You don’t want to do it, she doesn’t want you to do it, but you have to do it. How to give your cat subcutaneous (sub Q) fluids.
Meet Cleo. The cat I always thought was a Siamese but then found out is actually a Burmese. I received this information during a trip to the vet when Cleo just seemed “off”. During that same visit I found out Cleo had a dreaded cat disease. Chronic Renal Disease. Although vets insist on calling it “Chronic Renal Failure” which sounds much more ominous. When my vet told me this news my eyes grew to the size of pumpkins and welled up. I thought he was gently telling me little Cleo would be dead by week’s end. That was 2 years ago.
Make no mistake about it, renal disease is ominous, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your cat is going to drop dead within weeks or even months. With medicine and treatment Cleo has been living a happy life for 2 years now but she wouldn’t be if it weren’t for Sub Cutaneous Fluids.
Renal Failure in cats basically means their kidneys aren’t working at 100%. The worse the condition, the less the kidneys are working. A cat with chronic kidney disease will drink a lot and pee a lot. In fact they pee out so much of their fluids that they dehydrate themselves.
If you’ve ever been dehydrated you know how awful that feels.
One of the things you can do to make your elderly, chronic renal (kidney) disease cat happier and healthier is by giving them subcutaneous fluids. At home. By yourself. Even though you’re terrified.
Your vet will let you know if this is a good option for you. Don’t just go out willy nilly and start jabbing your cat with needles and filling them with fluids.
I’ve been doing this every other day for about 6 months for my cat Cleo and after a somewhat inelegant introductory period, we’re both quite good at it now. We don’t like it. But we get through it with as little pain and biting as possible now.
Why do it? Cleo is in the end stages of her disease. Even with the fluids, she’s still dying. But these fluids make her feel much better. So when the vet said I could do this for her at home I had a little fainting fit, tried to bite him and then asked him to show me how to do it. Her vet is Dr. Mark who you might remember from my chicken related Ask Dr. Mark posts.
Like I said, the first few tries were a bit of a shitshow, but Cleo and I now have the hang of it.
How to Give a Cat Subcutaneous Fluids
Remember, always use a new needle.
- Hang your fluid bag a couple of feet higher than you will be with your cat. I use a coat hanger.
2. Remove the cap from the end of the tubing.
3. Press your needle (with the protective cap still on) onto the nub.
4. Twist the plastic nut a couple of twists to hold the needle in place.
5. Remove the protective cap on the needle.
6. Find the open hole on the needle. This should be inserted facing up into the cat.
7. Put your cat where you’ll both be comfortable. You’ll need to keep your cat in place. I like to squish her between my legs on the floor near her favourite heating vent. Other people will sit their cat in the corner of a chair or couch to keep them from squirming away.
8. Hold the needle in your dominant hand with the hole facing up. With your other hand pull the cat’s skin up by the scruff around her shoulder blades, forming a tent.
9. DECISIVELY insert the needle into the tent of skin. Don’t hesitate. The first few times it’ll be gross and scary and shocking and you’ll hear the skin crunch and all sorts of awful things. You want the needle to go in the pocket of air between the skin and her muscle.
10. Release the scruff and let the IV fluids flow by rolling the wheel upwards.
11. Pet your cat to help make the experience a more pleasant one.
12. Your vet will let you know how much fluid to give your cat but chances are it’ll be 100 ml, which will look like the size of a small orange on the back of the cats neck.
13. Once enough fluids have been administered stop the IV fluids by rolling the wheel down, remove the needle and pinch the cat’s skin for a minute to stop the fluids from leaking out.
14. Remove the needle by putting the protective cap back on and unscrewing it. Replace the blue protective cap to keep the line clean.
15. Everyone gets a treat! Seriously. You and the cat. Treats for everyone.
Need more instruction? K, here I am giving Cleo her fluids.
Immediately following this, Cleo got 3 Temptations treats and I got a whiskey. Cleo always feels much better a few hours after her fluids. I usually feel a bit wobbly after mine.
→Like to Sweat, Swear and do Stuff? GET MY POSTS emailed to you 3 times a week←