How to Safely “Burrito” a Cat or Small Exotic Animal When Medicating

How to Safely “Burrito” a Cat or Small Exotic Animal When Medicating
By Emily Hoppmann, DVM
We all know that often times, cats and other small animals can be extremely difficult to both hold and dose with medications or administer other treatments such as ear and eye medications. We want to try to make this process a bit easier by teaching you how a towel can be your best friend in these situations – think about it as swaddling a baby! By using a towel or small blanket to restrain your pet into a “burrito”-style wrap, you can have more control and can neatly tuck away flailing limbs and dangerous claws, while also making your pet feel safer. This method works so well with pets and children because small pets/cats feel more comfortable, so they tend to become more compliant over time when they feel safely wrapped up in their little towel when you have to give medications.

To make an animal burrito safely, follow these easy steps: First, place a towel lengthways on a flat surface. Place your pet two-thirds the way on the towel, head facing away and tail end toward you. Take the shorter end of the towel and fold over your pet, leaving the head out and wrapping the legs. Next, tuck the towel snuggly beneath your pet’s body. Take the longer end of the towel and fold over top of the animal, making sure to tuck the towel all the way underneath and over the top of your pet again. You should be able to hold the end of the towel to prevent unwrapping. At this point, only the animal’s head should be outside of the burrito – making it easy for you to administer medications orally or other treatments (such as ear mediations or eye medications). If you need to trim your animal’s nails, repeat the steps above, but extend one leg at a time outside the wrap and be sure to only clip the tip of the nail that does not have the blood supply. If you do happen to get the nail too short, you can apply flour or corn starch to the end of the nail and apply pressure to help a clot form more quickly and stop the bleeding.

Perfecting your burrito technique will take time and plenty of practice; however, the benefits to both you and your pet are immense. Using this method can make dosing medications and providing treatments easier and less stressful for everyone and will help ensure that your cat or small pet receives his or her optimal dose of medications as prescribed.

If you need more instruction on perfecting your burrito, please watch our How-To video on our Facebook page ( under the video section.