How To Give Medicine To A Cat
Hard truth: There is no one technique that enables all people to give pills to all cats. Heres my best advice.
As a veterinarian, Ive been tasked with medicating thousands of cats over the years. And whether Im trying to show people how to give medicine to a cat or medicating my own beloved felines, its a challenge!
Many fabulous cats have shared my household over the past 40 years. I lost count at 50 .
Quite a few of these cats lived in my home or shared a big feline life in my big barn of a veterinary hospital because their families had given up on them.
And why did these people give up on them?
Because often they didnt understand exactly how to give medicine to a difficult cat or they simply didnt want to bother with it.
I am here to tell you this is a serious topic indeed, and one thats close to my own heart. Many cats are euthanized because people cant give their cat a pill. Thats not good.
Making Sure Its The Right Antibiotic For Your Cats Problem
This is crucially important when it comes to treating most bacterial infections. But how to tell ?
Increasingly, veterinarians are testing the site of infection to see what kinds of bacteria are affecting the area and which antibiotics will kill them best. This test is called a âculture and sensitivityâ and its by far the best way to know were using antibiotics appropriately.
This is especially crucial if were not sure theres a bacterial infection at play or not. For example, 95% of feline lower urinary tract disease patients are NOT suffering from bacterial infections and yet a huge proportion of these patients receive antibiotics unnecessarily. If we applied this test more frequently wed be much more likely to use antibiotics more judiciously.
Giving Liquid Medications Directly Into The Mouth Without Using Food
While holding the syringe or dropper containing the medication with your dominant hand, offer it to your cat – some cats will lick from the tip of the syringe. If so, you can slowly push the plunger or squeeze the dropper as your cat licks and swallows the medication.
If your cat wont lick the liquid you can gently hold your cats head by their cheekbones with your non-dominant hand and gently place the tip of the syringe or dropper in the area between the cheek and the teeth inside the mouth. Gently squirt the medicine in and blow on your cats nose to get them to swallow. Do not tilt your cats head back when giving liquid medications as this increases the risk of inhaling the medicine into the windpipe and lungs.
Unfortunately, many medications have a bitter taste, and cats will often spit out some of the liquid and drool or salivate excessively. Do not give additional medication unless youre sure they didnt swallow any of the liquid. The small amount of medication they spit out is accounted for in the dosage. If your cat experiences this talk to your vet about your concerns.
Rinse the syringe or dropper after each dose and allow it to air dry. Place medication in the refrigerator if indicated on the label.
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How Do Antibiotics Work On Cats
Administering an antibiotic drug to a cat is no trivial matter, since these drugs have a very definite mechanism of action that can damage the body of the animal. Below we talk about how antibiotics can have two mechanisms of action to treat our cat’s condition:
- Bacteriostatic action: The antibiotic works by stopping bacteria from multiplying.
- Bactericidal action: The antibiotic works by destroying the bacteria causing the infection.
Depending on the nature of the antibiotic drug, it may end up destroying part of the cat’s intestinal flora formed by good bacteria, as the antibiotic is not able to distinguish those that are causing the disease.
What Are Cat Cold Symptoms
Watch out for these eight symptoms of cat colds:
- Cat sneezing
If a bacterial infection is causing a cats symptoms, antibiotics will be necessary to eradicate the little stinkers.
It is possible, especially in outdoor kitties, that a fungus is causing cold symptoms like a cat sneezing. In this case, antifungal medications are prescribed to treat it.
Hydration and nutrition are two essential elements of healing. Cats who are not eating or drinking will need to receive crucial fluids and nutritional support to ensure strength to fight off infections and recover fully.
Corticosteroids are often prescribed to reduce inflammation, in this case, of the nasal and sinus passages.
Antibiotics or antifungals should be used to treat secondary infections before corticosteroids are given to reduce inflammation. However, follow your vets advice.
Cats responsive to corticosteroids are often transitioned to inhaled steroids for long term management.
Cats with chronic congestion may need a nasal flush to dislodge blockages and debris a few times per year.
Surgery may be necessary in severe cases where the culprit remains a mystery.
Rhinotomy is a surgical procedure where an incision is made into the nose, allowing viewing of the nasal passages for radical sinus operations.
Cats with cancerous growths or other anatomical issues in the nasal passages may merit these extreme measures.
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Determining The Cause Of Infection
Before beginning antibiotic treatment, it is important to diagnose the source of infection. If the source of infection is a cat wound, a quick antibiotic response will halt the infection’s penetration and abscess development. If an abscess developed before antibiotic treatment, the wound should be drained by latex tube. After that, administered antibiotics will help the wound heal within 2 to 5 days.
The first signs of infection are fever, inflammation, behavioral changes and abnormal bowel movements. These are strong indicators that your cat has an infection and that antibiotics are the best treatment. Your vet can also determine the presence of infection with a culture. Lab cultures can also reveal the kind of bacteria present, which helps your vet make a more informed decision regarding which antibiotic is the most effective.
Cat Sinus Infection Symptoms
Kitties suffering from sinus infections may be asymptomatic, but cats often show some cold or upper respiratory infection signs.
Common symptoms of sinus infections in cats:
- Cat sneezing
- Nasal Congestion
Why is my cats snot bright green?
While a viral infection may cause a runny nose and congestion, the nasal discharge will be clear. On the other hand, a bacterial infection will come with bright green or yellowish mucus from the kittys eyes and nose.
When bacteria like bordetella or chlamydophila felis become trapped and breed in pre-existing mucus. This mucus turns yellow to green as the white blood cells work their magic.
And thats why your cats snot is green youre welcome.
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Not So Sure Your Veterinarian Is On Board With These By
Get a second opinion. Its never OK to live with uncertainty on this crucial issue. And just in case youre the kind that likes to be more self-reliant than most, consider getting even better educated on the subject.
For more detailed reading on whats right and not right in the world of antibiotics in animal health, check out The Bella Moss Foundation. This UK group is dedicated to the responsible use of antibiotics worldwide and its comprehensive website always offers the most practical and up-to-date information on the subject.
Now, Im not saying Im perfect and that Ive never erred on any of these five key points Ive listed above. In fact, I once recall a six-week course of antibiotics for my sons never-cultured sinus infection .
Of course, were all guilty of wanting to go for what seems to be the most expedient course. Nonetheless, now that you know how its supposed to be done, how will YOU be approaching these drugs differently?
Giving Pills Or Capsules Directly Into The Mouth Without Food
Medications to be given orally come in the form of pills, capsules, or liquids. Have the medication ready by holding the pill or capsule in your dominant hand between your thumb and index finger. You can also practice using a small piece of kibble that is about the same size as the pill or capsule.
Your cat should be sitting with their head facing towards the right if your dominant hand is your right hand and facing left if your dominant hand is your left hand
Begin by gently holding your cats head from the top using your non-dominant hand. You will gently hold your cats cheekbones on either side of their head.
Slowly tilt their head up and back which will allow your cat to open their mouth or lower jaw. Place one of the remaining fingers on the hand containing the pill or capsule, on the lower incisor teeth to keep the lower jaw open. Keep that finger over the small incisor teeth and NOT over the sharp fangs. Drop the pill or capsule as far back over the tongue as possible, immediately close their mouth and gently blow on your cats nose to encourage them to swallow.
If your cat does not open their mouth when you tilt their head back, use your middle finger to gently pry open their mouth, drop the pill or capsule as far back over the tongue as possible, close their mouth and gently blow on their nose to get them to swallow. You can also gently pet or rub your cats throat/neck to encourage them to swallow.
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Amoxicillin For Cats: Dosages Side Effects And More
For many longtime cat guardians, amoxicillin for cats may not be a mystery. It is an antibiotic drug, in the penicillin family, used to prohibit the growth of bacteria. According to Tufts University and Medical News Today, it treats everything from bronchitis to Lyme disease to urinary tract infections in people. Amoxicillin for cats is used frequently on kitties with skin infections, urinary tract infections and ear infections.
When I asked my veterinarian, Shinnecock Animal Hospitals Dr. Kelly Tierney , what she thought about the drug, she paused. I learned the medications that became my go-to drugs from my mentor. He always used an antibiotic in conjunction with clavulanic acid for ailments like urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal infections. So, Id say newer vets are probably going with clavamox over amoxicillin, but its really your veterinarians call. Depending on your vets preference, your cat may currently be on it. Heres the scoop about amoxicillin for cats.
What About Treating Your Cat With Alternative Medicine
Take your cat to the veterinarian immediately any time he appears ill or injured. However, there are holistic approaches that can be effective in keeping your cat healthy in the first place, according to Dr. Shawn Messonnier, author of the Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and Nutritional Supplements for the Veterinary Practice.
While we do not advocate using natural alternatives over traditional medications, learning more about supporting your cats immune system can help devise a lifelong healthy strategy. Amoxicillin for cats has many benefits, some side effects and should always be taken as directed by a professional vet. Communicating closely with your veterinarian is the best way to ensure your cats amoxicillin treatment is doing the trick to ensure his path to health and well-being.
Thumbnail: Photography by Elenica / Shutterstock.
This piece was originally published in 2017.
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What Are The Most Common Dog Antibiotics
If your dog needs an antibiotic, its likely to be one of the pet antibiotics below, said Dr. Phillips.
Amoxicillin For Cats Dosage
Follow the dosing instructions provided by your veterinarian. Most vets call for a dose every 8-12 hours.
Interestingly, the labeled dosage for cats for amoxicillin calls for giving it just once a day. However, this dosage is generally no longer considered in veterinary medicine to be effective for most infections.
Most vets are using it off-label at every 8-12 hours, similar to the labeled dosage for dogs. If your vet decides to use amoxicillin for your cat, he or she will decide on a recommended dosage amount and schedule that is most appropriate depending on the type of infection being addressed.
Amoxicillin typically comes in both a liquid form as an oral suspension as well as tablet form. Your veterinarian may have a preference of which form to use, or may leave the dosage form up to you depending on which will be easier to administer.
If your kitty will take a pill mixed with or hidden in food or a treat, this is often easiest and involves the least amount of struggle. However, if your furry friend is the type that will eat everything in the bowl but the tablet and leave it at the bottom, you may need to consider liquid if you are not adept at administering a pill directly into your cats mouth for her to swallow it.
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How Do Antibiotics Affect Your Pet’s Gut
The bacteria and other microbes in your pets digestive tract are referred to as its gut microbiome. When an infection is present in or on your pet your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic to help fight off the infection.
Unfortunately, oral antibiotics cannot differentiate between the bad bacteria that may be causing a bacterial infection and the good bacteria that support your pets health, so it wipes out both beneficial and harmful bacteria.
For some cats and dogs, this may cause an ongoing imbalance in their gut that down the line could contribute to health conditions like chronic diarrhea, vomiting or constipation.
What If I Forget To Give My Cat Their Antibiotics
If you forget to give your cat their antibiotics, give them that dose as soon as you remember and then continue their course as normal.
But, if its nearly time for their next dose, then skip the missed antibiotics and never double up to make up for a missed dose. Contact your vet for further advice.
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How To Give Your Cat A Pill
Medicine for cats usually comes in pill form. With medication in hand, keep this in mind: cats are smart creatures that don’t take kindly to changes in their routine, and they won’t make it easy on you. Unlike your dog, who will happily scarf a pill down in a spoonful of peanut butter, you’ll have to approach your cat in a calm but calculating way.
If you have a cooperative cat, try putting the pill directly in her mouth. Don’t toss the pill into her mouth because you run the risk of a choking hazard . Instead, place it on the center of her tongue near the back of her mouth, then gently rub her throat to encourage the pill to go down, advises the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. Offer her a fresh bowl of water to wash it down.
Tips And Tricks For Administering Antibiotics To Cats
Unfortunately, our feline friends are often harder to persuade. Some of the methods above won’t work for cats. Since cats are more likely to chew their food, they’re more likely to spit out the bitter medication if they taste it. Your best bet is getting it right the first time which is much easier said than done!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when administering antibiotics to cats.
Know what not to do
Whenever administering antibiotics to a cat, don’t:
- crush up a pill or tablet into your cat’s food.
- add your cat’s meds to milk, cheese, or another dairy product.
- give your cat cold liquid medication.
- feed your cat “people” food like tuna to encourage them to take their meds.
- approach your cat suddenly or forcefully.
Try the swaddle method
Use the swaddle method as a last resort for a “pawticularly” stubborn cat. Grab a towel or plush blanket and wrap up your cat like a burrito. Then, open their mouth and administer the antibiotic. Be as quick as you can this will cause some stress for your cat. But an annoyed cat is always better than a sick cat!
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Cat Nasal Congestion Home Treatment
Although nasal congestion is often not life-threatening, it can be challenging to be rid of it completely. While some medicinal treatments may need to be prescribed by your veterinarian, you can also do some simple but essential things at home.
Supportive nursing care is one of the most critical parts of a pets recovery process. The antibiotics wont help if a cat is left outside or neglected while sick or healing.
So do the following things to sid in a kittys speedy recovery
- Keep an eye on your kitty for changes in symptoms and mood
- Keep kitty as comfortable as possible
- Keep the environment and food, and water bowls clean and full.
A warm, humid environment
Cats love the heat. If you have ever seen your cat basking in a blazing beam of sunlight, you know this is true.
Although cats are susceptible to heatstroke in warm summer months like the rest of us, keeping your feline friend warm when they are suffering from congestion is imperative.
Cats often wont eat what they cant smell. However, warming food, switching to canned food, or wetting food can really affect the smell receptors.