One thing to keep in mind is that cats will do their best to make pilling difficult. Cats are not too fond of having their mouths pried open, let alone allowing you to insert a pill in their mouth. Some cats will salivate excessively, so it is very important that you learn how to pill a cat quickly and efficiently.

STEP 1: Restraint

There are three ways to restrain a cat:

  • Restraint 1: Kneel on ground. Place the cat between your legs with its face near your knees. Squeeze slightly with your legs just enough so the cat won’t escape.
  • Restraint 2: Use a towel to restrain if the cat is too wiggly. Wrap the cat up like you would if you were wrapping a burrito/taco. Be careful not to wrap too tight. If needed, this can go with step 1.
  • Restraint 3: If you have someone available to help, have them hold the cat on a table cradled next to their body. Have the person hold the front legs and chest tight so the cat can’t get away. You can then concentrate on giving the pill, not chasing the cat.

STEP 2: The actual pilling

  • Put your “off-hand” on top of cat’s head. Place thumb and forefinger on the side ridges of face, just behind jaw. Gently raise the head until it points to the ceiling in an upward position.
  • As the mouth opens, use your other hand to hold the pill and press down on lower jaw, dropping or pushing the pill as far back on the tongue as possible. If this is not easy to do, you may use a piller, which is a device designed to make pilling easier to do.

STEP 3: Making sure the pill has been swallowed.

  • Once the pill is placed in the mouth, close the mouth making sure you or your partner still have a firm hold on the cat. Rub the throat and nose, or blow into the cat’s face softly to get the cat to swallow the pill. The desired result is to get the cat to lick its nose, which forces the swallowing action. When the cat has swallowed the pill, you may offer a small amount of water to wash the pill down.
  • When finished give lots of praise to your cat. If these techniques do not work, please call Lodi Veterinary Care and we can assist you with any problems.


  • It is not ideal to crush the medication and mix with food. Most often your cat will detect the medication and refuse to eat it. You will also not know if the entire dose of medication was ingested.
  • Coat the pill with butter. This will allow the medication to slide down easier.
  • Greenies Pill Pockets for Cats are available at Lodi Veterinary Care. These meaty pockets provide you with a means to hide the medication in a tasty treat most cats will like.
  • If you do not like the idea of putting your fingers inside your cat’s mouth, there are cat pillers available at Lodi Veterinary Care. These pillers allow you to safely bring the medication to the back of your cat’s mouth for ease of administration.
  • If your cat has been prescribed antibiotics and you are having difficulty giving the medication, you might be in luck. In most cases there is an injectable antibiotic available. This injectable will give 10-14 days of antibiotic coverage without the hassle.

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