Pilling a cat can be extremely challenging, to say the least. Cats are independent, finicky creatures, and they naturally don’t understand that the icky-tasting pill you are trying to force them to take is for their own good. The result can be a harrowing experience for both cat and human that over time could strain an otherwise loving and trusting relationship.

When Trust Gets Broken

While some cats have a happy-go-lucky personality and take their medicine with little fuss, the majority of felines aren’t so easy going. For them, taking medicine can be stressful, frightening and even painful. Over time, many cat owners find themselves faced with a heartbreaking situation: their cat no longer trusts them.

We have heard from many people who lament the broken bond between them and their beloved cats because of force-pilling. Their cat may suddenly refuse to be petted, become fearful of humans, or spend the day hiding. Whether these cat lovers are trying to nurse a sick feral cat back to health or help their elderly indoor cat manage arthritis, they feel like they’re faced with a difficult decision. Should they risk damaging their precious cat-human bond even more, or give up on medicating their cat altogether?

Pilling Techniques for Cats

The stress alone caused by pilling can drastically reduce an elderly or terminally ill cat’s quality of life. In cases like these, some cat owners feel that giving up on medicating their cat is the best option, and who can blame them? There are, however, several different pilling techniques that a cat owner can try out before giving up, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Force pilling: This technique is fast and simple – if you have a small or very tame cat. All you do is restrain the cat, if necessary, and gently tilt their head upward. This will cause their jaw to become slack, which will allow you to quickly push the pill down their throat, causing them to reflexively swallow. If you do force pill your cat, it is very important to remember to wash it down immediately afterward by offering your cat food or water. Otherwise you risk damage to the delicate lining of their esophagus, causing a painful condition called erosive esophagitis.

Pill gun: A pill gun works the same way as force pilling, but it keeps your fingers a little farther away from the cat’s sharp teeth. This method is very popular, especially in cases where cats are too finicky to take pills disguised in food. Like force pilling, however, this technique can cause the cat a great deal of stress, and if the pill is not washed down properly, it too can cause erosive esophagitis.

Transdermal delivery: This method involves placing a special form of medicine, usually a gel, patch or cream, on a cat’s ear so that it absorbs into the skin and directly into the bloodstream. While this method is quick and simple, not all medications can be given this way.

Injection: In some cases, a cat’s medication is available in the form of a shot. If the owner is comfortable with giving an injection, this method could be a less stressful way to medicate a nervous cat.

Food: Hiding a pill in canned food or a pill pocket is also a very popular method, and it can work great – unless the cat figures out how to eat around the pill. One method to try if this occurs is to crush the cat’s pill and mix it in with some canned food. Just keep in mind that not all pills should be crushed – ask your cat’s veterinarian first. If the cat refuses the medicine-laced food due to the smell or taste, however, there’s no way of ensuring that all of the medicine gets eaten.

Goofurr: The newest innovative cat pilling technique is a product called Goofurr, an all-natural paste that blends smoothly with crushed pills or liquid medication. It can be offered to cats in two different ways: the “yummy way” or the “sticky way.” Most cats love the flavor of the wild-caught smoked salmon paste, even if it is mixed with medicine, and will happily lap it up. For those that don’t, you simply spread the sticky paste onto their fur. Even if cats dislike the taste, they will lick it off in order to keep their coat clean. It is another, highly effective option for cat owners who wish to safely and successfully pill their cats every time.

Giving cats medication and supplements can be one of the more challenging parts of cat ownership that can cause a friendly cat to become fearful. Thanks to products like GooFurr, cat owners at least stand a better chance of medicating their cats successfully and with as little stress as possible.