5 Common Cat Medications Common Meds Your Cat May Need

5 Common Cat Medications
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vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Cats get sick too, and when they do, they need medicine like the rest of us. Here is a list of the five most commonly prescribed medications for cats.

There’s a decent chance that at one point or another in your cat’s life, they’ll need some medicine. Certain medications are used more frequently than others in the treatment of common feline medical problems. The following is a list of the five most commonly prescribed and recommended medicines for house cats.

It's always important to know what a medication is, what it does, how it works, how to administer it, and what some common side effects are when your pet is taking it.

Frontline Plus for Cats

  • Frontline Plus is used for the control of fleas and ticks in cats, killing fleas within 24 hours of application and ticks within 48 hours.
  • The medication is applied topically to the cat’s back at the shoulder blades, which then spreads by means of your pet’s body oils.
  • Frontline Plus works by preventing fleas and ticks from maturing and reproducing. Because part of this process involves overstimulation of the insects, increased activity in the pest may be seen before they die.
  • Only for use with cats 8 weeks and older.

Drontal Feline

  • Drontal Feline is used to treat parasitic worms in the cat, including roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.
  • The drug is administered orally and comes in a tablet that can be given to your cat whole or broken up and disguised in food.
  • The drug works by causing spasms and paralysis in the parasites. The worms are then destroyed completely within the cat’s body or are passed through the stool.
  • Rarely, some cats are allergic to Drontal Feline, which can cause salivation, diarrhea, vomiting, and coordination loss and which requires veterinary care. Kittens younger than 1 month should not be treated with Drontal Feline.


  • Clavamox is used to treat bacterial infections in cats.
  • It is given orally and comes in both a liquid suspension and tablet form.
  • Clavamox prevents bacteria from forming outer cell walls, leading to the bacteria's death. The drug also can make amoxicillin-resistant bacteria susceptible to that antibiotic.
  • Cats allergic to penicillin or beta-lactam antibiotics should not take Clavamox.
  • Cats that are dehydrated or have heart or kidney problems should also not be treated with the drug.


  • Onsior is a non-steroidal (NSAID) drug administered to cats after orthopedic or soft tissue surgery to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • The medication comes in a yeast flavored tablet that many cats will readily eat. Onsior is effective for 24 hours.
  • This drug works by targeting the COX-2 enzyme that causes pain and inflammation in cats. At the same time, the drug spares the COX-1 enzyme to protect your cat’s intestinal tract.
  • Pregnant or lactating cats or cats suffering from ulcers should not receive Onsior.


  • Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory drug that is used to treat such conditions as irritable bowel disorder or allergies in cats. The medication is also used to treat autoimmune diseases like as cancer.
  • This drug comes in a variety of forms including tablet, syrup, and liquid formulations for oral use. Prednisone can also be administered by injection when conditions are serious enough to warrant it.
  • Prednisone works by blocking the production of chemicals in the body that cause inflammation.
  • Cats should not receive Prednisone for more than a few months because of side effects. However, cats being treated for cancer might need to receive the drug for longer periods of time. Short-term side effects include increased thirst, leading to greater urination, increased appetite and weight gain, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. Cats can also be more susceptible to infections while on the drug.
  • Cats treated long-term with Prednisone can experience hair loss, liver damage, and hormonal dysfunction.

Be sure to get instructions from your veterinarian on the use of these or other medications.

Common Reasons and Prescriptions for Cat Medicine

Cat owners often face the challenge of administering medications to their feline companions. Understanding the common reasons for prescribing cat medications and the forms they come in can help pet owners manage their cats' health more effectively. Here, we'll explore the typical reasons for cat medicine prescriptions, the types of medications available, and their administration methods.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Veterinarians typically prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and immune-suppressing drugs to manage IBD. Common medications include prednisolone and budesonide. 

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a prevalent issue in older cats, characterized by the kidney's inability to filter waste efficiently, leading to toxin buildup in the blood. Treatment usually includes prescription medications to manage symptoms and slow the disease's progression, along with special diets designed to support kidney function. Benazepril and amlodipine are commonly prescribed. 

Heart Disease

Heart disease in cats can lead to various complications, including heart failure and blood clots. Prescription cat medications for heart disease often include diuretics like furosemide, beta-blockers like atenolol, and ACE inhibitors like enalapril to manage symptoms and improve heart function.

Pain Management

Cats may require pain medication due to injuries, surgeries, or ongoing chronic health issues like arthritis. Veterinarians prescribe various pain medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like meloxicam and opioids such as buprenorphine, depending on the severity and source of the pain.

Behavioral Changes

Significant health problems or changes in a cat's environment can lead to behavioral changes, such as anxiety or aggression. Veterinarians may prescribe anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants to help manage these behavioral changes. Medications like fluoxetine and clomipramine are commonly used.

Tips On Giving Your Cat Medication

Administering cat medications can be challenging, but it can become manageable with the right techniques and a calm approach. Here are some tips on how to properly administer various types of medications to your feline friend.

How To Give A Cat Liquid Medicine

If done correctly, administering liquid medicine to a cat can be easier than pills. 

  • Prepare the Medication: Measure the exact dose of the flavored liquid medicine prescribed by your vet. Having everything ready before you begin will help keep your cat comfortable.
  • Hold Your Cat Securely: Gently but firmly hold your cat. If it is particularly wiggly, wrap it in a towel to keep it calm and prevent scratches.
  • Administer the Medicine: Insert the dropper into the side of the cat's mouth, aiming for the cheek pouch. Slowly squeeze the dropper to release the medicine. Make sure to do this gently to avoid choking.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Immediately follow up with a treat or some praise. Positive reinforcement can make your cat more cooperative in the future.

How To Give A Cat A Pill

Administering pills to a cat can be tricky. 

  • Hide the Pill: One of the easiest ways to administer pills is to hide them in pill pockets or a small amount of wet food. Many cats enjoy these treats and won’t notice the hidden medication.
  • Manual Method: If hiding the pill doesn’t work, you may need to give it manually. Hold your cat’s head from the top using your thumb and index finger. Tilt the head back and gently open the mouth. Place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible.
  • Use a Pill Gun: A pill gun can help you administer pills without having to place your fingers in your cat's mouth. This device allows you to place the pill at the back of the mouth, making it easier for your cat to swallow.
  • Follow with Water: After giving the pill, give your cat a small amount of water via a syringe to help it dissolve smoothly.
  • Observe: Watch your cat’s behavior after administering the pill. Ensure they don’t spit it out. Some cats are adept at hiding the pill in their cheek and spitting it out later.

How To Give A Cat Transdermal Gel

Transdermal gels are an alternative for cats that resist oral medications. Ensure you understand the exact dosage and application method as prescribed by your vet. The inside of the cat's ear is a common application site. This area is typically less fur-covered and more accessible.

  • Prepare the Gel: Use gloves to avoid absorbing the medication yourself. Measure the prescribed amount of gel.
  • Apply the Gel: Gently rub the gel into the skin of the inner ear, ensuring it is fully absorbed. Rotate ears if instructed to prevent irritation.
  • Monitor for Reactions: Monitor your cat's behavior to ensure no adverse reactions to the medication. Look for subtle but important clues that indicate discomfort or allergic reactions.

Follow your cat’s medication schedule to maintain the treatment's effectiveness and support a pain-free healing process. Your cat can sense your anxiety. Staying calm and confident will help keep your cat comfortable and cooperative. Every cat is different. Pay attention to what works best for your cat, and be ready to adapt your approach. Some cats might respond better to flavored liquids, while others might prefer the ease of transdermal gels.

Frequently Asked Questions

What medication can I give my sick cat?

It is generally not recommended to give any medication to your cat without consulting a veterinarian first. Cats can have different reactions to medications than humans, and some medications that are safe for humans can be toxic to cats. In addition, the proper dosage of medication for a cat can depend on factors such as the cat's weight, age, and overall health. If your cat is sick, it is important to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the appropriate course of treatment. The veterinarian may recommend a specific medication or other treatment plan based on the specific condition your cat is experiencing. Never give your cat any medication that has been prescribed for a human without consulting a veterinarian first. This can be dangerous for your cat and may not be effective in treating its condition. Be sure to follow the veterinarian's instructions for administering the medication, including the correct dosage and frequency. If your cat refuses to take the medication, your veterinarian may be able to suggest ways to administer it, such as hiding it in food or using a pill pocket. Keep all medications out of reach of your cat to prevent accidental ingestion. If your cat is taking multiple medications, be sure to inform the veterinarian about all of the medications your cat is taking. Some medications can interact with each other, so it is important for the veterinarian to be aware of all medications your cat is taking. Monitor your cat closely for any changes in behavior or appetite, and report any concerns to the veterinarian. Do not stop giving the medication or change the dosage without consulting the veterinarian. This can be harmful to your cat's health.

How can I treat a sick cat at home?

While it is generally best to consult with a veterinarian if your cat is sick, there are some home treatment options you can try in addition to seeking medical care. These options may help alleviate your cat's symptoms and make them more comfortable while they recover. However, it is important to note that these treatments should not be used as a replacement for proper medical care. Depending on the specific symptoms your cat is experiencing, you may be able to find over-the-counter medications that can help. For example, if your cat is experiencing diarrhea, you can try giving them over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication. Always follow the dosage instructions on the label, and never give your cat any medication without consulting with a veterinarian first. There are several natural remedies that may be helpful for cats with certain types of illnesses. For example, ginger can help with nausea and vomiting, while chamomile can help calm an anxious or stressed cat. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving your cat any natural remedies. If your cat is not eating well or has specific dietary needs, you may want to try preparing home-cooked meals for them. Cooked chicken and rice, for example, can be easy on the stomach and provide necessary nutrients. If your cat is dehydrated, you may need to give them fluids to help rehydrate them. You can try offering your cat water or broth to drink, or you can give them fluids subcutaneously (under the skin) with a syringe or eyedropper. Always consult with a veterinarian before administering fluids to your cat. If your cat is experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, it is important to keep its litter box clean to prevent further illness. Use litter boxes with low sides that are easy for your cat to access, and clean them at least once a day. Again, it is important to remember that home treatment options should not be used as a replacement for proper medical care. If your cat is showing signs of illness, it is important to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

What is the best antibiotic for cats?

It is important to note that antibiotics should only be used for bacterial infections and should not be used for viral infections. The choice of antibiotic will depend on the specific type of infection and the sensitivity of the bacteria to the medication. It is important to consult with a veterinarian before giving your cat any medication, as the wrong antibiotic or incorrect dosage could be harmful to your cat. Some commonly used antibiotics for cats include amoxicillin, Clavamox, and Baytril. However, the specific antibiotic that is best for your cat will depend on the specific type and severity of the infection, as well as any underlying health conditions your cat may have. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the appropriate treatment plan for your cat based on a thorough examination and any necessary diagnostic tests.

How can I comfort my sick cat?

If your cat is sick, it's important to take them to the veterinarian to determine the cause of its illness and receive proper treatment. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to make your cat more comfortable. Keep your cat in a quiet, comfortable place. This will help them rest and recover. Make sure your cat has access to fresh water and food. If your cat is not eating or drinking, try offering them small amounts of water or wet food that has a strong smell to encourage them to eat. Keep your cat's litter box clean. Cats may be less likely to use the litter box if it is dirty, which can lead to further health problems. Provide your cat with a warm place to rest. A heated pad or blanket can be helpful, especially if your cat is feeling chilled. If your cat is in pain, ask your veterinarian about giving them pain medication. Try to minimize stress for your cat. Keep the noise level low, and avoid handling your cat too much if they seem uncomfortable. Spend some extra time with your cat and offer them some gentle petting and affection. This can help them feel more comfortable and loved. Remember, it's important to consult with your veterinarian if your cat is sick. They will be able to recommend the best course of treatment for your cat's specific condition.

What is a natural antibiotic for a cat?

There are a few natural remedies that may have antibiotic properties and could potentially be used to support your cat's immune system. However, it is important to note that these remedies have not been extensively studied in cats, and their effectiveness has not been proven. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian before giving your cat any type of natural remedy or supplement. These are a few examples of natural remedies that may have antibiotic properties. Raw, unpasteurized honey has been shown to have antimicrobial properties and has been used for centuries to support wound healing. It can be applied topically to skin wounds or ingested orally. Some research suggests that garlic may have antibacterial and antiviral properties. However, it is important to be cautious when giving garlic to cats, as it can be toxic in high amounts. It is generally recommended to avoid giving garlic to cats. Oregano oil has been shown to have antimicrobial properties and has been used traditionally to support respiratory health. However, it is important to be cautious when giving oregano oil to cats, as it can be toxic in high amounts. It is generally recommended to avoid giving oregano oil to cats. Again, it is important to note that the effectiveness of these natural remedies in treating infections in cats has not been proven, and they should not be used as a substitute for proper medical treatment. If your cat is showing signs of an infection, it is important to have them examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
More on Cat Care
When to Take a Cat to the Vet
Getting Your Kitten the Right Vaccinations
Principles of Nutrition for Adult Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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