Giving Your Cat a Vitamin B12 Boost.

Giving your cat a B12 shot is a really inexpensive way to make a sick cat feel better quickly.  If your cat has lost its appetite, and won’t eat no matter what tempting concoction you put in front of it, B12 may get your cat on course again.

Traditional Siamese cat sitting on white porch swing.

If you take your cat to the vet because he or she is generally feeling unwell, they’ll often give your cat a quick Vitamin B12 shot to help them feel better.  For cats with chronic diseases that prevent them from absorbing the vitamin, B12 shots are something you can do at home once a week to stimulate their appetite.

But yes, a needle is involved.  And yes, you have to stick it in your cat.

Suck it up. They’re your cat and you love them.  True, if the roles were reversed your cat wouldn’t do the same for you but that’s only because they don’t have fingers.  Or a job to help pay for things like medicine.

B12 is also known by the name Cobalamin so don’t get confused if you see that term thrown around online.

My cat Cleo has advanced renal disease. The biggest problems she and I have revolve around food. I want her to eat as much as possible, she wants to give me a stroke by randomly refusing to eat every few weeks.

Since being diagnosed with renal disease I’ve started to give her Subcutaneous fluids which help with the effects of the disease immensely.  Here’s my post on how to give your cat Subcutaneous fluids.  I also give her an anti-nauseant once a day because part of renal disease means your cat constantly feels nauseous.

That all worked fine until a few weeks ago when she just would not eat.  She wouldn’t.  She not only went off food, she seemed to develop an aversion to it. Just the sight of her food dish would make her start to gag.  She would eat one thing.  Bacon.  So I started cooking up pounds of it and sitting on the floor with my cat, both of us scarfing down the bacon. As one does with their cat.

If your cat is at the point where it will NOT eat, try to find one thing they can stomach. It might be cat treats, bacon, tuna, cheese … whatever it is, it’s your one and only shot at getting calories into them until you can get to the vet.  Just getting something into them is sometimes enough to retrigger their appetite.

This wasn’t the case with the bacon.  She ate bacon for days and still wouldn’t go near anything else so I called my vet and said I thought it was time to start giving her some B12.  We had discussed it a few visits ago.

A half an hour and $12 later I was at home giving Cleo her B12 shot.  Within 2 days she was not only eating again, she was eating more than she had eaten in the past year.   Plus, I was left with a fridge full of bacon I had to eat before it went bad, so that was a little bonus for me and a big bonus for my back fat.

Symptoms of a B12 Deficiency in Cats

  • lethargy
  • vomitting
  • off food / weight loss
  • confused
  • trouble walking or jumping

Does Your Cat Need B12 shots?

Cats with these conditions or diseases are prone to being low on Vitamin B12 or (in the case of heart disease) needing extra.

  • Diabetes
  • IBD
  • Pancreatitis
  • Sick or unwell cats who are off their food
  • Renal Disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Heart Disease
  • (if your cat is drinking a lot for any reason it can lead to B12 deficiency)

 

Adequate B12 is important for a cat’s …

  • Appetite
  • Brain Health
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Nerve system

What does B12 do for your sick cat?

For sick cats the most important thing B12 does is give them their appetite back and just generally make them feel better.  Like medical marijuana but for cats.  And not marijuana.

B12 is water soluble vitamin so there’s no worry of overdosing them with B12.  If your cat has too much B12 in them, they just pee it out.

 

How to Give Your Cat a B12 Shot


Don’t give your cat a B12 shot without consulting your vet first.


If you’ve given Subcutaneous fluids before the B12 shot will be simple for you because it’s the exact same procedure.  Make a tent in your cat’s scruff, and inject the B12 under the skin.  B12 doesn’t get jabbed into a vein or muscle; you just inject it into the pocket between the cat’s skin and their muscle.

1. Get your B12 and appropriate needles from your vet.  They’ll tell you the proper dosage which corresponds with your cat’s weight. This tiny little $12 bottle will last for months.

Hands holding a vial of vitamin B12 and syringe.

 

2. Peel back the paper on the syringe package and remove the needle. Everything is all together, you don’t need to do anything other than remove it from its packaging. The needle is teeny, tiny.  So small that most cats won’t even feel it going in.

Opening small syringe package.

 

3. Turn the bottle of B12 upside down, insert the clean needle into the rubber seal and withdraw the required dosage.

Withdrawing red B12 from vial.

 

4. Make a tent out of the skin at your cat’s scruff.  You want to inject right in that tent so the needle will be going into an air pocket between the skin and the muscle.  Just into air really.

Cat's neck scruff being pulled upwards to create a tent of skin at her neck.

 

5. Pierce the skin with the needle and inject the B12 into the cat.

Injecting Siamese cat with B12 at her scruff.

Now that that’s over and done with hopefully your cat will be feeling better soon and you can tell her she needs to get out and get herself a job.

Need a video?  Here you go.  If you run an Adblocker the video may not play for you.  Either disable your Adblocker or allow this site on it.  (and other blogs you’d like to continue to glean information from for that matter)

Now about that job for them.  I’d recommend professional napper or burglar.

Cat refusing food?  A B12 boost might be what they need to get eating again.

24 Comments

  1. Gillian Thompson says:

    Dear Karen,

    Thank you for sharing this video!! I have 5, count ’em 5 cats, 2 of which are seniors, so I know at least one of them will have to have this done at some point. I had no idea about the B12 shots, not even from a Vet. This gives us all hope for all of them. Thank you thank you thank you!!!
    Maybe I should give myself a B12 shot, LOL

  2. Shawna says:

    Wonderful news for all those suffering senior cats (and people)! All these years with all my cats and I’ve never tried this – amazing! Of course, I’ve never sat on the floor eating bacon with my cats either, so there you have it! Always something to learn. 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m sure this is our near future. One of our cats has kidney disease AND is diabetic. I was totally freaked out when the vet said i was going to have to inject insulin twice a day!!! But for some reason (thankfully), it hasn’t been too bad. He does most those things you’ve listed but he still eats, for now. I think I should eat bacon with him anyway, just to cover all our bases! 🙂

  4. Kiara says:

    For diabetic cats, B12 reverses diabetic neuropathy. My cat was walking really funny (on his hocks) and that was one reason I brought him to the vet. Cats are sneaky – they hide illness really well.

    Anyway, I gave him the oral B12 which I got online from a human pharmacy (I bought a special sugar and sugar alcohol free version safe for diabetic cats – Americans can purchase Zobaline but I had to get a human diabetic version) and that, combined with insulin, got him walking normally in just days.

    Now he’s doing great and barely even needs insulin anymore, but I’m wondering if the old silver fox wouldn’t benefit from a B12 injection every few weeks for good health.

  5. judy says:

    could you describe how to get a blood sample from a dog. I am so worried about our 175 lb Rottweiler having heartworms. He seems lethargic,pants and just does not seem well to me. He is only 4 years old but he is overweight- no vet will see him because of abuse when he was young he is very leery of people. He reared around with our vet when he tried to examine his ear and the vet had to put a muzzle on him. He won’t see him again. I am afraid to just give him heartworm meds because if he does have them the medicine will cause him harm?

    • Leslie says:

      Judy, drawing blood from pets is tricky for professionals sometimes, it’s probably not something you want to DIY – it could be dangerous for you and damage your dog’s trust in you. There are also specialized containers for blood collection and accurate heartworm tests are generally not available over the counter. A vet should be able to give you some medicines to help with your boy’s anxiety before vet visits (I also have a dog who gets anxious about the vet). Another idea would be to find a certified Fear Free veterinarian. This training goes beyond the basics of animal handling and means that the vets and technicians who are certified are working hard to make veterinary visits as pleasant as possible for your pet. Here’s a link to the directory: https://fearfreepets.com/fear-free-directory

    • Manda says:

      It is admirable that you want to help you pet and thank you, but please get them to a vet ASAP. It could be a host of other things (potentially serious) and a blog is not necessarily the best place to diagnose your pet. As mentioned, Karen had already taken her pet to the vet for a diagnosis. I can speak from experience on having to have your dog muzzled. Mine has to be as well for any vet visit–nails, bloodwork, shots etc. as well as being given anxiety medicine before the appointment. It’s for the dog’s safety and the staff. If that particular vet won’t see your dog again, you can try another vet. There is a big difference between an aggressive dog and one that is only fear aggressive based on situation. I wish you luck at your next vet appointment!

  6. linda says:

    Wonderful information! My elderly cat could use anything to make her feel healthier…. But she’s just old. I will definitely check into getting B12 for her. I took it my self when dieting as part of the program- gave myself the shots once a week. EZ peasy!

  7. Bev Bennett says:

    My elderly cat has been getting B12 shots for quite a few months now after discovering he had kidney issues and was not feeling well. I am not as brave as Karen to do it myself so I go to the vets and the charge is not expensive Jack is feeling so much better since getting his shot I want one myself
    See you at the vets Karen
    Jack & Bev

  8. Sue says:

    I’ve been through the administering sub-cutaneous fluid route before but, like another reader, B-12 was never mentioned by the vet. Good to know. Thank you. My mother gave herself B-12 injections for the last 5+ years of her life–doctor authorized–and they really helped her with her energy level.

  9. judy says:

    Thanks Karen for the info re: our Rottie,I will follow up with local Vet recommendation

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  11. judy says:

    Mandy-thanks for the info-sadly the minute I say he weighs 175 lbs and is not trusting of people except for my son,his owner, the vet office suggests we try another vet. I am going to inquire of the vets I found through Karen’s suggestion of vets who specialize with dogs that are fearful. thanks again-it’s so nice when people reach out to help one anoth

  12. Stefanie Barrett says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this post! My 4 year old siamese looking cat was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Even though we have regulated his glucose, he still seems sluggish and uninterested in even his treats. We visit the vet weekly and I will certainly ask about B12.

    Thanks again!

    Stefanie in Memphis

  13. Jody says:

    You’re such a good soul…

  14. Pam'a says:

    Just please, please don’t keep any creature alive if it’s suffering. They weren’t meant to languish, and as hard as it is, good pet parents know when to let them go, and that it’s an act of love… I firmly believe we’ll see them again.

  15. Paula Clark says:

    We lost our cat, Bob, to renal disease last November. We fought the loss of appetite for four years with changes in food, giving him anything he could or would eat, fluids and B12 shots. He just finally said that’s enough. He was 13 and the best cat ever. We are dog rescuers and he loved checking out all the foster dogs like he was the boss of the house. We miss him greatly. He was found in our back yard as a barely alive tiny kitten and we had not intentions of keeping him. But we did and we loved him.

  16. Kathy says:

    Can I give my cat a B12 pill & if so how much?

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