How to Administer SQ Fluids to Your Cat

At Lifting Stars Pet Homecare, we understand that giving injections is outside the comfort zone of almost anyone outside the medical profession. However, subcutaneous fluid administration in cats is not nearly as difficult as it sounds and can help your cat to live a longer and healthier life.

Most commonly, home fluid therapy is recommended for cats with chronic kidney disease (also known as chronic renal failure). A member of your veterinary healthcare team will go through the steps with you in person. Choose a comfortable and quiet location where you will treat your cat. This may be on a table, countertop, or on your lap. The steps are as follows:

1. In most cases, you will receive the following three items from your veterinarian: a fluid bag, a fluid line, and sterile needles.

2. Warm the fluid bag in a warm water bath prior to administration. The goal is a lukewarm temperature that is optimally comfortable for your cat.

3. Insert the fluid line into the fluid bag, and carefully place a clean needle on the end of the fluid line. Hang the fluid bag about 3 feet above the level of your cat’s head. You may create a bag hanger using an adhesive hook on a cupboard door, a coat hanger, an over-the-door clothes hanger, etc. Uncap the needle and flush the fluid line to make sure there are no air bubbles in it, and check the temperature to make sure it’s lukewarm.

4. Bring your cat to your chosen location. Be sure that both of you are in a position that will be comfortable for about 5 – 10 minutes. The end of the line should easily reach your cat without much tension.

5. Pick up a roll of loose skin over your cat’s shoulder, as shown in the illustration. Our illustration is of a dog, but dogs and cats are given subcutaneous fluids in the same way.

6. Lay the point of the needle at the base of the roll of skin with the needle parallel to the cat’s body and pointing toward the cat’s head (assuming that the cat is lying on its chest). The bevel of the needle should face upwards.

7. Advance the needle slightly forward while pulling the roll of skin towards the needle. This motion should be firm and steady, not shaky and timid, and will place the point of the needle just under the skin.

8. Release the roll of the skin. The point of the needle should remain under the skin.

9. Grasp the fluid line lock in one hand. Begin the flow of fluids by rolling the roller upward.

10. Monitor the fluid line on the bag and give only the amount of fluids recommended by your veterinarian.

When you have given the prescribed amount of fluids, complete the following steps:

1. Stop the flow of fluids by pushing the roller lock in the fluid line downward firmly. If you do not close it well and the bag is left hanging, fluid will drip out. Some bags will have an additional slide closure on the fluid line. You can close this additional device after you have removed the needle from your pet’s skin.

2. Remove the needle from the skin and replace its protective cap. Be very careful when you replace the needle in the cap. This is when the majority of injuries and “needle sticks” occur. Remove the used needle from the drip set.

3. PLACE A NEW, STERILE NEEDLE ON THE DRIP SET AS SOON AS YOU ARE THROUGH. This prevents bacteria that were picked up on the old needle from migrating up into the fluid bag. If you wish, you may return used needles to your veterinary hospital for proper disposal.

4. Store the equipment in a safe place until the next fluid administration. The fluids should be kept at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. Be sure to keep this and all medications out of the reach of children and pets.

It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions on how often to administer subcutaneous fluids, how much to administer,and when your next checkup visit is due. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to give your cat sub-Q fluids with ease and confidence, helping them maintain their health and well-being.