Ask the Vet: How to Get Your Cat to Swallow Pills

Our vet gives advice on how you can get your feline friend to take its medicine.

Woman hugging her black-and-white calico cat

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Q: How can I get my adopted cat, Sally, to take her pills?

A: Perhaps my technique will work for you. While my cat is eating yummy canned food, I tip her head up, open her mouth, and drop the pill on the back of her tongue. Then I praise her and let her resume eating. Offering food before giving the pill lubricates the throat,  which facilitates swallowing. The food reward afterward ensures the pill finds its way to the stomach. You can also hide the pill inside a tasty treat, such as a Pill Pocket, or try using a pet piller. If she still refuses, ask Sally’s veterinarian about alternative dosage forms — flavored liquids, long-acting injections, or transdermal gels that are absorbed through the skin.

Ask the Vet is written by veterinarian Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to [email protected] and read more at

This article is featured in the May/June 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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