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Compounding Tip for Getting Your Cat to Take a Pill

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Is giving your cat a pill a big pain? I think so. I should know. I am a veterinarian with 15 years of experience and can't get my cat to take a darn pill. I don't want to hold her down each time thus making it a horrible experience for her so I'm been determined to give it to her in food and make it as positive of an experience as possible.

First, I could hide it in a little butter. That worked really well but then she wised up. Somehow, she caught on and developed a butter aversion. Then she would take in it Fancy Feast. This lasted almost a year. In the end, I had to open a fresh can each time I needed to give her a pill but at least she took it. But then...she would eventually find the pill in the food and spit it out. Can you picture it – the cat spitting out the pill and me standing there with a look of disgust that the cat is smarter than me?

Well, here are a couple of alternatives. Some medications can be compounded with different flavorings that may encourage your pet to eat it. This is done by a compounding pharmacist. They do this a lot for kids so they will take medications but they will also do it for cats, dogs and other animals. Flavors may include tuna and chicken, bubble gum, chocolate, and just about every flavor you can think of. I interviewed a compounding pharmacist and he said one cat he compounds for really likes bubble gum flavor. The cat is always trying to lick at it so they flavored her meds with bubble gum flavor and she loves it. However, for cats, the most popular flavors are the tuna and chicken.

If you consider compounding, the best approach might be to either get a very small volume of drug compounded in whatever flavor you think your pet will like best OR ask the compounding pharmacist for a few of the flavors by themselves, take the samples home and see which one your pet likes. Then get the medication compounded with the preferred flavor. It is important to know that even though they might like the straight flavor, they may not like it as much once the medication is mixed in. A good compounding pharmacist will help you by suggesting alternative flavors or adding more flavor to try to get the right "mix" for your pet. Well, chicken flavor compounded worked for a while, but once again, my cat was smarter than me and would not take it.

If that doesn't work, you can try your own compounding recipe. Make sure it is okay with your veterinarian or pharmacist for the medication you are trying to give to be crushed as some medication becomes unstable when crushed. If they indicate crushing is okay, a pill crusher works great to totally pulverize a pill. This is where I am with my cat now and so far so good.

Try this simple triple fish formula recipe:

Take one can of each:

  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Salmon

    Pour juice and all in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. I have to warn you – this can stink!

    Once you have it – put it in an air-tight container like a clean empty cottage cheese container. First – offer a small amount to your cat and act as though it is a VERY special treat. Then, add remove a small amount of triple fish formula and add medication to it. Hopefully your cat will eat it. IF not, you can try diluting the medication by adding a little more fish formula.

    This is good for about 2 weeks when kept in your refrigerator.

    As mentioned above, another option is to find a compounding pharmacist in your area. To find one near you, look in the yellow pages and many pharmacies will advertise if they compound. If not, call and ask.

    Sometimes it might help to mix things up. Try butter or Fancy Feast periodically and see if either of those work again.

    Good Luck!

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