Q Why is medicine for animals not sweetened or made more tasty? My husband and I had a terrible experience last week taking care of two cats for our vacationing neighbors. One of the cats was sick and was taking both liquid medicine and pills. Giving the medicine was upsetting to us as well as to the cat. We tried many methods, but nothing worked except to crush the pills and put them in the liquid medicine, but that must taste horrible. The cat drooled, and then tended to hide from us when the medication was due.
A Administering oral medication can be one of the most frustrating aspects of life with a cat. Interestingly, a few of the flavored liquid medications for cats are sweet or cherry-flavored, but neither is remotely appealing to a cat. Maybe mouse-flavored medicine would be better!
Some tasteless liquid medications can simply be added to the food (one of the commercial oral flea products is an example). But even the lack of taste doesn't always help, because the liquid alters the way the food feels in the mouth; that subtle change alone may be enough to keep some cats away. If liquid medication is being given to a sick kitty with an impaired appetite, adding something to the food - no matter how bland the taste - may be just enough to prevent eating altogether. Worse yet, some medications have a dreadfully bitter taste that no flavoring can hide: drooling, hiding cats are the common result. If the medication only comes in liquid form, it's usually necessary to put directly into the cat's mouth. It can be tricky, so make sure a veterinarian shows you how.
Pills sometimes come in flavored or "chewable" forms. Chewable medications usually have a meaty flavor that is acceptable to many cats. As with liquids, some medications simply taste too nasty to hide with flavoring agents. In these cases, the pills must be forcefully administered to the cat, as the cat is unlikely to take them on his or her own accord. (Again, have your veterinarian show you how best to do this. There are some techniques that will lessen the trauma to both pill-giver and pill-recipient).
Pills are probably the best option for most cats because when properly administered, the "taste" area of the tongue is bypassed altogether. Furthermore, most pills have a hard or coated surface that keeps the bitterness away from the tongue. Regrettably, a few cats simply will not allow administration of any kind of oral medication, regardless of flavor or form. These unfortunate cats really can be their own worst enemies because they resist the very thing that can help them.