Cats can contract an intestinal parasite known as Dipylidium, a type of tapeworm, through the ingestion of fleas. A tapeworm infection has potentially debilitating effects on your cat and requires treatment with specialized medication. Depending on the infection, your veterinarian will recommend an anti-helminthic medication (which kills the tapeworms) to administer to your cat, usually in tablet or liquid form, according to Pet Place. Give this medication to your cat by mouth as directed by your veterinarian, with the dosage usually based on the weight of your cat.
How to Administer Tapeworm Tablets to a Cat
Try to administer the tablet in your cat's canned food or another favorite food. Crush the tablet using a mortar and pestle or spoon and bowl. Mix in the crushed tablet with a small amount of canned cat food, cream cheese or other soft food item. Check that your cat eats all of the medicated food to receive the full dose of the medication.
Administer the pill by hand if your cat will not eat it in food. Place the cat on a chair and wrap it in a towel. Approach the cat from behind, wrapping both arms around the cat. Tilt the cat's head upwards toward the ceiling. Open your cat's mouth while tilting the head upwards by inserting your index or ring finger into their mouth.
Take the tablet with the other hand not holding your cat's mouth open. Holding it between the thumb and index finger, place it as far back in your cat's mouth as possible. You can also throw it into the cat's mouth, aiming as far back as possible. Quickly close your cat's mouth and hold it closed with one hand while massaging under the mouth with the other to cause the cat to swallow the tablet. Alternately, blow sharply on the cat's nose to make it swallow.
Release the cat and watch it for a minute or two to ensure that the cat does not spit the pill out. If the cat spits out the tablet, simply pick it up and repeat the process above.
Use a pilling device if your cat is particularly difficult. Purchase this device in a pet supply store or ask your veterinarian for one. This plastic tube-like device holds the pill and slips into the cat's mouth, as far back as possible, and has a lever that releases the pill into the cat's mouth. It avoids having to use fingers to insert the pill.
How to Administer Liquid Tapeworm Medicine to a Cat
Attempt to administer the liquid in your cat's canned food or other favorite food. Mix in the liquid with a small amount of canned cat food, tuna broth, cream cheese or other soft food item. Ensure that your cat eats all of the food to receive the full dose of the medication.
Administer the liquid medication directly if your cat will not eat it mixed with food or other treats. Place the cat on a chair or table, wrap it in a towel, and hold the cat from behind. Open your cat's mouth by placing your index or ring finger into the cat's mouth.
Fill the dropper to the line for the proper dose of medicine. Using the hand that is not holding your cat's mouth, insert the dropper into the side of the cat's mouth, between the teeth and cheek. Using the dropper, squirt the medication into the cat's mouth, closing its mouth with one hand when the dropper is emptied and stroking it's neck with your other hand to encourage swallowing. Also try blowing forcefully into your cat's face to encourage swallowing.
Ensure your cat swallows the full dose of the medication and does not spit the medicine back out after releasing her, by watching her for a minute or two after the administration of the medication.
Another method of giving tablet medications to cats is the use of "Pill Pockets" or similar treats, available in pet supply stores or through your veterinarian. These are flavored treats that wrap around tablets or pills and mask the taste of the medication, encouraging cats to eat it. Contact your veterinarian about dosing instructions for the medication specific to your cat. Before administering medications to your cat, trim their nails to avoid scratches.
When administering liquid tapeworm medication to your cat, never tilt the head upwards as you do with tablet medications. Doing so can cause the liquid medicine to enter the windpipe of the cat.
Black Cat image by Chris Kincaid from Fotolia.com
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.