How do you give a cat medication under its tongue?
August 11, 2007 1:59 PM   Subscribe

How do you give a cat medication under its tongue?

My kitty had surgery yesterday and the vet gave me a bag of syringes with a liquid pain medication (Buprenex) that I am supposed to give my kitty twice a day. She specifically said to administer it under the tongue. It sounded easy in theory, but after calming him down, talking nice, gingerly tacoing him up and pinching his mouth to get it open, I can get the meds in his mouth, but not quite under his tongue. He laps at the air and it is impossible to get anything under there without it going everywhere.

Is there a trick for this? Does the medication absolutely need to be under the tongue, or just absorbed in his mouth? I'm new at the cat-medication thing, so any advice from experienced cat owners would help.
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
When i had to give my pets medication I would always get the vet to give me an in-office demo and make me get it right while she was there to correct me. that's what i would recommend.
posted by amethysts at 2:03 PM on August 11, 2007

biscotti? is that you?

seriously, though, i've definitely had the experience where a cat was tolerant of medication in the office but fought like the tasmanian devil when we got home. did you try calling the vet's office? they may have some tips they can give you over the phone. the local emergency vet might have a tech who could give you some tips over the phone, too, if they're not too busy.
posted by caitlinb at 3:08 PM on August 11, 2007

I feel for you. My cats went nuts when I tried to give them any kind of medication. I had to give that med with the syringe, and I think they told me to try to get it in the pocket on the side of the mouth (if I remember). They would them proceed to spit it out all over me.

I would call the vet about whether or not it needs to be under the tongue, since I can't imagine how anyone would be able to do that!

I hope your kitty feels better real soon!
posted by la petite marie at 3:08 PM on August 11, 2007

No, it doesn't need to be under the tongue but I would guess that it is quite bitter or sour and placing it under the tongue both helps it remain in the mouth for a longer period of time and prevents the cat from tasting as much of it.

Putting it on the inside of the cat's lips would probably have the same effect.
posted by 517 at 3:08 PM on August 11, 2007

radio - maybe this?

To answer the question - absolutely ask your vet and get a demo. I'm surprised they didn't show you since giving a cat any medication is absolutely crazy fun and easy (I jest).
posted by Sassyfras at 3:11 PM on August 11, 2007

Well, I can tell you that in humans it absolutely has to be under the tongue. Anything you swallow ends up going into the bloodstream and straight to the liver for detox. It's called first pass metabolism and it destroys the effectiveness of this drug. If you take it under the tongue it absorbs into the bloodstream that way, and a much smaller proportion ends up getting metabolized into nothingness by the liver. Sucks tho - I know it is a huge hassle getting medicine into a cat.
posted by selfmedicating at 3:27 PM on August 11, 2007

Dip your finger in butter, tuna oil, whatever and hold it out for the cat to sniff, when it licks administer the medication. Don't be rought but don't be afraid to firmly control the cat. There is no need to hold or comfort the cat, you may even be better off approacing it cold. I know my cat is smart enough to realise something is about to happen.
posted by fire&wings at 3:38 PM on August 11, 2007

Ms. Steady (the Vet Technician) sez:

This is optimally a two-person job. You are going to want to wrap him up in a towel, and put your hand on top of his head with your thumb on one side of the jawbone and your middle finger on the other side (you will feel bumps at the right spots). Slowly pull the head back until his nose is pointing straight up in the air. This should open his mouth. Take another hand (yours or an assistant's) and put the tip of your index finger over his bottom lip, and pull down to open his mouth a little wider. At the same time, push up with your thumb underneath his chin (behind the jawbone) to raise the tongue. Now squirt the meds under the tongue. It is ideal to get the Buprenex under the tongue, because of the blood vessels close to the surface under there, however, anywhere in the mouth will be acceptable, if a little slower and less effective.

She also adds that this may be more trouble than it is worth (depending on the type of surgery) and you may want to forgo the Buprenex if he does not seem to be in too much pain and is eating and drinking well.

We can take pictures if the words don't do the technique justice.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:01 PM on August 11, 2007 [4 favorites]

one of the cat catalogs has a product which looks like a cat-sized straight jacket for this very purpose. zip him up with the head sticking out and you're way better off. i've improvised with couch cushions, but, having a large and smart cat, no trick ever seems to work twice.

the first time we got him down and the mouth open, he started foaming- like he was rabid. it freaked us out enough to give up for that day. smart.
posted by tremspeed at 7:34 PM on August 11, 2007

If you have another person handy, you can try this, which has worked with my cat in the past:

One person cradles the cat like a baby, so the cat is on its back with its legs in the air. Hopefully, your cat finds this position calming, or at least not irritating. Once the cat is soothed, the person holding it grabs its two front legs in one hand so they can't be used for deadly scratching. The other person can then cram some meds into the cat's mouth. I don't know if you'll specifically be able to get anything under the cat's tongue, but you'll at least be relatively close.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 9:25 PM on August 11, 2007

Under the tongue is optimal, but anywhere in the mouth (and not being spit out) is going to be better than nothing.

Also, I find it incredibly odd this question was asked anonymously...
posted by Ynoxas at 9:58 PM on August 11, 2007

My god, this is weird. I'm going through the exact same thing, with the same medicine. My vet said what Ynoxas said; under the tongue gets it into their system more quickly, but as long as it's in the mouth, it's fine. I've been mouth-squirting the meds since last Wednesday, and the cat seems to be getting the relief she needs.
posted by COBRA! at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2007

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