How to Face a Difficult Task

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Reader Comments (47)

Assuming your cat indeed has worms, you should probably try a seringe of liquid medicine, it's easier to force-feed it to a cat if you have some help.
The obvious downside is that the cas may vomit it all just to spite you.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSubbak

One experiment I tried with giving a pill to a cat was developing a sort of full Nelson hold with hands only that held the cat's head steady while immobilizing her front legs. Then whichever family member had gotten tagged as assistant could use that syringe thingy to shoot the pill into the cat's mouth.

Unfortunately, this was a slender and flexible cat. She brought her hind legs back over her head and clawed the backs of my hands with her rear claws. I really had to admire the technique.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

Our vet gave us a little pill-shooter thing, that's sort of like a long syringe but with a split rubber tip to hold the pill instead of a needle. It still leaves you with the problem of holding the cat still, but it's massively easier to get the pill way back into their throat so they'll have to swallow it.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOnnaStik

If they are small pills and your cat is a gulper, you can try hiding the pill inside some tasty treat, a little cube of ham or some such.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames D. Gray

You could try a slingshot, or if the pill is small enough, an airsoft rifle.

But if as big as I think it is, a standard 0.68 caliber paintball gun may be the answer. Yes, sometimes guns are the answer.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Pill Pockets.

We have to give pills to our dogs every morning and every night. They just gobble them up in these wonderful smelly things.

I have friends with cats and they have thanked me profusely for introducing them to Pill Pockets.

You can follow Scott's link to Amazon to purchase them.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBOB

How to give a cat a pill: Step one, exchange cat for dog, because what the hell were you thinking? Step two, wrap pill in ham. Step three, put it somewhere.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Um, wouldn't it be a whole lot easier to use suppositories?

For one, no teeth. Second, the claws are facing the wrong way. Third, and perhaps most important, the anus muscles are bound to be much more relaxed than the jaw muscles, especially right after the cat has dumped a load of feces.

Here are some ideas for inserting suppositories in a cat. Get the cat used to you touching its anus, such as routinely wiping the cat's butt with toilet paper after the cat has defecated. Also, make sure the suppositories are small and one end is shaped for easier insertion than the other end.

Another idea, in case your other approaches have become overused and unaccepted by the cat, or the suppositories are ridiculously elongated or large. 1) Do NOT trim the cat's nails. 2) Get the cat relaxed and lying on a carpet, front paws out in front on the carpet. 3) Casually and gently grab hold of the cats hind legs and gradually lift and pull backwards. Ideally, the cat responds by gripping into the carpet with front paws. 4) Quickly slip the suppository into the cat's upended anus. IOW, already have the suppository in hand.

If you don't do it quickly then the anus might tighten up from the cat tensing up, or the cat might loosen the front claws enough to let go and curl up towards your grip. The key is be slow and gentle with hand holding the cat and quick with other inserting the suppository, maintaining tension even if the claws are slipping. It's not much different than gently playing around with cat normally, except the part when you're sticking medicine in its butt.

If it's a female cat, then be sure you've watched the cat defecate at least once so you know which orifice is the anus. (Spoiler alert: It's the orifice from which feces emerged.)

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThom

My cat has hyperthyroid issues. I have to give her two pills a day for the rest of her life.

On the advice of my vet, I got Greenies Feline Pill Pockets. They are a soft cat treat in the shape of an eraser cap (you know, those rubber things you stick on the end of a pencil to replace the stock eraser with something that actually works).

Once a day I take a pill, stick it in the pill pocket, squish it closed, and give it to my patiently waiting, but eager, cat. Once a day my girlfriend does the same. No towels, no trimming claws, no bleeding, no hunting down of all the cat hiding places. Just loud meowing, when I get up in the morning and when I get home from work, as the cat is begging to be pilled.

I heartily endorse the product. If there are competing brands I don't know about them, but they probably work just as good.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBuddha Buck

I've done the towel thing forever, with or without nails trimmed. The first step is to get the cat to trust you. I'm good at that. First, you feed the cat it's fav'rit snack - a Jacks Link beef jerky bit is good.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Kunreuther

Pill Pockets, man. Little cat treats with a hollow in the middle to stick a pill. Work like a charm.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDoctor_Who

Good luck. As someone who has owned eleven cats over four decades, I wish you well. Some cats take pills easily, but if your cat is one of the others, I'd recommend finding or making a good friend who has a gift for pilling difficult cats. I'd recommend marrying such a person (like I did) except that if one already has a spouse, that might be awkward.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

I'd like to interrupt this stream of actually useful advice to point out that this strip is really funny.

Also: New Scott artwork?

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRubrick

We've had great luck with Pill Pockets with one of my cats; for my other cat, we wrapped her blood pressure meds in cream cheese, which she licked and swallowed whole. Pilling a cat by hand is definitely a pain, though.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercat owner

do cats not fall for the "stick it in some cheese" trick? yikes. sorry buddy

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

This is easy! My wife does it. I'm not sure how but I'm assuming it's straightforward.
On an unrelated note, when flying to Barcelona it is advisable to note that the Airport Jet2 call Barcelona South (Reus) is over 60 miles from Barcelona. Just thought I'd mention it

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike Geordie Brown

If I were you lot I would never dare fall asleep again due to the high risk of nocturnal feline revenge.

I would be sitting up in bed with guns and knives all over and around me,

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaddy

Why don't you just buy some really yummy catfood? Not dry pellets. The gooey kind. Disguise the pill(s) in there. The cat will eat it. Promise.

Now do yourselves and your cats a favour and stop unnecessarily wrestling your cats!

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDisThoughts

There's a cheap powder treatment. Sprinkle it over some wet food. Buy it at Wal-Mart. Works great.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTeelabrown

Note to self: Don't read BI while eating breakfast.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDB

Smash it up and mix in with a little bit of canned tuna. Problem solved.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKerrywithaK

Using a towel is simple, easy, and painless... the first time.

What? The cat has no idea you're going to use the towel as a restraint, and it works fine.

But you try that again, you're going to be bleeding.

I learned this by having my cat scratch a cornea.
The Medical procedure was:
Twice a day do the following...
Put these eye drops in your cat's eye.
Wait 15 minutes.
Now put a thin layer of this ointment on your cat's eye.

I'm not sure the Vet understood why I was both laughing and crying.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergekkobear

I just wrapped the pills in some kind of treat or meat. You just have to ensure that the other cat doesn't steal it.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentera

I've got some experience with forcing cats to swallow pills. Try to hold the cat such that any clawed limbs are pinned down. And once you get the pill in the mouth, gently stroke the cat's throat to force her to swallow it. Then I like to offer my cat a treat, partly as a peace offering and partly to check on whether she actually swallowed the pill. She doesn't take the treat if she's still got the pill in her mouth.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterORione

Tightly clasp a fold of skin at the back of the neck where a mother carries her kittens. By reflex the cat will go limp and make the job easier. Massage under the chin to help the pill go down.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Man, you guys are pussies. Our cats know who's boss, and besides if you can't deal with a few puncture wounds and a little blood loss what are you doing with an antisocial carnivore as a pet in the first place?

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterResuna

i was eating when i read that first panel. i no longer want my food

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjschis78

Three words: Greenies Pill Pockets. Solved our pill problem for three cats.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSumocat

It's really a two-person job.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Ahah! So funny and true for a cat owner!

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGianluca Bevere

Why don't you stick the pill into a small lump of cheese? Have 4 small bits of cheese to treat the cat with, hide the pill in the 3rd bit. Done.

...but seriously, Scott, you should probably trim the cat's nails anyway, just so you can tell us all how that went.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMrs B_

Ah, so now we have the explanation for the recent reruns: You were wounded in the line of medicating your cat.

Congratulations on your recovery and well done, sir. Your Humane Society Purple Heart is in the mail.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Walters

"Trussed up like Hannibal Lecter...." Love your imagery, Scott!

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaisy

I remember when my cat had worms. It was disturbing indeed.

Fortunately, the vet had mastered the technique of force feeding pills to cats. He would hold the cat's head like you would a snake (assuming you know how to hold snake's heads), forcing him to open up, and then he would place the pill a little past the middle of the tongue, then he would activate a reflex in the cat by quickly touching its palate.

It was a marvel to watch but I could never pull it off.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAl

I'm guessing 90% of cats aren't going to fall for the pill pocket trick. Heck, half the time finicky cats won't even eat the food you give them. We used to use the towel trick, with varying degrees of injury and blood loss. Also, coated the pill with butter to make it slide down easier.
Dogs are so much easier. Just hide the pill in a treat and toss it in the air. And they will still thank you afterward, instead of plotting your demise.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike N

The best tip I've ever heard for cleaning the litter box: There is very cheap cat litter available. For a mere $2 you can get a large bag of many pounds of cat litter.

You use it to fill the box as usual, and when it comes time to clean it, you just invert the box into a trash bag, and then refill it. No fuss, no muss, no mess, and this methodology tends to set you back about $3 per month per cat. That's probably far less than you're spending on the brand you're using now, and it has the added benefit of not wasting your time "digging for treasure".

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Chosen One

Also, Ed is right. All cats come with an "off switch". Learn how to use it, it's worth the time spent.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterResuna

This is the funniest BI in a while... but the comments have made it even better. I haven't had to pill a cat in over a decade - and I'm suddenly very grateful for that.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnitra

On the rare occasions I have to give my cats a pill, I give them as much catnip as they wish so that they basically "zone out" and then they are more docile and less aggravated when giving the pill.

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPipeTobacco

Step 1: catch cat. hahahaha.

Step 2: wrap cat in towel completely, with one paw sticking out. Speak kindly and if possible, give treat.

Step 3: trim claws on paw1, then swap paws, rewrapping cat into a mummy carefully at each swap. Rear paws will require turning the catmummy around.

Step 4: hold cat vertically with head up. Open cat mouth and, drop pill in. Keep catmummy vertical until they swallow the pill.


those pill pocket things sound nifty.

Seriously, though, after a while my cats see me coming with the towel, and they're just "ok fine, do the nails, but leave me out of the towel."

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterandipandi

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