How do I help my cat tolerate a bad-tasting liquid medicine?
My cat is currently on Atopica, which comes as a liquid. Apparently this medicine tastes awful, based on his reaction to it. Mixing it into food or tuna juice does not help; he rejects the entire bowl, even if the ratio of drug to food is fairly low. There is another cat in the household, so I can't just leave it out for a while in hope that he'll come around -- I have to supervise (or isolate somebody, but that's no fun).
Now that I know how to give a cat a pill I plan to ask about getting this as a pill when it's time to refill, but that'll be a couple months. In the meantime, is there anything I can do to help my cat tolerate the taste of this medicine? Are there particular foods that do a better job of masking unpleasant flavors, for instance? I'm already pushing the syringe as far back as I can to minimize contact with his mouth/tongue.
The cat is a ~7-year-old neutered male, indoor-only, with no known medical issues other than the allergies for which this drug is being used.
Assuming you can't properly fit the body of the (plastic?) syringe in his mouth, how long is the syringe tip? If it is short, you might have better luck with a longer syringe, or a smaller version of a turkey baster / plastic pipet.
@JoshDM, you mean as a way of getting the payload farther down his throat? Thanks; I hadn't considered that. (The syringe is about 5" long, I think.)
Forgot to ask how wide. Some syringes (Walgreens gives them out with prescriptions for children) have a 1" length 3mm wide spout on a 4" long, 1/2" wide base. You'll want to try a much longer, thinner spout than you have currently. The syringe I mention abruptly changes width; a pipet changes width gradually, but are generally wider than syringe tips.
Pretty narrow -- it's similar to a 1ML syringe (like what comes with Clavamox), I think, only longer. I'll measure when I get home and update with that info.
That's probably a 1cm-long, mm-scale width tip. Those are great to get the fluid out of the bottle, but not fun for delivery.
@JoshDM your guess on the size was correct. (The syringe isn't actually labelled in MM but in some custom markings, but the tip is 1cm long and looks like the mm-scale syringes I used for other past meds.)
I can't help you get your cat to tolerate the medicine better, but what I can do is confirm and clarify your current delivery vehicle. I've had to suffer with liquid medicine as well, but with dogs (I suspect they are much more compliant or easier to handle than an acrobatic cat). I've found the longer and thinner the tip of the delivery tool, the easier it is to get past the taste areas. Using a tool with a better reach might solve your dilemma.
Depending on the syringe you are using, what I can recommend is to find one with a longer, thinner tip, or to use a pipet. The syringes I am familiar with for this purpose change width abruptly from a 1-inch long, millimeter-scale width tip to a 4-inch long, inch-scale width base. You will either want a syringe that has a much longer millimeter-scale tip, or you can go with a similarly-shaped pipet.
Unlike a syringe, most of which change width abruptly, a pipet (or turkey baster) changes width gradually. This means when using a pipet, the only hard stop for depth is how far you can reach down the back of your cat's throat (past the teeth and over the tongue; look out stomach, here it comes!). Obviously, be reasonable about how far you go. Your chosen tool should be of the appropriate starting width, widening gradually.
For the sake of posterity, it needs to be said one should select plastic over glass for their chosen instrument because no cat wants to chip his tooth or swallow glass shards. And even though it's plastic, take care the cat doesn't bite it too much. A small width tip means it might not take a lot for a bite to nip it off and create a potential choking hazard.
Provide access to lots of fresh water afterwards.
Thanks! Any advice on where to acquire a suitable delivery tool? Does one ask at a pharmacy, or what?
I haven't checked Amazon, but... AMAZON. Search for "plastic pipet". Otherwise your pharmacy should have something. Alternately, you can pick up a small turkey baster or an eyedropper; look for the squeeze-ball end of a pipet rather than the piston end of a syringe.
Apparently they come in packs of 100; here is a pack of 100 disposable, 3ml long-tipped, plastic pipets for under $5.
@MonicaCellio over here (Australia) you can buy syringes of various sizes at any pharmacy/ chemist? Not sure what they're called in the US and elsewhere
@Skippy thanks. UK chemist = US pharmacy, so I assume we're talking about the same thing (you're not in the UK but I think in this case you use the same term?). I've never actually had to buy syringes before; they've always come with the meds or my vet has just given them to me.