Mini tablets and artificial meat flavourings could be the key to the age-old problem of persuading cats to swallow medication.

In an article published in The Veterinary Journal, co-author Jaana Hautala conducted experiments with cats in their home environments to identify what it took for the oral medication of felines to succeed.

Difficult to medicate

Cats are often considered the most difficult animals to medicate. IMAGE: farbkombinat / Fotolia.

Miss Hautala noted cats are often considered the most difficult animals to medicate and few registered drugs have been tailored and made palatable specifically for cats.

The study established domestic cats found mini tablets more palatable than food that was known to be disliked by the pet. However, the results indicate the flavour and odour of the mini tablets must be improved.

The fact the cat owners found the mini tablets easy to handle is also significant.

As reported in ScienceDaily, in the second part of the study, synthetic flavourings were used to improve the taste and smell of the mini tablets.

In the study, Miss Hautala found potential flavourings for further studies on mini tablets could include amino acids, which are known as meat flavour precursors, as well as vitamin B, which is plentiful in yeast extract.

Improved palatability

Miss Hautala also studied new flavour coatings and the suitability of atomic layer deposition (ALD) for coating mini tablets and improving their palatability.

Of the flavourings in the study, substances commonly used as synthetic meat flavours could be considered particularly appropriate for further studies on mini tablet coatings.

ALD is a promising method, but its use as a pharmaceutical coating is challenging, so further research is required.

The authors’ results are hoped to support cost-effective research and the development of palatable feline medications.


  • Savolainen S, Telkänranta H, Junnila J, Hautala J, Airaksinen S, Juppo A, Raekallio M and Vainio O (2016). A novel set of behavioural indicators for measuring perception of food by cats, The Veterinary Journal (216): 53. DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2016.06.012.
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