How do I give my cat oral (liquid) medicine?

  • So, long story shortish, I recently ended up as the reluctant owner of a slightly used cat. He's 3 or 4 years old, and did have an owner at some point, but ran away, ended up in a cat shelter, where about a month ago, he charmed his way into my home. After spending the past month or so trying to let him get acclimated to his new environment, he still doesn't like to be petted or touched, and we noticed he basically can't vocalize, so we took him to the vet, and found out he's got a severely inflamed throat and upper respiratory congestion.

    The vet gave us a big bill (free cat, my ass) and a couple liquid, oral medications to give him. I'm apparently supposed to squirt these medications into my cat's mouth - one comes in a handy syringe, the other in an eye-dropper.

    Just did it for the first time this morning, which took an hour, has the cat staring at me like it's trying to figure out how to kill me in my sleep and has me scratched all over from trying to restrain the cat and open his mouth to get any in there. Having read this question, I'm going to try to find something longer and thinner than an eye dropper to give him the one medication, but that still leaves the question of how to best restrain the cat and open its mouth in the first place. I've gotten into the habit of giving him treats doing anything he seems to dislike, including the medicine, as well as the vet visit, and when I had to brush the loose hair off him, but it doesn't seem to be helping much, and of course, since he doesn't seem to like being petted, I can't just shower him with attention to calm him down before trying to medicate him.

    At the moment I'm cradling him in my arm, on his back (kind of like you might do with a baby), and trying to get him to open his mouth long enough to squirt some medicine into his mouth. (This is a position he barely tolerates for a few seconds, without trying to squirt liquid in his mouth.) Actually putting the syringe or eye-dropper in his mouth results in him fighting it off with his tongue and or claws... so I end up basically poking at the sides of his mouth until he opens up to hiss at me, at which point, I can squirt a little bit in. Rinse and repeat several times, reposition him after he squirms free, and that's what I've managed to work out as far as actually getting him medicated.

    Is there anything I'm missing that might make this easier, or any techniques/positions that might make giving him medication less of an ordeal?

    Depending on how long you are going to need to give him the meds, if you continue you may have issues catching him before the treatment is done. It is REALLY important that he gets the full round of treatments without missing any.

    @JamesJenkins Yes, on the vet's recommendation, I've confined him to the master bedroom for the duration of the treatment. Fortunately there's nowhere in there that he can hide that I can't get him, though I'm sure he'll make it as hard as possible for me.

  • Aethalides

    Aethalides Correct answer

    6 years ago

    Either use a syringe or mix it into their food if you can get away with it.

    The trick to this is to work with the cat. When you start out, make sure you are as relaxed as can be. Only ever use as much force as necessary. Make sure you have everything in hand or at hand.

    Start by stroking and cuddling the cat and putting it at ease. A good time is 10 minutes or so after they have fed and groomed and starting to settle down for a nap.

    If this is the first time, or if your cat is very reluctant and or assertive, it might be best to do the wrapping technique, see

    Also, two persons is often better than one for giving cats medicine. Just make sure everybody is relaxed.

    When you have the cat wrapped or in your power, start by gently opening the cat's mouth by putting the fingers of one hand around its mouth and trying to gently get into the mouth. Watch out for lunges of the cat just before the mouth opens or just after. More info here:

    Once the mouth is open, you need to be quick, delicate, and error free. Mouth open, squirt syringe, get out.

    Never push the cats head up, or block their airway to force them to open their mouths. Don't force their mouth closed afterwards as they will have difficulty swallowing.

    All of the above advice is from personal experience. Each cat is different, your mileage my vary.

    Remember, your cat is still your friend even though it needs medicine. Try very hard to prevent traumatising it, a treat before and after may be good. If the cat gets too upset, back off let her calm down (with a treat, and soothing voice and petting), perhaps for an hour. Then try again (but relax first).

    If you really are not managing, I suggest getting in touch with your vet for help.

    +1 for cat wrapping. I didn't know that was actually a thing until now, but it sounds ideal. Will let you know how it works out later tonight.

    I have to admit that sometimes the simplest -answer is to board the cat for a week and let an expert deal with it (and take the blame)... absolutely agree re staying relaxed yourself. I've actually found it easier to give a cat subcutaneous fluids than to give them a liquid by mouth.

    Yup, the cat wrap was the secret. Looks a bit like a burrito ... a furry, angry burrito. Thanks a ton!

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