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It is just bigger than a freckle. However, Earl Gray, my cat can find the tiny pill buried in his food. He can lick his bowl to where it sparkles–and leave behind the meds.

The pill is cut in half, and it is my job to make sure he gets one half in the a.m. and the other half at night. We found out that Earl has an overactive thyroid. I suspected that because he was ravenous. He has always been fit and trim. Now he is a mere six pounds.

This is really the exact size.

My son, Jordon, and I took him to our vet a few days ago. I was hoping he didn’t have a kidney problem. That is always bad news. Thryoid is something I’m familiar with; I have an under active one.

Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Veterinarians estimate that about two percent of cats over the age of 10 will develop an over active thyroid. The good news is that it is treated with a tiny pill called methimazole or the brand name Tapazole. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to heart or kidney failure.

This is Earl Gray.

Earl had several symptoms. He was constantly leading me to the refrigerator and the cupboard where his food is kept. He was demanding more food. When I put food down, he would gobble it up. Despite eating more than normal, he was losing weight. He was also drinking more water, hacking up his food, and missing his litter box.

In all of his 14 years in this house (we found him at age 4), he never missed the litter box. I put on a pair of shoes in the master bedroom closet and found some vomit in there. I shrieked, and Jordon thought it was funny seeing me jump up and immediately put my foot in the sink to clean it.

While it was gross, I was very worried about Earl. I was also concerned about getting Earl to swallow his pill. My husband, Steven, who is oh so wise, gave Earl a tiny piece of American cheese. (I hate American cheese, and Earl loves it.) Then he took a second tiny piece of American cheese and pressed the pill into it in such a way that Earl couldn’t detect the pill. All he could see is a small round piece of American cheese, which he gobbled down.

So, while dairy isn’t the best food for a cat (too much can cause diarrhea), I am giving him about a thumbnail portion of American cheese twice a day. It’s the easiest way to get him to ingest this pill without his knowledge.

We go back to the vet in three weeks for more bloodwork. Hopefully, Earl will be on this medication for life and will live a long long time.

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14 comments to Getting a Cat to Take a Pill

  • I hope Earl is on the road to recovery! Ty also has a thyroid condition – but his is under-active. He’s had it for a number of years now, and I always know when his medication needs to be adjusted because he starts putting on weight, though is food intake hasn’t changed. He also get a grouchy – more grouchy than he already is. =)

  • That’s a good trick with the cheese! Whenever my Mom has to give her cat a pill, it’s a major affair! I hold Smokey, wrapped in a towel, while she pries his mouth open and pops the pill in. It’s never fun for anyone πŸ™

    I am happy that Earl Grey has a common,manageable condition! I was a little worried when you had told me that he wasn’t feeling well.

  • Good luck to all and Earl especially!

    My parents’ cat Jarcy (now at the Bridge) was a Princess-and-the-pea type pill detector as well. It didn’t matter how small it was or how well they hid it, she would find it and spit it back on the floor so she could continue to eat the rest of her dinner uncontaminated. We used to put hers in a little bit of tuna (with a decent amount of “tuna juice”) and that seemed to be good enough for her. We still don’t know if she couldn’t taste it or if she had just figured out how to make us give her tuna every day for life πŸ˜›

  • Leslie

    Henry, my mini poodle, has arthritis at the top of his spine and in his shoulders. He’s had about 6 laser treatments, which has helped tremendously. Henry now takes glucosamine and chondroitin and a multi-vitamin once per day. Luckily, they are liver flavored, so he thinks that the pills are treats. The vet has restricted Henry’s walking, so when we take long walks, Henry rides in a pet stroller that he thinks is his royal carriage. However, sometimes when Henry has spent an hour chasing squirrels in the park which he never catches, later in the evening he will limp and cry, and we give him a liquid NSAID that was prescribed by his vet. The NSAID is mixed into a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt, which Henry loves.

    Of course, Henry loves practically all people food. I think of him as my dishwasher, as he loves to lick the plates before they go into the dishwasher. Last night, he ate cooked string beans (from our garden) and some swordfish. He finished dinner off by licking the bowls of Kemp’s frozen peach yogurt we had for dessert and then collapsing on top of me demanding belly rubs.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading your very personal story. It brought a smile to my face. I hope that Earl has a very long life.

  • If you want to move away from Dairy, try out the PillPockets. My cat likes the taste of it, and I used it initailly to give my cat Azodyl. It’s a supplement for cats with kidney disease. The down side is that the supplement is in capsule form and cannot be crushed. It has to be swallowed whole. I had to stop using the pill pockets because even though she was eating it just fine, she was crushing the capsule in the process. I had to go out and get a pill pusher and I now use that for her meds. It’s not a fun process, but she’s gotten used to it and is pretty good at letting me use it on her.

  • Jarcy sounds like a smart kitty, Jess. I’m sure she had a wonderful life.–Best, Michele

  • Thanks Karen, I was worried too. We go back to the vet in 3 weeks to repeat the blood work, but he really seems to be doing well.–Michele

  • Marie France

    Hi, thought I’d share the following ways to make a cat swallow medicine:(they work for me and mine)
    1. The ‘hard’ way: lick the tip of your right index and ‘stick’ a pill on it. Grab the cat calm but firmly in its neck (as the kittymom does)with your left hand and lower the cat’s jaw with the middlefinger of your right hand. Then put your index with the pill on it in the the cat’s mouth, as far as you can, basically at the back of its mouth. Close its mouth and rub neck to enhance swallowing.
    This works for my feline heart patient, Rasputin, who has to get 2-3 pills a day. He doesn’t like it, but he’s resigned to it, doesn’t even flee when I come up to him with his meds. Keeping him alive for 5 years now.
    2. The ‘soft’ way: Grind down the pill(s) in a mortar and mix them with a pinch of butter. Rub the butter on the upperside of the cat’s front paw, against the grain/hairs. The cat’ll want the ‘dirt/yummie butter’ off pronto and will lick itself clean, thus ingest its meds. Has work numerous times for me.
    Hope this will be useful for some of you too πŸ™‚

  • Thanks Marie, This is quite helpful!–Best, Michele

  • Helen Vassos

    Hope Earl of Grey recovers – My cat is young still, but we have had to give her some meds and it has been difficult.
    Thank you for the comments and advice and especially to Marie France..

  • My dog, Eddles, has an underactive thyroid … 5 pills a day! Lucky I can just wrap them in a ball of hamburger and he wolfs them down.

  • You are lucky Alice. Earl got tired of the American cheese, and now he gets a dab of cream cheese. I have to find something else. Michele

  • I have a kitty with an autoimmune problem and she takes about the same sized pill (prednisilone) daily. I buy the soft Purina Whisker Lickins at Target and push the pill into the center (usually the heart shaped treat) and roll it up into a little ball. I give it to her, make her finish it and then give her a couple more.

    She is impossible to pill (I’ve used the pill shooter and other techniques . .but she’s just too smart and stubborn!) and she got wise to the pill pockets but we have been using this method for over a year and it seems to work!

    I hope Earl is feeling better soon- one of my other kitties had the Radioactive Iodine treatment 3 years ago (he was 10) and now is getting skinny again πŸ™ Tests showed that he is still good, but I worry about him.

  • They are smart Julie! And Earl is doing so much better. We take him back to the vet in two weeks. Thanks–Michele