Nursing Care

When your cat becomes sick, it can be scary and unsettling for both you and your cat.

Your behavior greatly influences your cat’s behavior and sense of security. Your nursing skills play a major role in the success of the treatments that your veterinarian has prescribed to help your cat recover from illness or injury.

The Role of the Veterinary Practice

  • To offer suggestions about treatment options that best match your cat’s personality and your ability to administer medicine/treatment.
  • To educate you on how to administer medications and demonstrate techniques if needed.
  • To communicate with you about treatment, follow-up, and behavior signs of well-being that signal recovery.
    • Cats that feel good tend to sleep most often in a curled position.
    • They groom themselves, follow a normal routine, interact with their owner, and eat and eliminate regularly.
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Your Role in Nursing Care for Your Cat

The following nursing care tips will help you become an extension of the veterinary team after your cat returns home. Ask your veterinary practice to provide as much information as possible in writing, as well as references to online resources, such as videos. Do not be reluctant to approach the veterinary team if you have any questions during or after the visit.

Home Environment
  • Identify a quiet, familiar, and private space in your home, such as a small enclosure or alcove with good lighting where your cat can rest and recover.
  • This space needs to be easily accessible for you, so you can tend to your cat’s needs.
  • A small space allows for close monitoring of your cat and provides her with a sense of security.
  • Establish a routine for administering oral medication to your cat. A bathroom sink lined with a soft towel or fleece provides an enclosed, secure place for administering medication.
  • Give your cat positive reinforcement (e.g., treats, brushing, petting) for accepting medication.
  • Unless your veterinarian says that medication must be administered with food, do not use food as an aid for giving medications, as it may cause aversion and reduce your cat’s food intake.
  • Forcing your cat to take medication is stressful for both you and your cat. Do not forcibly remove your cat from a hiding place or interrupt eating, grooming, or elimination for purposes of administering medication
  • Ask your veterinarian for a demonstration of how to administer the medication prescribed for your cat.
  • Flat food dishes, such as small paper plates, and shallow water bowls may improve intake by making food and water more accessible.
  • It can be helpful if you warm the canned food to your cat’s body temperature by gently heating in the microwave or adding warm water and stirring well. Additions of chicken broth or tuna juice may enhance taste.
  • Food should always be fresh, provided in small portions, and replenished as needed.
Additional Tips
  • Stay calm. Cats can sense our anxiety or frustrations, which may cause them to become fearful or anxious.
  • Attend all follow-up appointments with your veterinary practice.
  • Alert your veterinary practice if you observe any signs of sickness or changes in your cat’s behavior, as well as any changes in food or fluid intake, or if you experience difficulty administering medications.


Providing nursing care at home for your cat may seem overwhelming at first, but be patient and remember that even small improvements will contribute to your cat’s recovery. Remember that your veterinarian is there to help, so always ask any questions you have so that you can successfully provide nursing care for your cat.