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How To Give A Cat Medicine With An Easy Pill Shooter For Cats

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A pill shooter for cats is one of those things that every cat owner should have tucked away in the cupboard ready and waiting, just in case…the cat needs a pill!

What Is A Pill Shooter For Cats?

A pill shooter for cats is an aid to assist in dispensing cat medication when the medication is in a pill or capsule form.

This is done by inserting a plunger that shoots the pill or capsule into the cat’s mouth. The behaviour of cats is notoriously difficult when it comes to taking medication. A pill shooter helps the process without the fear of being bitten or scratched in the process. Sounding good so far?

How To Use The Pill Shooter

cat being given a pill with pill popper
Holding the cat’s head correctly is pivotal to the success of this procedure.  See more below.

Initially it would be a good idea to have two people for this process. Once it becomes routine it will then be easier for one person to manage.

  1. One person secures the cat by gently but firmly holding the cats body.  The most comfortable and easiest way to do this is to use a towel and wrap the towel around the cats body. The cat can be held comfortably but still firmly with the front legs enclosed within the towel. This ensures that paws and claws are safely tucked away.
  2. The pill shooter works in the same way as a syringe.  The pill or capsule is placed into the popper section first.
  3. If you are going it alone, hold your cat’s head with your non dominant hand. Hold and support the cat’s head.

  4. Pick up the shooter which already contains the pill with your other hand and place the popper on top of the tongue and towards the back of the throat.

  5. Quickly and gently push the pill shooter down into the cat’s mouth and depress the plunger.

  6. If your cat does not swallow the tablet, quickly repeat the procedure using a small amount of liquid. This forces the cat to swallow the tablet.

Note: The hand is behind the head however for most cats it will be necessary to first follow this procedure.

Place that hand, the non dominant hand, on top of the cat’s head, covering the ears, and holding the cheek bones from the back/top of the head whilst at the same time tilting the cats head back.

The cats head should only be tilted so that the cat is looking at the ceiling. This action will cause the mouth to open a little and the pill shooter can be inserted and the plunger depressed.

using a pill shooter to give the cat a pill
It looks awkward but will become second nature!

Pill shooters are suitable to use for pills and capsules.

Sometimes a pill needs to be halved or even quartered which can mean that the size of the pill to be given can be very small and difficult to handle. In this instance using something called a gel cap (capsule) is what you need to do the job.

What Is A Gel Cap?

A gel cap is an empty capsule that is made from gelatin that can be opened and medication put inside.  The gelatin capsule can then be used in the pill popper.

If your cat has several different medications, voila, they can be put together in the one gel cap. This means that all the medication is being given at one go.

Tip For Success: Cover the gel cap, the capsule or even the pill with a little butter or olive oil to assist with going down smoothly.

Note: Some medications are not suitable to be halved so take the advice of your veterinarian in this instance.

Reviews of Cat Pill Shooters

Initially this page had a number of reviews that featured the pill shooters that have the soft silicone tip.

The soft tip mean that it is soft inside the cat’s mouth. Some of these pill poppers stated that they were for a one time use whereas others stated that the pill poppers could be washed and reused along with the soft silicone tip.

After researching these products, we feel that we cannot recommend the pill shooters with the removable silicone tip. There is the chance that the silicone top will pop off or detach from the product. The cat may then swallow the tip. It may be a slim chance but nevertheless it can and does happen. This can result in a huge amount of worry for cat owners not to mention vet bills if things become more serious.

Pill poppers remain a great solution and they are used by vets. The ones typically used by the vet don’t have the silicone top. We cannot speak for all vets however, in our opinion, it is better to be on the safe side and avoid pill poppers with the removable silicone tip.

The one type of pill shooter/popper that is okay to use, works in the same way but does not have the silicone tip. We have reviewed this product below. It doesn’t look quite as glamorous but it does work and is far safer. There other similar products.

Butler Sales Bullseye Pill Popper

Butler Sales Bullseye Pillgun | Pet Pill Popper For Dogs and Cats | Dispense Multiple Tablets (2-Pack)

This is a basic pill popper designed to be used over and over again. There is no removable silicone tip. The ends are curved slightly to aid with holding the pill. If the pill you are dispensing is very small, using a pill pocket will make the job easier. Read the other hints on this page to assist with using the pill popper.


No removable silicone tip.

Can be used multiple times.


It is a larger product that some of the products with the removable tip. However cat owners do have success using this product.


This pill popper comes in a pack of one or a pack of two. They are going to last a long time but it is useful to have a spare. The measurements are 5 x 2 x 0.2 inches (12.7 x 5.1 x 0.5 cm), weighing 1.13 Ounces (32.04 grams)

Still unsure about a pill Shooter?

If the thought of using a pill shooter makes you quiver at the knees you are not alone. Giving twice daily injections of insulin for a cat with diabetes was something that didn’t thrill me.  Like anything else you do get used to doing these things when there is no other choice.

Some practice with the pill popper will have you using the pill popper efficiently.

This takes the stress and drama away from you and your cat plus you know the cat is actually getting the medication he needs.

However if  you are still not sold on the pill popper idea you may want to give these ingenious Pill Pockets a go. They are tasty little morsels with a pocket where the pill is placed. The cat devours the whole pocket as a treat or in his food and so the pill is consumed. The pocket can go into the pill popper if desired.

FELINE GREENIES PILL POCKETS for Cats Natural Soft Cat Treats, Salmon Flavor, 1.6 oz. Pack (45 Treats)

Rather than putting the pocket in the cat’s food it is suggested that the pocket be treated in the same way as an ordinary treat would be given.

There are different flavors to help trick – oops, tempt kitty to eat the treat. The flavors are chicken, salmon and tuna. The pocket is suitable for capsules and tablets.

How To Use The Pill Pocket

  • First of all put the pill into the pocket.
  • Pinch the top together.
  • The sticky texture inside the pocket surrounds and hides the medication. 
  • Now experiment with giving the cat the pocket as a treat, or in his food or if all else fails, in the pill popper.

TOP TIP – As cats have a Very Good Sense Of Smell, do not hold the pocket with the same hand that held the medication.

Having to give your cat a pill is not up there with fun things to do.  

Cats generally don’t fall for the pill buried in the food routine. A pill popper and gel capsule could be your best friends.

two cats talking
I think I would be prepared to give it a go if there was a treat involved!

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