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Safe Handling of Feline Medications

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Specific instructions for dispensed medications will be provided by your veterinary health care team. Here we provide some general guidelines for safe handling of feline medications.

It is important to remember that if you notice any unusual symptoms while your cat is on prescription medication, you should call the vet hospital promptly. In certain cats, medications can lead to adverse reactions. Most of these are mild and self-limiting if medication is discontinued, but some reactions can be serious, so consult your veterinarian if you notice anything unusual. Hives, swelling, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, loss of balance, or any other unusual sign should be reported right away.

Tips for Safely Handling Your Cat's Medications

Medications should be stored out of reach of other pets and all family members. Do not assume that your cat cannot chew through a plastic vial or bottle; keep them up out of reach, off of tables, and locked away.

Keep all pet medicines and equipment in a separate room from your own first aid and medicine chest.

If your cat's medication is dispensed in a vial with a similar appearance to Granny’s heart pills and is stored in the medicine cabinet right next to hers, you can imagine that mistakes could occur.

Unless your vet asks you to crush a pill to administer it, do not do this, since many pills are exceptionally bitter when broken open and some don't work properly if they have an enteric coating that is ruptured.

Likewise, if you have been given a measuring aid to help determine the correct dose, don’t use a teaspoon from the drawer instead of the dispensed syringe, since there is considerable variation in how much a home teaspoon or tablespoon will hold, and some medications require precise measurement in order to minimize the chance of side effects.

It is important not to use human or canine drugs for cats without consulting your veterinarian. Some dog flea products are deadly to cats, and many of the common over-the-counter human painkillers, such as Tylenol are also toxic. Cats have important differences in certain liver enzyme drug processing systems that make them susceptible to toxicity, so it is important not to take chances.

If you don’t finish all the prescription, return the leftover pills or other preparation to the veterinary practice for disposal, and remember, don’t stop giving the medications just because the kitty looks like she is feeling better. Some medications can cause problems if they are suddenly stopped rather than tapered according to prescription label.

Similarly, if your cat is not improving the way you hoped, never give extra medication. Call your veterinarian to report the lack of progress instead. Also, mark when medication is given on your calendar, so double dosing or missed doses cannot occur.

Careful attention to the medication's instructions is very important to your kitty’s well-being, so if you leave the vet hospital and are left with questions about how or when a drug should be given, call the staff back to double check on the details.

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Human Medications That Are Dangerous to Cats

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How To Administer Medication to Your Cat

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