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Cats Subcutaneous Fluid Administration







Are there any alternatives? I don't really want to do this.

This is a normal reaction for most people. Giving injections is outside the comfort zone for almost everyone outside the medical professions. 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. Please ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the procedure.


How is the equipment assembled?

The equipment consists of a bag of fluids, a drip set, and a needle. The drip set is a tube which connects the fluid bag to the needle. The following steps should be followed:

  1. Remove the bag of fluids from its packaging.

  2. Remove the drip set from its packaging.

  3. One end of the drip set has a large, plastic, pointed end with a protective cap. Remove this cap, but do not permit it to become contaminated. Be sure to store it in a clean place. (If you finish a bag of fluids and want to keep the drip set in reserve for the next bag, you will need this clean cap.)

  4. Pull the protective covering from the exit port on the bottom of the fluid bag. This will expose a hole which will accept the pointed end of the drip set.

  5. Push the pointed end of the drip set into the open hole of the fluid bag. It must be seated firmly to prevent leaks.

  6. Make sure the lock in the middle of the drip set is closed. If it is not, adjust the roller.

  7. Remove the protective cap from the other end of the drip set, but do not discard it. Do not permit it to become contaminated. Be sure to put it down in a clean place.

  8. Break the protective covering around the needle so that the open end (not the sharp end) is exposed. Do not permit the needle to become contaminated. It should not touch anything.

  9. Place the open end of the needle on the lower end of the drip set. Seat it firmly.

  10. Gently squeeze and release the bulb at the other end of the drip set until the bulb chamber is about half full with fluid.

  11. Open the lock (roller) on the drip set and then hold or suspend the fluid bag; fluid should flow freely.

  12. Be sure that all air bubbles run out of the drip set.

  13. Close the lock on the drip set by rolling the roller downward.

Where is the needle inserted?

Insert the needle just under the skin in a location where the skin is loose. The most comfortable and safest for the cat is between the shoulder blades. Other areas are on each side of the cat.


How is the needle inserted?

  1. Choose a location where you will treat your cat. This may be on a table, counter top, or in your lap.

  2. Hang the fluid bag about 3 feet (1 meter) above the level of your cat's head.

  3. Place your cat in the treatment location. Be sure both of you are in a position that will be comfortable for about 10-15 minutes. The end of the drip set should easily reach your cat.

  4. Pick up a roll of loose skin over the shoulder blades. Form a small tent of skin so the needle will be positioned just under the skin layer.

  5. Lay the point of the needle at the base of the roll of skin with the needle horizontal and pointing to the cat's head. This assumes that the cat is in an upright or standing position.

  6. Advance the needle slightly forward while pulling the roll of skin backward. That should place the point of the needle just under the skin.

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

  8. Grasp the drip set lock in one hand. Begin the flow of fluids by rolling the roller upward.

Note: It is 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.


What should I expect as the fluids are running?

Most cats tolerate this procedure quite well. However, if the fluids are unusually cold or hot, they may be uncomfortable. Ideally, they should be stored at body temperature or warmed by placing the bag under running hot water. If you warm them, test the temperature of the fluids on your forearm as you would do for a baby's formula. 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 fluids.


What if air bubbles are carried under the skin?

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?

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 by moving the needle slightly back and in again, until the fluids begin to flow again. Experiment with the needle's position until the fluids flow freely.


How much do I give?

Your veterinarian will determine in advance how much fluid you will give for your cat's specific situation. As a rule, the average sized cat should receive 100-150 ml of fluids at one time. All of the prescribed amount is placed in the locations mentioned above, over each of the front legs.


What do I do when I have given the prescribed amount?

  1. Stop the flow of fluids by rolling the roller in the drip set lock downward firmly. If you do not close it well and the bag is left hanging, fluid will drip.

  2. Remove the needle and replace it with the tube's cap. Put the protective cover on the used needle and store it safely for disposal later.

  3. Store the equipment in a safe place until the next fluid administration. (If there is still fluid in the bag, keep the tube attached to the bag.)

Is there anything different about giving fluid on subsequent treatments?

The administration is the same. The fluids are less likely to be contaminated by bacteria from the skin if you discard the used needle at the end of each administration. Before discarding the old needle, replace the protective cap on it so someone will not be stuck. If you wish, you may return it to your veterinarian for proper disposal.


I tried to give fluids, but the flow was very slow. What should I do?

When you are finished giving fluids, you should close the lock firmly. However, closing the lock firmly 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 tubing, and open the crushed area of the tube by pinching it with your fingers.


How long until the lump of fluid is gone?

It will take about 2-4 hours for all of the fluid to be absorbed. In some cases, it might even be up to 6 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.


I have used this bag for several treatments, and now the fluid is cloudy. What does that mean?

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.