Giving your cat a tablet doesn’t have to be an impossible task. Follow this guide to become a pro at pilling your feline companion.

ragdoll cat with a blue collar sniffing a treat in a person's hand

Before you start

Gather these items before you begin:

  • The tablet
  • A soft treat or delicious food to hide the pill in or use as a reward afterwards
  • A quiet, comfortable space
  • A large, soft towel, for wrapping if needed

Optional items:

  • A pill cutter or crusher (if allowed by your vet)
  • A pill popper
  • Feliway (a calming pheromone) to spray on a towel or the surface area you will use. Feliway is particularly useful if you have an anxious cat.

How to hide a tablet in your cat’s food

If your cat is food-motivated, hiding the pill in a treat or a small amount of their favorite food can be an effective method of medicating your cat.

Step 1: Make the pill smaller (if permitted)

You can use a pill cutter to split large pills or a crusher to crush the pill to a powder form that can be easily hidden in a small amount of wet food or a treat. Make sure you check with your vet that it’s okay to cut or crush your cat’s pills to mix into food first.

Step 2: Hide the tablet in a small portion of food or treats

Small pills can be hidden in a piece of warm chicken or cat treats. Crushed pills can be mixed with some canned tuna/tuna in spring water, your cat’s favourite wet food, or a paste tube treat.

When trying to hide medication in food, don’t hide it in their usual full wet food meal portion as some cats will start to go off their food if they become anxious about their food being tainted. There’s also a risk that they won’t eat all the food in that sitting, which means they won’t get the full dose of medication they need.

Instead, mix their medication with a smaller portion of food that they’re fed separately. Alternatively, you could hide the tablet in a type of food or treat they love but aren’t fed regularly.

Step 3: Feed them a bit more un-medicated food

Once they have eaten all the medicated food, give them their usual food.

Long-haired brown tabby cat with white snout and paws standing up against a person's legs, begging for food

How to tablet your cat without food

Step 1: Secure Your Cat

If your cat is calm, you may be able to hold them in your lap. Otherwise, consider restraining them in a ‘kitty burrito’ or ‘purrito’. This method of restraint involves gently wrapping them in a towel so their whole body and legs are tucked together within the confines of the fabric. Only their head is left exposed, preventing scratching and excessive movement.

Step 2: Open their mouth

With one hand, gently tilt your cat’s head back to encourage them to open their mouth. If they resist opening their mouth, apply gentle pressure on the sides of their jaw, just behind their whiskers.

Step 3: Place the tablet in their mouth

Using your free hand, quickly, but gently, place the pill at the back of your cat’s tongue. You want to place the pill where you can still see it on the cat’s tongue, but as far back as you can.

If using a pill popper, aim for the back of the tongue and press the end of the device to dispense the pill. Take care not to put the end of the pill popper deeper than you can see, as your cat’s windpipe starts just beyond the base of the tongue.

Step 4: Make sure your cat swallows the tablet

Close your cat’s mouth and briefly hold it shut as you gently stroke their neck or blow on their nose to encourage them to swallow.

Step 5: Give your cat some food or water

Immediately after giving the tablet, offer a favorite some food or water. This reduces the risk of irritation in the cat’s and encourages the tablet to move down into the stomach, preventing it from getting stuck in their oesophagus.

Brown and white tabby cat crouched before a white bowl, licking their nose

More tips for pilling a cat

  • If you’re giving a medication that needs to be given with food but you’re not mixing it together, it is best to get your cat to eat something just before you tablet them.
  • You can try “train feeding”, where you give a couple of treats without pills inside, so the cat thinks the food is fine, then feed a treat with the hidden pill, then have another normal treat ready to go straight after quickly.
  • If giving a tablet in treats or food, break portions up to small enough sizes so there will be minimal or no chewing, as a larger piece will make them chew and they may discover the pill more easily.
  • Always check with your vet if the medication can be crushed or needs to be given whole.

If your cat is particularly difficult to medicate, please discuss your struggles with your vet. There may be alternative medication options available. This can be especially helpful and important with long-term medications.