How to Get a Cat to Take a Pill? – 4 Easy & Simple Ways

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

how to get a cat to take a pill

Of the available forms of cat medication, pills are often preferred by owners over liquids, though they’re not necessarily the easiest way to distribute medicine. Tablets can be unpleasant to your pet because it can taste them, and not all drugs are available or effective as transdermal formulas yet.

There are four common suggestions for how to get a cat to take a pill: directly place it in its mouth, use a pill plunger, hide it in its food, or use a pill pocket.

Ways to Get a Cat to Take a Pill


Not all cats hate taking pills — some lucky cat owners have pets who gobble them up without complaint! For most of us, though, we need all the help we can get from YouTube tutorial videos and Reddit.

Here is a rundown of four possible ways to get your cat to take a pill and what to prepare.

What To Prepare

Prepare everything you need for the process in advance. Lay out the pill(s) you will be administering and, depending on your chosen method, prepare other things needed, such as a towel or the pill pusher.

Also, remember that if you are anxious about giving a pill to a cat, your pet will sense it and may become anxious too, so keep calm and carry on.

1. Directly place the pill in your cat’s mouth.


In theory, the simplest way to get a cat to swallow a pill is to put it directly in its mouth. In reality, though, it can get a little tricky, especially if you have to give a drug to an uncooperative cat.

Here are the steps and some pointers for this method:

  • “Grease” the pill with something like canned cat food gravy. It will help the pill slide down your cat’s throat smoothly and give the medicine a more pleasant taste. This step is optional.
  • Also, you can wrap or swaddle your cat in a towel. Ensure their paws are tucked inside safely to protect you from scratches.
  • From the back of your cat’s head, place your thumb and forefinger on your cat’s cheekbones and gently tilt its head back to open its mouth. You can then use the same hand’s ring and little finger to coax its mouth wider.
  • Remember never to place your fingers on your cat’s sharp teeth. You may accidentally get punctured!
  • With your other hand, quickly but carefully drop or place the pill as far back on your cat’s tongue as possible to feed cat pill.
  • Close your cat’s mouth and bring its head back to the neutral position. You should pat your cat on the nose or throat and keep its jaw shut as you wait for it to swallow.
  • After your cat has swallowed, give him some water, a little broth, or maybe even a little wet food. This can be counted as your feline’s reward and also help wash the pill down.

2. Using a pill plunger


Maybe you are feeling anxious about sticking your fingers into your cat’s mouth full of sharp teeth. Thankfully, pill plungers are available on the market.

Also called pill guns or “pillers,” these devices enable you to give your cat its pill with a syringe.

Preload the pill plunger first, then follow the above steps. This time, however, instead of using your fingers, gently insert the pill plunger into your cat’s mouth to deposit the pill as far back on its tongue as possible.

Once the pill is in place, continue with the steps listed in the previous section.

3. Hiding the pill in its food


If you can’t get hold of your cat to administer the medicine with your fingers or a pill plunger, it may be time to trick a cat into taking a pill by hiding it in food.

The best food to hide cat pills in are its favorite soft treats. If it is tuna or moist canned cat food, you may roll it up into a bite-sized ball your cat can gobble up in one swallow.

If your pet likes something wetter such as cream cheese or yogurt, you can try hiding the full pill in the food or crushing the cat pill first to mix it better.

4. Use a pill pocket

In case your cat sensed something suspicious about its food and refused to eat it, you may want to purchase pill pockets for cats available on the market.

Pill pockets are tasty treats with secret pockets in the middle where you can simply slip in and conceal the medicine. It is a sneaky way to get a stubborn cat to eat a pill.

Be careful, though: some kittens will spit the pill out after devouring the treat.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do you give an uncooperative cat a pill?

There is no one best way to give a cat a pill, but you can try the tips we mentioned above.

If your cat refuses to take their medication, it may be a call for further experimentation until you find its preferred method. It may also mean they are not in the mood, and you can try again in a little while.

Don’t be discouraged – you are not alone. This ordeal is so universally known as stressful for both felines and their owners that there is a how to give a cat a pill meme flying around the internet that is extremely funny and accurate.

What food can I hide my cat’s pill in?

Aside from the foods we mentioned above, you can hide the pill in butter, strained meat (the baby food type), or salmon.

Can you crush a cat pill?

It is possible to crush your cat’s pill to hide it better in food or water. It is recommended to use something like a pill crusher (instead of just mashing it on the countertop) to ensure your cat gets every single milligram of its prescribed medication.

You should never crush slow-release medicines. Also, as a general rule, checking with your vet before grinding any of your cat’s pills is best.

Note that even if you do follow this method, your cat may detect which portion of its food has the drug mixed in, so make sure to blend it in thoroughly and stay to watch your cat finish everything in its bowl.


We are sorry your cat is feeling poorly, and we are sorry that you now have to figure out how to get a cat to take a pill, too!

Though daunting, know that the task is doable and that you and your feline friend will come out of this stronger, healthier, and, hopefully, still as friends.

Don’t forget the last step of the process: after rewarding your cat for taking their medication, treat yourself to a reward too! You deserve it.

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