When your cat's kidneys are not working properly, your cat cannot concentrate urine. Because of this, your cat looses large amounts of water and will increase its water intake to compensate. However, cats are rarely able to make up for the fluid loss just by drinking extra water.
If your cat is severely affected with kidney disease, hospitalization for aggressive intravenous fluid administration is usually necessary. However, more stable patients can be given fluids subcutaneously (under the skin) at the veterinarian's office or at home.
Many cat caretakers, who thought they could never poke a needle into their cat's skin, quickly learn how to administer subcutaneous fluids at home and become proponents of fluid therapy. The benefits of regular subcutaneous fluid administration can be enormous. Along with nutritional management, fluid administration forms the cornerstone of home management of feline chronic renal disease.
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in partnership with the Cornell Feline Health Center has produced this informative video on administering subcutaneous fluids to cats with chronic renal disease.
The Feline Advisory Bureau, a nonprofit organization in the United Kingdom that promotes the health and welfare of cats by providing information about cats to the general public and to veterinarians, has developed a thorough illustrated guide to subcutaneous fluid administration.
Another illustrated guide to subcutaneous fluid administration can be found at the Feline CRF Information Center run by Carol and David DiFiori, cat caretakers who since 1996 have been sharing information about chronic kidney disease with other caretakers. This guide includes several close-up shots of fluid administration.Tanya's Feline Chronic Renal Failure website
, created by a cat caretaker in the United Kingdom with experience caring for cats with chronic kidney disease, includes information on two methods of giving subcutaneous fluids: with a syringe
and with an intravenous line
. Both pages include numerous photographs and comprehensive, step-by-step instructions.
Subcutaneous fluids are not indicated for all cats; so, if you think your cat might benefit from home administration of subcutaneous fluids, please consult with your veterinarian.
Amy Lynn, DVM
Michigan Veterinary Specialists