Depending on where you live and your cat’s lifesytle, deworming your cat might be important for his or her health. Deworming a cat is a simple procedure that you can do at home as your veterinarian instructs.
What may seem difficult is making your cat take the tablet. In this article, we are going to tell you how to give your cat a worming tablet, free from stress, scratches, and bites.
A Few Things about Worming Tablets
There are several types of worming tablets available on the market. Your veterinarian will assess your cat and according to its current state of health, its weight, its medical history, and its environment will prescribe the best type of worming tablet. The doctor will also indicate how many times a year you need to deworm your cat.
Cats that spend time outdoors are more exposed and may need to be dewormed more frequently. House cats, on the other hand, that do not go outside, need fewer deworming sessions a year because they are less exposed to getting parasitic infections. Keep in mind that this does not mean that house cats do not need to be dewormed. Even if they do not go outside, they could still contract parasitic infections from various objects that have been outside, like your shoes.
How to Give Your Cat a Worming Tablet by Hand
This simple procedure requires a bit of preparation on your part, but if you follow these simple steps, everything should go smoothly. Here is a video of what you need to do to help you visualize the procedure. These are the steps:
Step 1 - Setting up the location
You should always assume that your cat will not be very happy to receive the worming tablet, so choosing the right place for the procedure is important. To minimize struggle, you should try to replicate the doctor's table in a vet office. Place the cat on a table or another type of elevated surface to ensure that the cat is at your level.
Placing the cat on the floor is not a good choice because you have to bend over to give it the worming tablet, which reduces your visibility and makes it more difficult for you to concentrate. Moreover, when the cat has a lot of space as it has on the floor, it is much more confident that it can run away. So, put the cat on a table, a counter, even the washing machine to limit its space and to make it more comfortable for you to work.
Step 2 - Minimizing scratches
It is very important to learn how to give your cat a worming tablet and not get scratched in the process. To this effect, if you plan on deworming your cat, trim its claws one or two days before, just as a preemptive measure. Don't trim its claws right before the procedure, though, because the cat will have edgy claws that make scratches painful. One day after its claws are trimmed, the claws will have smoother edges, especially if your cat uses a scratcher.
When you begin the deworming procedure, keep in mind that your cat will want to use its paws and claws to protest you touching its mouth, opening it, and giving it the pill. So the best thing you can do to avoid scratches is to wrap your cat in a large towel. Leave only its head out and cover up its fore and back legs. Wrap the towel moderately tight - it should be tight enough to limit the cat's movement, but not tight enough to hurt it.
Step 3 - Don't forget the chaser
As all cat owners know, cats are not heavy water drinkers, so their mouths are likely rather dry. When you give your cat a pill, some of the protesting might come from the fact that it is difficult to swallow it. This is where the chaser comes in. Before you give your cat the worming tablet, give it something to help it swallow it. In the video, I use a slippery elm bark syrup chaser, which works wonderfully. The syrup is in a syringe (without the needle because this is not necessary). You can also use a pipette dropper for this.
So when the cat is on the table and wrapped in the towel, first give it a few drops of syrup to help it swallow the tablet you are about to give it. To do this, place the syringe or the pipette dropper at the side of its mouth and push it in a little bit. The cat will open its mouth and you will be able to introduce it further. You only need a few drops of syrup for this part.
Step 4 - Giving it the tablet
Now, your cat is ready to swallow the worming tablet, so here's what you need to do to administer it. Use your left hand (if you are right-handed) to keep its head in place - use your index and middle finger to hold the cat's cheekbones, place your hands behind its whiskers, at the base of the mandible, away from its teeth. Grab firmly, but also gently - your hold should be tight enough to be a firm move, but not tight enough to hurt the cat - and then slowly tilt the cat's head back to point the nose towards the ceiling. This will help the cat swallow the pill.
In your other hand, you should have the worming tablet. Hold it between your thumb and index finger. Then, extend your middle finger and apply gentle pressure on the lower incisor teeth to open the cat's mouth. When the cat's mouth is open, keep it in place with your middle finger and use your thumb and index finger to place the pill towards the back of the cat's mouth. The further you can place it, the better.
Then, retract your right hand, and while still holding its head up with your left hand, use your right hand to massage the cat's neck. This will keep its mouth closed and the massage will also stimulate swallowing. When the cat opens its mouth, make sure it does not spit out the tablet. If it does, you should try to administer it again.
Step 5 - The after-tablet syrup
To help the cat swallow the worming tablet, you can give it some more syrup or just water after you have administered the tablet. This also helps with the taste - worming pills may not taste well, so giving it a few more drops of syrup will make the experience less unpleasant for your cat. So, as you are still holding your cat's head in your left hand, use your right hand to administer the syrup. Then, gently release the cat's head.
Step 6 - Strokes and praises
This step is very important and it should not be overlooked. After your cat swallows the worming tablet, you have to let it know that it has done a good thing. So, stroke its head and praise it for being good. Gently loosen the towel and keep on stroking the cat for as long as it likes. Don't take it personally if the cat chooses to jump down from the table and run away to clean itself. Later on, give your cat a treat as a reward.
Alternatives to Giving Your Cat Worming Tablets by Hand
In some cases, giving your cat a worming tablet using your hands is simply impossible. Whether it’s you or your cat who is too agitated by the procedure, administering the pill this way is unsuccessful. If you have tried to give the cat the pill, but it keeps spitting it out, then your cat is most likely angry and it is salivating.
Continuing to try giving it the pill at that moment is not a good idea because it is far more likely to scratch and bite you and because its gag reflex is very strong and it might vomit. So take a break, relax and let your cat calm down. There are some alternatives that you can try if the classic method fails.
Alternative No. 1 - The Pill Popper
This is a device that eliminates the need for you to place your hands inside the cat’s mouth. If this is the main stressor for you, then using a pill popper might make the entire procedure more comfortable for you.
The pill popper is like a large syringe with circular handles that you can use to grasp it and a piston that you push to get the pill in the cat’s mouth. The pill popper has a plastic holder where you place the tablet, and when you push the piston, it pushes on the pill in the cat’s mouth.
To give your cat a worming tablet using the pill popper, you can use the technique described above. What changes is that you can use your right hand to grasp the pill popper, which you can then use as the syringe or pipette. Place it on the side of the cat’s mouth, then inset it gently in the cat’s mouth, and then press the piston and the pill will be released.
Use the back of your hand to keep the cat’s mouth closed after administering the tablet, drop the pill popper, and massage your cat’s throat to stimulate swallowing. When using the pill popper, make sure you insert it gently into the cat’s mouth to avoid damaging the back of its mouth.
Alternative No. 2 - The Straight Forceps
This is a less popular tool to use when administering pills, but it is very efficient. You can use a straight forceps made out of plastic or stainless steel ones made for feeding reptiles that have the rubber at the ends.
Compared to the pill popper, you have more control over your movements. You can follow the process we described above and after you grab the cat’s head with your left hand and tilt it back, grab the tablet with the forceps using your right hand. Place the tip of the forceps on the side of the cat’s mouth and gently push it in.
The cat will open its mouth and you will be able to see its tongue. Your aim should be to place the pill at the back of its tongue. Just loosen the forceps to place the pill and remove the forceps gently. Even if your cat chews on the forceps, there is no danger because the tool is made out of plastic. As for the pill popper, use the back of your hand to close the cat’s mouth, release the forceps, and gently stoke the cat’s throat to stimulate swallowing.
Alternative No. 3 - Giving the Tablet with Food
Some cats simply refuse to take pills, whether they are administered by hand, using a forceps or a pill popper. In this case, you can try tricking them by covering the tablet in something they find tasty. Kitty pate works best because it is easy to mold around.
Worming tablets are usually quite small, so there is a chance that the cat will swallow them when covered in pate. This method is much more useful for dogs because they are physically larger, while the pills are just as small. If the cat does chew the pate, then it will immediately recognize the bitter taste of the tablet and spit it out.
Alternative No. 4 - Crushing the Tablet and Mixing it in Food
This is yet another last-resort solution. Simply crush the pill and mix it in with wet food. You should use a small quantity to make sure the cat eats the entire amount, but enough food to dissipate the bitter taste of the tablet. Please note that you should ask your vet if the worming tablet can be administered like this. Some pills need to remain intact when swallowed for them to be efficient.
Alternative No. 5 - Ask Your Vet for a Different Deworming Treatment
If administering the worming tablet does not work at home, you can take your cat to the vet and they can give it the pill there. But if you don't want to go to the vet’s office every time your cat needs to be dewormed, talk to your vet about alternatives to tablets. There are modern versions of antiparasitic medication that come in other formats, such as spon-on antiparasitic medication (this is usually active for both internal and external parasites, which is an advantage for outdoor cats). Your doctor will decide if these are suitable for your cat.
Now that you know how to give your cat a worming tablet by hand, as well as some alternatives to the classic approach, we hope that you are successful. Have you ever tried to do this at home? Does your cat take pills easily or does it put up a fight? Tell us about your experience and your cat's reaction in the comments section below.