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Dear Christopher Cat

My veterinarian advised me to inject intravenous fluids under my cat’s skin to help her failing kidneys. She explained the procedure and gave me a bag of fluids and some needles, but I don’t recall how to do it and I’m too embarrassed to ask. Can you tell me? Will it help her feel better?

Christopher Responds

Yes, subcutaneous (which means “under the skin”) fluids should help your cat feel better, although the therapy won’t reverse the kidney damage that has already occurred.

Sterile fluids enriched with needed electrolytes in the right proportions are injected into the subcutaneous space between the skin and the underlying musculature.

These “sub-Q” fluids help wash out the body’s impurities, giving a cat with failing kidneys more pep and a better appetite.

Start by suspending the fluid bag well above your cat, and attach a sterile needle to the end of the fluid line exiting the bag.

If you’re right-handed, use your left arm to hold your cat close to your body, positioning her head near your left elbow. Using your left hand, raise the skin on her back over her shoulder blades to form a “tent” of skin.

With your right hand, finger the “tent flap” where you’ll insert the needle attached to the fluid line.

Hold the needle in your right hand, and gently insert it into the subcutaneous space. Open the fluid line, and gravity will do the rest.

Once you’ve infused about 100 ml, stop the flow of liquid and remove the needle from the skin.

Your cat’s body will absorb the pillow of fluid over the next 12 hours.

Repeat the procedure with a new needle at various locations on your cat’s body every few days, or whenever her energy and appetite wane.

If you have any questions, please touch base with your veterinarian, who, I’m sure, will be happy to help you.

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