How to Administer Oral Antibiotics to Cats


Giving a cat oral antibiotics isn’t as difficult as it may sound. All you need are a positive attitude and a plan of action. If you’re organized, calm and gentle with your cat, the cat should take the medicine without a struggle.

Things You'll Need

  • Oral syringe
  • Treats
  • A large bath towel
  • Liquid from a can of tuna, smelly wet cat food, American cheese or liverwurst
  • Pill Pockets

Giving Liquid Antibiotics

Ask your veterinarian for an oral syringe. It will be easier to use than the medicine dropper that comes with the antibiotic.

Draw the antibiotic up into the syringe before approaching the cat. If you approach the cat and draw up the medicine while she's watching, she's likely to try to escape.

As you’re approaching the cat, say his name and talk quietly to him. Visualize him taking the medicine without a struggle. Keep the hand holding the syringe at your side, not aimed at the cat’s face.

Put the palm of one hand gently on top of the cat’s head. Raise her chin with your thumb.

Slip the syringe between the cat’s teeth on the side of his mouth and push down the plunger of the syringe.

Praise the cat and give her some treats.

Giving Antibiotic Pills

Approach the cat, pill in hand, saying his name softly and talking gently.

Sit in front of the cat, with one leg on either side of her.

With one hand, gently pull the cat’s head back until his nose is pointing straight up. Use the other hand to open the cat's mouth and pop the pill into the back of the mouth. Don’t hesitate. You’re more likely to get the pill into the cat’s mouth if you act confidently and quickly.

Rub the cat’s throat, blow gently in her face or open her mouth and quickly shut it again. Any of these will make the cat swallow, if she hasn’t already.

Give the cat a bite of wet food or meat baby food as a reward and to move the pill out of his throat and on the way to his stomach.

Medicating Resistant Cats

Sit on the floor with the cat between your legs. Press your legs firmly around the cat. She won’t be able to squirm away.

Using a large bath towel, wrap the cat the way you would the filling of a burrito. Make sure the front paws are tucked securely inside the towel.

To disguise oral antibiotics, mix liquid medicine or a crushed pill in a tiny bit of liquid from a can of tuna or smelly wet cat food. Hide an uncrushed pill in a soft moist treat, a tiny ball of American cheese or liverwurst. Some cats will take medicine hidden in Pill Pockets, which you can find at most pet supply stores.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most cats are more accepting of liquid antibiotics than they are of pills.
  • Always follow a pill with some wet cat food, meat baby food or water. Pills that linger in the esophagus can cause painful erosive esophagitis.
  • Never hide medicine in your cat's regular food. The cat will know something is "wrong" with the food and will refuse to eat it.

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