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Cat Medications - What Cat Owners Need to Know About Medications

If you’re like a lot of cat owners, you know your cat’s daily routine. If you notice your cat is not following his or her usual activities, or if you see a change in behavior patterns, those could be subtle but important clues that your cat is sick. As a pet parent, it’s time for you to step in and get the vet on speed dial. Behavioral changes are nothing to fool around with. When your cat starts to hide, instead of purring on the windowsill, it’s time to find out why. Cats are so good at hiding pain and illness that even the smallest changes in their behavior can be a sign of a serious problem.

If one of the veterinarians at Berry Farms or Concord Road Animal Hospitals discovers that your cat has a short-term illness or an ongoing chronic health issue, your kitty may need prescription medication, and it will be your job to give it to him or her. Administering medication can be challenging when your cat doesn’t want to cooperate. At Cupola Animal Hospitals, we are here to explain how you can give your cat medication successfully without stressing out your feline friend or yourself.

Are prescriptions generally more effective than over-the-counter medications?

Depending upon what the scenario is, our prescriptions are typically more effective than over-the-counter medicines. But it depends upon the condition we're trying to treat. If it doesn't require prescription medications, we don't want to use it. But it seems that most of the time, the cases that we see require some type of prescription to get the results that we like.

Dr. Mitch McKee
Cupola Animal Hospitals - Berry Farms Animal Hospital

Can my cat get what they need from diet alone?

Diet is essential for ourselves and our cats. And some diseases benefit greatly from dietary change. Some of those would be like kidney disease, or if you perhaps have some type of bladder stone or bladder crystals. Or obviously, for weight management. Having the proper diet's going to be necessary.

But overall, having good nutrients and having a good food source will help your cat's overall body condition, just in terms of feeling better and making sure we can maintain proper organ function as best as possible.

What are different types of cat medications used to treat? And do you have any tips on how to give my cat medicine?

Well, there's a wide array of cat medications. We have antibiotics, pain medications, antifungals, antiparasitic drugs, and antihistamines. We also have some anti-cancer therapies, and most people are familiar with cats and hairballs. So there's medication for hairballs. Some cats need steroids for different things. And maybe we need something to help us not vomit if we have an upset stomach.

Cats will be one of our most challenging patients to medicate, and how to give them medicine is a question that we get very often. Often, people have a preference of whether they want to try a tablet or a liquid. I'd say, for the most part, most people choose to do liquid medication. It is easier.

Fortunately, we have medications now that can be given once a day, which takes a little bit of the work out of it. And also, we're fortunate to have some medications that are injectable and can last for multiple weeks. So those are particularly more of our steroid medications or one antibiotic that we use that can last for two weeks.

So, anytime that we feel like we're going to have a difficult patient to medicate, we'll try to use those injectable medications when we can. However, it doesn't fit every scenario. And so you have to get a little creative. Sometimes cats will take medications and treats. Sometimes you can crush the tablets up and put them on the food or sprinkle a capsule on the food. Or maybe perhaps mix it with water and give it in a syringe.

With our compounding pharmacies today, there are also options for the use of transdermal medications, which are gels that are rubbed inside your cat's ear, which they seem to tolerate very well.

What To Know About Giving Your Cat Medicine

If you have ever attempted to give your cat medication, you know it can be quite a challenge for both of you. We’re here to give you some tips to get the job done right, the first time, and still be buddies with your cat. Some cats may run and hide while others may be curious. The following tips may help:

Tips On Giving your Cat Medication – Pills, Liquid, or Transdermal Gel

  • For administering pills to your cat, you can use Pill Pockets. These are soft, tasty treats that you insert the pill into to disguise the cat medication.
  • Pill guns are designed to place the pill on the back of the tongue, where the cat is least likely to reject the medication.
  • Some medications are available in liquid form. Your veterinarian will talk to you about dosing and how to properly administer the liquid medication. Liquids can be compounded to a flavor your cat enjoys.
  • Some medications are available as transdermal gels, meaning that they are applied topically like a lotion. With transdermal gets, it is important to understand the absorption rate and pay close attention to dosing.

How To Give A Cat Liquid Medicine

If you have to medicate your cat for a long period of time, have a game plan. You will want to be prepared with a plan of action. While every cat is different when it comes to taking medications, most cats respond well to positive reinforcement when administering cat medications. You will have a quick window of opportunity to medicate your cat before he or she changes his or her mind. Trying to medicate your cat on the ground is much more difficult and tough on both of you. Place the cat comfortably on a high table.

What To Do When You Need To Refill Your Cat Prescription

Most vets have a well-stocked pharmacy. It is best to get your pet’s prescription filled at your veterinary hospital. Some drugs that need to be compounded or flavored have to be made and then either picked up or mailed to you. For refills on medications, call your veterinarian. Your pet may need to have occasional blood tests to make sure he or she is on the correct dosage throughout the prescribed treatment.

What is Prescription Cat Food?

Prescription cat food is formulated for specific health issues your cat may have. There are certain health conditions that will benefit from prescription cat foods. These foods are formulated by veterinary nutritionists. Your cat may turn his or her nose up at first when you introduce a new food, but it’s all for the best.

Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing my cat's need for pain medication?

Well, we don't have very good pain medications for cats. The way they process certain things, like Tylenol, for instance. It can be challenging for cats to break that down or some of our other anti-inflammatories. And also, you can think your cat's in pain, but it may also be having some type of distress and may be vocalizing the cause of that. But we want to be careful about diagnosing pain and, especially, giving pain medication without advice because we don't want to have any adverse effects on the cat's liver or kidney function.

Why is early detection so crucial in getting a good result from cat medications?

Just like anything else, early detection is essential for longevity, for getting a handle on the situation as quickly as you can. And the quicker you can pick up on a disease, the more advantage you have of giving that cat a longer lifespan and more quality of life.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 224-7776, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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