Giving Subcutaneous Fluids to Older Cats.

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 to greatly improve their quality of life.

Siamese cat gets subcutaneous fluids at home.


Meet Cleo.  The cat I always thought was a Siamese but then found out is actually a Burmese but THEN found out is actually a Siamese. Confusing I know. My vet thought she was a Burmese for a while based on the shape of her head but we finally decided she was an applehead Siamese (also known as a traditional Siamese.) 

Several years ago Cleo just seemed “off” so I took her to the vet.   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.  She lived for another 2 1/2 years before I made the decision to be in a horrific amount of pain so she didn’t have to be.

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 lived a happy life for over 2 years after her diagnosis. But she wouldn’t have without Subcutaneous Fluids.

Siamese cat sits in front of Christmas presents.



Renal Failure in cats 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 did this every other day for about the last year of Cleo’s life and after a somewhat inelegant introductory period, we both got quite good at it.  We don’t like it. But we get through it with as little pain and biting as possible now.

Why do it?  When a cat gets to the end stages of chronic renal disease they don’t feel well.  But these fluids make them 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 and keep your fluids at room temperature so it’s more comfortable for the cat.


  • Fluids
  • 18-20 gauge needles.
  1. Hang your fluid bag a couple of feet higher than you will be with your cat. I used a coat hanger.

A subq fluids bag for cats hanging higher than the cat on a wire coat hanger on a black door.

2. Remove the cap from the end of the tubing.

Removing the blue cap from a fluids bag.

3. Press your needle (with the protective cap still on) onto the nub.

Aligning a new needle onto the IV fluids bag.

4. Twist the plastic nut a couple of twists to hold the needle in place.

New needle with cap still on, attached to IV fluid line for cats.

5. Remove the protective cap on the needle.

Needle Choice Options

You can use an 18-20 gauge needle on your cat. 

  • With the 18 gauge (which is larger) your fluid therapy will go more quickly.
  • With a 20 gauge needle (which is smaller)  is less painful for the cat but will it’ll take longer to administer the fluids through the smaller hole.

Removing the cap of an IV needle by carefully pulling it from the tip.

6. Find the open hole on the needle.  This should be inserted facing up into the cat.

A subcutaneous fluid needle shown against a black background.

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. Putting them in a very small box could work as well. Cats like boxes, they feel safe in them and it would help stop them from crawling away.

Subq needle for giving fluid to a cat is shown with the hole of the needle pointing upwards.

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.

A woman's hand holds a Siamese cat by the scruff of the neck creating a tent for inserting the needle for fluids at home.

9. DECISIVELY insert the needle (with the hole side up) 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.

Needle being inserted into a tent of skin on a renal failure cat's neck.

10. Release the scruff and let the IV fluids flow by rolling the wheel upwards.

Rolling up the dial on a fluids tube to allow fluids to run.

11.  Pet your cat to help make the experience a more pleasant one.

A Siamese cat lays quietly as a fluid lump forms near her neck as she's given subcutaneous fluids at home for renal failure.

12. Your vet will let you know how much fluid to give your cat but chances are it’ll be 100 ml if you have an average sized cat. When injected 100 ml looks like the size of a small orange on the back of the cats neck.

13. Once enough fluids have been administered (check the size of the lump on the cats neck and the fluid line on the IV bag) you can stop the flow of 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.


How long does it take for a cat to absorb subcutaneous fluids?

It only takes a few minutes to give your cat subq fluids but it will take them a while to absorb all those fluids.

Most cats will absorb all the fluid within a few hours. You’ll know when the fluids have been absorbed when the lump of fluid where you gave the injection has flattened.

If the lump of fluid seems to move (down your cats neck, back or to their shoulders) don’t worry about the migration.  It sometimes happens. The fluids will still be absorbed normally.

Can you give a cat too much subcutaneous fluids?

It IS possible to over hydrate so don’t immediately think if some is good more is better. It’s not. Only give the amount of fluids as recommended by your vet. Too much subcutaenous fluids can cause hypertension and cats that have heart problems can develop fluid buildup in the body.

Fluid buildup in a cat with heart problems can become a medical emergency. So to reiterate; only give the amount prescribed by your vet.

What does subcutaneous fluids do for cats?

Obviously the reason for giving fluids is to hydrate the cat. For cats with renal failure, their kidneys go through more fluids than normal (the cat pees a lot).  You can lead a cat to water but you can’t make it drink so giving fluids under the skin is the best way to help rehydrate them.

Subq fluids provide the cat with the extra fluids they need to feel well.

  • The cat feel will feel better in general (the way you do when you’re hydrated)
  • The extra fluids will help slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease (renal failure)
  • Fluid therapy is immensely helpful for chronic constipation, a side effect of renal failure.  They’ll help your cat poop. And you know how much better you feel if you poop. 



Need more instruction? K, here I am giving Cleo her fluids.


If this is something you don’t think you’ll ever, EVER be able to do then it might be helpful for you to know the cat breeds that are more predisposed to chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Giving Subcutaneous Fluids to Older Cats.

Giving Subcutaneous Fluids to Older Cats.

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

A step by step guide to giving your cat with chronic kidney disease subcutaneous fluids at home.


  • Vet prescribed fluids
  • 18-20 gauge needles


    1. Hang your fluid bag a couple of feet higher than you will be with your cat. I used 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. Putting them in a very small box could work as well. Cats like boxes, they feel safe in them and it would help stop them from crawling 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 (with the hole side up) 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 if you have an average sized cat. When injected 100 ml looks like the size of a small orange on the back of the cats neck.
    13. Once enough fluids have been administered (check the size of the lump on the cats neck and the fluid line on the IV bag) you can stop the flow of 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. Give the both of you a treat. You're done.


Using a smaller needle (20 gauge) will be more comfortable for your cat but will take longer to give the fluids.

Using a larger needle (18 gauge) will be less comfortable for your cat when you insert the needle but the job will be finished more quickly.


Cats breeds prone to CKD

  • Persian
  • Abyssinian
  • Siamese
  • Ragdoll
  • Burmese
  • Russian Blue
  • Maine Coon

How to prevent renal failure in cats

You can help reduce the chances and severity of renal failure in any breed of cat.

  • Keep their teeth cleaned and cared for. Gum disease and teeth issues contributes to renal failure in cats. A lot.
  • Feeding food that’s high in phosphorous will increase the chances of the disease and the faster advancement of it. Feed your cat high quality food from day one. And if they’re diagnosed with chronic kidney disease immediately switch them to a food made specifically for renal failure cats.
  • Toxins eaten by a cat (poisons, antifreeze, pesticides) may not kill them immediately but can cause a cat to develop chronic kidney disease.
  • Indoor cats have a lower risk of renal failure because of their more limited exposure to toxins.


Even knowing Siamese are predisposed to this disease, and knowing how painful it was to hear the diagnosis and eventually have her put to sleep I still want another traditional Siamese cat. Desperately.

Cleo came to me when her owners discovered they were allergic. I can’t remember who they were and have no idea where they got her, but if I knew I’d have another Siamese right now.

Immediately following this treatment, Cleo got 3 Temptations treats and I got a whiskey.  Cleo always felt much better a few hours after her fluids.  I usually feel a bit wobbly after mine.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←


Giving Subcutaneous Fluids to Older Cats.


  1. dave says:

    We had to do the same thing. It is hard at first. Our little cat sat perfectly still while the vet trained us how to do it the first time. After that she was all claws, feet and screaming. Wife had to make a cat bag so we could get her done. She would sit still for my sister whose a nurse and had done her cats before. She had 1 1/2 great years with us before we had to…..

    Anyway, learn to do it, you won’t be sorry. Also if your vet will not give you a prescription where you can by the fluids from a vet supply online, find another vet.

  2. Anna Gonzalez says:

    How do you know how much fluid the cat is getting ?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anna! You have to watch the bag. You can see how much is out of it by the lines on it. But as you get used to doing it, you know when to stop just by the feel of the size of the ball of fluid on the back of their neck. :) ~ karen

      • RACHEL says:

        Often times I give my cat fluids and there’s not much of a bump, if any, is that normal?

        • Karen says:

          HI Rachel. There definitely should be a bump. Are you watching to see how much fluid is coming out of the bag? The two reasons I could see for not having a bump are you either aren’t injecting into the right spot (either too deep and into muscle, which you do not want to do, or you simply aren’t allowing enough fluid to go in). Again, I am NOT a vet and you should definitely check with your vet. But those are the two issues I would think might be the reason behind it. ` karen!

        • JENNIFER LEE says:

          Hi, I also just started the Sub Q fluid for my cat, I followed the instructions and I also don’t see the bump neither . The dosage is only 75ML once a day which is not a lot… I don’t see any fluid leaking out.. Everyone says there should be a bump and I just don’t see it. Anyone else have similar experience?
          thank you very much

        • Barbara Weisman says:

          I rarely saw a bump and my cat clearly was doing well so I know the fluids were being properly administered. My 21 year old female received sub Q fluids and B12 for 7 months. She did quite well and enjoyed her life right up to the end.

      • Rachel says:

        Right now I am dealing with giving fluids to an elderly cat with very thin skin. It’s so hard to get it under her skin so that it doesn’t leak out and/or goes through to the other side of the skin. I wish I could figure out how to make sure it gets in and doesn’t leak out.

        • Barbara Weisman says:

          I often encountered the same problem. needle poking out the other side. Try not pulling the skin so it’s too taut therefore, leaving a space wide enough for the needle to easily travel. Keep the needle close (and parallel) to your cat’s body, again providing the widest space for the needle to enter, hopefully minimizing the risk of outbound punctures. It is definitely tricky. It sometimes took me 3 tries (many days I got it the first try). The very first time, i inserted the needle, it went in, then out through the other side and into my finger. Just stay calm, take a couple of breaths, pet your kitty, don’t make a big deal of it and try again. You can do it then afterwards you both get a treat.

  3. Chickenfog says:

    Karen, you are terrific for posting this. Is it possible for you to add to the original post that warming the liquid to cat temp can make all the difference in application? It’s HUGE.


  4. Nancy K says:

    I’ve been giving my cat fluids by myself for a while and looked at this post in case I might pickup any hints.

    Here’s my two cents—
    •I always change it to a fresh needle when we finish with fluids so will be ready to go the next time.
    •I had a hard time seeing how much fluid I was giving so I decided that when my cat ran out of patience, he’d had enough. (I didn’t want to make it any worse—in his opinion—than it already was.)
    •Feeling the size of the lump of fluid-whatever under his skin, I don’t think that’s too far off.
    •“We” use a circulating cat fountain to encourage hydration. (He won’t carry a water bottle &/or kept spilling it)
    •My vet has prescribed Hills Science Diet K/D. I keep a dish of dry available just-in-case, but mainly serve canned:I’m pretty sure only pâté comes in larger size can, and stew— chicken and vegetable or tuna and vegetable, comes in teeny cans. (Of course, “we” only eat tuna and veg stew)

    Hope this helps someone.

  5. Michael says:

    My cat is old and has very thin skin. It is difficult to know where to put the needle in him. How can this be done more easily.

    • Barbara Weisman says:

      It’s tricky administering sub q fluids to an old thin cat. I am searching for tips on this. Lately, it takes me 2 or 3 tries to position the needle under the tent properly instead of through like I’m sewing. It’s hard but I’m patient and I get the job done. I’m just wondering if anyone out there has some wisdom.

      • karen hansen says:

        I just want to cry! I began this at hm. a mth. ago. I thought I finally got the right amt. in him but then when i picked him up out of his carrier, ( he was used to the Vet tech.leaving him in there when they did it), & he’d try to run away from me. Anyway I was SOO happy, then picked him up only to find it was soaked under all the blankets & he hadn’t gotten ANY of it! The needle goes thru his super thin skin , plus he’s SOO bony like yours, there’s barely enuf skin to pull up to tent. Did you find a solution? [email protected]

        • Barbara Weisman says:

          Try lessening your pull when you pull up the scruff of skin to make the tent. I believe if her skin was pulled too taut, it made the channel of space so narrow, the needle ended up poking out of the sides. Try to keep the needle close to her body (but parallel) so that the needle has a wide amount of space to enter. You can try different spots behind your cat’s neck to the middle of his back. Stay calm. You can do it. It never took me more than 3 tries.

  6. leenda says:

    I wish I’d seen this back in 2016, when I was supposed to give my cat subQ fluids at home. Despite me doing all the things you (and her vet) said, and already being experienced with shots, she was a squirmy little brat and fluids-at-home never worked out. But I really appreciate your post, which I found while searching for feline vitB posts (I saw that first), since another cat now gets those. I was confused because he was at UrgentCare yesterday and they inject the B12 into a muscle, rather than subQ, and his MIRACULOUS recovery caused me to wonder if I’d been doing it wrong all this time. I haven’t…. yay… but if vet visits are going to cause such wondrous reactions (he’s eaten more in the last 24 hrs than in the last 2 weeks combined!), then I’ll pay for the dang vet visits!!

  7. Gigi says:

    My Mooch was just diagnosed with CKD and since I am on a small pension and she freaks out every time she even sees the carrier I asked the vet to show me how to give subcutaneous fluids. My first times was a disaster. Not so much the giving but the not being able to see how much the fluid had gone down and into my Mooch. It’s so hard to see. Do you have any suggestions on how to make is easier? If you have an 18G the needle, fully open with the bag hanging high, how long, approximately should it take? The vet was not very helpful, just old me it doesn’t matter since the cat will get rid of everything she doesn’t need but as I said before, my budget is limited and I would prefer not to waste any of the fluid but just give her what she needs. She is 13, was an abused and abandoned little cat and deserves the best I can do for her. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  8. Shauna Henry says:

    My cat, Jiggy, had renal failure and I had to do this for him every few months for a week or so. He lived a long happy (albeit sickly) life. In the end, he just lost too much weight and could barely make it onto the bed. I laid down with him and started crying knowing I was going to have to put him down (he got me through some tough life times) – he reached out his paw and put it on my face as if to tell me that it was ok and he was ready. I still dream of that sweetpea. I would have given him subcutaneous fluids every day if I had to.

    • Karen says:

      Anddddd that made me cry. I stress every single day about Cleo and the day I’ll have to put her to sleep. ~ karen!

  9. Kim W says:

    Oh, this takes me back….my vet detected chronic renal failure in my cat Zach when he was about 17, and she suggested a three-pronged approach of a prescription diet, a supplement, and the subcutaneous fluids. The prescription diet was no problem (Zach would eat literally anything, and had the appetite of a Clydesdale horse), the supplements were no problem (I stuck each pill in a pill pocket and he would snarf them down in seconds), but…he fought me HARD on the subcutaneous fluids. And when Zach fought hard, he fought HARD (during one of his vet visits, he actually literally BEAT UP HIS VET).

    After about two weeks of struggling, fighting, scratches, yowls, shouts, and sweat, it finally hit me that “if he has the energy to fight me THAT much, that may be a sign that he is actually okay without the fluids right now”. So I quietly decided to simply observe him, and give him fluids if it seemed like he needed them (if his energy dipped or he seemed to get getting logey). He never seemed to need them, and at his next vet visit the vet said that his urinalysis looked a lot better – thanks to the prescription food and the supplements – and that was that. He ultimately passed away at the age of 18, and at the time of his death his urinalysis showed his kidney function as “normal”.

    • Amanda Fernandez says:

      Hi Kim,
      Can I ask what was the prescription diet and supplement you had your cat on? Mine is 17 and she’s fighting me on fluids at home. My vet charges $35 each time I go in which should be every three days or so…
      I would only hope I could have the same situation you did. She’s a picky eater though so I’m not sure this would even work


      • Norlei says:

        Hi, I don’t know what Kim used but I use Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Renal Support A Dry Food and the supplement is Vetoquinol Epakitin supplement for dogs & cats on my cat. You can find them both online at but the cat food you need a prescription.

        Also, what I did is left a faucet open all the time so she can drink as much water as she wants. That idea actually save me hundreds of dollars. Don’t worry if you leave only a thin drip you won’t get a increase in your water bill. It is all worth it.

  10. Lori says:

    Per your FB request, I, too, have no problem viewing the video. Using an iPad.

  11. Jennifer Van Noland says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m so sorry about your Cleo.
    There’s a good video on Netflix called Pet Fooled.
    A lot of diseases are caused by feeding cats and dogs dry kibble. By feeding them this, they’re in a constant state of dehydration which leads to so many diseases. I’m feeding my cats and dog a raw diet as much as possible after seeing that film.

  12. Linda Bryant says:

    As you requested, I am posting this to let you know that I was able to watch the video on your post.
    Well done!

  13. Laura Bee says:

    Dear Karen:
    You are braver than I. I have to look away when they prick my finger when checking my iron before I donate blood.
    If my cat or kid needed a needle, I am pretty sure I would learn. But just thinking about it….I don’t want to do that!

  14. Mary W says:

    I was amazed with your photography – was someone helping you hold the camera? Your nails did look just like your post – beautiful. Years ago, my son had a beautiful and very expensive hog for his 4H project and resulting sale at the Youth Fair. He bought her when she was young and raised her for the show. He spent hours each day teaching her to walk with his show cane and waching, brushing, and feeding her. She got very sick with pneumonia and needed shots every few hours to keep her alive. While he was at school, I got the job. To keep her temp down we made mud to put on her and then pull off when it got hot. The shots were EXTREMELY difficult to get into that thick hide. She just lay there quietly but I had to really jam the needle in then push so hard to get it through. She did eventually live but didn’t gain enough weight to be eligible for the fair. We loved her by then and couldn’t bear to auction her, anyway. We had her bred and she had 18 teets and 16 babies, first time. Boy was that exciting – my son had to blow into the mouth of one of the piglets and it began squealing which was a wonderful sound after thinking she was dead. We were so glad the shots worked and our lives on the 10 acres were so enriched with these animals. I feel for you for you cat and how much you will go through for her – you are such a good person! I know you will do what is right for her up until it is no longer right. Your strong like that. I love your blog.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, your nails looked awesome, and I am sure it was just coincidence that there were plenty of “close up” hand shots :)

  15. Lin N says:

    Yer a good kitty mom! I have had to do the the hydration thing on my cat and my dog in the past. It helped them live a comfortable extra few years. Keep on, keepin on Cleo.

  16. Therese says:

    Great post. Thank you for sharing :). It brings up many great memories of treating various animals here on the farm.

    I had a “duck emergency” on the weekend. Sadly, my intervention did not save her. This story did remind me of Lucy.

    We do what we can for them, and as this post deals with life enhancement for many animals with this condition (or in need of sub Q), we all thank you.

    You are brave. And creative. And beautiful. You go girl!


  17. Jen Topp says:

    It is INSANE that she lets you do this without holding her! I’ve had to do this with two cats and it was definitely a two-person job.

  18. Chelsea says:

    Hi Karen,

    I didn’t read all the comments so I’m not sure if this came up already.. I’m a vet and there is a new drug that came out within the last couple years for cats in renal failure. It’s called Semintra and we have seen a lot of success with it! If Cleo is not already on it, I think it would be worth a discussion with your vet to see if that is an option for her..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chelsea. Yes! She is on it. :) She takes it daily along with a dose of laxative. Plus when she feels nauseated and won’t eat I give her Cerenia for a few days. ~ karen!

      • Clover says:

        My Siamese is 17-1/2 with renal failure.. I’m lucky to have a vet tech come in every three days to give SubQs but it’s only temporary relief and my cat is always wary of me when I approach him. I’m really wondering if I should just leave him in peace but don’t want him to feel terrible. He’s still eating but much less and getting thin. How will I know when it’s time. He’s like my child as I never had kids and I know my life will not be the same without him.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Clover. I’m so sorry about your cat. I struggle with the same thing with mine. The confusing thing about renal disease is a cat can be terrible one day and great the next. They go through phases. You can only do what you think is right for you and your cat. Many renal failure cats are on Sub Q fluids for years much the same way a diabetic would be on insulin. If your cat was recently diagnosed, with medication and proper care it’s possible she could still live for years. If he’s truly in the end stage he’ll refuse to eat at all and his eyes will tell you he does not like being here anymore. I know the stress you’re going through and I wish I could tell you an exact moment to let your cat go but it’s a decision that’s personal and based on your own cat. Good luck. I know your pain. ~ karen!

  19. Kris Wilson says:

    You never cease to impress me with your willingness and capability to “do stuff”. You’re a good person, Karen.

  20. Suzanne Herbruck says:

    Thanks Karen. Been there, tho not happily!

    Hoping this post will bring up the video, as it did Monday.

  21. Ev Wilcox says:

    Karen, I forgot to thank you for this. You are a good person. Ev

  22. Ev Wilcox says:

    Had to give my sweet Reilly, a black lab that still lives in my heart after nine years, weekly injections to help fight the autoimmune disease that plagued him for years. We did many expensive things to try to help him, but he had a hard time of it. We never regretted a cent, and I send hugs to anyone who goes the extra mile for their beloved animal friends.

  23. LibrarianNancy says:

    Yep, did this for one of my foster golden retrievers every morning for a year and a half. I foster medical and hospice dogs for golden retriever rescue, and Teddy was 15 when he came into the rescue program with late stage kidney disease. The vet expected him to live about a month. One of the vet techs gave me a five minute lesson (and yes, the first few times I did it myself were scary, especially the lump afterwards). After doing sub-cu fluids daily for 18 months, I could show most vet techs how to do it! Your demo was spot on – the only thing I did differently was that after the needle was attached, I was told to open the rheostat (i.e., the wheel) to let the fluids flow through to the needle and clear the tube. I had the same kind of coat hanger arrangement, hooked to a vent high up on the kitchen wall, with a dog bed on the floor. When they heard the Keurig start brewing, Teddy and my golden boy would both come in the kitchen and lay down together. Other people have told me that they could never give fluids or shots because it’s gross or icky (that’s a technical term), and my response is, would you be able to do it if it was your child or your partner? Bless you, Karen and all the other commenters, who do what’s needed to keep our fur-kids comfortable.

  24. I’m impressed beyond words! What an incredible person you are! Your heart is so beautiful to do this for your furry family member. We have had dogs our entire married life and it’s so difficult to see them grow old. But you always have to keep things in perspective… you’ve given them a wonderful life and they’ve given us unconditional love. So we do whatever is necessary to complete their lives. Blessings to you and yours, Sherry @ Edie Marie’s Attic

  25. Diana says:

    Thanks for that information.

    My 17 year old cat has been dealing with hyperthyroidism for a few years and recently has developed renal problems. Besides the fluids, is there anything else your vet recommended? Just curious if I’m doing all I can for now. We’ve switched to a k/d dry and wet food.

    If we ever get to the point of needing subcutaneous fluids this will be a big help. Thanks!

  26. Claire says:

    We had to do this with both our Burmese (one longhair, one short – sisters) as well. Luckily, we had two of us to do the job, so one got to hold the bag up. The lump is, in my mind, the most alarming part just because it looks so weird and takes awhile to dissipate.

    My dad also has an 18 year old black cat who has had diabetes pretty much his entire life (and thus most of mine as well) so I’m well used now to jabbing kitties.

  27. Dawn says:

    As a trained Veterinary Assistant (and a farmer) this doesn’t bother me one twit. I’ve done so many grosser things in the name of saving an animal. But you are brave and I congratulate you on doing this for your kitty.

  28. Shawna says:

    I’ve lost two cats to renal failure. One at 11 and it was totally out of the blue, unexpected and fast! The other lived until she was almost 19 and we did subcutaneous fluid as well with her for a bit. She tried to hang on but it was time to go and she passed in our arms at home. It was a sad experience and was a tough lesson for our three kids and we miss her still (it’s been four years).

    Hugs to you and Cleo. I know that’s weird, but since we have met in real life I think the hugs won’t be that weird!

  29. Dawn says:

    What a fabulous Kitty mama you are! She’s a lucky kitty.

  30. Jenni says:

    This post could not have come at a better time. My cat was diagnosed over the weekend after a scary trip to the emergency vet, and subcutaneous fluids was mentioned as a possibility down the road. Now I’m a lot less nervous about it, and hope I can get another 2 years with my buddy, too.

  31. whitequeen96 says:

    Karen! Calling Karen!
    Several of us are unable to see the video. We want to see you in action!

  32. Eileen says:

    This is great info Karen, super documentation.
    One of the best sites I found when my girls were diagnosed was:
    She’s done (and put together) an amazing amount of research and info about kidney disease in cats.
    Best to you and Cleo – of course we know she’s in the most capable loving hands with you (even if they’re a little wobbly after the treatment).

    • Jennifer says:

      That website was extremely helpful and encouraging to me, as well, when my dear Spice (who had been with me since university) was diagnosed.

      Karen, thank you for making this video. I know it will also help a lot of people. You’re doing great to be able to give the fluids on your own. It always took both my husband and I to manage it (and I was the one that had to do the needle). Hugs to you and Cleo.

  33. Wilma says:

    We do whatever we can for our beloved furbabies, don’t we? I just lost my sweet Abby last week from stomach cancer & renal failure. She was ready to go, but I wasn’t ready to lose her, and it broke my heart. She was 18, my first cat, and turned me into a kitty lover. I hope you and Cleo have a lot of time together yet. She’s lucky to have you.

    • Pam says:

      I’m so sorry about your loss, Cleo. I’m making the hard, but right, decision to let my sweet Jack go on Saturday. After many kitty friends this is my first cancer and it’s a nasty aggressive oral tumor. I’ll miss my boy.

  34. Dave says:

    Had to do that with our cat Savannah for almost 2yrs on and off. At the vet she sat perfectly still, at home she was a whirlwind of claws and screaming. My wife had to make a cat bag to put her in with only her head and neck sticking out.

    Things you do for the love of your animals.

  35. diane says:

    Great post. My daughter did this for her beloved cat and it bought him 2 more years.

  36. whitequeen96 says:

    Is it just me, or is there a missing video? I don’t see one of you giving Cleo her treatment. I looked on youtube, and I don’t see it there either.

  37. Thandi says:

    I have a confession to make.
    Hi, my name is Thandi and I watch veterinary surgery videos online for fun. So basically this post was awesome! When my bird had to have a pin put in her leg to try and save it after a break I went online to better understand the procedure. Then I sort of became hooked. You, and all the people here who have given their furkids shots and fluids, are crazy brave. My vet offered to teach me how to inject Birdbird when she had a severe calcium deficiency and needed shots every day, but she’s just so tiny. I couldn’t do it. But I did watch with great enthusiasm when the vet did it (#freak).

    • Karen says:

      Yes, birds are MUCH more difficult to work on. ‘Cause you know … tiny. ~ karen!

      • Thandi says:

        This is why our nicknames for the birds are (in order of smallest to biggest) The Pops, The Nuggets, and The Schnitzel. Because they’re just tiny little mouthfuls of joy.

  38. Stephbo says:

    I’ve had to do that for two of my cats in the past. I found it easiest to put them on the counter so they were at an easy height, and I have them wet food as a treat while I was given by the fluids. It distracted them just enough so I could get the job done.

  39. Kathleen O Hartzell says:

    Just had this experience, too. My precious little feral adoptee developed the renal decline some two years ago and vet had me start the subQ recently. She did say that that area of the shoulder has no nerve endings – my furbaby didn’t even squirm – until about 1/2 way into the job, and she’d shoot off my lap and I’d be there with the fluid squirting all over myself and the chair until I could manage to get to the wheel to shut it down. Another time my husband was holding it and gazing off and he didn’t think to just lower the bag! Or the time I stabbed myself….
    Furbaby Sunshine is over the bridge now. She told me she was ready when she went straight to her behind the computer bed rather than erasing my work on the screen….I miss her and my husband says he still goes twice a day to the catbox corner to …….
    They are such a part of us…..

  40. Kathy Salley says:

    I’ve given sub-q fluids to 2 of my greyhounds so far. It is terrifying at first, but once you realize how helpful it is for your pet it becomes a gift. I have a 10 year old greyhound, Gigi, with renal failure. I have been feeding her a raw diet of ground meats, rice, and veggies for about 4 months now and her values are improving. I’m not saying it’s a cure, but she seems happier and has more energy. I found several recipes online.

  41. liz says:

    oy! wow! no
    thank you? one day i may have to be a grown up…
    hopefully my daughter will be home from college
    i’m not old enuf
    you are so brave
    i love your manicure
    can we talk about chickens now?
    i dont have chickens

  42. Cleo is beautiful! This is an important post Karen. Knowing the signs of Chronic Renal Disease (not failure!) as you’ve described helps people catch it early which is key. Two of our cats have needed these fluids and it also prolonged their life comfortably for 2 years. Love Cleo’s little black ears. I always said “There’s 2 types of people, dog people and cat and I’m a dog person.” Presently we have 2 cats and a dog and I’m obsessed with both types of animals. They both make you laugh so much each day.

  43. Pam'a says:

    As the daughter of a veterinarian, I’ve tackled various medical tasks on my own over the years. Sooner or later, there’s a sick, old, beloved fur baby that needs you to make a decision you don’t want to make. And you might, in an effort to put it off, find yourself going to great lengths to keep your baby alive, spending house payments on treatments.

    Your baby wouldn’t want you to; nor does s/he see the point of overly painful things that prolong the inevitable, when there are dog bones and tuna bushes waiting just over the rainbow bridge. Promise them that you won’t keep at it if you’re really just trying to make YOU feel better. You’ll see them again– frolicking! I just know it.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, no, this isn’t a case of that. Speaking for only myself, of course. Cleo isn’t on life support, she’s on life enhancer. :) ~ karen!

  44. Toby Earp says:

    Karen, of all your DIY projects this one looks like the hardest, to me. Lucky kitty, lucky kitty person.

  45. Gaby33260 says:

    Je connais ça aussi malheureusement.. Voilà 1an que je fais ceci tous les jours sur ma persane Coveline ou j’ai cru la perdre car elle était inerte en quelques heures. Elle avait explosé ses taux d’urée et le reste.. car elle avait de tous petits reins qui ne fonctionne pas.
    Je lui donne 150ml à 200ml (quand il fait chaud) . Et suite à sa santé fragile , elle a perdu aussi un œil qui c’est fait attaquer par des bactéries.
    Pendant sa piqûre :elle se blotti contre moi et me fait des câlins, des bisous d’esquimau, et des gros ronrons ; comme si elle savait que c’est pour son bien. Après elle a droit à ces bonbons (friandises pour chats sujet aux problèmes rénaux) et à une gamelle de pâtée spécifiques aussi (tout comme ces croquettes)
    Elle a enfin repris du poids mais elle a encore des vomissements et des coliques
    Elle va avoir 11 cette année et des que je pars elle me suit en train ou en avion maintenant car je suis la seule à lui faire la piqûre, tout le monde ne peux pas le faire

  46. Barbara H. says:

    Thank you for this, Karen. My diabetic cat may have this happen to her and I dread that possibility. Still not looking forward to it, if it comes to that, but never thought I’d be able to give her the insulin shots, either. How long does the process take? I’m so sorry for both you and Cleo. She’s lucky to have you.

    • Karen says:

      It only takes a few minutes. 3-5 depending on the size of the needle you use. And for now Cleo is doing really well. Eating like a pig and not drinking nearly as much. But … it’s a funny disease and could change at any moment. ~ karen!

  47. Pam says:

    Been there, done that to my kitty with renal disease and other kitties for various ailments. The first couple of times were pretty skeevy, but then it became routine. The robe hook on the back of my bathroom door (which was firmly shut) was the ideal hanging spot. And the cat couldn’t escape! I later had a cat with diabetes and gave him two insulin shots a day for a year. Sadly, my current kitty was just diagnosed with inoperable oral cancer and I’ll have to let him go this weekend. Losing our furry and feathered friends is hard.

  48. Lauren B says:

    Great post, and I’m sorry to hear Cleo is nearing the end but glad you’re confident enough to do what’s necessary to make her comfortable.

    I give SC fluids all the time as part of my job, and this is a perfect demonstration! Only thing I’d add, that I’m sure you know but might not be clear to others- please make sure to use a new, sterile needle every time :-)

    • Karen says:

      Yes! Sorry I figured that was implied by … well … common sense, lol. But possibly not. :) I’ll add it to the post. ~ karen!

      • LaurenB says:

        I also teach interns (who are very bright and capable) things like SC injections and I’m always surprised what common sense things need to be spelled out :-)

  49. Lanea Holesinsky says:

    I’m so sorry but I’ve done this and I learned from someone in Australia a much more comfortable way of doing this. The animal will shout receiving fluids instead of these large gauge needles I strongly suggest checking it out. Using bitterly gages used with children .

    • Lanea Holesinsky says:

      Typos above , where it says shout it’s neant to say enjoy receiving fluids at body temperature. typo above where it says bitterly meant to say butterfly gages . My email is [email protected] also sorry for your pet and good that your caring to share this is not an easy thing to do.

      • Karen says:

        Yes, cold fluids are jarring. I should have mentioned the post. I use the gauge needles I do (18 or 20) based on the fact that it gets the job done quickly. She gets restless sitting there (as you could see in the video, lol) but I’ll have a look at the other needles to see what they are. ~ karen!

    • Wanda says:

      My cat vomits immediately after I give the fluids, and sometime blood tinged fluid leaks from the needle puncture site. Any thoughts

  50. Tina says:

    I used to have to do that with a dog. It didn’t bother me and I always thought that lump was sort of humorous. Then I had to do it with a horse. My daughter was better at that so it became her job (or jab).

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