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So, I have an elderly cat (14-year-old Russian blue). As he is getting advanced in years he is having more and more medical problems and needs to take a course of pills once a year or so for one thing or another.

Problem is, he's gotten really, really good at not taking pills.

He seems to have grown an amazing amount of willpower when it comes to not opening his mouth when I put my fingers by the back of his lips. When I do finally get his mouth open and pop the pill in, regardless of which placement technique and no matter how deep I get it in he seems to have figured out how to push it out with his tongue. No matter how much I hug and cuddle him before and after he simply refuses to go gently into that good night.

For a while I tried hollowing out some of his favorite treats to put the pills inside, but he's learned that trick too, and has opted to no longer accept those particular treats anymore.

Oh, and pill pockets don't work - he just eats the pocket around the pill.

For now the only thing I can seem to do is put the pill in his mouth and then hold it shut until he swallows, but this seems incredibly inhumane and regardless he's figured out how to push the pill out before I get his mouth closed anyway.

Does anyone have any ideas for how to coerce a way-too-smart-for-his-own-good cat to take his dang medicine? Ideally without traumatizing him!

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For now the only thing I can seem to do is put the pill in his mouth and then hold it shut until he swallows, but this seems incredibly inhumane and regardless he's figured out how to push the pill out before I get his mouth closed anyway.

In my experience, just keeping his chin up until the pill has been swallowed is sufficient; you don't need to hold his mouth shut. I expect that it's less frightening for a cat to have his chin held up than to have his mouth held closed.

As Harry V. mentioned, I suspect you may not be putting the pill far enough back on the tongue. A pill gun may solve your problem.

Another tip: I give a small treat before pilling, and another one after. So even during the process, the cat has something to look forward to.

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  • Well, for now that seems to have worked - buttering him up with treats before, holding his chin up while he swallows, then giving him more treats after. This was the least difficulty I'd had in pilling him in years. Hopefully this holds out for the rest of the week. :) – fluffy Mar 15 '17 at 19:48
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    First pet and relax the cat and get yourself into position to gently hold the cat. Once relaxed gently hold the top part of the mouth and open the bottom part with your thumb. The trick is to toss the the pill into its mouth so it goes to the far back of the oral cavity. Gently close the mouth and gently pet /stroke the cats throat. Once you are done give the treat at the end so the cat associates the whole process with getting a treat. – Beo Mar 17 '17 at 17:53
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As I'm sure you know, the key is really getting the pill as far back in he mouth right away so they have no choice but to swallow. A pill gun (or piller) my be helpful in this respect, which allows you to stick the pill further back in the mouth. There are a large number of variations of these products online or at pet stores.

If you have to give multiple medications, it can be helpful to purchase gel capsules and stick all the pills in them, so you just have to go through the operation once.

There is really no magic solution I'm afraid. If you are really continuing to struggle with the pills, ask you veterinarian about the possibility of getting the pills compounded into a different or more palatable form, such as a liquid or chewable. While compounding pharmacies vary in their prices, even though you will pay it bit more you may be able to save yourself and the cat an enormous amount of stress.

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