There’s no surefire method for administering medication—every cat is different. The best method is the one that is safe, fast, and stress-free for your cat. Trying to get a cat to willingly swallow medication, however, can be an exercise in frustration.
If you can disguise the scent and flavor of the pill, you might be able to sneak it past your cat’s finely attuned senses. Hiding your cat’s medicine in food or treats is a simple and often effective solution. Here are seven of the best cat foods to hide pills in.
At a Glance: The Best Cat Foods To Hide Medication
- Made with 98% rabbit meat, organs, and bone
- Very nutrient- and calorie-dense
- Easy to rehydrate or mold around medication
- Finely shredded texture
- Very high in protein and low in carbs
- Rich source of hydrating moisture
- Big chunks of food in savory gravy
- Large pieces make it easy to mix in medicine
- Made with a single source of animal protein
- Rich source of protein and hydrating moisture
- Made with a single animal-sourced main ingredient
- Easily digestible and appealing to cats
Why Hide Medicine in Cat Food?
Whether it’s a daily supplement or an oral treatment for health issues, giving your cat medication can be challenging. Pill pockets may work for some cats, but others won’t be fooled. The alternative—giving medication by hand or using a pill popper—can be stressful for both you and your cat.
Getting your cat to swallow the pill without fuss is the goal and hiding it in food or treats is an easy way to accomplish it. The best option is a type of food or treat that conceals the pill entirely.
Much like a pill pocket, dampened freeze-dried cat food and certain soft treats can be molded around a capsule or tablet and concealed in your cat’s bowl. Lickable cat treats are another practical choice—depending on the size of the pill, your cat may lick it up along with the treat.
It may also work to hide the pill in a portion of wet cat food. Shredded and chunky wet foods are the most likely to be effective because your cat has to take large bites. Broths, purees, mousses, and gravies help disguise the medication’s odor, so your cat may not notice it as they’re eating.
Why Trust Cats.com
Before making my product selections, I performed in-depth research on methods for pilling a cat. Guided by my research and input from veterinarian Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ, I selected a variety of cat food types and treats to test with my three cats: Bagel, Biscuit, and Munchkin.
Fortunately, my cats have always been healthy and do not require medication with any regularity. So, to test the products on this list, I used a daily probiotic supplement popular on Chewy —Nutramax Proviable-DC. It’s a small gel capsule.
While testing the products on this list, I made note of my cat’s interest in the food with and without the probiotic hidden in it. I gave my cats the freedom to eat normally and noted whether they consumed the capsule or ate around it. I also made notes about how easy it was to conceal the pill and how much of the food was required. Of course, other users’ experiences will vary due to different cat temperaments, medication types, and other factors.
The 7 Best Cat Foods To Hide Pills In
8 Other Foods To Try
While hiding medication in food formulated for cats is ideal, it may not always work. If your cat is particularly fussy or has a very low appetite, they may find something outside the norm more appealing. Avoid foods that are toxic to cats and remember: meaty foods are the most likely to catch your cat’s attention.
Here are some foods that might work to conceal medication:
- Canned tuna
- Boiled chicken
- Hot dogs
- Meat baby food
- Lunch meat
My cats showed no interest in peanut butter or butter. It was easy to mold a pinch of cheese around a pill, but Bagel simply ate around it. The favorite, by far, was sardines. I’d recommend choosing sardines packed in water rather than oil to moderate the fat and calorie content.
Processed meat products like hot dogs and lunch meat should be a last resort. I was successful in feeding my cats supplements hidden in pieces of hotdog and ham, but foods like this are high in sodium. There’s also a higher risk of processed foods containing artificial additives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can cats smell medicine in their food?
Yes. Cats have very sensitive noses and the odor of food plays a key role in determining its palatability for cats. Unless the food has a strong smell or completely covers the pill, your cat may smell it and refuse it.
What is better than pill pockets for cats?
Pill pockets are easy to use—you simply insert the pill and mold the treat around it. But some cats catch on quickly and start to refuse them. A highly palatable wet food or treat may be more effective in disguising the medicine’s smell and flavor.
Is it okay to cut or crush pills for cats?
Cutting and crushing your cat’s pills makes it easier to hide them in food but some medications become ineffective if altered. Always ask your veterinarian or refer to the instructions on the packaging first.