Q: My cat is impossible to pill and liquids aren’t much better. The last time she needed two weeks of antibiotics was murder. Is it possible to give a one shot injection instead and are there any downsides?
A: Cats could give master classes on how to avoid being medicated. Hissing, spitting, growling, clawing — and that’s just when they see the pill bottle coming out of the cupboard!
There are lots of videos out there about “easy” ways to pill a cat. Grab her here, open the mouth like this, aim for the back of the tongue… Speak quietly, dim the lights, offer treats. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a cat that’s docile enough to do that. If you’re even luckier, you’ll have a cat that will eat the pills in food or a treat. But for the other 99% of cats, what are your options when Grizabella needs her medicine?
As I said, some cats will take their medicine in a treat, like Pill Pockets. Some pills come as chewable flavored tablets that some cats will take as treats. One option to consider is having the medication compounded into a “flavorful” liquid (like chicken, or beef or tuna). There are many specialized pharmacies around now that can easily compound medication to make them less offensive.
There are injectable antibiotics available now that are long-lasting, which may be an option for some cats. But, while it might be more convenient, there are downsides to those long-acting injections. First, they can be VERY expensive. Second, those antibiotics tend to be very powerful, and are not appropriate for all types of infections. Third, if there are any side effects (like diarrhea), you’re stuck until the antibiotic leaves the body in 2 to 3 weeks. While there are appropriate circumstances for these one-shot injections, they are not for everyone.
Sometimes, a more appropriate approach is to use a once-daily injection of antibiotics. Some cats (and clients) tolerate these very well.
Another recent advancement in treatment is the use of transdermal medications. These are medications that are compounded into an ointment that can be easily applied to an area of exposed skin, like the inside of the ear flap. This is a common method for treating hyperthyroidism, and there are many other medications that can be compounded in a similar fashion. One caveat: it is unclear how effective some medications may be if administered transdermally, and it may not be appropriate in all situations.
If Rumpleteaser turns into a firestorm at the mere thought of medication, talk to your vet about options. Your kitty will thank you later – even if it’s reluctantly.
Editor’s note: For some our cats we’ve had success finely crushing a pill in a small mortar and pestle and mixing well into wet food.
Have a question for Dr. G? Email me at Layla@laylamorganwilde.com