3 Top Tips When Dealing with a Sick Cat

PetMD Editorial
Updated: May 16, 2017
Published: March 29, 2010
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Meow Monday


Perhaps it’s my recent biking mishap (managing to dislocate my elbow after going over the front of the handle bars … and yes, it was as painful as it sounds), but illness and injury is on my mind.

Most cat owners have had to deal with an ill or injured feline at some point, and we know it’s never fun. Our baby is hurting and cats…they’re not the best patients. So, how to deal? Here are three top tips to help you out.

Just a Spoonful of Sugar...?

With a dog, just pop the pill in a treat and everyone is happy. Not so with a cat. She’ll sniff it out and eat around it, or simply ignore it. Pop it in her mouth? Not as easy as it sounds. My cat is big, so after experimenting with different techniques, I’ve found the best way is to grab him, ‘sit’ on him (trap him between my legs so he can’t escape), gently open his mouth at the base of his jaw with my thumb and forefinger and put that pill as far down the back of his throat as possible.

But don’t let go! Close your kitty’s mouth and then, holding her still, massage the throat, which will encourage her to swallow. When you let go, watch to make sure your sneaky cat doesn’t spit the pill out.

Liquid medicine is the same routine. Open the mouth and squirt it in with the syringe.

Let the Carrier Do the Hard Work

Trying to get a scared cat into a carrier (especially a cat who knows where she’s going) can often seem an impossible task. Cats seem to sprout four extra legs with super sharp claws and not even the most enticing of treats can help. So, what to do?

Tip the carrier on its end so the opening is facing the ceiling. Wrap a towel around your cat and drop her in, towel and all. Close up the carrier then put it right side up. Your cat will not be pleased, but you also won’t be needing stitches.

Collars Aren't Just For Fashion

The Elizabethan collar, or cone as we call it around here, are employed by veterinarians for a reason. It’s used to stop wily cats from getting out of their bandages and licking the wound. Your cat may mope and look sad, but do not remove the cone. I’ve had my cat manage to back into a corner and wiggle out of almost full-body bandages. Cats are crafty creatures, so make sure the cone is fitted correctly and trimmed to the right length so your kitty can eat and drink. If you have to change bandages and wash wounds, I definitely recommend using both treats and a good, trusted friend to help in the task.

So, now you have three great tips to help you cope with an unwell kitty. Let's just hope you’ll never have to use them.

Meow! It’s Monday.