Hot Literature: The search for alternative oral administration methods in cats


A new study has taken the first steps toward looking at alternative forms of oral medications for cats and the perceived ease of administration and patient tolerance.

For many clients, giving oral medications to cats can feel like a dangerous circus act. Owner compliance is greatly reduced, so patient treatment is compromised when medications are difficult to administer or cause a high level of stress for the patient and owner. A new study published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research has taken the first steps toward looking at alternative forms of oral medications for cats and the perceived ease of administration and patient tolerance. The three chemically inactive formulations analyzed in this study included triglyceride oil, dissolving thin film strips (similar to those used for human breath freshener), and gelatin capsules.

For the study, 90 healthy, client-owned cats were divided randomly into three groups. Cats in each group were given one of the formulations once daily by their caregivers for two weeks. The clients had first been given instructions by trained veterinary staff as to how to administer the oral formulation and then had to rate the ease of administration on a daily visual analogue scale, or bar graph. The owners were also asked to complete a daily checklist and rate their cats' acceptance of the formulation and administration process.

For those who think that owners would be reluctant to stuff tiny scrolls into their cats' cheeks or deal with a syringe full of oil, the results may be surprising. Clients ranked the triglyceride oil and dissolving thin film strips significantly higher for ease of administration, but there was no difference in the perceived acceptance by the cats for any of the formulations. The results suggest that oil formulations and dissolving thin film strips may provide important advances in the options for feline medication administration.

As the researchers acknowledge, this study is only the beginning. The clients recruited for the study either worked at or were associated with a veterinary teaching facility, and many owned multiple cats. While none of the caregivers themselves worked with animals directly, this population may be more willing to comply with administration instructions and have a greater comfort level with animal handling. It is also important to consider the effect of illness on the ease of administration and acceptance of oral medications in cats, as these were all healthy individuals. Plus, this study was conducted using unflavored triglyceride oil and dissolving strips. Acceptance and ease of administration might be improved by added flavoring, and since these were chemically inactive formulations, the addition of medications with objectionable taste may also have a great effect on acceptance. Additionally, this study did not address the absorption or effectiveness of medications administered in the various formulations. These areas will all need to be addressed. However, considering that dissolving thin strips for several human medications are now available, this administration option may represent a shift in the way oral medications are formulated and given to cats.

Clearly, providing alternative oral administration options for cat owners is likely to improve client compliance and overall pet care. This report is intriguing for those practitioners with an interest in learning how these formulations were administered and accepted by both clients and cats.

Traas AM, Fleck T, Ellings A, et al. Ease of oral administration and owner-perceived acceptability of triglyceride oil, dissolving thin film strip, and gelatin capsule formulations to healthy cats. Am J Vet Res 2010;71(6):610-614.

Abstract available at

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