Ashton just finished fourteen straight days of medication, and she may be the most difficult cat to administer pills ever in the family. I have given literally thousands of pills to all of my hyperthyroid cats over the years, but medicating Ashton without traumatizing her is nearly impossible.
The problem with Ashton is she doesn’t like to be restrained or held in any way. After her recent dental, I brought home liquid medications for her, and wrestling her into taking them traumatized not just her, but the other cats, too. When both Pierre and Ashton hid and didn’t come out for dinner, I knew something had to change.
Ashton needed to take her medication willingly, and that meant hiding from her that she was taking it at all.
The first step was to switch from liquid medication to pills, which are easier to disguise for a food-driven cat like Ashton. Then I had to find something to hide the pill in. There are several products on the market specifically meant to hide pills. For Ashton, I chose chicken flavored Pill Pockets, because Ashton loves chicken, but you can’t hide a pill in actual chicken. If your cat is partial to a flavor that they don’t offer, there are other pill pastes and wraps. They important thing is to find a flavor your cat likes.
The key to successfully pilling a cat while hiding food inside anything is not using too much stuff around the pill. If there is, cats seem to chew it off and spit the pill right out, So for this pill, I broke the pill pocket in half and knead that around the pill so that it wasn’t too thick. Every time I do this, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be enough treat to cover the whole pill, but it is.
Next, I give the empty half of the pill pocket as a treat. Ashton can smell the chicken flavor and waves her paw to ask for it. Since she is eating raw and only gets freeze-dried treats most of the time, this is pretty exciting for her.
After that, I offer the treat wit the pill hidden inside. Can you tell Ashton is right-pawed by the way it’s nearly always her right paw she waves when asking for her treat?
She eats the treat without ever realizing there was a pill in it. I sometimes worry that my sigh of relief will give me away to her when she does eat it!
Once she has eaten her pill, Ashton gets another treat. This is important to make sure she isn’t hiding that pill somewhere in her mouth. Ideally, after you give a cat a pill, you should syringe some water into her mouth to get her to swallow, but since syringing anything into Ashton is so difficult, we make do with additional treats to ensure she swallows.
By this time, Pierre has figured out that Ashton is getting something he isn’t, and he wants treats, too. That’s part of the reason I usually have extra pill pockets on hand for this process!
Does this look like the face of a cat who knows she just got medicine? Not a bit, and that’s exactly the way we want it to stay.
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