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How to give your cat a tablet

Giving a tablet to a cat can be a tricky task for anyone, but with a calm and confident approach, it is often much easier than you first think. If you run into difficulties or cannot manage, we are always here to help and offer dosing of cats at our daily free Nurses Clinic.

Step 1: Make sure that you:

  • Have everything you need prepared and ready in advance
  • Have enough time and a clear plan of what you will do
  • Be gentle with your cat, keep calm, and avoid putting yourself at risk
  • If possible, always have a second person (preferably someone your cat knows) to help if you are going to administer the tablet.

  • Step 2: Holding your cat
    Two hand technique:

  • Make sure your cat is on a stable non-slippery surface such as the floor; otherwise a firm table or work surface with a non-slip surface
  • Allow your cat to sit upright, in front of you, but facing away from you
  • Gently hold each front leg above the elbow with your hands pressed gently against the sides of your cat
  • This helps to prevent your cat from running off, keeps your cat sitting upright, and controls the front legs, paws and claws
  • Towel technique:

  • This can be especially useful for very wriggly cats or if you don’t have a second person to help hold your cat
  • Use a mid-sized soft towel – not too large or it will be unwieldy. Put the towel on the floor or a flat stable surface and then put the cat on top of the towel, facing away from you
  • Bring up one side of the towel and then the other, around the cat’s neck so that your cat is thoroughly wrapped and cannot get its front legs out of the opening
  • Hold your cat gently but firmly in the towel

  • Step 3: Giving the tablet

    Having gently restrained your cat using one of the above techniques, you can now administer the tablet. Again, this is much easier with two people – one holding the cat and one giving the tablet. Make sure you have everything ready before you restrain your cat. Try to do this quickly but calmly, so that your cat does not get upset:

  • The person giving the tablet should hold the tablet between the thumb and forefinger of one hand
  • Place the other hand on the top of your cat’s head (it is best to approach the cat from the side rather than from above – this is less threatening for your cat)
  • The head should be gently but firmly held between the thumb and fingers, with your thumb and forefinger extending downwards to either side of the jaw at the corner of the mouth
  • Gently tilt the head upwards, and use the middle finger of the hand holding the tablet to pull the lower jaw down and open the mouth
  • Keep the head tilted up and quickly place or drop the tablet as far back on your cat’s tongue as you can. Aim for the centre of the tongue as far back as you can see .
  • Hold the jaw closed for a few seconds and wait for your cat to swallow. Gently rubbing the throat under the chin may help. If your cat licks his lips or nose, you know he has swallowed
  • Sometimes your cat may not swallow the tablet on the first attempt and may spit it out. So long as your cat does not become distressed, you can try repeating the procedure. Always try to get the tablet as far back on the tongue as possible. Using a pill-giver can also be helpful
  • Lastly, give them some love and cuddles afterwards to make the whole process less stressful!

  • Remember, if you have problems and/or your cat gets upset, we are always here to help and offer dosing of cats at our daily free Nurses Clinic

    Pill-poppers/ Pill-giver

    A ‘pill-giver’ (available from your vet): This is a little like a syringe with a plastic plunger (and no needle!). The tablet will fit in the soft nozzle at the end of the pill-giver, and it is released by pushing down on the plunger (practise this before using it with your cat). We keep in stock and are happy to teach you how to use it.


    Catnip spray on the towel or catnip flakes on the table can assist in keeping your cat calm and relaxed during the process.

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