Administering meds to cat...

junebug1961August 18, 2014

Hi, folks...
My elderly mother's elderly cat (16 years old) is in the early stages of kidney disease. His vet prescribed a daily 0.5 ml dose of Calcitriol for him. His lab tests have shown that he is responding well to this medication.

Here is the problem. The med is a tuna flavored oil. He doesn't like it. I tried putting it in his wet food, but he caught on to that right away, natch. I have been strong-arming him once daily and squirting it down his throat with the syringe that was supplied.

Kitty used to like me, but now he eyes me distrustfully when I arrive, and I can't blame him. I don't want my mom to have to give him the med, because I know he will be distrustful of her, and he adores her.

Any suggestions on how to make this easier or more palatable? I feel like a brute, although the meds are clearly helping him.

Thanks in advance...

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Calcitriol does not need to be flavored. It is flavorless on its own, and it has a MUCH longer shelf life when NOT flavored. Next time your Mom has to renew the prescription, have her ask the vet to rewrite the script so that it is NOT flavored AND so that the concentration of Calcitriol is stronger. That will make the amount that is given per dose smaller.

Also, it's not necessary to give Calcitriol daily. It can be given twice weekly (every 3.5 days), instead. You just multiply the daily dose by 3.5 and give that amount twice weekly. For instance, you can give it at 8:00 a.m.Sunday mornings and again at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday nights. It is just as effective given on that schedule. The only potential problem with twice weekly dosing is remembering to do it on time. Also, it may require a short period of fasting before and after the dose, depending on the dose amount.

I give unflavored Calcitriol to three of my cats at a strong enough concentration that they barely even notice their doses twice weekly. It's the easiest med I give them!

The link below is to the Calcitriol information website where you can read about dosing, fasting, and all things related to using this drug with your Mom's cat. The first page on that site that you should read is here:


Here is a link that might be useful: Calcitriol for Cats & Dogs - Reference Site

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:00AM
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Thanks, you just put the calcitriol in their wet food? How do you administer it? Off to read those links....

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:57AM
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When I had to give my cat pills, the vet suggested I wrapped the her in a bath towel with only the head showing, then push the pill down. I talked to the cat all the time and he fought me but never stayed mad at me. Any way you do it when you are finished give him a treat he can't resist.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:19AM
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Ask the vet about dosage ... if twice a week works, it's less stress even if hyou have

If it's tasteless (not just unflavored, but tasteless with no bitterness), mixing it into wet food should work. Use a small amount of food to ensure kitty eats it all, then give them the normal amount.

Another thing that might work is to add a drop or two of alcohol-free Valerian tincture to the food. Cats usually like it and it would mask the meds.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:31AM
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You might try mixing the med in (human) tuna fish or sardines. My cat will eat that when she want's nothing else. Also, Are you placing the med inside her cheeks vs "down her throat"? :)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:24AM
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Nothing more thankless than a cat that needs to be forcefed medications (in pill form esp)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:27AM
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"Any way you do it when you are finished give him a treat he can't resist"

I agree! I would always say, Done! And then give him a treat. Still loved me.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:30AM
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Calcitriol should NOT be mixed into food for several reasons. First, the dose is typically so tiny that unless the cat eats every single last molecule of food and then licks the bowl immaculately clean, he may not get the full dose. Second, if your mom goes to a twice weekly dosing schedule, there will likely be a pre- and post- dose fasting period. In other words, food should NOT be given within a certain time before and after (and with) the dose.

I use the same script for all three of the cats to whom I give Calcitriol. I just adjust their doses according to individual need. My script is written for a concentration of 192ng/ml in an unflavored oil suspension. One cat gets .17ml twice weekly, one gets .28ml twice weekly, and the third gets .32ml twice weekly. These are such tiny amounts of liquid that they often don't even trigger swallowing when I put them on the backs of the cats' tongues. My script comes with a very small syringe (looks like an insulin syringe) without a needle, of course. I just scruff each cat briefly while inserting the thin syringe into the side of the mouth and depositing the oil on the back of the tongue. Easy peasy and doesn't bother any of the cats even the slightest bit.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Something else about Calcitriol ...

Different compounding pharmacies may use different oil bases for their Calcitriol suspension. The oil used by the compounding pharmacy I use - Wells Pharmacy in Ocala, FL 1-800-622-4510 - is tasteless. It's possible that the oil in your mom's script has some sort of taste, aside from the extra tuna flavoring. Also, it's important to choose the compounding pharmacy carefully, as it is my understanding that Calcitriol is particularly tricky to compound properly. You might want to consider asking the vet to call any renewal scripts into Wells so that you are assured of getting a tasteless oil base in the suspension. Actually, you or your mom could call Wells and have them get the script directly from your mom's current vet pharmacy, assuming there are any renewals available on the current script.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:37PM
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Thanks for the head's up ie; tasteless oil, Laurie. Mom's cat is getting his from AZ. I will call kitty's vet tomorrow and get meds from the Florida peeps.

Thanks also to the other posters...kitty is not receiving a pill, he is receiving an oil through a syringe in his mouth...and he is most unhappy about it! Any treats I attempt to present to him are turned down as he skulks away from me.

I will be the "heavy" so my mom doesn't have to be, but if I can get oil from Laurie's pharmacy that is tasteless, I will certainly order from them.

The cat reacts so badly to the meds he is receiving now, I have to believe the taste is pretty objectionable.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 9:46PM
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I suspect that the cat's objection is to the tuna flavoring rather than to the oil base of the suspension itself. Also, a cat is much more likely to object to .5 ml dose, which is large enough to potentially cause choking. Do ask the vet to prescribe a stronger concentration so that the dose volume can be reduced. The concentration should be substantially stronger if you intend to go to a twice weekly dosing schedule, since the ng/day will have to be multiplied by 3.5 for each twice weekly dose.

What is the concentration (ng/ml) of the Calcitriol you are using now? It should say on the bottle.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:28PM
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I don't know if this can be done for the meds you need to give, but we recently started treating our cats hyperthyroidism with a gel pen. You click the pen to get the proper dose, and then just swab her ear with the pen to get the gel on her skin. I want to kiss the person that invented the pen because giving the medication is a breeze this way! Ask your vet if the meds can be dispensed using a pen applicator.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 10:26AM
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most medications do not get absorbed transdermally the way your kitty's methimazole does... don't know specifically about calcitriol, but suspect it is among the vast majority of meds that do NOT work that way. Too bad, though

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 12:28PM
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Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. Laurie, I will look into a smaller dose for really does seem a bit much!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 8:45AM
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