Is my cat ever going to learn to take his f'n pill?

The little fucker is able to make the connection: When I pick up the crinkly package with the pills in it, to run for the hills. Yet, he still fails to make the connection that these pills clear his sinuses up and make him feel 10 times better.

I’ve owned cats all my life, but I’ve never been in a position where I have to give a cat a pill on a daily basis. Does it get better? :frowning:


You have to get sneaky about it. Make sure he doesn’t hear the “crinkly package” crinkle, and then pulverize the pill and mix it in his favorite food.

Short answer: no. The best you can hope for is to figure out a method for giving him his pill that results in as little stress for you, and him, as possible.

I’ve had two cats who needed pills at various points. Even for the latter of the two, who was generally very tolerant of being messed with, it was still a pain.

He’s made the connection that the crinkly noise means that he’s about to be snatched up, and endure having you stuff something nasty-tasting down his throat. Cats aren’t likely to be able to make the connection between being given a pill, and feeling better an hour later.

I understand. It’s just that my dog knows. If I forget to give him his back pain pill, he sure makes a point of reminding me. My thinking was if he can make the connection, why can’t the cat? I thought cats were supposed to be the smart ones. :smiley:

That’s a bit much for a cat.

Cans = tasty cat food? Yes. Cat carrier coming out = awful trip to vet? Yes. Crinkly sound = nasty-tasting pills forced down my throat? Yes.

Taking nasty pill = I breathe easier and feel a bit better in a couple of hours? No. It’s the immediacy that is the problem. Making connections like that is really beyond many or most animals.

Mostly not. Pets are hugely variable on how difficult they are to medicate. One of mine is dumb as a rock and doesn’t make connections well, so he is easy to corral( he gets cans= cat food, but hasn’t in 12 years figured out cat carriers = trip to the vet ). But once in hand he is a writhing pain in the ass to pill.

The other, like yours, can tell when nasty medicine is approaching and will flee to the most unreachable hidey-hole he can. If gotten in hand though, he takes his medicine pretty easily. The key for cats like that is tricking them.

Open the package in another room, keep the nasty medicine concealed. Be casual about the approach and if you have a clever cat, vary the routine so he doesn’t pick up on clues as quickly.

I once had a cat with the remarkable ability to hold an unswallowed pill in his mouth, then slyly slip it out the side of his lips several minutes later. His non-pill-swallowing skills only got better with practice.

We have friends who have a cat that needs daily pills. They have a ‘tool’ that shoots the pill to the back of the cat’s throat, forcing it to swallow. We cared for the animal for a few days and were able to do it with little problem. But that cat has been given pills since kittenhood, so was used to being handled and pilled.

Even the great James Herriot was not immune to having that happen to him-- in the last part of his last compilation, Every Living Thing from 1992, he dealt with two cats (one male, one female) who, at the sound of a door opening, shot outside and far, far away from him. He had to use desperate measures to take care of them, such as giving the male an anesthetic (British, anaesthetic) to sedate him, such that he could clip off a plethora of knots and tangles that were in that male cat’s fur. Unfortunately, despite being sedated, the cat realized what was going on, and as soon as James opened the door, took off for the hills.

If you ever figure out the trick, let me know.

This will never get easier, sorry. At least you don’t have the issue I did, where I was required three times a day to hunt down a muscular 18 lb Maine Coon, scruff him, roll him on his back, place a towel over the thrashing pointy bits then wedge a pill syringe into his face to give him his pills. Which, about one time out of three, ended up bitten in half and spit a foot away in spite of every effort to keep him still until I could verify he’d swallowed the thing. I’m super lucky that he loved me and didn’t try to specifically bite or savage me because I’m pretty sure he could’ve put me in the hospital. Unfortunately, some time after that course of medications was done he became paralyzed in the hindquarters and had to have human intervention to express his urine–couldn’t pee on his own. Oddly enough he was much more tolerant of that than he ever was of the pills. He was a lovely cat, I miss him.

Other methods to give the medicine are the way to go, in my experience. You can powder the medicine and mix it into a small amount of wet food. I say a small amount so that the cat is more likely to eat it all. A better option is to ask the vet to prescribe the medication through a compounding pharmacy. They’ll make the medication in a yummy liquid formula, like turkey flavor, that your cat will love, that you can put on their food. There’s a good one in Arizona that I used for several years with one of my cats. The costs were very reasonable.

Indeed, one of my coworkers has a cat that takes the same thyroid medicine as I do, but it gets it chicken-flavored, while I just have to swallow a bitter pill.

My dog gets daily meds for epilepsy. It’s to the point where I bury them in peanut butter and wrap the peanut butter in lunch meat. Basically, I serve hors d’oeuvres.

I second this. I’m pretty sure the one you’re talking about is called Roadrunner. We’ve used them before with success (although I have to say one of our cats hated the liquid as much as the pills, and nearly hurt himself screaming and struggling to get away from it).

We also used the piller on one of our cats who was on chemotherapy, and that worked well too.

When my cats need pills, I wrap them in imported prosciutto. Works every time. They will not accept the domestic stuff.

You know what I wonder? When cats will figure out that when their claws are stuck in something, they need to retract their claws instead of just pulling harder.

No it will never get better, and it might get worse. My cats can smell the vet in the air. I may have barely thought ‘oh, time for a vet visit’. No carrier out, no valium ordered, no appointment made, but still they know. And boy can they make my life miserable? The last vet visit, my male Siamese already had his valium, somehow I slipped up on him with the pill shooter, got it in him and like smoke he was gone. Took me and my grand-daughter 2 hours to find him sleeping on a nearly unreachable beam. Got him down and to the vet about the time he was waking up. No exam that day. My female is more forgiving of such trips, probably normal bad cat-to-vet stuff. I don’t know what I would do if Bear ( male) was really sickened and had to take long term meds. I guess he’d just have to die. He cannot be reasoned with.
ETA yes I know the valium is a cowards way out, but believe me it’s the only way.

I’ve had cats who figured out that painkillers were a good thing, it’s not too much of a stretch for the brighter among them. I even had one who after ten days on codeine following an RTA and concussion came up and bit me when I cut him off. if he ever has them again I’ll taper him off.

<Didn’t read the whole thread.>

I have a lot of experience with this. I had to give my beloved Max two meds per day for almost 10 years. I bought a mortar & pestle and crushed the hard pills to powder. One of them was a powder filled capsule, so I just opened that one and added the powder to the crushed pills. I mixed the powders with about a teaspoon of Fancy Feast canned cat food, the cheapest, smelliest food in the grocery store. Not all flavors worked–classic beef was good, turkey not so much. If there was some “gravy” in the can to pour over the teaspoon of food, that was good. Only use tiny amount of food–just enough to conceal the powder. Then give him more. Don’t start out with a big serving, because he may not eat it all, then then you’re behind the power curve from the beginning. Sometimes, to encourage him, I’d dip my finger in the food and wipe it across his mouth. He’d then start to eat–so funny. You could almost hear him thinking, “Oh! So THAT’S what’s in the bowl! Not too bad. I think I’ll have some.” :rolleyes: I loved that kitty.

When he first needed the meds, I tried pilling him–a total disaster. He ran and hid. He scratched me. He bit me. He didn’t love me any more. The sneaking-it-into-food system kept that sweet guy going (kidney problems) for years.

I just lost him a few months ago–cancer. My sweet orange boy. I miss him a lot.

That’s usually pretty quick relief though. One of my cats gets a dose of liquid allergy med about every three days. It definitely helps keep his itchiness under control, but he has not and I’m pretty will not ever make that distant of a connection ;).