How to Pill a Cat

cat_staring_at_pillAs virtually every kitty parent who has ever had to administer meds to their pets knows, attempting to pill a cat is one of life’s most daunting challenges.

Even the most docile of kitties may become akin to ferocious jungle cats when faced with the prospect of having to swallow pills.

And while your vet may recommend that you sprinkle the meds into your cat’s food or water, you can’t always be sure that the kitty is actually ingesting the meds. And not all cats like those flavored pill pockets many vets recommend.

As someone who has a great deal of experience as a kitty nurse, due to the battery of meds my late kitty, Omar, was on for months, I possess a particular expertise when it comes to the most effective ways to get felines to take their meds.

Below are some foolproof tips.

The Crusher and Baby Medicine Dropper Technique


I find this to be the easiest way to administer both pill and liquid meds to cats.

If the pills are in granular capsule form, follow the steps below. For whole pills, I purchased a pill grinder.

For easy dosing, I bought a rubber-topped medicine dropper designed for babies at a pharmacy (you can also find them in the baby section at many supermarkets), which pulls liquid into the tube via squeezing the bulb at the top.

I would draw the proper amount of water (you can also use broth or tuna juice) in which to dissolve the pill powder into the syringe, and then squirt it into a small glass. I next would sprinkle the pill powder into the glass, and swirl and mix the powder and liquid with the tip of the dropper until the powder was fully dissolved.

Next, I would draw the liquid mixture into the syringe, hold my kitty on my lap, gently pry his mouth open by placing my hand on top of his head, with my thumb and forefinger on either side of his jaw. Lastly, I would quickly squirt the liquid into his mouth, toward the back of the throat.

Tip: If the medicine is bitter, you might want to try dissolving the crushed pill into some warm, low sodium chicken or beef broth (just make sure it doesn’t have garlic, onion or other ingredients that can be toxic to kitties), or tuna water.

Or, you can take the prescription to a pharmacy that offers compounding, and have the medicine transformed into a flavored liquid that will appeal to your kitty.

Very Important Note: Be sure to ask your veterinarian if crushing the pills or administering granular meds in this fashion is okay. Some meds are meant to be timed-released, and should not be given as such.

For Pill-Popping Kitties

Kitty_BurritoSome cat parents find it easier to just open their cat’s mouth and quickly pop the capsule in, toward the back of the throat.

If your kitty is agreeable to this, lucky you! If your cat tends to put up a fight, many experts recommend something called the “burrito method.” This involves securely wrapping the cat in a large, thick towel so that only his head of exposed, rendering him immobile. Then you gently pry open his mouth as described above, and pop the pill in.

Important Note: You should never dry pill a cat. They can get stuck in the throat, and they can choke on them. At the very least, this can irritate a cat’s throat and esophagus.

Instead, purchase the medicine dropper mentioned above – or ask your vet for a needleless syringe – fill it with water or broth, and then squirt the liquid into the kitty’s mouth immediately after administering the pill.

Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important to remain calm and speak to your pet in a soothing voice, tell them what a good kitty they are and, if appropriate, follow up with a treat. For the record, Murphy enjoys a little piece of cheese after he gets his meds.

If you have any useful tips that you would like to share, you are welcome to post them here.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons and Vet Street



Mars Recalls 22 Bags of PEDIGREE® Dry Dog Food Due to Metal Fragments

Photo from

Heads up, dog parents.

Here is a press release from the FDA regarding the latest pet food recall:

August 26, 2014Today, Mars Petcare US announced a voluntary recall of 22 bags of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food products due to the possible presence of a foreign material. The bags were produced in one manufacturing facility, and shipped to one retail customer. The facility production line has been shut down until this issue is resolved.

Affected bags, which were sold between Aug. 18 and Aug. 25 in 12 Dollar General stores in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana, may contain small metal fragments, which could have entered the packages during the production process.

The foreign material is not embedded in the food itself, but may present a risk of injury if consumed. We encourage consumers who have purchased affected product to discard the food or return it to the retailer for a full refund or exchange. We have not received any reports of injury or illness associated with the affected product. The lot codes indicated below should not be sold or consumed.

Mars Petcare US is working with Dollar General to ensure that the recalled products are no longer sold and are removed from inventory.

Recalled Pet Food

Only 15-pound bags of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food sold at Dollar General in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana with the production code shown below are included in this voluntary recall. Each product will have a lot code printed on the back of the bag near the UPC code that reads 432C1KKM03 and a Best Before date of 8/5/15. No other PEDIGREE® products are affected, including any other variety of dry dog food, wet dog food or dog treats.

No More Pets for Sale at Two Regional Pet Store Chains

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Two Philly-area pet chains will stop selling pets for profit and will instead offer rescue pets for adoption. 

Read the great news here.

This is definitely a growing business model, and we can expect to see an upswing in pet retailers following this trend in the coming years, especially since an increasing number of cities and municipalities in the U.S. have passed and will continue to enact ordinances banning the sales of pets for profit at pet stores, in flea markets and other similar venues.

Three cheers for Pets Plus and We Love Pets!

Oregon Declares Abused Animals ‘Victims,’ Not Property

Photo from Wikimedia Commons via
Photo from Wikimedia Commons via

In a landmark ruling that animal lovers everywhere are sure to applaud, the Oregon Supreme Court recently passed a law that grants victim status to abused and neglected animals, just like humans.

And like humans, animals that are victims of crimes will be accorded greater justice under the new ruling.

The ruling was largely the result of public outrage following a case in which the owner of numerous horses and goats was found to have starved and neglected the animals, back in 2009.

Under the terms of the laws in existence at that time, the animals were classified as property. But with the new law in place, those who mistreat animals can now be subject to much harsher sentences and fines than they would have under the previous laws.

Thus, the law – which was championed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund of Portland – affords critters far greater rights when they are abused and neglected.

Way to go, Oregon!

The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Pets

Photo from Wikimedia Commons via

Coconut oil has long been touted for its terrific benefits for humans. Now, this “super food” is being widely hailed as a great supplement for pets, for its variety of preventative properties and effectiveness in the treatment of a number of ailments.

Coconut oil, which is comprised of medium-chain triglycerides, is rich in such nutrients as lauric and capric acids, which provide a number of health benefits for pets due to their wondrous anti-oxidant properties.

The Wonders of Coconut Oil for Cats and Dogs

Coconut oil has powerful healing and preventative properties for pooches and kitties when administered both externally and internally such as:

  • Aids in digestion, and is great for pets with inflammatory bowel disease
  • Can help to eliminate furballs in cats
  • Helps to control diabetes, joint and thyroid issues
  • Facilitates coat health
  • Acts as an anti-fungal and disinfectant, which can aid wound healing
  • Aids in weight loss … and more.

How to Use Coconut Oil for Pets

First, it’s important to purchase the extra virgin kind, as this is the purest form and has the greatest healing properties. I use Nature’s Way, a respected brand that comes in a large 16-ounce jar, which goes a long way, and is very reasonably priced. I found it on for under $10.

You can also purchase high-quality coconut oil at health and organic food stores.

As for administering this to pets, you can place about a teaspoon to a tablespoon in their food once a day, depending on the pet’s size, or apply topically to wounds and coat. Just be sure to start with small amounts before working up to the full amount over the course of a few weeks when giving this to pets orally – which you can do by adding to wet food, or straight up from a spoon.

Topical Tips

As for applying topically, experts recommend lightly applying this to a pet’s coat once a week, and then brushing the coat for even distribution. Not only does this make the coat shiny and healthy, the oil helps to repel fleas.

I used this on my cat, Murphy, after his little sister, Lily, bit him on the neck – causing an open sore. I first cleaned the wound with mild soap and water, then wiped it with a little bit of peroxide before applying a generous dab of coconut oil directly to the wound. It did help to speed up the healing process, and aided in preventing infection.

The great thing about coconut oil is that it’s perfectly safe, even if pets lick it off.

So don’t delay … try some wondrous coconut oil on your pets today.

Review of Neko Flies Cat Toys

Photo by Alissa Wolf
Photo by Alissa Wolf

There are many innovative cat toys currently on the market. Neko Flies, from Washington state company Nekochan Enterprises, is among the very finest wand toys now available for discerning kitties.

This unique line of toys was the brainchild of Ellen Tsuyuki, a cat mom who was not very impressed with the cat play products that were previously available. So, she decided to invent some of her own.

Feline Approved Toys

After consulting with her furry “board of directors” Nekochan, Chiquita, Timmy and Bubba, Ellen came up with a concept for a line of toys that consist of a clear acrylic wand with a plastic gripped handle with a metal ring at the tip. You can purchase a series of insect-inspired toys with sturdy braided string that attach to the ring at the tip of the wand via a metal lobster claw clasp.

The products my furry staff and I received for review were the Kragonfly and Kattipede, composed of what appears to be tautly wrapped pipe cleaner material with rubber legs and vinyl wings.

These are very cute and lifelike, and the toys are brilliant in their simplicity.

My Furry Product Reviewers Weigh In

I introduced the Neko Flies to my feline assistants, Murphy, who as of this writing is 1 year and 4 months old, and Lily, who is exactly 6 months old.

They both enjoyed it. However, Murphy really loves it. This was a pleasant surprise, as he pretty much lost interest in playing with cat toys once he officially reached adulthood. The Neko toys really captured his interest and got him moving.

Lily and Murphy give Neko Flies two paws up. Photo by Alissa Wolf
Lily and Murphy give Neko Flies two paws up.
Photo by Alissa Wolf

So these are great products for cats that could use more exercise. Plus, these provide an interactive experience between kitties and human parents, which facilitates bonding.

Other Nekochan Pet Products of Note

The company also offers a unique line of Neko Nappers: cat sleeping bags and collapsible pet houses made of a corduroy type polyester material that are suitable for cats and small dogs, and are machine washable.

The sleeping bags contain crinkly paper within the lining, which cats love.

For more information about Nekochan Enterprises products, please visit the website.

Dog Nutrition Guide

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

A lot has been written about dog nutrition and dog food, with a dizzying amount of differing advice and opinions. There are also many questionable pet foods on the market (to put it mildly), which many pooches (and their parents) have sadly paid a high price for, in some cases with their very lives.

The numerous pet food recalls and years-long controversy surrounding jerky treats made in China bear testament to this.

Furthermore, dog obesity, along with a host of residual dietary-related ailments, is now epidemic. Pet food authorities all agree about this.

However, after years of researching pet foods and nutrition, I have discovered widely divergent opinions about dog nutrition among the experts.

Below are the most hotly debated views, which dog parents need to be aware of.

Do Dogs Need Fruits and Veggies?

This has long been a hot button issue among dog nutrition experts, with widely varying opinions. For example, proponents of the raw diet insist that dogs need meat and meat products (including raw bones and organ meats), period.

Conversely, fans of the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (B.A.R.F.) diet swear that pooches benefit from diets that contain not just meat, raw bones and offal, their food sources should also include raw veggies and, to a lesser extent, fruit.

This said, I have found that veggies and fruits – with the exception of those that are known to be toxic to canines, such as onions, grapes and raisins – don’t hurt dogs. And some dogs do love veggies and fruit. So, at the end of the day, it really is a matter of preference.

However, I am of the mind that these should only be served in small quantities.

Do Dogs Need Grains?

Once again, there are widely differing opinions about this. Many experts agree that processed and cereal grains, such as wheat gluten and corn (which are often used as fillers in lower quality pet foods), have absolutely no place in a dog’s diet. They are especially disdainful of genetically modified grains.

There are those experts who are of the opinion that dogs should not have grains in their diets, period. In fact, grain- and gluten-free pet foods now represent a large and growing market.

Then there are those who counter that cooked whole natural grains, such as brown rice, oats and barley, are acceptable in small amounts, and can serve as sources of fiber and complex carbohydrates for energy.

Regardless, many dog nutrition experts agree that grains − and any carbohydrates, for that matter − should be kept to a minimum.

The Bottom Line: Dogs Need Meat, First and Foremost

This is one factor that virtually all of the experts agree upon. However, they agree about this for different reasons.

There are those who classify dogs as omnivores (in that they benefit from diets that contain both meat and plant matter), while others insist that they are carnivores (primarily meat eaters).

Unlike cats and ferrets, which require diets that exclusively consist of meat, dogs are not “obligate” carnivores.

However, on the basis of my research, they are mainly carnivorous in that they need meat, first and foremost. Everything else is gravy, as it were.

Why Dogs Need Meat

Meat contains a wide array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are essential to dogs’ optimal health, most notably protein for energy. Other benefits of high meat diets include iron (for red blood cell health), essential fatty acids, B vitamins and other good stuff that pooches require.

A number of holistic pet food experts also recommend a certain amount of offal (organ meats) for a dog’s diet, as liver, kidneys and such are high in zinc, vitamins A and D, a wide array of B vitamins, manganese, iron, taurine and others.

As pooches require a host of essential amino acids that they cannot manufacture on their own, such as tryptophan, valine and lysine, and can only obtain these through the foods they consume, they must have animal protein in their diets to prevent health issues.

What Dogs Definitely Don’t Need

No matter how wildly divergent their views may be, all dog nutrition mavens agree that the healthiest dog foods are free of such ingredients as artificial fillers, flavors, mysterious by-products, colors, dyes and preservatives.

The first and primary ingredient on the label should be meat – the real McCoy – not corn, soy, wheat, meal or other non-meat products. Rather, this should be beef, chicken, lamb, rabbit, venison, etc.

Grains should be whole, not products like corn or wheat gluten.

Dog food should be free of such chemical additives and preservatives as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propyl gallate and propylene glycol, which have been identified by the World Health Organization, the FDA and other such authorities as potentially carcinogenic.

What Dogs Definitely Do Need: Water!

This is one factor that virtually all of the experts agree upon: Like all living beings, pooches require water! While this might seem like a no-brainer, this is often overlooked. And too many dogs don’t get enough H20, which can lead to serious health issues.

So this cannot be overemphasized. Canines must have fresh water, replenished several times a day.

Bowls must be cleaned regularly, to prevent the accumulation of germs and bacteria. The right kinds of bowls are also important. I prefer heavy stainless steel ones, because they are less likely to tip over and – unlike plastic – they are more sanitary and do not contain BPA, a chemical present in plastics that is potentially toxic.

The Dog Nutrition Bottom Line

Despite the differing, often confusing opinions about dog food, the truth is that dogs require diets high in fresh, quality, natural ingredients, with meat topping the list. So I strongly advise that pet parents do their homework, because your furry babies’ lives depend on this. 

USDA Approves New Foreign Puppy Import Rule

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Agriculture – with the backing of the ASPCA – has just passed a new regulation that will help to curtail the importation of puppy mills puppies from foreign countries.

Each year, approximately 2,000 puppies that are younger than 8 weeks old are imported from China and Eastern European puppy mills, and are transported to the U.S. in airline cargo holds.

Many of them are gravely ill, and often die soon after being sold.

Under the terms of the new regulation – which will got into effect in 90 days – puppies imported from overseas breeders will have to be at least 6 months old, in good health and up to date on all of their shots.

Plus, violators can be fined for up to $10,000.

Hats off to the USDA and ASPCA.

Hope for Kitties with Litter Box Issues

Photo courtesy of the AAFP
Photo courtesy of the AAFP

Kitty bathroom problems are among the leading causes of cats being relinquished to shelters, and euthanized.

But there’s hope thanks to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, which has just released a comprehensive free brochure to help kitty parents to proactively resolve this most frustrating issue.

Established in 1971, the AAFP consists of veterinarians who specialize in treating kitties, and is dedicated to improving the standards of feline health care.

The brochure “Feline House Soiling: Useful Information for Cat Owners” contains comprehensive info about the whys and hows of kitty litter box problems, along with numerous tips for getting cats to go where they’re supposed to go.

Why Cats Soil

The brochure points out that there are key reasons why cats go outside of their litter boxes:

  • Environmental and social factors
  • Marking behavior
  • Medical issues, such as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

The latter is an inflammatory condition of the bladder, which can cause pain when doing wee wee, and can be aggravated by stress. Indeed, stress and environmental factors, such as a move or home remodeling, are leading causes of cat bathroom problems.

Some Remedies for Litter Box Issues

There are a number of ways to get cats who have soiling issues to use the litter box.

One is location, location, location. As such, it’s important to locate boxes in areas that are quiet and uncluttered, situated away from high traffic parts of the home and are not in the vicinity of the cats’ food.

I currently keep my cats’ litter box in a nook in my laundry room. When I lived in an apartment in Philadelphia with limited space with my late cat, Daisy, I bought an attractive hooded box that I kept next to the toilet in my bathroom, which she liked just fine.

Use the Best Litter and Boxes

In my opinion, natural litters are best. Not only can these aid in resolving litter box problems, these also are far healthier for cats, and the environment.

I suggest avoiding clumping and clay-based litters, and those that contain fragrances and synthetic chemicals.

I use a combination of Cedarific, a lightweight, fluffy cedar wood chip product, along with Fresh Air, which is composed of zeolite, a sand-like mineral that occurs in volcanic rock.

It’s also important to use the right kinds of litter boxes. Vets in the know suggest using large boxes in which kitties can stretch out and do their business in comfort, and multiple boxes for multi-cat households.

As my boy cat Murphy has sloppy bathroom habits – he flings the litter all over the place – I use a high-sided box and one with a rim around the edge.

In addition, cleanliness is key. Cats are very clean by nature. So it’s very important to keep their litter boxes tidy. Remove solid waste immediately, and change the litter frequently.

Work with Your Vet

If all else fails, you should consult with your vet to determine the causes and cures for your cats’ bathroom problems.

Your vet will first and foremost want to rule out any medical issues a cat may have. If that’s not the case, a vet who is knowledgeable about cat behavior can assist in coming up with possible solutions.

In the meantime, you can download this and other helpful brochures that deal with kitty health and behavior on the AAFP website by clicking here.

Why You Should Take Your Pets to a Holistic Veterinarian

Veteranarians who practice complementary integrative medicine tend to have many more tools in their kits. Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Veteranarians who practice complementary integrative medicine tend to have many more tools in their kits than traditional pet docs.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Like a growing number of pet parents, I now take my cats to a holistic veterinarian, for a variety of reasons.

For one, vets who practice complementary integrative medicine – a combination of traditional Western and alternative modalities that are often based on Eastern approaches to treating pets – tend to have far more diverse tools in their arsenal.

Furthermore, vets who take a holistic and/or homeopathic approach to pet health and wellness are less likely to over-vaccinate and arbitrarily medicate pets, which has become a great concern within the veterinary profession among those who are more enlightened about pet health practices.

I learned the dangers of this the hard way, after losing my beloved 5-year-old cat, Omar, to a vaccine-associated sarcoma, the result of his being over-vaccinated by an old school vet who was convinced that pets have to receive a battery of unnecessary shots annually.

As such, I have found that vets who practice integrative medicine are generally less likely to be unduly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, and will often explore organic approaches to treating pet ailments – as opposed to merely throwing pharmaceutical meds at the issues.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a proper time and place for traditional Western approaches to pet health and wellness. However, vets who practice complementary medicine are far more likely to additionally explore more natural options when it comes to caring for companion animals.

Services that Holistic Veterinarians May Offer

Pets can now benefit from virtually the same types of alternative treatments that are available for people including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Herbs, flower essences and homeopathic remedies
  • Muscle testing (a form of kinesiology)
  • Ozone therapy
  • Therapeutic massage … and more.

In addition, holistic vets tend to be more knowledgeable about the healthier natural pet diet and nutrition options, as opposed to merely pushing “prescription” pet foods.

How Does One Become a Holistic Vet?

Virtually all of the vets I have encountered who now practice complementary integrative medicine started out as traditional pet docs, who earned veterinary degrees from mainstream accredited universities.

They later decided to explore the natural options because they were frustrated by the limitations of traditional Western meds and pet health care approaches.

As such, they sought continuing education in natural practices and holistic modalities via attending workshops and seminars, conducting independent research, and becoming certified in specific practices, among other routes.

Vets can now receive certification for practices like acupuncture; homeopathic medicine via such institutions as the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy; pet nutrition; botanical medicine; and many other areas.

The American Holistic Veterinary Association, which was launched in 1982 to provide information for vets who wish to follow this route, is an excellent resource.

How to Find a Holistic Vet for Your Pet

The above-mentioned association website contains a comprehensive list of holistic practitioners by state – as well as the types of animals they treat and the modalities they practice – which you can access here.

Another great way to find a reputable vet is through word of mouth via other pet parents, proprietors of pet stores that specialize in natural pet products, enlightened pet groomers and general networking.

Otherwise, it’s very important to thoroughly vet and conduct research into any veterinarian to whom you are entrusting the care of your beloved critters.

I learned this the hard way, and hope that I may help others to avoid the pain and heartache I endured.