My cat just got spayed. She has a head cone on. She has fresh sutures on her belly. She is a fighter, and she is clearly mad about this whole thing. I have to give her 1cc of antibiotics (amoxicillin) in a syringe twice a day. Also I live alone, and I can't call somebody to come over to help me twice a day every day for the next two weeks, that's not feasible.

I can't do it. It's simply not happening. I struggled for an hour this morning and got nowhere.

I read How do I give my cat oral (liquid) medicine?. I watched https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFRf9PB17Wo. I read http://www.wikihow.com/Give-Cats-Liquid-Medicine. I have a towel. I have treats. I have a work surface of comfortable height. Except none of these instructions take into account that it's impossible to grab the head of a cat wearing a cone.

I tried wrapping her in a towel. Looks easy in pictures, except my body does not contort in the way necessary to keep her from moving. I tried wrapping her in a towel, then using my left hand I guess... I grabbed the front of the towel to keep it tight around her body then leaned in to trap her between my chest and my elbow, but then I can't keep her head still.

I tried tightening the towel then awkwardly leaning on the towel itself to hold it closed, while using one hand to sort of reach into the cone and grab her cheeks, but she backs up and my body isn't constraining enough to keep her from slipping into the towel.

She's the softest cat I have ever met and has zero friction against the towel, which is making this even more difficult.

No matter how tight I have the towel her front paws have a way of... almost squirting (lol) out the front of the towel and directly into my exposed skin. I put on a long sleeve shirt and tried again.

I can't grab her chin because she has a cone.

If I scruff her and hold her down I still can't keep her head still in the cone, and I can't use any spare fingers on my scruff hand to hold her head still because... the cone. And I don't have a third hand.

I tried holding her between my legs facing me, with one hand holding her down, and the other hand grabbing her head with thumb and index finger while somehow holding the syringe between pinky and ring finger, then using my chin to depress the plunger. That... didn't work. It might of, if I were a contortionist.

I tried sitting on the floor, with her between my legs facing me, my right leg flat on the floor but bent to keep her from going backwards; my left leg over top of her to keep her from jumping out, one hand on her face and the other hand coming over top of that hand with the syringe. I couldn't figure out how to make this work and gave up.

I tried with her facing away from me, on the floor, where I kneeled and tried to hold her between my knees, with my feet touching to keep her from going backwards, and one hand holding her head, but then the head holding hand gets in the way of the syringe because I have to reach in from the front because of the cone. Nothing makes sense.

I also don't want to be too rough with her underside, given that a surgeon yanked her ovaries out then sewed her back up less than 24 hours ago.

Plus she was terrified of the syringe right off the bat, and is really, really angry at the cone. I'm being gentle. I'm petting her. I'm talking to her softly. I'm doing everything I can to calm her down, and everything seems to go so well until the moment she sees the syringe.

I looked at the cone after reading the suggestions below to take it off. It's got a lot of plastic tabs to undo and after current struggles I'm not confident I could get it back on, so I am not going to attempt to remove it, even though I'm sure this is the way to go. A more easily removable cone would be nice; but it will take a few days for one to arrive unless I can find a vet with a nicer one.

I've also tried giving her canned food (half of a small can) with the liquid mixed in. She can't really eat it well with the cone on, though, and also doesn't seem to be into it (her normal diet is hard food). I can sort of convince her to eat it if I put it on a spoon and hold it out for her, but not enough to get her the full dose.

This appears to be impossible.

How do I do this? But like, really how do I do this? It's one thing to say "wrap your cat in a towel and hold her still" but keep in mind that I have a fairly typical human body with two legs that bend at the knees, two arms that bend at the elbows, and five normal length fingers on each hand with the standard set of knuckles. Plus the normal laws of physics apply.

6 Answers 6


The purpose of the cone is to keep her from licking (etc) her stitches. You can take it off to give her medications, as long as you monitor her while it is off to make sure that she leaves the stitches alone. Once she has been medicated, put the cone back on.

If getting the cone back on looks too difficult, you could consider these alternate cone ideas.


Many broad spectrum antibiotics also come as tablets (Clavamox, for example, is available as a pill or a liquid). A tablet can be hidden in a pill pocket, cheese, or peanut butter, or it can be crushed and mixed with food. Contact your vet for alternate medications.

  • I just contacted another vet asking about the injection form. They do have pills. They also suggested switching her to canned food and mixing the liquid with it. I'm going to go get some good food right now and try that first. I'm hesitant to switch her diet so suddenly but there are worse things I could do. We'll see how successfully she eats the food with the cone.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 14:47
  • 1
    Will try pills this evening. I can't find a vet with shots. The soft food makes a mess on her cone, creating a simultaneously heartwrenching / amusing situation with her trying to eat it off the cone and hissing at it in frustration. Sort of horse with carrot on a string style.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 15:15
  • I just realized I forgot to come back to this post. While this answer doesn't address how to give liquid meds to a cat with a cone, switching to the pills is what I ended up doing and the original cone issues became moot. I highly recommend anybody in a similar situation immediately asking for pills (or subcutaneous injections, which are simple to administer) instead.
    – Jason C
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 17:24

The other answers are excellent, but if you want to continue trying with the oral meds, here's what I suggest. The process is similar to giving a pill, but it's easier because you don't need to place the medicine so precisely.

  1. I recommend you take the cone off for this process, because it will make it easier to open her mouth.
  2. It's important to breathe normally during the process. This will help your cat stay more relaxed. The easiest way to ensure you're breathing normally is to talk to your cat, which also helps her relax because she's used to the sound of your voice.
  3. You can hold the cat in a variety of ways, but one way you didn't mention that you tried is to kneel on the floor, with the cat sitting between your knees, facing away from you. I use this or the "cat burrito" approach for very nervous cats.
  4. Follow the rest of the procedure described in your link (http://www.wikihow.com/Give-Cats-Liquid-Medicine).
  • Great advice about the breathing. Zaralynda cleaned up my comments, but I looked at the cone after reading the suggestion to take it off. It's got a lot of plastic tabs to undo and after current struggles I'm not confident I could get it back on, so I can't remove it. I'll probably order a better cone and just donate it back to the vet afterwards, but it'll be a few days before that arrives. I actually did try kneeling with her facing away but the cone got in the way of my hands. If I can't find the antibiotics in injection form, new cone is the way to go. Not sure what to do in the mean time.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 19:34

Call your vet and ask if you can use subcutaneous antibiotics in place of oral. Your vet should be able to teach you how to give the med. In essence you hold the cat in a towel or whatever, her head can be completely covered, lift her skin to form a little tent, and inject the antibiotics in the 'tent' space.

There are some risk, but in my opinion they are less than the risk of infection or worse incomplete oral dosage leading to an antibiotic resistant infection.

  • That would be awesome. I'm going to look into that right now. Unfortunately the vet is closed today, because their building got a vacate notice for a day because the building next to it is suddenly about to collapse, because... yay New York City. Hoping another vet will give me a prescription. The universe is clearly against me giving medicine to this cat.
    – Jason C
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 14:36
  • @jason c don't get a prescription, ask a vet who has it to do the one time shot.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 18:37

Have you tried giving the cat the medication in a no-fuss manner? Maybe this will work with your cat : How To Deactivate A Cat

While I do respect a doctor's orders, I feel that sometimes medicine taken slightly different is better than no medicine at all. Is it possible to put the medicine IN a food? For example, tuna is very smelly, mushy, and might mask the medication. It is likely I will be downvoted to hell for even mentioning this, but I just wanted to clarify it is an option, but it is not the best option.

As an aside, its worth noting that animals are extremely perceptive. Cats are very perceptive, so your cat may be noticing your stress levels or other non-standard behavior and being warned ahead of time, or possibly stressed out more. It's always a good idea to take a deep breath, chillax, and try when all is calm. I almost wonder if it's possible to poop the cat out by playing with it so much that it has little energy to be combative with you.


Simple - take the Elizabethan collar off.

We have had at least 11 female cats spayed over the years and not one of them did any damage to the surgery site.

There are simply stupid vets who tell you that you absolutely have to keep the collar on the cat until they are completely healed.

Would you like lugging one of those around everywhere you go, trying to figure out how to eat or sleep with one? I would not like it!

Seriously there is no real need for the collar. Take it off and stay with her for a few minutes to see how she behaves.

Don't freak out if she licks the surgery site, she is simply cleaning it.

As to neutered male - there is even less justification for a collar after surgery. As one vet put it, once the testicles are removed, the scrotum just sort of snaps closed all by itself. I've never known a vet to put in even one suture or use surgical adhesive to close the incision, it closes tightly by itself.

Ditch the collar.


  • 3
    You indicate that E-collars are bad and licking the site is good. This is a very dangerous thing to indicate. Contrary to popular belief, a cat's mouth is not clean. If the cat is already on antibiotics for an infection or risk of infection, allowing the cat to lick the site is going to introduce or re-introduce bacteria into the wound/incision. It's much better for the cat and in the long wrong to make them miserable with the collar then allow them to go without it and continue the infection. Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 19:55

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