HEALTH & CARE

How to Give a Cat Liquid Medicine: Easy, Pain-Free Ways

giving a cat liquid medicine
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

There comes that dreaded time in the life of every cat parent when they need to give their cat some medication to make them feel better. The trickiest—but easiest when you get the hang of it—way to do this is to learn how to give a cat liquid medicine.

Liquid medicine works faster than most other types of medicine such as pills since there’s no need to wait for the body’s digestive system to dissolve the capsule. Moreover, liquid medicine more often than not tastes sweet. Most cat owners find out the hard way that cats start to froth when their tongues come into contact with bitter stuff, so there will be none of that if you give your cat liquid medicine.

To do this effectively, there are a number of ways to consider. So that you don’t get stuck with one method, we have detailed multiple techniques of giving your cat liquid medicine. At the end of the reading, you will have been armed with information with which to decide which method would best suit your cat.

How to Give a Cat Liquid Medicine in Food

First of all, we will teach you how to give a cat liquid medicine in food. This is an efficient method because your cat will consume all of the medicine in the dosage specified while also gaining nutritional requirements from the meal.

If you will be going this way, here’s how you do it.

#1: Using Wet Food

cat eating wet food

You don’t want your feline abandoning the food bowl just because he/she sensed something is amiss. The choice of a wet food is necessitated by the need for the medicine to be completely mixed in the food.

The first thing to do is decide on what food you want to use in administering the liquid medicine. As a rule, we will advise we go for cat food that:

  • Your cat likes

  • Has a very strong aroma

  • Is semi-dry

The chances of your cat going to the food bowl when he/she sees something he/she likes is higher. Likewise, a strong aroma from the food will help to hide the smell of the medicine from the cat.

See Also: How to Make Homemade Cat Food

Most liquid medicines come with their syringes in the pack. That could be an indicator of the right dosage to give to your pet. If you’re not sure, speak to the vet and find out what the right prescription dosage should be.

Mix the correct dosage into the cat food and work it in until you get an even mixture.

Place the food bowl in its usual location and let the cat find it for themselves. It is recommended that you use a small amount of food with the full dosage so you can be sure that the cat will ingest all of it.

After consuming the medicine-laden meal, you can then go ahead and replenish the food bowl with some more food to congratulate your cat for a job well done.

#2: Using Juice/Liquid

using a syring for giving cat liquid medicine

Another method of giving your cat liquid medicine in a food-based way is by using a type of liquid your cat would love to lap up.

The liquid in question could be chicken stock, beef stock, or stock/broth from any other animal. It would have to be properly cooked and then warmed to room temperature at least. You can even use the juice from a tuna fish can for this job.

  • Upon getting the desired juice, drain it into a clean cup and keep that. With a syringe, draw up the required medicine dosage for your pet and empty that into another clean cup.

  • Draw some of the juice you kept in the first cup into the syringe while making a mental note to keep enough syringe space for the liquid medicine too. Go for the liquid medicine next and draw some of it into the same syringe.

  • If there is some space left, top it off with some of the juice again. That way, your cat tastes the juice first, gets a blast of the medicine, and rinses off the taste with the juice again.

  • If your cat requires a large dosage, you can try this twice.

  • Shoot some of the juice out the tip of the syringe so your cat can quickly take a liking to the taste. Gently restrain the cat and put the syringe (without a needle) into the side of his/her mouth.

  • Begin by subtly emptying the contents of the syringe into the cat’s mouth until he/she takes everything.

See Also: How to Syringe-Feed a Cat

How to Give a Cat Liquid Medicine Without Food

For one reason or the other, your cat could fall into the category of those who can’t take their liquid medicine with food. Some cats will smell the medicine in the food and avoid it altogether. Some other cats may have some restrictions in their diet that prevent you from going the food way.

No matter which case yours is, the good news is that there is yet another effective way to make sure Fuzzball gets that dose.

#1: Prepare the Medication

Before you do anything else, get the medication ready.

For this technique, you will need either a syringe or a dropper. With either of them, pull the right dosage of the medicine and lay it down somewhere within your reach.

Make sure you do this in the same place where you plan to give the cat his/her medicine—preferably an elevated surface such as a table or a kitchen cabinet.

#2: Wrap Up the Cat

cat wrapped up in a blanket

This is called the burrito method by some and is an efficient way of harmlessly restricting the cat. It also ensures that you are protected from the cat’s claws should he/she start having some feelings of paranoia as to what you are about to do to him/her.

Place a towel on a table and put your cat on the towel such that he/she is facing you. Gently wrap the towel around the cat in a way that he/she cannot wiggle free. A gentle cat might take the procedure quite well.

For an otherwise active one, you might need an assistant to pin down the cat’s shoulders and upper forelimbs, so he/she doesn’t lash out to scratch you.

The ideal wrapping motion is to fold up one half of the towel around the cat’s back, doing the same for the opposite side. By the end of the folding, stray flaps of fabric should go around the cat’s neck.

Remember that the goal is to immobilize the cat. Be careful not to hurt him/her by tightening the towel too much.

At the end of the exercise, you should have contained your cat’s limbs in the towel while their face looks up at you.

#3: Open the Cat’s Mouth

opening a cat's mouth

If you have done the above well, this should be a less tricky step.

With your non-dominant hand, cup the head of the cat in such a way that your thumb rests on one side of the cat’s mouth and on the other side, your index finger. Hold gently but firmly and tilt the cat’s head upwards.

Don’t tilt too far; else the cat might have difficulty swallowing. Just tilt as little as required to ensure the medicine can flow down the cat’s throat under the influence of gravity. When you do this right, you should notice that the cat’s lower jaw will drop a bit, exposing their mouth

#4: Administer the Medicine

giving liquid medicine to a cat with a syringe

Pick up the loaded syringe/dropper from before and place the tip of it in your cat’s mouth. Aim for the base of the tongue and gently release the syringe/dropper’s content into the cat’s mouth. Do this slowly until the cat has fully swallowed the whole dosage.

Some cats need to lower their heads for swallowing. After each mini shot of the liquid medicine, you might want to relax your hand a little bit so the cat can bring back his/her head to a more natural position for swallowing.

#5: Reward the Cat

rewarding a cat

Getting picked up, wrapped in a towel and having a liquid forced into one’s mouth is no doubt a stressful experience. It is therefore not uncommon for the cat to bolt as soon as you unwrap him/her from the towel. Have some treats on hand for your cat.

The essence of such a rewards plan is to alleviate stress and make the cat less resentful towards you and what you have just done. In the future, giving the same cat medicine should be much easier.

See Also: DIY Cat Treats

Important Things to Remember When Giving Your Cat Liquid Medicine

vet giving a prescription

When you find yourself in a situation where you have to administer medication to your cat, here are some things you might want to keep in mind.

#1: Prescription

It is true that there are various over the counter medications for cats in stores, but self-medicating the cat is not advised. We recommend that you speak to your vet about the issue(s) bothering your pet fist before you give them any drugs.

Even if the symptoms are what you’ve seen and treated before, that doesn’t give you the green light to get the same medication you used to treat it the last time. There might have been some new developments you aren’t aware of, and you’d just be putting your cat’s life in danger.

#2: Dosage

After getting a prescription/assurance from your vet on what medication to use, don’t forget to keep to the dosage. Don’t give the cat less than he/she requires and be very careful not to administer more.

#3: Length of Application

Your cat could be scheduled to be given a type of medication for one week, but he/she starts showing signs of recovery and total improvement faster than that. This is not an excuse for you to stop.

If your cat starts showing improvement on the first day of a 7-day administration plan, you are expected to go on with the other days diligently. For no reason should you cut your cat’s dosage short.

#4: Double Dosage

If your cat misses one dose of their medication, don’t give him/her a double dose the next time. It is advised that you give the cat his/her dose as soon as you remember.

If your remembrance comes at a time close to the cat’s next dosage, skip the last one you missed and go on with others. As a precaution, you might also want to let your vet know that your pet has missed a round.

#5: Mode of Application

Confirm with your vet if you can administer the medicine with food or not. Some cats have special dietary needs while some medications are not advised to go with food. Don’t make the mistake of going the easy way rather than choosing the right way.

#6: Stay Calm

It is very easy to get worked up when giving liquid medicine to a cat. Try as much as possible not to lose your calm with the cat. Otherwise, you’ll just be getting your cat worked up too, making things more difficult than it should be.

#7: Request Alternatives

As we have mentioned earlier, liquid medicine is one of the easiest types to administer to a cat. For some reasons though, you may find it very hard to use for your cat. In that case, your vet could come up with alternatives for you. It may come in the form of a pill or topical gel.

Wrap Uphappy and healthy cat

Your cat needs his/her medicine as much as we need ours but he/she just might not know it. That is why it is left to you to enforce the use of the medication to ensure your cat will feel better.

Going through the instructions in this piece, we are sure you’ll find a method that your cat will naturally take to.

If you have some other proven methods of administering medicine to your cat, please let us know about it in the comments box. We also recommend that you read our article on how to tell if a cat has a fever so you’ll know when to take your cat to the vet.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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