I'm a freelance writer/editor, surfer, animal lover and occasional Catholic/Buddhist/animist.
Dr. Mark, U of Missouri Veterinary Medicine grad and 40+ years working with dogs, exotics and livestock
How to Give Subcutaneous Fluids to a Cat
OK, your precious feline is getting up there in years and has developed kidney problems. Or maybe he or she is just recovering from an illness or surgery. Your vet tells you the pet will need subcutaneous fluids for a time—perhaps permanently. So you're faced with the choice of either learning how to give your pet the fluids or paying an animal hospital lots of money to do it.
After having given fluids to our cat Babe every other day for the past five years or so, I recommend doing it yourself. Once you've got it down, it's quick and relatively easy. Your kitty will be spared the trauma of being constantly hauled off to the vet—and you'll save money. And if you do it long term, your pet will come to appreciate your act of love.
What Are Subcutaneous Fluids?
What are subcutaneous (or "sub-Q") fluids? Subcutaneous means "beneath the skin," and subcutaneous fluids are sodium, potassium, calcium, and other electrolytes that are injected below a cat or dog's coat to rehydrate them—just like Gatorade rehydrates an athlete. The fluids come in the same clear plastic bags as IV fluids given to humans and with the same fluid lines, but you only have to put these fluids under your kitty's coat, not in a vein (thank God!).
OK, you've decided to do it yourself, and it's your first time. You need four things to start:
- A 1000 ml bag of subcutaneous fluids (usually carrying the label "Lactated Ringer's" or something similar and numbered from 1 to 9)
- An "administration set"—the flexible line that carries the fluid out of the bag
- A supply of small needles that you push onto the end of the fluid line. The size—18 x 1A, for example—is written on the needle cap
- A coat hanger with a hook that can be rotated so that you can hang it on top of a door, shower curtain rod, or other high places.
Setting Up the Bag and Line
Remove the bag of fluid from its wrapper. Warm up the bag of fluid by putting it in a large bowl—a salad bowl works well—of warm water (you should be able to keep your fingers in the water; otherwise, it's too hot). It takes 5 minutes at most to warm up. Remove the bag and pat it dry.
Remove the fluid line from its plastic wrapping. You'll see a little flow-control box on the line that controls how fast the fluid comes out of the bag. Slide that little box down the line until it's about 12 inches away from the needle end of the line, so it's in reach when you want to adjust the flow.
Make sure the little wheel that controls the flow is pulled tightly to the narrow end of the box so the line is closed. You'll know you haven't closed it if it starts dripping out of the line—it will, even if the line is capped—once you hook it up to the bag!
How to Do It
- Take the bag of fluid in one hand. At the bottom of the bag is a tube-like protrusion that sticks out. On the bottom of this tube is a little rubber seal with a flap on it.
- Remove this seal with the flap on it. It's just a cover that protects the sterile seal inside it.
- Now take the cap off the sharp plastic point on the end of the fluid line, making sure it doesn't touch anything (to avoid contamination) and slowly but firmly push the point through the seal until it penetrates into the tube and can't go any farther in.
- You'll be able to see the point entering the bag. Make sure it's in all the way and that it doesn't puncture the bag. I've found that twisting it as you push helps.
- Once the point is in, bring the bag upright. Just below where you stuck the line in is a little see-through chamber where the fluid drips out.
- Gently squeeze this chamber until it's about a third full of liquid.
- Hold the end of the fluid line over the sink and push the little flow control wheel back to open the line up and drain it of any air bubbles inside (you'll be able to see them in the line). This should take just a few seconds.
- Stop the flow. Remember to keep the exposed end of the line from touching anything.
- Next, press one of your little needles onto the end of the exposed fluid line.
- Lastly, massage the bag to make sure any cold or hot spots dissipate, then test the temperature of the fluid by running some of it over your wrist, as you would with a baby bottle. It should be warm, but not hot. OK, your bag is ready to use.
Read More From Pethelpful
Hanging the Bag Correctly
- You need a way to hang it, though, and a wire coat hanger works great for this.
- Bend the hook of the hanger so it's perpendicular to the rest of the hanger.
- Then slip the hanger's hook through the open slit at the top of the fluid bag and swing the bag around so the side with the numbers on it faces out (you'll need to see these numbers, so you know when to stop the fluids).
- Next, you need somewhere elevated to hang the bag so that the fluid can drip down and into the cat.
- Some recommend buying an IV stand from a medical supply company. That's not really necessary. If your chair or couch is next to a closet, you can swing the closet door open and hang the bag there, numbers facing you. Or you can hang it from a nearby door-frame or a wall shelf and position the bag to face you. One kitty owner says she puts a towel in the bathroom sink, puts her cat there, and gives it fluids from a bag hanging on the shower curtain rod.
- As long as the fluid line is at least two feet higher than the cat and reaches it without being pulled tight, it will work.
- You want to position it so the bag and your kitty can become one, and you can clearly see the bag and its numbers as you administer the fluid.
Cat Meets Fluid Bag
- Placing the cat on the couch or a large chair just below an armrest helps keeps them in place. The key is to place the kitty, so they are parallel to the length of the couch or chair and facing the armrest so that the armrest creates a barrier to escape (using the sink will also accomplish this).
- Then squeeze yourself alongside or just behind the cat. This gives them nowhere to go once the fluid starts. I learned this the hard way when I began giving Babe fluids, and she'd jump up and walk away, giving my couch and me a saline solution shower.
Making the Stick
- OK, you've got your kitty in position and your bag armed and ready.
- Take the cap off the needle and twist it around so that the underside (the side with the hole exposed) is facing upward. This seems odd, but it lets the needle more easily penetrate the cat's coat.
- Keep the syringe cap nearby; you'll need it later.
- Pet your cat and talk reassuringly to them for a moment, then casually lift up the scruff of their coat between the shoulder blades with one hand—I used my thumb, index, and middle fingers for this—and push the needle all the way in with the other.
- Try to stick it right in the middle of the loose scruff; too high, and it will poke out the other side; too low, and it might stick into the cat's underlying flesh. Your kitty won't like this.
- I've found that sticking the needle in is much easier if you pull up the cat's scruff with your left hand and push the needle in with your right.
- So you'll want to position the kitty, so she or he is on your right when you're sitting. Otherwise, doing the stick will be awkward and more difficult. Unless you're left-handed, in which case, you're fine.
- If your kitty submits to the fluids without trying to escape, then positioning doesn't matter so much.
- I suggest wearing a glove—I use a leather garden glove—on the left hand until they get used to being stuck. I always wear the glove just in case, so I don't have to worry about being bit.
- The first few sticks are the toughest. When I did them, I winced, certain I was hurting my cat. But it doesn't really hurt them; the scruff is loose, and there's nothing inside. They still don't like it and may yell.
- If the needle doesn't go in, you just have to force it in. This is one of the most difficult things about giving a cat fluids. I've done this many times, and the most our cats have ever done is flinch.
- The experience was actually harder on me than it was on the cat. Then I got used to doing it, and it became routine. Now that I'm on my second cat with CRF, I've discovered something about doing the stick.
- Position the needle touching your kitty's coat and gently work the tip of the needle up and down (or back and forth) while pushing it in. If you do it right, the needle will slide right in with very little resistance, and your kitty will barely notice the puncture.
- Now you've got the needle in, and, hopefully, your kitty hasn't scratched your face off. Next, start the fluid flowing by slowly sliding the little wheel on the flow-control box forward toward the wide end.
- It's important to do it slowly because otherwise, the water will shoot out in a jet, and that may startle your kitty.
- You've probably seen the slow drip-drip-drip of an IV on TV or in the movies. You can adjust the wheel to make it do that slow drip at first, then speed it up to a faster drip later on. I've gotten to the point where I can give Babe fluids in about five minutes.
- Keeping the kitty calm and still can be a challenge even when they're used to getting fluids. Stroking the kitty and massaging their ears while making soothing sounds helps.
- While the juice is flowing, keep your hand lightly on the needle to hold it in place. This will also let you know if it gets loose and starts leaking.
- A cat can somehow eject the needle by making a very slight move or squeeze of their coat. You'll know this happens when you suddenly see a stream of fluid running down the side of your kitty (in that case, just reinsert the needle and keep going).
- I try to keep my cat as boxed in as possible, with my hand either over the needle or on the line close to the needle, to keep this from happening.
- Note in the "positioning the line" photo below I am holding the line in position lightly with my fingers.
- If the fluid from the bag suddenly slows to a trickle or even stops, it likely is because the juice bulge surrounding the needle has pushed the needle to one side.
- Look up at the little drip chamber while you gently move the needle back into alignment. You should see the fluid start flowing again.
- If the line still isn't flowing, do the opposite and try moving the line gently from one side to the other, so the needle angles this way and that.
- Also, make sure that neither you nor your kitty is resting on the line and that the line isn't crimped or twisted.
Positioning the Line
Which Size of Needle to Use
The needles you typically get from the vet aren't the best quality; some call them "kitty harpoons." Make the procedure easier on your cat by requesting a higher-gauge syringe (the higher the number, the smaller the hole).
The smaller needle size will be less intrusive and do less damage to the cat's coat long-term. The downside? It will take longer to give your cat the fluids because the flow of liquid is slower. I use 20-gauge needles, and it takes me about four minutes to administer 75 ml of fluid, Stormy's daily dose. I've found this to be a good compromise between the 18-gauge "harpoons" and the slow-flow 21 gauges.
Several commenters here have recommended Terumo needles, which are sharper and slide into your kitty's coat more easily.
Keep Your Eyes on the Bag!
How much "juice" do you give your kitty? You should already have been told that by your veterinarian. I give our Babe 150 ml (milliliters) every other day (see update below). The numbers on the bag indicate 100 ml increments (100 ml equals one number on the bag), so 150 ml is equal to 1.5 numbers on the bag. Make sure the bag is oriented toward where you are sitting with the cat, and there is enough light in the room so you can clearly see the numbers.
Keep your eye on the bag as the fluid flows, and when you've reached the recommended amount, stop the fluid by pulling back the little wheel tightly. Then slip the needle out of your kitty and immediately press a few fingers over where the needle was. (Keep them there for about a minute—this keeps "the juice" inside kitty.)
Put the cap back on the needle. Once your kitty is taken care of, remove the old needle from the end of the line, moisten a cotton ball or pad with some rubbing alcohol and swab the hole at the end of the line with it. Then immediately stick a new needle on the line. This will help prevent any bacterial contamination from a used needle while the fluid bag sits unused.
I should note here that my cat sitter, a former longtime vet tech at a major animal hospital here in D.C., tells me there's no need to clean or sanitize the line afterward as long as you put a new needle on. I like to err on the side of safety, though.
The Juice Creature
Don't be alarmed when you see a large bulge on your kitty's neck, back, or sides afterward—the fluid takes anywhere from six to eight hours to be completely absorbed. Don't worry, it will go away—and so will your darling little Quasimodo. Sometimes the fluid ends up down around one of the kitty's legs, making your kitty briefly look like a Bactrian camel. This makes for a great photo.
Update: Doctor Says Smaller Doses More Often Work Better
During our Stormy's recent heart exam, the kitty cardiologist asked me how often I give her fluids. "150 ml every other day," I told him—that was the amount the vet had prescribed.
"Why not give her 75 ml every day?" the heart doc asked. Giving her 150 ml all at once is like when you gulp a large energy drink down after exercising, he noted: "You just pee a lot of it away" afterward.
The cardiologist is a sharp guy. I thought about this, and it made sense to me. So I began giving Stormy 75 ml every day. She seems to have responded well to this new regimen; the last trip to the vet showed a slight improvement in her kidney values.
I would recommend this approach to anyone who isn't already giving their cat fluids on a daily basis, in consultation with your vet, of course. It means more sticks (I downsized the needle from an 18-gage to a 20-gage to minimize the puncture) and a cooperative cat, so it seems especially suited for a cat who's been getting fluids for a long time and submits to the procedure without resisting.
Note of Caution
Please be aware this cardiologist's recommendation was only one professional opinion and was given for a specific case—there is actually no evidence to back this up.
There are reasons why you would not want to administer fluid to your cat daily. For instance, doing this could be a huge problem if your cat is fractious. Further, one reason people stop giving fluids to their cats and have them euthanized is that the animal grows to dislike the procedure.
More Cat-Care Resources
- Feline Chronic Renal Failure
How to deal with all aspects of Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) in cats.
Postscript: Please Do Your Cat's Blood Work
If you don't have a blood analysis done as part of your kitty's annual evaluation, please, please, please do so. Cats can develop chronic renal failure (CRF) without warning and at a younger age than you might expect. And they are experts at hiding the discomfort they feel from kidney problems until their condition becomes serious. I know this, unfortunately, from personal experience.
While my wife and I were dealing with Babe during her last weeks and then her passing, we let her sister Stormy's annual evaluation slide. Stormy was always the intrepid hunter, full of energy, mischievous, and constantly jumping on the table looking for a treat or to swipe a bit of food. We never even imagined her coming down with CRF.
It wasn't until more than a year later, when Stormy began looking tired and down, that we took her in for blood work. I was shocked when the vet told us she'd lost 75 percent of her kidney function. A blood analysis of her creatinine and bunin would have flagged this much earlier. The vet pointed out that a middle-aged cat going two years without a blood analysis is like a person going eight to 10 years without one.
On the bright side, a regimen of fluids, a KD diet, and close monitoring have stabilized Stormy, and she lives a relatively normal, if more sedate, life now. But the thought that our precious kitty needlessly lost kidney function still haunts us. So get that blood work done at least once a year!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2008 danielmybrother
Carolyn Mitchell on August 20, 2020:
Our 13 year old Cat was just diagnosed with Stage 3 Kidney Failure.We were sent home with the IV Bag & Needles.We tried to give it to her once a Day but she fights Us everytime.We lay her on her Kitty Perch tried putting a Pillow case cut out for her Head and opening for IV but she still fights Us.Any Ideas would be Greatly appreciated,I say switch to smaller needle,22 inch even though I know it will take a little longer.
Patsy Kline on February 26, 2020:
We have been giving our cat Max fluids for 5 mos it saved his life as the vet tried to convince us to put him down. His BUN was 130 now its 57 and is is doing well. The vet told us to give him 150-200ml which made him feel bad and he would hide afterwards and would not eat for a day or two. We have since learned that giving him less 75-100 more often (every other day or even every three days) made all the difference. He now acts normal after giving the fluids, he hangs arounds and eats and the vet is good with it. I would suggest that you adjust the fluid based on your cats response. The less stress we cause our pets the better chance they will have to heal.
Kathleen on February 18, 2020:
Thank you for these useful tips. I’m 2 weeks into fluids and have seen my girl struggle (she is down to 5 lbs). I tried heating the fluids and turning the needle opening up, and it went SO much better!
Pamela on October 22, 2019:
I gave my cat too much of the lactate ringer, everyday 100ml.
I took him to the vet, they did Xrays of chest and found liquid in chest.
Vet took some liquid out, but never told me that was an overdose, over hydration.
I had spent $1500 in 3 days.
Vet told me that the cat will need to get liquid out in the future.
My question is: if my cat has an overdose and if I give less miligrams of lactate, the cat wont be needing this expensive precidure.?
Gail Bernor on October 13, 2019:
my12 yr old cat has deeloped Kidney disease. I am giving her Hills K/D dry food. She is eating very little. She's i also not wanting the canned food. We just found this out last Mon. Among other things, the vet gave her subcutanious fluids..it did a lot of good, but not for long. I am sure I need to boost the fluids in her system. This that you show is perfect. It is explained beautifully for us to be able to do this. I'm not squeemish about the poke. But where do I get the needlesss?
SRDNYC on July 25, 2019:
I have administered fluids to my cat more than 1000 times over 3.5 years. There are serious issues with your article: administering sub-Q fluids is not as complicated as you describe; the photos do not show optimal IV position; questionable procedures are offered; and your remarks may cause people fear or worry discouraging them from providing this care for their cat.
Briefly, these are some of the specifics as it would take too long to refute every item point by point.
- You mention that people who give their cat fluids every other day via vet's orders could split the dosage in half and give everyday. Vets have reasons for prescribing a specific dosage and frequency, experimenting and changing it by yourself could have an adverse affect on your cat's health and incur more medical expenses. One person had a good short-term result, not true for everyone.
- Your photos show the IV line position is not vertical, it appears to be in curved and in a horizontal position near you and the cat, this could allow air bubbles in the line and would slow the fluid flow.
- You mention pulling up the scruff of neck fur to inject the needle, this risks the needle passing out the other side and fluids dribbling beneath the fur, possibly undetected. You are suppose to inject the needle under the skin, quick and without hesitation
- You say that you have to hold needle in place the whole time the cat is receiving fluids, not true if you injected the needle properly.
- Your warnings about using a leather glove, the cat may scratch your face off, advice to use extreme restraints tactics, using your body and sofa to block the cat are extreme, unwise, would increase a cat's stress and resistance, could cause the owner to be fearful. If you need to use these guerilla tactics with your cat then you are the rare exception and should not advise others to do the same.
- Your comment that an alternative to a person giving their cats fluids at home is bringing it to a vet hospital with prohibitive costs obviously not a viable solution. An owner learns and does it for their pet. If there is a physical limitation which prevents them, then you recruit and teach a family member, friend or neighbor, or you hire a local vet tech to come to your home. My cat stayed at my mother's house when I went on weekend trips and I paid a vet tech to stop by for his insulin injections and fluids because my mother was elderly, liked my cat's company but was afraid to give the needles.
The preferred method by me and others is to hang the IV fluids bag on the curtain rod in the bathroom, sit on the tub edge with the cat in our lap, pop the needle into the cat's skin, then stroke, cuddle and chat with the cat (some give treats) until the dosage is administered. This is the most efficient, stressfree manner because if you feel the cat starting to get up, you just gently increase the pressure of your hand slightly on its back and the cat stays put. Also, if you get distracted and your bored cat jumps off your lap, the needle may come out and the fluid will spray a little in the bathroom, rather than on a sofa in a living room.
I understand that you want to provide info to your readers but please be accurate and responsible. Final Note: I am aware of your disclaimer.
Angela on June 12, 2019:
Thank you so much for your input. My cat had acute kidney failure last year and further blood test shows he already lost 75% of the kidney functioning, mostly likely because he encountered some incidents before I adopted him or he was born with one bad kidney. He didn't like KD food at all. Last month he got into another episode again and he was able to get back to normal values after some IV and in home fluid. But once he is off the in home fluid the values went up again. So from now on looks like I have to do in home fluids continuously.
Your sharing gave me great additional tips on how to make my cat more comfortable with the fluid, though he didn't struggle so much, only until when the Juice got so big on his back and pressured him a bit. I had thought of doing 100 ml in alternative days (vet said at least 4 days a week), but with what you said, I think it makes sense to do 2 times every 3 days.
Also thank you for the tips on Costco. It is a big help on me financially.
Diana Dietrich on May 11, 2019:
Can I reuse the "administration set"?
Tina on April 27, 2019:
You mention being able to buy sq fluids at Costco pharmacy but I cannot find that information anywhere at costco's website...how do you purchase sq fluids from them?
Diana Brooks on March 03, 2019:
I have been administering Sub Q fluids to my kitty for the past 3 months.
For my most recent bag of fluids and new line, the fluid chamber is 100% full instead of the recommended 1/3 full and so I cannot determine the rate of flow into my kitty. Is there some way to solve this 'problem'--i.e. lower the fullness of the fluid chamber from 100% to 1/3 full so that I can monitor the drips/stream?
Diane L Pitts on December 28, 2018:
My vet gave me a 60 ml syringe that I fill up with a warmed (102 degree) IV fluid. He gave me a shorter IV tubing with the winged needle attached. ( 21 guage surflow winged infusion set) I fill up the syringe when my kitty is resting comfortably. Attach the infusion set to the syringe, set a hardback book next to where the kitty is sitting (unless a hard surface is already available) insert the needle in her scruff, grip the syringe in my fist upside down and slowly press the plunger of the syringe down on the hard surface, letting the fluids go under her skin. She doesn't seem to mind this a bit and it takes all of 45 seconds to complete the fluid transfer and she normally just stays there resting once I am done. Can be done anywhere, so it doesn't make her think that when she is going to a certain area something distaste full will happen there. We do 50-60 ml every day this way.
Highly recommend it!!!!
Linda on June 23, 2018:
Thank you so much for your article. I have for the first time had to give Digit (has 6 toes on each foot), his saline IV. Things went relatively ok, other than the growling and trying to get away.
My problem now? I cannot get the old needle off of the IV. I don't know what to do. I called the emergency vet line and she said try with a pair of plyers.
Do you think I can still use the old needle, applying rubbing alcohol on the needle and still use it?
B. Schaupeter on May 26, 2018:
Thank you so much for your article. I think it will be very helpful to many cat owners dealing with this. In case this might help someone...My Cat Beebs is 18.5 years old and was diagnosed with late stage 3 kidney disease when he turned 13 years old. My holistic vet immediately had me start giving him 150ml of Sub q fluids with B12 added in the port every 3 days. My cat didn’t dig this at first ..but is now very cooperative as he knows he gets treats and lots of petting during the treatments. We warm the fluids every time. We put him in a cat carrier and take the top off it, then we put him on our dining room table, as this is easiest on our backs. We hang the fluid bag up high on our chandelier. That’s one trick, the fluids flow better the higher the bag is. We use the 18 gauge needle and we are done in 2-3 minutes. I move where I insert the needle in each time I do it, as to not always use the same location. Beebs is doing so awesome over 5 years later! His blood work (every 3 months) consistently shows he is in stage 2 Kidney Disease instead of stage 3 since we started fluids, canned food only diet, and supplements. He has his blood pressure checked regularly and it is normal. We give him 1 fish oil capsule (Nordic naturals for small pets) per day and 1 Renal Support Supplement Daily (made by Standard Process). He is on 100% canned food diet which I feed him 4 x daily (1/2 tiny can each meal). He has maintained his 14 pounds of body weight his whole life, which is unusual for such an elderly cat. For his appetite to stay consistent, he gets 0.1 mL Amitriptiline in a Transdermal gel (ear rub). For his arthritis, he gets one cosequin daily and 1 Canniboid (Hemp) Pill (Canna Pet). This has has made a huge difference with his arthritis as he runs and plays just like a kitten and has an excellent quality of life. It sounds like a lot of stuff, but it is actually pretty easily once you get use to it. Our vet thinks he will have more years of ahead of him if he continues to do this well. So he is proof that cats with kidney disease can go on to live long, normal, happy lives if treatments like sub q fluids are givin constantly even for long periods of time.
Michelle on May 02, 2018:
If you have decided to go ahead and give your cat the IV where would you start to get the supplies you need
Karla Kramer on March 31, 2018:
My 18 year old boy (Zeppi) has been receiving subQ fluids by me for about 1 1/2 years! His scruff area of his neck is where it is administered, each and every day! His back seems really tender; I am sure that getting hit with a needle daily for 1 1/2 years he must feel like Swiss cheese!
Does anyone have any experience with this, and things to do to take care of this sensitive area? I am also noticing a popping sound when I pet this area. I am assuming that it is just air....thanks.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on March 16, 2018:
Hi. I wrote this article and haven't been on Hub Pages in a long time, so I was surprised to get an email telling me my article was still around and on PetHelpful. Thank you so much for the nice comments -- that means so much to me. Baby and Stormy have gone on to the Rainbow Bridge, and now we're looking for another kitty.
I will try to answer as many comments as I can. Thanks again my fellow cat people!
Carmen on September 12, 2017:
Do you know where one can recycle the empty liquid bags?
susan on August 30, 2017:
What do you mean move the needle up and down or back and forth when inserting it?
Akbar on June 18, 2017:
Mate, you are a God send! Thank you!
Cornelia on June 11, 2017:
How wonderful, thank you so much. Where do you get the needles?
butterflycari on May 06, 2017:
I just started giving my cat, also a girl named Stormy 14 yrs black half-Bengal, lol, sub q fluids and I just have to tell you that these specific instructions were beyond helpful to me.
I was so stressed from doing this that it triggered some PTSD from my childhood. However, I did some research and found your post and it made the next time so much more peaceful.
I honestly felt like you were sitting near me talking in my ear of what to do. Thank you so much, you are an angel.
Andrea on March 15, 2017:
My kitty is going to begin daily fluids. We went to the vet yesterday and they showed us how to do it (I'm so nervous!). Here's the thing, she hasn't fully absorbed the fluids from yesterday afternoon; they've pooled under her arm. It's not bulging as much as yesterday but still definitely present. Wait to give her more or give fluids to her now?
Miruna on December 29, 2016:
Thank you so very much for the tips. My cat has been diagnosed with CRF this week and we have to hydrate him now with fluids every day. He is very gentle and doesn't seem to mind the needle, but I am worried that I am not doing it right. I will follow your tips more closely tomorrow. When your cat was feeling poorly due to CRF, was she eating or was she lethargic? Mine has not been eating since last night.
Thank you again for your article
gutterstars on November 16, 2016:
My bag of fluids is about half empty at this point. This is my first round of giving my cat fluids. Last night, there seemed to be so many air bubbles in the line, even after we flushed it twice. Is there any obvious reason for that? I made my friend stop before it was finished because I was too concerned over that many tiny air bubbles going into his skin. This entire process has me a nervous WRECK! I'm so afraid we are going to hurt him!!
Any ideas on why this could be happening and should I still attempt to do it tonite if it happens again??
Mona on November 14, 2016:
Hello - I really feel more confident doing this procedure through your detailed descriptions. The problem I have is that our little cat has been poked so many times that when I try to administer the fluids I find that they pour out of her previous poked sessions. Kind of like a funny cartoon, but this leaves me feeling hopeless. I can tell my cat can feel my frustration and she starts to meow. I have incorporated the practice of a little bit at a time and she tends to work well with that.
Christine on October 19, 2016:
I put the IV bag on top of the dryer and let the dryer run for 15 min to warm the bag up. I have a rod in my laundry room so I give her fluids on top of the dryer with the bag hanging from the rod. Other than the initial prick of the needle, she complains very little...I think it was the creepy cold fluid running under her skin that she hated so much. I always have one hand over the needle, petting with the other one and she doesn't mind it so much.
Kathy on February 28, 2016:
I just gave my cat, Petey, her usual round of fluids. I have been doing this with her for several months. I gave her the first treatment out of a brand new bag this morning. Everything was going as normal when suddenly she died. She was fine last night and was fine this morning until I was giving her her fluids. I barely got maybe 20 seconds into when she arched her head, went limp, and then died. I am in a state of shock and do not know what to think. I have been giving subcutaneous fluids to cats with kidney issues for years and NEVER ever had this happen. I am beside myself wondering how could this have happened and why. She had a great appetite and was a special dietary kidney food, drank her water, and used her litter box. She gained a small amount of weight back and loved laying under my bedside table lamp for the warmth until I came to bed . Then she would cuddle with me all night and sleep. She was fine last night and fine this morning. A brand new bag of fluids.....and now my kitty is dead and I do not know why. She always was cooperative when I gave her fluids. She would assume her normal position and lay still, purring, while she got watered. I just do not have any answers and am hoping if you may have, but to me I feel I killed my cat. When I bought my bag of fluids at the vet last Thursday (today is Sunday) it came out to me without its outer package covering. Somebody tore it off of it before they gave it to me which I thought was unusual. Could the bag have gotten contaminated somehow?? My darling Petey is gone forever. I wish I could go back in time and not give the fluids to her but it was an everyday normal routine for her and how could I know this would happen? But I still feel to blame in killing my dear kitty.
Adam on February 27, 2016:
Hello, my Bichon is going to die from kidney failure. My vet wants $1,100 to $1,500 to give him sub fluids for 3 to 5 days. I do not have the money. I think I can purchase the fluid but I can not find the line and needle for sale anywhere. Hopefully someone can respond and let me know where to purchase the line and needles soon. Thank you.
Andrea on October 31, 2015:
If air bubbles do occur... Is it okay to continue giving scheduled fluids or should I wait until the air bubbles are absorbed before giving another round of fluids?
SUBQQUEEN on August 12, 2015:
Mark, about the bag bulging at the bottom. If you look at the calibrations, you can see that they are spaced farther apart the further down on the bag you go, so it allows for the bulge and gives you 100 ml between each numbered marker. I figure from the last number 9 to the bottom of the bag is about 100 ml.
Bob, I had vomiting problems with my cats and Normosol-R as well. No problem with Ringers. Hope Snagglepuss has regained his appetite by now.
White Knight, I am hoping Earl is still going strong. My almost 19-year old Leo gets constipation issues from time to time and increasing the fluids a little for a few days (in addition to giving him about 1/8 tsp Miralax in his morning baby food) seems to correct the problem. Constipation happens to many beings once they start to get older -- no reason to put him down.
You are all brave and loving kitty parents. It's never fun to have to stick your cat with a needle, but it truly does so much for them, and helps their quality of life tremendously. Blessings!
Bob on August 11, 2015:
As other have posted above we were giving our cat Snagglepuss subcutaneous for a number of months with no problems. All of the sudden he stared to vomit right after giving him the fluids. It happened for 4 nights in row. My wife found this site and a couple of others. Sure enough we had just purchased more fluids and they gave us something different this time - Normosol-R. We went back to Lactated Ringers (which we had been using) and he stopped vomiting. He did seem to be less hungry for two or three days but now he is eating better. We also stopped giving him an antacid so we are not sure if that caused his appetite to improve or if it just took a couple of days after going back to Ringers.
Mark on May 31, 2015:
Thanks for this awesome site. I started giving my 15-year old cat subq last night. One question: the bag of fluid bulges at the bottom, which seems like it would change the amounts measured by the numbers on the bag. So I'm not sure how much I'm really giving her. Any tips out there from people who've had this problem?
Yvonne on January 06, 2015:
Great Site Daniel, thank you, and thanks for the tips on the Terumo needles. The monojet 18 is a harpoon, and the 20 is a little slow.
I just wanted to let you all know that my cat Sabrina died of renal failure (diagnosed at 7, made it to 8 1/2 on diet, but wouldn't tolerate fluids), so I had her sister Angel tested. Her BUN and Creatine were fine, but 6 mos later, one kidney had shut down and the other was greatly enlarged -she was dying. When I brought her in b/c she was lethargic, the blood levels were through the roof, and the ultrasound ($140) showed the kidney situation. I am mad at my vet b/c she should had offered me the ultrasound when I expressed my concerns when Sabrina died, because BUN and Creatine levels CAN BE JUST FINE IF ONE KIDNEY IS STILL FUNCTIONING. And I had told the vet that Angel was throwing up a little bit. You want to know if a kidney is shutting down asap and get them on the renal diet/fluids to save the failing kidney(s). Angel is my kids' baby sister, and more like a dog interacting with us, so I wasn't ready at all to let her go at 9 yrs. $140 is nothing compared to the thousands of dollars I spent at UCDavis Vet Clinic trying to save her. It has been a year and she is doing well on fluids (1x per day, 100ml). She is on borrowed time though. So if you really want to know your (older) cat's condition, I would recommend having an ultrasound next to the BUN/Cr. test. Or at least get the cat's blood tested every 3-4 months if you suspect anything. Hope this saves another precious kitty :)
Angela Borman on October 10, 2014:
Hi Daniel. I wanted to thank you for making this thoughtful and informative page. Last week, I was advised by my vet to start administering these fluids with my cat, Shadow. When they showed me how to do it and had me give it a try, I cried the whole time. Its very hard for me to stick a needle into my little girl, and Ive struggled every other day to get it done. Today was attempt #4, and I still didnt get more than 30 seconds into it before failing. I am so glad to have found this article, because I now know what Im doing wrong and how to get it to work for sun. I have a hard time gripping the scruff and thought i was supposed to hold it up the whole time. I worry about her getting sore in the spot where the needle is inserted if i do it so often. Do you have any thoughts on that? I would love to hear them if you do. But either way, you just made this a whole lot easier to handle, thereby allowing Shadow to get this treatment as frequently as she needs it, and that was not happening before today. You helped my Shadow, and you helped me, by making this post. Thank you from my very soul for that.
Shelly on June 29, 2014:
I just started reading these messages; for the tips and to hear about other people loving their cats so much :) I just started my Hanna on SQ Fluids 4 days ago. I am unsure as to what to expect. She is actually less active than she was prior to the start of the fluids. I am not sure if this is normal at the start?? I also noticed she is constantly grooming her front legs and paws. Is this something to be concerned about?She is talking and there is no way I can get her to purr. The one good thing is she has eaten more in the last couple of days than she has in the past few weeks.
thank you all.
Moo-n-speedys mom on April 20, 2014:
Awww your babies are lucky to have you. I have two fur babies. My one is trying to treat Speedy like her own baby haha. He's only 6 years old so it's hard for me to deal with this all. He seems awake after fluids but then sleeps a lot. Vets have a way of making you feel like they don't care sometimes, but they see so many animals that sometimes they are desensitized to it now. I'm trying to remember that when I ask advice and stuff. Earl sounds like he has a great life! I could only wish mine will live that long!
whiteknight2000 on April 20, 2014:
My cat starts off the same way as he was before I did the fluids but then as he absorbs them I think he becomes more awake. I just took my cat to the vet to check on his constipation issue and they started talking about putting him down. The vet asked how many others I have and because I've got 9 others she made me feel like she thought Earl wasn't special & I still have 9 more so what's the big deal? I love every one of my fury kin, they're all very special & I'm glad I didn't listen to her. Earls not in any pain, he's just really old, like 25 years or more and he just wants to lay on my lap & be loved. Today he's like he's in his teens again, walking around, eating allot, and just being the best cat he can be. He's pretty much blind now and he runs into the other cats but they seem to understand & they don't mind, Blinky my one eyed seems to help him when she's not being a brat.
Moo-n-speedys mom on April 19, 2014:
Thank you so much for this information! On Friday when I was supposed to bring speedy in for tooth removal (dis colored broken top canine teeth) the vet did a blood panel. His levels are elevated in kidneys basically, everything after that was kind of a whirlwind. Yesterday I couldn't do the fluids and brought him to another vet to help since mine was closed. Today after a little pep talk to myself I did it successfully. I have a question though, how do your cats behave after it's done? Are they energetic, sleepy, relaxed? I'm being over paranoid about it now I think. Anyways sorry for the long post, but thank you for giving us a place to vent/talk and get and give info. :)
whiteknight2000 on January 25, 2014:
Tonight is my first attempt to give Earl Jewell, my cat I saved from a barn that was left behind whom is about 23 yrs old we estimate, sub q fluids do to high enzyme level in his kidney test. Earl is on cerenia for throwing up, milk thistle, and one other liquid I can't think of at this time & he's asleep on my lap so I'm not able to check. Anyhow, I went to his doctor today and went over how to give the fluid & it seems like a piece of catnip pie but still wish me luck. If possible I'd like a list of stuff I should have to make this as painless as possible for Earl ie: size of needle. I was thinking of ordering a UTW18 X 5/8-1" but I'm not sure 100% if this is what I should get and I'm gonna get a I.V. hanger to make easier, these are the things I'm looking for to make it easier. Is their a alcohol pad with lidocaine that helps w/pain on injection site or anything? I've read allot of different sites and it's allot to take in but it seems ok, I'm diabetic so I'm used to handling needles also which helps & when I drank I used to get myself I.V. fluids in morning to cure hangovers.
TJ'S DAD on January 19, 2014:
THANK YOU FOR WARNING US ABOUT HOW CORTISONE SHOTS ARE LINKED TO DIABETES IN CATS. I AGREE THAT STERIODS ARE DANGEROUS FOR BOTH ANIMALS AND HUMANS. I WOULD NEVER ALLOW A VET TO GIVE MY CAT A CORTISONE SHOT BECAUSE YOU ARE RIGHT, IT SUPPRESS THE SYMPTOMS INSTEAD OF FINDING AND TREATING THE CAUSE.
ALSO, I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH. MY CAT WHO RECEIVED COMPLETE BLOOD WORK FIRST WHICH CONFIRMED EXCELLENT HEALTH, WAS GIVEN A CONVENIA SHOT AFTER HAVING DENTAL WORK AND DIED FROM A REACTION TO THE CONVENIA. BROKEN-HEARTED FOREVER!
I DID SOME RESEARCH AND FOUND OUT THAT THIS ANTIBIOTIC IS INJECTED AND STAYS IN THE BODY FOR 2 MONTHS. THIS MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO SAVE THE PET. AND SEVERAL VETERINARIANS HAVE FILED REPORTS WITH THE FDA AND ARE WARNING COLLEAGUES THAT MANY CATS AND DOGS HAVE SUFFERED SEVERE ANEMIA AND DEATH AFTER RECEIVING THIS DRUG.
SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR CAT WITH THE IBD. HERE IS A GREAT WEBSITE CREATED BY A VETERINARIAN IN CALIFORNIA :
READ ABOUT HER CAT WITH IBD AND WHAT SHE DID TO HELP HIM @ http://www.catinfo.org/?link=origin
READ ABOUT IBD AND DRY CAT FOOD.
***EVERYONE HERE NEEDS TO VISIT THIS SITE AND READ THIS WOMANS STORY. ESPECIALLY ALL OF US WHO HAVE CATS WITH CRF.***
HERE IS A QUOTE FROM THIS VET @
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
As already mentioned, this is the most common subject that I consult on and it is upsetting to see so many domestic cats end up dying from kidney disease when it is not that prevalent in wild cats. I understand that cats in the wild do not typically live as long as our little furry buddies but I still cannot accept that natural aging is the only factor involved in this disease process.
Why do so many cats end up in kidney failure?
The answer - or at least, part of the answer - may lie in the fact that we have been over-vaccinating cats for many years.
Studies have demonstrated an association between the FVRCP vaccine and interstitial nephritis which is the fancy term for kidney inflammation.
Here is an excerpt from one of those studies: (See below for a 'plain English' summary.)
"The Center for Companion Animal Studies at Colorado State University has shown that cats vaccinated with FVRCP vaccines grown on Crandell-Rees Feline Kidney (CRFK) cell lines can develop antibodies to renal (kidney) proteins, and that cats hypersensitized to CRFK cell lysates can develop interstitial nephritis.
The immunodominant antigens to which antibodies are formed in these cats are α-enolase and Annexin A2, both of which are linked to autoimmunity and renal disease in humans.
Recently, we have shown that cats administered FVRCP vaccines parenterally (i.e. injectable) have higher levels of circulating antibodies to these antigens than do cats who were administered a FVRCP vaccine via intranasal administration."
Now...in plain English:
The viruses used to make vaccines need to be grown in what is called a "cell culture". The cells used to make the FVRCP vaccine are feline (cat) kidney cells.
When these kidney cells are injected into the cat (along with the vaccine), his immune systems views them as foreign and makes antibodies against them. Unfortunately, those antibodies do not know the difference between the injected kidney cells and his own kidney tissue resulting in a potential autoimmune 'attack' on his kidneys. ('Auto' means 'self''.)
HOPE EVERYONE READS THIS VETS ENTIRE WEBSITE - WHEN YOU HAVE TIME. SHE PROVIDES THE BEST INFO ON KEEPING OUR CATS IN GOOD HEALTH!
P.S THANK YOU DANIELMYBROTHER! THIS HUB IS AN INVALUABLE RESOURCE FOR HOW TO GIVE FLUIDS, AND A FINE PLACE FOR ALL OF US TO SHARE OUR LEARNING EXPERIENCES!
SubQQueen on January 17, 2014:
I am so sorry to hear about your sweet baby. Surely it sounds like the cortisone shot overwhelmed her system and triggered the diabetes. What a terrible experience and unnecessary loss of your dear companion.
I do want to mention though, that steroids, used carefully can be godsends for cats. My 17 year old boy has been on prednisolone orally since December 2012 for IBD; it also has helped tremendously with his arthritis, which was causing him to be terribly rickety and in frequent pain. It is a small dose - only 2.5 mg 3x a week. It seems to keep things in check and is tolerated well.
I totally understand your alarm and aversion to steroids after your experience- and to your vet's callous reaction. Your story is a cautionary tale for being very careful with powerful drugs and trying more gentle alternatives first. And to any vets reading -- to be sure the pet parent approves the treatment and to attempt more gradual treatment before such a drastic one. I know that comfort in the loss of a dear pet is hard to come by, but I hope knowing that you were such a dedicated guardian and advocate for your baby helps bring healing.
Andrea on January 15, 2014:
Daniel must be very busy, so I will try to help you.
I would take all stray kittens and their mother if possible, to a no-kill shelter so they can receive proper medical care, food, water and shelter from the cold.
Regarding your own cat, you need to have a consultation with a Veterinarian before administering Ringer's Lactate; aka: subcutaneous hydration, to find out why your cat is dehydrated. Then, just follow Daniels perfect directions on this web-page.
Also, if money is an issue right now, please check with the animal shelter to see if there are low-cost clinics in your area, or maybe they have a Vet at the shelter who would be willing to help you.
Thank you for caring about stray cats!
Andrea on January 15, 2014:
January 15, 2014
I forgot to say that I am deeply sorry to hear that your beloved Stormy passed over. I am sure that both of your Angels; Babe and Stormy, are watching over you and your family. You were an excellent Father to both Babe and Stormy, and a good friend to all of us who so desperately needed your help in learning how to administer subcutaneous fluids.
Thanks to you, Babe, and Stormy these directions will always be available to help others.
Best Wishes Always,
Andrea on January 15, 2014:
January 15, 2014
Thank you for your time in teaching the correct way to administer Sub Q Fluids. I read this site to refresh my memory before injecting my cat, and was able to do so with confidence for almost two weeks.
Unfortunately, my baby had to be put down yesterday because she was very ill and suffering. I am devastated over losing her and want to WARN others about this experience.
I took her to the Vet for seasonal allergies, and he gave her a cortisone shot without my permission. I am against cortisone and other steroids because they suppress the symptoms rather than treat the cause. Anyway, within two months of receiving this shot my beautiful cat's health deteriorated; despite a good appetite her weight dropped from a healthy 8.5 to 4.9 pounds, she was drinking water and urinating excessively, and the litter box was flooded with sticky urine. I took her to another Vet who took complete blood work and diagnosed her with a Diabetic Reaction to the Cortisone Shot and said, " NO MORE CORTISONE EVER! " The Veterinarian told me to inject her with Lantus Insulin, 1 unit two times per day, and we had to monitor her closely. This adverse reaction to Cortisone was very expensive and she never ever regained her health.
Our trip to the Vet for diagnostic evaluation yesterday had revealed terminal cancer. I was warned that autoimmune diseases appear in cats and dogs who have been treated with corticosteroids like Cortisone and Prednizone because these chemicals suppress the body's immune system; and that negative side effects can and will show up eventually.
An adverse reaction to a Cortisone Shot damaged my cats pancreas and kidneys, which resulted in diabetes, kidney failure and a severely weakened immune system unable to protect itself from cancer.
Until this day, the Veterinarian who administered the Cortisone to my Cat, refuses to acknowledge the long-term side effects of this dangerous Drug, because he is narrow minded! His reaction to my cats pain and suffering was, " I treat the symptoms as they arise! "
Please say No to Cortisone and other steroids! They are destroying the health of our companions. As you are injecting your cats and dogs with Sub Q fluids which are important, think back to how it all began. Review their medical records (always request a copy and keep them in a file for future reference) and see if they ever received a Cortisone Shot or other steroids; so you will never allow your Vet to give these Drugs again!
liev on January 12, 2014:
I haven't read all the comments yet so I don't know whether or not this question is already up there and answered.
I have no medical background but I often found cats near my home---most of the time kitten---who suffered dehydration. In case of unexpected event---the vet on call arrived late or the vet clinic suddenly closed or not enough money to go to the vet whilst the stray kitten of maybe one of my cat are dehydrated, do you think I'm allowed to learn this procedure?
G-money on November 27, 2013:
I think your a gem and love to see people who care for they're cat so much. Mine is on a drip atm spending the night at the vets after using Bob Martins flea spray, it near killed her. Please never use it.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on October 11, 2013:
good to hear Leo is still well enough to pull a kitty caper or two, SubQ. he sounds like a cool kitty
SubQQueen on October 03, 2013:
Oh, I don't like the idea of Leo eventually starting to leak from his pokings. For now though, he still accepts the hydration well and even jumps up on the table to receive it (because he gets fed turkey lunch meat treats at the same time). I give him 100 ml M, W, F - then he (and I) get a break for the weekend. This seems to work out well for all involved. I think I probably could even cut back to 2X a week but he is on a very low dose of pred, and that can raise kidney values so we keep him hydrated, keep things flowing. He is 17 this month and despite his arthritis, is feeling well enough to figure out a way to climb up on the patio fence and jump over it to the yard (and grass he is not supposed to eat) on the other side! Ack!!!!! I'm grateful for his shenanigans and for how tolerant his is of hydration and pilling.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on October 02, 2013:
funny, kits, that happened to me with both our cats, especially Baby (the calico pictured above). how successful you are at giving subq fluids does depend on your individual kitty, I guess, but my experience has been that most of them get used to it and eventually realize it makes them feel better. thanks for writing!
kits on September 16, 2013:
I had to do this daily for my big old cat at least daily if not two times a day. He wanted to stay. Another younger cat did not like the process. So instead of torturing him, we let him go. It was almost funny when the big old cat started to leak from old pokings. It was a long time ago. It was easy to do.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on May 10, 2013:
oh, those little rituals for Bien and Angel are funny! and I totally understand doing that. sometimes I "talk" to Stormy or Babe when I'm near their little boxes that form our kitty shrine. if you'd like to send me that art of Bien, SubQ, my email is:
SubQQueen on May 07, 2013:
Maybe when you think about her, she is thinking about you too. There's that loving connection. You will know how long to keep your reminders around. I carry Bien's collar around in my pocket, and sometimes run water in "her" sink or bathtub before I go to bed or first thing in the morning like I used to do for her. Heck, whenever I get to the end of a roll of paper towels or toilet paper I tap it against my hand for ANGEL, who went over the Rainbow Bridge 17 years ago!!! She used to LOVE being tapped at the base of her tail with anything rolled up, or empty cardboard tubes. So I think wherever she is, she hears this and knows I am thinking of her STILL (yes, you may call me a crazy cat lady).
I'd be happy to send you pictures of Bien artwork, but I don't think I can post here. Do you have an email I can send them to? Thank you for wanting to see them and share a little bit of Bien with me. Little ambassador that she was, she would love this.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on May 06, 2013:
thanks SubQQueen. I like the idea of Stormy sending me some messages and inspiration. I feel that sometimes. I think about her a lot still, especially when I see her empty spot on the couch. I haven't been quite able yet to put away her now-empty litter box that is still sitting in her bathroom (we called our small bathroom with her box in it "Stormy's bathroom.") I still like having the reminders around for now. Also need to gather up my SubQ supplies and donate them to the Humane Society. I'd like to see your art work about Bien. sounds like she was a wonderful kitty
SubQQueen on April 24, 2013:
You remain in my thoughts and prayers. I understand the comfort/tears dichotomy - I get that more and more these days! I like thinking of our beloved furry ones playing together too. I've been working on some art that honors Bien and makes me feel close to her; I would be happy to share it with you privately (since I don't think we can post images here). Stormy may send you some messages and inspirations in the coming days. I am glad we can share our love and loss through this forum; letting go is never easy, especially of those little loves that light our lives.
M4Paws, I'm sure your vet knows the right thing to do based on Meesha's numbers. Too much fluid does tax the heart, but it was my understanding that the subQ actually HELPED the kidneys by flushing through toxins, etc. that the kidneys couldn't really process on their own. Never heard that it makes the CKD progress faster. Conservative treatment is probably the best way to go.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on April 23, 2013:
thank you so much for your kind words. they comforted me and brought tears to my eyes at the same time. yes, I like to think of Stormy romping with Bien at the Rainbow Bridge!
M4paws, thank you for your kind words. you've been through it, so you know. I hope Meesha will get off easy. looks like SubQQueen has answered your question ... yup, you pull that tab off, then stick the white sharpy end of the administration line into the little tube.
m4paws on April 21, 2013:
SubQQueen, thank you so much for your reply. At this point, we are going to wait 1 month and have Meesha's bloodwork redone, mainly because I found some information that had me concerned. I sent the info to my vet who agreed we should wait for the next test.
I found the information here and would love to hear yours and anyone else's thoughts: http://www.felinecrf.org/subcutaneous_fluids_givin...
Please note Paragraph 6: "Processing the extra fluids in itself places an additional workload on the kidneys which can make the CKD progress faster; plus it can flush out certain nutrients, and giving fluids when they are not needed may increase blood pressure; so it is best not to begin fluids until the advantages are likely to outweigh the disadvantages. Dr Katherine James of the Veterinary Information Network believes that most CKD cats will benefit from subcutaneous therapy once creatinine levels are consistently over 300 -350 (US: 3.5-4). If your vet thinks your cat's CKD is less advanced than this, then it is probably safer to hold off on sub-Qs for the moment"
SubQQueen on April 19, 2013:
Yes, you pull the white tab from the seal and then you insert the (usually white) pointed end of the venoset into the hole. Sometimes you have to twist it a bit until it is fully seated. Make sure the dial regulator on the tube is closed, so when you hold the bag up, fluid doesn't flow through the tube right away.
SubQQueen on April 19, 2013:
Oh Daniel, I am so, so, so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks with you and my tears join yours. I resonate with and thank you for expressing "but I know it was right for her to go out with a spark of life left in her and not a complete shell of her former self." Exactly.
Stormy touched SO many lives in person and extended her reach to all of us online . Your love for her drove you to share your wisdom with the rest of us, and in doing that, we got to know her and love her a little bit too.
Stormy's dignity and spirit are not gone, even if her limiting physical body no longer houses them. Know and trust she is right there beside you and always will be. That bond, once forged, is eternal. And know, in the mystical way of kitty spirits, that at the rainbow bridge, she is welcomed and joined by Bien, as they romp together in freedom and comfort and talk about their beloved humans, even as they watch over us. Love to you, Daniel My Brother.
m4paws on April 18, 2013:
Daniel, I am so sorry for you loss. Sounds like Stormy was an awesome kitty who was well loved. We lost our last cat to CRF, and now have discovered our cat Meesha has elevated BUN and creatinine. The urinalysis shows her urine is not dilute, which I guess is good, but I don't know. The vet wants us to give Subq's once a week.
Anyway, thanks for your hub. I was looking for instructions on how to remove the plug/seal from the bottom of the bag. I'm assuming I just yank on that white rubber thing hanging from the bag and the whole seal will come out.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on April 03, 2013:
SubQQueen ... and my readers,
About an hour ago, our precious Stormy, the brown tabby pictured above, joined her sister Babe at the rainbow bridge after a nearly 4-year fight with CRF. She had edema in these final days, was a bit disoriented and had trouble walking on her swollen paws. I had to make the hardest decision ever, but I know it was right for her to go out with a spark of life left in her and not a complete shell of her former self. At the animal hospital, with the little IV needle attached to her leg and the doctor on the way with the injection, she jumped onto the counter and managed to walk on a computer keyboard for a final time.
Stormy had been my companion since I adopted her as a very young, lost cat who turned up at an animal hospital in Brevard County, Florida, after cutting her belly leaping over a fence in someone's backyard. Over the years she lived in Melbourne Beach, Cocoa Beach and Miami Beach, Florida; Arlington, Va.; Rockville, Md.; and, lastly, Washington, DC. She charmed and won the affection of a long line of girlfriends, friends, acquaintances and family members, including my wife and, in the last 3 years, our toddler son. She rode on trains, planes and automobiles. In her wilder younger days, she'd stay out till very late at night -- sometimes all night, as I constantly called her name and searched for her. I remember waking up in my apartment in Cocoa Beach in the morning and finding the window screen pushed out, opening the door and there she'd be, doing that lazy, swaying back and forth strut, her tail straight up and vibrating. I'm fairly sure she had a number of lovers. An expert hunter, she was also the last thing many poor mice, lizards, baby bunnies and insects ever saw.
She was a classy cat, clever to the point of shrewdness, and yet incredibly affectionate and loving ... when in the mood. She never lost her style and stoic attitude during her long battle with CRF, never stopped grooming herself and holding her head up high. Even a week ago, weighing a little over 5 pounds, she still managed a daring leap from the dining room table to the back of the couch.
Everyone who ever met her liked Stormy. I loved her more than words can ever express, and I take some comfort knowing she is at peace now.
God bless you all and all our feline friends.
SubQQueen on March 27, 2013:
I do the same thing - put the bag away with a fresh needle that is ready to for next time. That way I don't have to try to remember, hmmmm, did I change that needle or didn't I?
Another SubQ milestone - I have now TWICE subqed my boycat Leo by myself. I just felt it was time to attempt it. I prefer having a helper, but sometimes one can't be found and I have to go out for the evening or have an appointment, and it's important Leo gets his fluids. He makes it so easy - as long as I am giving him treats throughout the fluid administration, he is patient and docile and calmly waits for me to be done. It took a little doing to figure out logistics of being able to keep my right hand over the needle (and steady him in case he gets too enthusiastic for the treats) and left hand reaching for the treats to feed him one by one, like reverse Pez. :-) I also have a hanger contraption set up to hook over a cabinet door to hang the bag and make sure the bubbles are out before I bring it over to the table where the actual subquing takes place.
DMB -- I am glad to hear Stormy is hanging in there! Yay Stormy! xoxoxo
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on March 26, 2013:
I don't think replacing your administration set (ie., the spike) with a clean, unused one would be a problem. Like SubQQueen, I've never heard of bacteria growing in a sub-q fluids bag, not one that's actively being used, anyway. As far as the needle, I would definitely change that after every use, because it does have bacteria on it. I put a new needle on immediately after administering fluids, so the bag is put away with a clean needle on it.
thanks for writing (and thanks SubQQueen for your reply). p.s. Stormy's still hanging in there
SubQQueen on March 19, 2013:
I've never heard of bacteria growing in bags that get warmed. Maybe if you keep them for months, but you will likely use up a bag in 10 days. I haven't heard any bacteria cautions about warming the bag.
I'd think there is a slight chance of introducing bacteria into the bag, since the covered port was already breached when you inserted the first crimped line. Then in the process of removing the spike and replacing it, any bacteria that might have been around the bag opening might have gotten in. However, I don't think it's too critical if you were reasonably clean and sterile about replacing the line. I've had vets tell me I don't have to change the needle after every poke, and I'd think the opportunity for bacteria to grow on a needle that had already been inserted into a cat's skin is much higher (I DO replace the needle every time, and I do warm the bag). That's just my educated guess.
Nielin on March 18, 2013:
Hi, I have searched but can't find an answer so maybe you can help.
I need to know if bacteria can be introduced into the subq fluids bag is you need to replace the spike?
My line had a crimp so fluids would not flow out so I replaced the spike with new gear and am now concerned that maybe I have introduced bacteria into the bag.
Some say bacteria can grow in bags that get warmed, although I think it is much more comfortable to give warmed than cold fluids to my little angel kittie.
Thanks for any help you may offer.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on March 13, 2013:
will do :)
SubQQueen on March 13, 2013:
Hey, that is great news! She sounds like a little fighter. Keep me informed and give her some loving scratches from a friend in New Mexico.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on March 13, 2013:
thanks so much, SubQQueen. it's really comforting to hear that. I started her on an antibiotic for her cold/flu last night, and she responded quickly by beginning to eat again. I'm not ruling out another rally/ninth life for her
SubQQueen on March 13, 2013:
Oh Daniel, I am sorry to hear about Stormy. I know that dread in your heart as you shepherd her through these precious days with love and comfort. Bien had been dealing with an intractable UTI also -- probably since at least June -- that kept not responding to antibiotics, and yes, the weight loss. All so familiar.
I can feel your love for Stormy, and she knows that and I know that she loves you back too. That love will connect the two of you forever. My heart is with you, with prayers for your strength, wisdom and clarity, and peace for both you and Stormy.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on March 12, 2013:
Thanks for your post, SubQQueen,
your story of Bien's passing was both heart-breaking and inspiring. I love that you saw a rainbow! And glad to hear Leo is responding so well to your regimen of fluids. the loss of Bien must have been hard on you both.
As far as Stormy goes, thanks for your encouragement but I'm afraid she's in her final days. after 2 years of managing her CRF pretty well, she started getting sick, sicker than usual, a few weeks ago with a urinary tract infection. when I took her to the vet to get checked out, her kidney values had shot up to something like 6 for creatinine and 40 -- or was it 60? -- for her BUN, and there were signs of phosphorus in her blood. we got past the urinary thing, then she got a cold virus that blocks her sense of smell and made her eat even less than she had been -- she now weighs a little over 5 pounds. she also has high blood pressure and trouble pooping.
she's always rallied before but this time it doesn't appear to be happening -- she spends almost all of her time on the couch sleeping and looking unwell. I'm going to be facing a painful decision very soon. I've had my kitty daughter for 16 years, since I was single and living at the beach in Florida, we've been through so much together and I love her so ... sigh. I will need to be strong.
SubQQueen on March 08, 2013:
Here's a perspective I didn't think I'd have -- I've been so focused on KIDNEY issues, it didn't dawn on me that perhaps another condition would take my babycat.
On February 23, we sent Bien to the Rainbow Bridge. In mid January, her weight was up and I was encouraged; but when I returned from a 4 day business trip at the beginning of February, she was noticeably bony, and her appetite was spotty. I had a post trade-show virus, so it wasn't until February 15 that I could get her to the vet, where a mass in her abdomen and fluid in her chest was discovered. Her kidney values were actually quite good, ironically. Ultrasound showed what appeared to be large cell untreatable lymphoma (based on comparison with an ultrasound in October), and a mass in her chest too. Her chest was tapped to facilitate breathing, but over the next heartbreaking week her energy started draining away and she wasn't even able to lay down to rest - had to sit like a sphinx all day and night, and could only walk a few feet before sitting to rest. Friday night the 22nd it was clear that although she made every effort to be with us, her quality of life was hugely diminished. The vet team came to the house the next day.
I am deeply grieving her and missing my sweet friend, my companion, and my furry "mews." An interesting sidelight - as I was washing her bowls out about 30 minutes after she passed on, I looked up to see a rainbow on my kitchen backsplash. This room has no windows. Immediately I took it to mean she had made it to the Rainbow Bridge. I took a picture of it, and her stepdad, my boyfriend saw it too.
I continue to hydrate Leo every other day since his creatinine is a little elevated, and he continues to LOVE the hydration process and purr through the whole thing. He heard the voice of my friend who usually helps me with it on the PHONE the other day and jumped up on the table waiting for it to begin. The biggest challenge with him is his enthusiastic munching on treats, since I sometimes fear he will dislodge the needle. Other that that, he is a breeze. Pilling him is another story, but he's fairly cooperative there too -- I still have all my fingers and no wounds. We are adjusting to the absence of his wombmate and sister Bien.
Daniel, about your kitty - it could be so many things, maybe just arthritis that keeps her from jumping. My Leo has arthritis which has curtailed his jumping, but I've put steps and supports for him around the house so he can still climb on things and pretty much get to where he wants to go. And some weight loss is not unusual with both older and CRF kitties. I hope you get encouraging news from your vet and that some adjustments will keep your furbaby healthy and happy for many years to come.
NipSponee on March 07, 2013:
I employed to find on top of existence although of late We've developed some sort of weight.
danielmybrother (author) from D.C. on February 01, 2013:
DBloodworthy, thanks for your post. so glad to hear my Hub helped you. If you've already given SubQ fluids, your a step ahead of a lot of people, so I wouldn't worry too much: you can do it again! I agree with SubQQueen, 100 ML twice a week would be easier and more acceptable to Banshee than twice a day doses. SubQQueen, thank you for providing this helpful information and encouragement to other parents of CRF kitties. I for one could use some at this point. The little brown tabby, Stormy, pictured above has had CRF for 2 years, and I'm afraid she's starting to go downhill. She's down to about 7 or 8 pounds and this past week has missed two jumps onto the heater vents where she spends most of her time. that's unusual for her; she's always been an ambitious jumper and even a few weeks ago she would leap into our bedroom armoire from a difficult angle. It might be the CRF, or it could be her heart, or her eyes are failing. She's going in for a doctor visit soon. anyway, thanks for your kind words.
p.s. I used to get e-mail notifications when people responded to this Hub but they stopped, so I may not always respond right away.
SubQQueen on January 24, 2013:
Just giving an update from months ago. I am now subQing Bien every other day 100-150 ml of Lactated Ringer's from Valley Vet ($60 for 14 1000 ml bags, free shipping) and her brother Leo (who also has CKD) with about 100. Leo is a little clown -- he has come to actually eagerly anticipate the process and climb up on the table (no mean feat since this 16 year old boy has arthritis in his hind quarters) and purr since we give him treats while hydrating. I heard legends about cats purring during subQs but didn't really believe it. Now I do.
I continue to have a helper - I have three different people who agree to help me, so no one person has to be the helper all the time (though one friend has been a trooper and has been coming to my house every other day for several months to assist). I think I am going to try doing it myself soon - it would make it more convenient time wise. I am fortunate that both cats are pretty docile about it. The biggest challenge will be keeping the needle in when Leo is looking around for the next treat!
Also, I want to mention that I warm the fluids before administering. This seems to make the cold fluids less of a jolt flowing into their bodies. I have a big bowl that I fill with hot tap water - sometimes I have to add extra to make sure it's warm enough. I test the temperature of the water in the bag as I bleed out the line - to make sure it's warm, but not TOO warm. I think it's a lot more comfortable for them this way.
After a few months, they have both improved - hydrating helps a lot! And so did a change from K/D dry -- which they were hardly eating and different wet foods that they were hardly eating, which meant they were hardly eating and getting very little nutrition. I switched to grain-free Natural Balance Alpha Cat Turkey/Duck dry (which gets some of its protein from garbanzo beans so it is reduced nitrogen) and Fancy Feast canned. Both are thriving on this even though it is NOT kidney food and the protein is a bit higher, as is the phosphorus, (but they get Epakitin as a phosphorus blocker) and they are happier, healthier and more active. I made this switch because they BOTH also are diagnosed with IBD and I was convinced that the rice and corn gluten - which are major ingredients in K/D -- were irritating their digestive tracts. Since the switch -- very little vomiting -- a true blessing. Proof is in their behavior and their coats.
Dbloodworthy -- the fluid gets slowly absorbed from the tissues, so your baby is probably fine with the 100 twice a week. If she is squirmy, would it make her more squirmy to have to do this twice a day? 100ml doesn't take that much more time than 50 ml, and you already have the needle in, so go for it. Expect that she may be squirmy at first though, as she gets used to this. What I weigh is how stressful is it for the cat and for you to administer the fluids? Having a break a few times a week when you are not giving fluids is probably a good thing for both of you. The fluids will make her feel better and will help her bowels work better too -- sometimes if arthritis is painful and things get too hardened in there, constipation can result and that's no fun to deal with for either of you. I went through that with both cats a few months ago, oy.
Steph -- maybe to avoid the blood, can you insert the needle more towards the top part of the "tent?" Angle the needle straight or slightly up vs toward the body where it might hit muscle tissue. Also, when you get a new IV line, it will come with a cap on the nipple that you connect to the needle - you can recap it after you are done if you don't want to store it with a new needle. I always put a new needle on after I'm done, so I am ready to go the next time. There's a little leeway with bacteria, etc. since you are not injecting into a vein, but the flushing out idea sounds like a good idea -- you're probably doing this anyway if you are bleeding the line before you hydrate to get the bubbles out. Maybe washing the nipple a bit first and rinsing it well before bleeding the line.
Keep at it everyone! You are courageous and loving, and are REALLY helping your furbabies feel SO much better.
Dbloodworthy on January 23, 2013:
I was just advised that I need to start giving Banshee SubQ fluids. She doesn't have kidney disease... just bad arthritis and she stopped drinking water, hence the dehydration and need for fluids. I've done this before for my baby boy who I lost almost 2 years ago to CRF, but I am really nervous about doing this again. This is very informative and will help a lot. I w