I have had my cats almost since birth, and they are now approximately ten years old. They are very friendly with me and let me touch them anywhere, especially if it involves belly rubs.

After diagnosing one of my cats as having allergies, I now have to give her medication every day. It is liquid, but I put it in a size 4 gelcap (very small) and use a pill popper to get it in the back of her mouth. I then hold her mouth closed until she swallows, so she does not spit it back out. This is obviously an uncomfortable act for her, no matter how necessary it is.

This causes a problem. While she allows me to pet her and give her belly rubs, she freaks out any time I pick her up. If she is sitting on the floor and I walk over to her, she hides from me. If she is laying on the couch or a bed, she does not seem to mind me approaching. Clearly, the daily medication ritual has her unnerved. She is still friendly to me, however, she tries to avoid contact if she thinks it is medicine time.

I did read a few other questions about similar issues, but they are all centered around a new cat. I have had her for almost a decade, and this behavior is new. I would like for her to trust me again. This is not so much about gaining the trust and affection of a cat, but regaining her trust - she is still affectionate to me and will even jump into my lap. I just have a difficult time picking her up or approaching her at times.

Her allergies require daily medication for the rest of her life. Her allergy is not one that I can eliminate via environmental changes. After consulting with the veterinary allergist, the only available medication for cats is liquid Atopica (which I put into a gel cap for easier administration). Unfortunately, this is not an issue I can address via the root cause (daily pills) and I must address the behavioral aspect.

  • What is the allergy? This behavior will almost certainly continue as long as you have to give oral meds. Can the allergen be eliminated? Is there an alternative med/remedy? You can also try to put cap into a treat she likes or pill pocket. You can make an association with her meds as something enjoyable. She needs to be redirected . There are a number of possible solutions. Please give more detail as to the nature of her allergy.
    – M.Mat
    Commented May 28, 2017 at 4:36
  • 1
    @M.Mat please read the question I linked: the word "allergies" is linked to my previous question where I provide those details.
    – user907
    Commented May 28, 2017 at 16:46

2 Answers 2


Your cat now associates being picked up with being fed a pill. You will have to recondition her to associate being picked up with good things / things she likes.

Start by not picking her up and just petting her gently and giving her a cat treat. Do this several times a day for a few days. Next pet her gently then pick her up for a fraction of a second and set her down gently immediately. Give her lots of praise and a treat right after you set her down. Over time you can start picking her up for longer and longer periods then rewarding her.

Cats naturally tend to not like being restrained so look into a good cat holding technique. Cats usually like their back legs supported. Over time you will condition her to associate being picked up with getting praise or a treat and she should tolerate being picked up more.


I would look into alternative less stressful methods of delivering the medication. When I had to give my cat pills I quickly found the easiest way was just to hide it in some wet food or wrap it in some ham (which he loves) and deliver it that way.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.