Helping your sick cat at home

So your cat has been sick and perhaps even had to be hospitalized for diagnosis and treatment. Successful treatment of illness may partly depend on your ability to continue care at home, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds! Your veterinary team should assist by providing information about your cat’s illness, guidance on how to carry out home treatments, and ongoing support and follow up.

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Medications are often available in different forms, such as liquids versus pills or tablets. Discuss options with the veterinary staff to determine which is most appropriate for you and your cat. In some cases, medications can be flavoured to make them more palatable. Special types of treats are available for administering pills as well. A veterinary staff member should be able to give you a demonstration on how to administer medications such as pills, liquids, and eye drops or ointments.

While it might seem like an easy option to simply add your cat’s medication to food, that is not always a good plan. Some medications should not be given in that way, while others will give an unpleasant taste to the food, leading your cat to refuse both the medication and the food.

Here are some tips and tricks to help with administering medications:

  • Establish a routine for giving medications and follow the same pattern every day
  • A bathroom sink lined with a soft towel provides a secure place to give medications
  • Be sure to give positive reinforcement such as a treat or a brushing when administering medication goes well
  • Don’t forcibly remove your cat from a hiding place or interrupt eating or using the litter box to give medication
  • If you are having difficulties, call your veterinary clinic for help

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Nursing Care for Your Cat: Practical Tips for Cat Owners is a useful brochure full of advice

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Step-by-step instructions on how to give a pill or capsule (Partners in Animal Health video)

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Step-by-step instructions on how to give liquid medications (Partners in Animal Health video)

[Dr. Susan Little]

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