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Giving a bitter pill

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm having a hard time giving my cat Flagyl, which is bitter. He used to be easily pillable, but after a rough month with a lot of pills, he's now really fighting me. I'd managed to put them in a treat, but this morning he got a taste of the bitter and it was no go... I tried to pill him manually, but he started foaming at the mouth because of the bitterness and almost none got in. (How bad is this? It's an antibiotic so you're supposed to give all... am I going to create antibiotic-resistant germs because I can't give him all 10 doses?)

My problem is that he takes daily heart medication in treats (it's much smaller than the Flagyl), and if he starts to distrust or refuse the treats, I'm up a creek.

So I want to try some different delivery method. I've heard that coating a pill in butter helps mask bitterness. Do you think coating it in oil from a can of tuna would work? I'm leaning toward this since my cat likes fish. Or maybe I could bury it in a bit of the tuna itself.

He doesn't eat or have interest in people food, so I doubt he'd like cheese. I tried peanut butter but he didn't seem to believe it was edible.
post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by emmylou View Post
I'm having a hard time giving my cat Flagyl, which is bitter. He used to be easily pillable, but after a rough month with a lot of pills, he's now really fighting me. I'd managed to put them in a treat, but this morning he got a taste of the bitter and it was no go... I tried to pill him manually, but he started foaming at the mouth because of the bitterness and almost none got in. (How bad is this? It's an antibiotic so you're supposed to give all... am I going to create antibiotic-resistant germs because I can't give him all 10 doses?)

My problem is that he takes daily heart medication in treats (it's much smaller than the Flagyl), and if he starts to distrust or refuse the treats, I'm up a creek.

So I want to try some different delivery method. I've heard that coating a pill in butter helps mask bitterness. Do you think coating it in oil from a can of tuna would work? I'm leaning toward this since my cat likes fish. Or maybe I could bury it in a bit of the tuna itself.

He doesn't eat or have interest in people food, so I doubt he'd like cheese. I tried peanut butter but he didn't want to go near it.
Smokie is the worst at taking a bitter pill. He can spit it out faster and farther than imaginable. One time I put it in his mouth repeatedly 6 times before he finally swallowed it. If you can get it to the back of their mouth, the automatic response is swallowing before they even taste it. I got better with practice. Now he can take one without even knowing he swallowed it. He knows the instant something is hidden in food or treat, excellent sense of smell. I was crushing to a fine powder and then mixing with strong flavored food he likes, such as sour cream, ranch dressing, juice from green olives (he loves green olives) Or I crushed to powder and put in butter and wiped it on his paw, he just has to lick it off, he is the supreme being of clean. Good Luck. We just gotta be smarter than the cat.
post #3 of 18
I know what you mean about trusting the treats...you don't want to lose that.

I have had the most success with empty gel caps. I looked at several places around town for *small* ones, and the only place I found them was my vet. Walgreen's suggested checking with a compounding pharmacy for those...but I haven't checked with them yet. The vet had the tiny ones though.

If you can get your hands on some, just break the pill up and put it in the gel cap. Sometimes I can even hear the gelcap rattling around in their mouth, when my aim is off...and they still go ahead and swallow, 'cause they can't taste it.

And only one of my cats thinks peanut butter is edible, so don't feel bad.
post #4 of 18
I take some capsule pills I have, pour the stuff out, and stick the other pills in. (It's originally a fiber capsule, so if there's any tiny bit left coating the inside, it's probably good for her!) Then I stick the pill under a faucet for just a second. Makes it nice and slippery. If I don't do that, it just sticks to her tongue...

This only works for me sometimes, though. They're such big capsules, sometimes she ends up chewing them and defeating the purpose. If I had smaller ones, it would work brilliantly.

And then there are the pill launcher things at the petstore, which I've looked longingly at. Long skinny turkey baster shaped thing, that supposedly shoots it onto the back of their throat. Don't know what it's really called.

Just some ideas...
post #5 of 18
I just wanted to offer my good luck vibes....we had to pill Beard two pills and both of them were fairly big...and that wasn't fun. The second time round it was one pill that was smaller. But the bugger managed to catch it with the back of his tongue and spit it out. We too tried the butter to no avail....Its all in the timing of the drop when the tongue is away from the roof of the mouth. just like those stuff toy/claw games...ha ha....good luck.
post #6 of 18
Just to say good luck with the pilling! It's a horrible thing to have to do. I found it easier to pill two of my cats with two people; one to hold and one to open the mouth and aim! Also, I found it much easier to tablet Ellie after she'd eaten when she was all dozy or when she had just woken up in a good mood (she's a tortie and very moody!)
All the best
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice. Here's hoping I can get by on some of these tricks, and determination, tonight.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Still having mixed results. Last night I tried again, and again he was running around the house spitting drool all over the floor. This morning I rolled a pill in butter and hid it in a small amount of his wet food; miraculously, he seemed to eat it. Hopefully that will continue... because he's already avoiding his treats and looking at them suspiciously.

I bought some Pill Pockets, but he didn't even want to eat one without a pill in it. I think he disliked the strong smell, because he started pawing the ground like he does whenever there's a "bad smell." I bought the salmon flavor. Has anyone used these? Do your cats like the chicken flavor or the salmon better? Or do they not like them at all?

Still, I'm relieved that I at least got one dose in. That's two out of four... at least it's something.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by emmylou View Post
I bought some Pill Pockets, but he didn't even want to eat one without a pill in it. I think he disliked the strong smell, because he started pawing the ground like he does whenever there's a "bad smell." I bought the salmon flavor. Has anyone used these? Do your cats like the chicken flavor or the salmon better? Or do they not like them at all?
I've used the pill pockets. You hate to hear this, but none of mine have refused them. Well, not until many months of daily usage. They all ambush the kitty that's getting one. I have had more success with Salmon, ironically because of the stonger smell (I think). The chicken ones smell a little less potent, but still pretty smelly.

There are some for dogs that are beef...very stinky. They smell like bacon bits.

There's another product I haven't tried. I think it's called Flavor-doh or something like that. I think it comes in a tub. I haven't been able to find it.

I don't know if your kitty has any dietary restrictions, but another thing I've used is the canned science diet A/D formula. It's only available at the vet. Very fattening and only for short term use, but even my cats that "don't like" canned food will do anything for a spoonful of that, so I have used it to hide medicine. It has a strong smell, to me it smells like vienna sausages.
post #10 of 18
Flagyl has got to be one of the worst meds to give! I know it comes in liquid form, can you ask your vet about getting the liquid? It is much easier to give via a syringe than the pills....those are just rotten to give to a cat!
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
I may have to try the liquid if things don't improve. But I'm worried that even if it's flavored, he'll spit the liquid back out. If I do get the liquid, I'm going to opt for the compounding pharmacy type with the flavors in it... though that'll mean a long drive to pick it up.

If the chicken ones are less smelly, maybe I should try them instead. I know the smell is supposed to mask the smell of pills, but he's not going for it. The gummy quality may be putting him off, too.

No, my cat has no dietary restrictions. And he's loving his regular wet food right now, so maybe that route will work. I tried real tuna, but apparently he doesn't like tuna; go figure.
post #12 of 18
The liquid is still bitter tasting, but in my experince at the local shelter, it goes down a little easier. A compouded would be best! I always hate Flagyl because it tastes so awful & they need it 2x a day. We give shelter kitties canned food after getting dosed with Flagyl.
post #13 of 18
What about using one of those pillers. It looks like a long syringe and you stick the pill in the end of it and shoot it into the back of the cats throat which triggers there swallow reflex. Have you got one of those? I got mine from the vet.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
I bought one yesterday, on the advice of a helpful board member. But I've been afraid to try it so far... because it seems like if any part of the pill touches his mouth, he starts foaming and drooling. The piller would give me a better chance of getting it in fast, before it dissolves, I know.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
Flagyl has got to be one of the worst meds to give! I know it comes in liquid form, can you ask your vet about getting the liquid? It is much easier to give via a syringe than the pills....those are just rotten to give to a cat!
Flagyl is about the worst medicine of all! I had to give it once in liquid form and I filled a syringe with the dosage, then filled it up the rest of the way with canned food juice (find the stinkiest you can get). They still foamed at the mouth on it, but they taste the good stuff first so it gets them to swallow it. Then once the flagyl taste hits them at the end, they start to foam. I keep the juice handy and quickly fill the syringe with more juice. Next time I'll keep 2 syringes handy - one with the meds and one with just juice.

Good luck on this one!!
post #16 of 18
Even with both my mom and me on the case, we never had any luck giving medicine to our cats -- until last month, when a substitute vet gave us a good clear lesson in how to do it. We thought we'd been following the prescribed procedure, but we were off on a couple of important points. Here's what we learned, in case it's helpful:

First of all, liquid is much, much easier than pills. But if you have to use pills, a "piller" is definitely the way to go! The trick with a piller is to coat the pill with something that's slippery enough to make it difficult for the cat to spit out, but not so slippery that it slides right out of the piller before you're ready. So far, cream cheese seems to work best for us -- the "light" whipped kind, rather than the more dense regular version. Canned kitty food would probably work too, but as a vegetarian, I consider it icky.

Point two is positioning. Since I'm right-handed and not very agile, I have to get the loaded piller (or syringe) in my right hand and wait until the kitty is sitting on something that's about counter-height and facing more or less to my right. Then, talking sweetly to him the whole time, I slip up as if to give him a snuggle (oh, I'm devious!), wrap my left arm around him with my hand around his chest, and hold him firmly against my left side. I try to keep my elbow low enough to thwart the kitty's efforts to backpedal.

The third part is what's hard: without easing the pressure that's holding the kitty between my left arm and my side, I have to let go of his chest and quickly wrap my hand behind his head with the thumb and middle finger on opposite sides of his jaw -- not at the corners of his mouth, as I used to think, but farther back, where the actual hinge is (it helps to surreptitiously locate these spots sometime when you're just petting your kitty).

Fourth step: I slide my fingers just a little forward and up, which pulls the kitty's head back at an alarming angle -- it's scary to do, but the vet assured me it doesn't hurt the kitty, and that seems to be true. This either allows the kitty's mouth to fall open or at least makes it hard for him to keep it shut, and that's when I slip the piller (or syringe) into the side of his mouth at an angle toward the back of his throat... and hit the plunger.

All of the above has to happen in about two seconds. It's a very good idea to practice the moves with a stuffed toy until you can do it all in one quick motion.

Final step is to drop the piller and use my right hand to brush quickly upward along the kitty's throat, closing his mouth (gently, so as not to make him bite his tongue), and then hold my thumb under his chin and my fingers up above his eyes to keep his mouth closed for several seconds. During those seconds, I blow into his face, rub his nose with mine, and whisper what a good kitty he is while watching for a swallow. Just to make sure, I'll stroke his throat a few times before I let him go, and that pretty well ensures a swallow.

The kitty usually skedaddles as soon as I release him, but I try to give him a little affection first if he lets me... and I make sure to pour a little fresh water (because the sound attracts him) and give him some treats or a bit of warm milk-replacer right afterward.

Whew.

Very important: you can't give up. Once the kitty learns that resistance sometimes works, he will always resist... so you have to win every time. And conversely, once the kitty recognizes that you're never going to let him escape without taking his medicine, he'll be more cooperative.

Our Dylan resigned himself in just a few days, and oddly enough, he and I became closer during the time he spent on antibiotics than we've ever been before.

I hope this extremely detailed description is useful to somebody! It surely is a relief when you finally get a handle on how to administer medicine to your babies.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks all. I appreciate it. I have used the piller twice now, after coating the pill in butter, and though he still runs around drooling afterward, at least the medicine is going in. I may try syringing a little water in afterward to see if it will keep him from drooling.

I use the position where you kneel and trap the cat between your legs, with your ankles crossed. The part of the positioning I have trouble with is getting my fingers to his jaw from the top of his head... his head's too big, and my hand's too small.

I've been pointing the piller straight down his throat; since he wriggles so much, it's hard enough doing that. I haven't been able to do it from the side of his mouth. Is there any chance I could choke him with the pill or with a syringe of water... could either go down the wrong way and get into his lungs?

I decided to give both his heart medication and the Flagyl with the piller until the Flagyl is done, since he's already avoiding all treats and I want him to forget about that and start to trust them again. He's also avoiding wet food somewhat, since I was hiding pills in there.
post #18 of 18
Hi there,
I've had the same issue: The best way I've found is to pull down on the lower jaw gently, get it right to the back of their throat (don't be afraid to get it to the very back of their tongue), then close the jaw and rub the nose/chin area - it seems to make them swallow. I've also heard of the butter trick but never tried it: might be worth a shot. I've tried to use the pill launcher/turkey baster thing described too, but I found it very awkward.
Good luck!
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