have negative effects on your cat’s throat and stomach.

How can I give medicine to my cat?

As stated above, you can administer medicine to your cat either through hiding it in food, giving it by hand or using a pill-giver.

It’s important to choose a method which works best for both you and the cat to ensure the cat does not become distressed and you do not run the risk of getting hurt from any scratching or biting that may occur.

Need more information about giving your cat medication?

If you’re still unsure about the best way to give your cat medicine or you need some more advice regarding their treatment simply visit the Direct4Pet website, contact your vet or talk to our team of friendly pet experts at Direct4Pet for further information. 

Simply email us with any questions or concerns you have about your pet and we will be more than happy to help.