The other day we received an email from a customer who wondered if we had any sage wisdom on how best to give a cat subcutaneous fluids. Her cat is particularly fearful of many things and she’s concerned. Every vet or vet tech have their little tricks to make the process easier for the cat, and the person administering the SubQ fluids, but we thought we’d ask our Feline Editor At Large, Sir Isaac Newton, for his always brilliant take on this, and here it is!
Newton’s Purrspective – When Kitty Needs Fluid Therapy
Your veterinarian will administer fluids for a variety of reasons ranging from routine surgery to dehydration caused by serious illness. However, the most common reason for fluid therapy at home is chronic renal failure (CRF). Cats with CRF need extra fluids to help flush out toxins while decreasing the burden on the kidneys. Standard procedure is to do this at least once, if not twice daily. Although this can be done at a veterinary clinic I know that I would not appreciate all those car rides in a cat carrier! At home treatment is much less stressful.
If Kitty needs fluid therapy your veterinarian will instruct you in the procedure. It is simpler than you may imagine. The key to the whole procedure is keeping everyone involved calm and relaxed!
The needle is inserted under loose skin (commonly around the neck and shoulder area) and fluids are allowed to flow from an IV bag until a bulge is visible. This looks a little strange, but it is not painful and the fluids are quickly absorbed.
The procedure may take 10-15 minutes so the real challenge is keeping Kitty still. Set aside enough time so you are comfortable and not stressed about the possibility of being late for a meeting. We cats pick up on your emotions. If can’t hurt to play some relaxing music. I enjoy the “Forever A Kitten, Mood Music for Cats” CD.
Clearly, the best environment is a small quiet room. A bathroom may be your ideal location if you have a shower rod for hanging the fluids. My older brother had fluids twice a day for years and his staff used a bent coat hanger to attach the bag to the rod. Feliway diffusers are commonly used in cat designated exam rooms at clinics, so it may be worth trying at home. Or you can spray Cat Faeries Convivial House Cat around the area and on the bed or towel the cat is placed upon.
Here are a few additional tips:
- Have everything ready BEFORE you bring Kitty to the treatment area in your home.
- Although this procedure is often done by a single person, having an assistant around (especially during the first treatment) is a reasonable precaution.
- Make sure Kitty is as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
- Some cats like the security of being wrapped in a towel.
- Other cats may like sitting inside a box (approximately the size of a cardboard cat carrier). Make sure the sides are high enough for kitty comfort, but low enough for you to insert the needle and encourage Kitty to stay in the box if she changes her mind.
- Eventually your cat may indicate to you a more preferred area. Possibly a Cat Faeries cat bed.
- Fluids should NEVER be refrigerated.
- Ideally fluids should be body temperature, but room temperature is fine. Fill a bowl with warm to hot water and let the bag of fluids warm in the water bath. DO NOT microwave.
- Use a Sharpie to mark how far down the fluid level should go during each treatment as the numbers on the bag aren’t bold and when the bag is elevated above your head they are hard to read. The Sharpie line really stands out.
- Let gravity be your friend by hanging the bag as high as you can while still seeing the bag markings.
- When you are finished pull out the needle and pinch the area where the needle had been inserted to stop any leaking. Some leaking is common as is a drop or two of blood.
- Dispose of the used needle in the manner told by your veterinarian.
- Insert a clean needle for next time. ALWAYS insert a clean needle.
- Most cats realize that they feel better after this, so give you cat a few days to figure out that this is a good thing, not a bad thing!
- Praise your cat after even if he/she is bolting for a closet or under the bed!
- After you give your cat their daily fluids rinse out the water bowl(s) with soapy water to remove any biofilms which is bacteria harboring slime that we’ve written about. Put 3 drops of Cat Faeries Kidney Kitty in the bowl to help prevent further shrinking of the kidneys and to help keep them functioning at an optimal level.