How to give your cat a tablet

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Lots of people find it difficult to give tablets to their cats. The result is that they end up putting the tablets into the cat's food, either crushed or whole. They are never quite sure the cat has taken the entire tablet, and, if they have more than one cat, whether the right cat has taken it. Anyone who has tried to give a tablet by putting it in the cat's mouth know they just spit it out. Vets, on the other hand, just seem to be able give tablets without any problem.

Holding the catOf course, there's a knack to it, and very few cats are impossible to administer to if you get the technique right. Of course, there are always a few cats that will take your arm off if you try it, but they are rare. So here's the technique:

The key points are how you hold the cat, and how far you push the tablet into its mouth. The method described assumes you are right-handed, so if you're a lefty then just reverse the procedure. You may of course find a variation on this that works for you.

Take hold of the cat by placing your right hand over its forehead, grasping the back of the jawbone gently but firmly with your thumb and index finger - see the first photo. You may find it easier to stop the cat trying to back out of this hold by kneeling down and trapping his back end between your knees. Hold the tablet between your left thumb and index finger, and use your left middle finger to pull his mouth open - see the second photo. It helps if you have fingernails for this, as they often clamp their teeth together. Squeezing gently on the jaw with your right hand may help. The cat may twist his head, but the hold you have makes it easy to restrain him without hurting him.

Opening his mouthTilt his head back and drop the tablet as far down his throat as it will go. If you drop it too far forward he will spit it out when he can, so try to land it on the back of his tongue. Before letting go, quickly push the tablet into his throat - you won't choke him, and the further you push it the first time, the fewer second tries you'll need and the less stress you'll cause to both of you. Clamp his mouth shut gently, and wait for him to lick his lips - this is a sign that he has swallowed. Don't be fooled - open his mouth again and see if it's still there! If so, give it a deeper push this time.

Tips:

  1. If you do this on a smooth, plain surface as opposed to a patterned carpet, it's easier to see if he spits out the tablet.
  2. The more confident and quick you are, the easier it is to do.
  3. You don't have to give the cat a tablet to practise this!
  4. If the cat uses his claws to stop you, ask someone to hold his front legs.
  5. Some tablets are either dry or quite unpleasant to the taste, or both. Some may cause them to foam after taking them. A little bit of butter helps stop the cat tasting the tablet, and also lubricates it so it goes down easier.
  6. If a small tablet, trying wrapping it in a small piece of sliced meat. But first give them a few pieces first, and whatch out - they can still spit them out.

Cutting tablets

Sometimes you need to administer a half or even a quarter of a tablet. Vets will usually cut them up for you if you remember to ask, but this means opening them all if they are in foil strips. You can buy tablet cutters, but you end up with two unequal bits and a pile of powder - we've tried them. In fact, most vets don't cut tablets - they break them. Hold the tablet between the thumb and forefinger of both hands and bend them away from you. You may not get two exactly equal halves, but nothing is lost as powder. Some tablets are harder than others to break like this, but we've never found a tablet that can't be broken if you have strong fingers. Again, slightly longer nails helps.