Administration of supplemental fluids can benefit cats with a variety of medical conditions. Most commonly, this is recommended for cats with kidney disease or chronic renal failure (CRF). We recommend that you learn this technique for your cat. Don’t be alarmed – it is normal to feel reluctance about administering any treatment involving injections to your pet. Giving injections is outside the comfort zone for almost anyone outside the medical profession. However, subcutaneous fluid administration is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. The benefits provided to your cat will make it well worth your time to learn this simple technique.
What equipment is involved?
The equipment consists of a bag of fluids, a fluid drip set, and a needle. The fluid drip set is simply a tube that connects the fluid bag to the needle. You will eventually become comfortable with the steps involved.
How is the needle inserted?
Insert the needle just under the skin in one of several locations that have unusually loose skin. These include:
What is the correct technique?
NOTE: Some cats are more cooperative if they are placed in a box not much larger than the cat. A cardboard cat carrier is often the correct size. Alternatively, some cats respond well to being held in a towel that covers their head during the procedure. Experiment with different locations and techniques until you find the most comfortable technique for you and your cat.
ow much fluid should I give each time?
The instructions at the end of this handout tell how much to give for your specific situation. As a rule, the average sized cat should receive 100-150 ml of fluids at one time. If you are using two locations, you should give half of that amount in each location.
When you have given the prescribed amount, complete the following steps:
What other tips do I need to know?
It is usually not necessary to “sterilize” the skin with alcohol before inserting the needle. In reality, wiping a little alcohol on the skin does not really sterilize it, and the odor and feel of alcohol may aggravate your cat. Many cats will inhale the fumes from the alcohol and begin to drool profusely.
Most cats tolerate fluid administration quite well. However, if the fluids are unusually cold or hot, they may be uncomfortable. Ideally, they should be administered at about body temperature. However, as long as they are at room temperature most cats are fine. Do not refrigerate them.
As the fluids are running, a lump will form under the skin. Do not be alarmed; this is the pocket of fluid that will be absorbed over several hours. If absorption is slow, gravity may cause the fluids to migrate downward. They could move under the skin of the front or rear legs. However, if this happens, they will still be absorbed.
There is no problem if a few bubbles of air are injected under the skin. If quite a bit of air gets under the skin, you may feel a crackling sound when you push on the skin, and your cat may experience mild discomfort for a couple of hours, but no real harm will occur. The body will eventually absorb the air.
What if the fluids stop running during administration?
This often happens when the end of the needle moves against the skin or the underlying tissue. Do not remove the needle; rather, gently reposition it until the fluids begin to flow again. Experiment with the needle’s position until the fluids flow freely. Twisting the needle will change the position of the bevel. This may be all that is needed.
What if the fluid runs slowly on subsequent treatments?
When you are finished giving fluids, you should close the lock firmly. This may crush the tubing so that fluid will not flow well on subsequent use. If this happens, move the lock to another place on the fluid tubing, and open the crushed area of the tube by pinching it with your fingers.
What if the fluids become cloudy in appearance?
If any cloudiness or discoloration occurs, do not use the bag. It usually means that the fluids have become contaminated with bacteria. If you administer these fluids to your cat, a serious infection may occur under the skin.
SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR CAT