Liquid medication for cats
October 4, 2019 2:19 PM   Subscribe

How have you successfully administered your cat's liquid medication? I've had little success and I'm running out of other ideas!

I've been giving my cat Atopica for a skin allergy. It seems like it might be working, but I can't get him to take it consistently. I've had limited success mixing it into my cat's wet food - he'll eat around it, or if I restrict his food to make sure he eats it all, he'll bother me constantly trying to get more food.

Looking for ideas of how to do this. Thanks in advance!
posted by switcheroo to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If it comes down to it, make a purrito, then use a syringe to sneak in the mouth from the side and squirt it down the throat. Unfortunately, very often necessary with finicky cats.
posted by Candleman at 2:27 PM on October 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

My cat doesn't free feed, so before dinner, I mix the dose of liquid meds (very bitter!) with a smallish amount of a very high value, very smelly treat, such as Fancy Feast Steamed Wild Alaskan Salmon Appetizer in a Delicate Broth. She gets dinner right after.
posted by Stewriffic at 2:30 PM on October 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

One thing that has helped us get cats to be minimally-resistant to medication (topical or ingested) is the realization that they can be trained to expect their very favorite treat after enduring the medication. YMMV depending upon the orneriness of the cat.

You might try mixing the medication with water squeezed out of a can of tuna. Some cats are nuts enough about tuna water to ignore (certain types of) adulteration.

We also use the purrito method (though that term is new to me!) and it works well. I imagine it's easier with a partner.

Skin allergy notwithstanding, you owe the Ask community a photo of the cat :)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:32 PM on October 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yeah, it's hard to describe without a demonstration, but when I've had to squirt medicine down a cat's throat, there's a way to kind of force its mouth open with one hand while holding the syringe in the other hand. The key thing is to really get it in the back of the throat, then close their mouth so they don't just spit/drool it out. Some cats aren't so difficult.

Depending on the cat, I've had to wrap them up, hold them in my arms, or just get on top of them and lock them between my thighs. No, the cats never like any of this, but it's for their health, and they've all been very forgiving about 30 seconds later.

Have you called your vet? They might be able to show you how you can restrain your cat and give them the medicine, if you're not confident that your purrito would be sufficient.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:33 PM on October 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

I would try mixing with baby food. But also, if your cat will take pills better, Atopica can be done as pills. They’re gigantic pills (or were, many years ago) but some cats might still take them more easily than liquid.
posted by Stacey at 2:34 PM on October 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I have also had luck mixing with with broth, which some of mine have been willing to lap up even if they wouldn't eat food with it on it.
posted by Candleman at 2:48 PM on October 4, 2019

Yeah, I love my cat and would never wish him harm, but like shapes...dusk the quick grab and squirt a measured syringe of medicine in the back of his throat and hold his jaw closed until he swallows is the only successful way I found for my kitty.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:53 PM on October 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yes! This method was foolproof with my kitty:

Get the syringe full of medicine and kneel over kitty on the floor, so that your knees are on either side of the cat, but your feet are tucked together in a V. This way, when the cat backs up, it won't be able to actually escape. Give kitty some reassuring pets and maybe some soothing tones.

Then, put the syringe in one hand, and with your other, firmly grasp their jaw with your thumb on one jaw joint, and your middle finger on the other. Give kitty a few scritches on the chin to keep them calm, you can do this with the syringe in your hand.

Then, when you are ready, take the syringe and ready it. Squeeze gently at the jaw joints. The cat will have to open its mouth and you can quickly shoot the meds into their mouth. Try to get it right on the tongue toward the back.

This method also works well for pill administration, if you ever have to give the cat a pill, you will have to hold their mouth closed for a while until they swallow it. You can use the same method, holding the jaw closed at the joints, and stroking the chin to keep the cat calm.
posted by pazazygeek at 3:32 PM on October 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

One of my cats was a nightmare to medicate. He's 27 pounds, so when he puts up a fight, there's definitely some power behind it. Once we started scruffing him, everything became much easier. Make sure you have a grip on sufficient skin. Try grabbing just behind the ears and sliding your hand down toward the shoulders. Squirt the meds into the side of the mouth, then blow into your kitty's face so he reflexively swallows.

Don't forget the treats afterward!
posted by easy, lucky, free at 6:10 PM on October 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

There are some useful answers to someone with the same question at StackExchange. In my case, I go to a compounding pharmacist who has experience with pet meds, and they make up a batch of chicken flavoured oil containing the medication. Our cat still tries to escape being medicated, but once held still, he will actually swallow this oil without complaint. When he started out with a non-flavoured liquid, he wouldn’t swallow and instead frothed at the mouth alarmingly in an attempt to spit it out.
posted by hgws at 6:56 PM on October 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

+1 on getting the drug compounded into treat form. I'm pretty sure our vet hooked us up with Wedgewood when we did this, and it looks like they can work with that medicine.
posted by exogenous at 4:00 AM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've been using a compounding pharmacist that flavors the liquid. My cat likes the flavor and happily laps it up.

They're online. Wedgewood Pharmacy. It's expensive, but being able to avoid the daily stress of administering drugs to my cat is worth it.
posted by adamrice at 7:52 AM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Helpful Vancouver Vet has a Youtube video on this and other cat care subjects.
posted by Gino on the Meta at 10:56 AM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

We have a very ornery cat who will reject anything that he even vaguely suspects might be medicated. It's a challenge.

We have taken to getting liquid medication and squirting it into his mouth using a syringe. He only needs 1mL doses so we use 5mL syringes, but there are lots of types available.

It's a challenging job to do single-handed... with two people, it's not too bad. One person grabs and holds the cat (including, most importantly, keeping all the claws under control) the other person grabs the cat's head and squirts the stuff down the hatch.

If you need to do it yourself, one technique is to wrap the cat in a towel (the "purrito" treatment) and use the bowl of a (dry!) sink to sorta contain the cat. Neither you nor the cat are likely to enjoy this process, but it is doable.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:53 PM on October 5, 2019

I had a cat who was missing his lower jaw and thus could not be successfully pilled or given liquid meds because his mouth could not be closed.

His vet was able to give him some meds as a weekly injection and others were sent to a compounding pharmacy to be turned into an ointment to rub inside his ears so that he'd absorb the medicine through his skin.

So, if the above suggestions don't work, you can ask your vet about these or other non-oral options.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:21 PM on October 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Tuna-flavored oil squirted into his mouth, yummy treat right after.
posted by Ahniya at 12:14 AM on October 6, 2019

you could also get a small syringe (no needle, obvs) and crush the pills in a bit of low-sodium broth - then you can use the syringe to shoot the meds down the throat.
posted by megan_magnolia at 3:32 AM on October 6, 2019

Compounding pharmacies can make certain medications topical -- they get mixed with DMSO and you rub them onto your cats ears while wearing latex gloves.

If it cant be a topical, flavoring is a good way to go. My cat hated the standard fish/ beef / chicken flavors they usually use for pets, but was partial to fake banana flavor and the pharmacy guy cracked up when I asked for it, but it worked.

Other than that, seconding pazazygeek's entrapment method. Scruffing works, but only on some cats (i.e. not mine).
posted by ananci at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2019

Thanks, all!! This is great.

I had not heard of a compounding pharmacy, that might be an option. And I'm surprised to learn that Atopica comes in a pill! I've had success with ground up pills before.

Scruffing/purrito method may work sometimes, so thanks for that. Probably won't be my main strategy - my lil dude is very agile and can figure out when I'm coming for him, so it's kind of a moot point once he's hidden under the bed/couch/dresser.

Cat tax and thanks again to everyone for your help, Misha and I appreciate it! :)
posted by switcheroo at 11:06 AM on October 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I used to give my cat atopica so I ordered empty chicken-flavored capsules and it worked like a dream. I don’t remember what they cost, but Memail me if you want mine. I have plenty.
posted by OrangeVelour at 6:40 PM on October 6, 2019

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