Jump to section

What is Fluid Therapy?

Fluid therapy involves the intravenous or subcutaneous administration of fluid to an animal. This is typically done to replace fluid that has been lost either due to injury or disease. Vets use fluid therapy often, as it is a key part of treating some of the most common medical problems that owners will bring their pets to a clinic for.

Fluid Therapy Procedure in Cats

Fluids are commonly administered to cat intravenously (through a vein), or subcutaneously (under the skin).

Intravenous 

To begin intravenous (IV) fluid therapy, the vet will give the cat a mild sedative and shave the area around the vein being targeted for injection. This will both allow the vet to easily locate the vein and make it more straightforward to attach the IV drip to the cat. The next step is to insert a catheter using a hypodermic needle and tape it in place before attaching the drip. The drip is then connected to a bag of fluid (normally a saline solution), which is elevated above the cat so that it can drain via gravity at a steady pace into the cat's body. When the bag is sufficiently depleted, the catheter is removed and the injection site is swabbed.

Subcutaneous

A subcutaneous fluid administration procedure is similar to IV administration, but rather than inserting a catheter into a vein, a needle is used to deliver fluid under the cat’s skin near the spine. The procedure is performed in-office by vets, but is also commonly recommended for at-home administration for cats with chronic health issues, such as kidney disease.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Efficacy of Fluid Therapy in Cats

After having undergone intravenous fluid therapy, the cat should show improvement within a couple of hours. That said, if there is a serious underlying condition it will take time for the cat to fully regain its health, as fluid therapy in this context should be thought of as a management strategy and not a form of treatment. Intravenous fluid replacement therapy is much faster and more efficient than oral replenishment (i.e. simply drinking the water), as it enters directly into the bloodstream with no waiting period.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Fluid Therapy Recovery in Cats

Following the procedure, there will be a period during which the cat is much more alert and energetic than before the fluid therapy. It is important for owners to remember that this is still a recovery stage and they should limit the activity of the cat as much as possible, lest their symptoms return. In the case of injury especially, extra care should be taken to make sure the cat does not re-open their wounds either by biting (which is fixable with an e-collar) or by vigorous activity (which can be mitigated by keeping them indoors). The vet will also most likely want to schedule further visits in order to check the progress of recovery and refill any prescriptions for medication or painkillers. The vet might also wish for the cat to undergo fluid replacement at home, in which case they will provide the owner with instructions and equipment to carry out the procedure themselves.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Fluid Therapy in Cats

Owners will be pleased to know that the price for fluid therapy can be quite low, with many clinics charging around $100 inclusive of materials and diagnosis. However, fluid therapy is often administered as just one component of a larger treatment plan. Kits for at-home fluid therapy cost roughly $30.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cat Fluid Therapy Considerations

Although most fluid therapy procedures go off without a hitch, cat owners should be aware that there are some potential downsides. Pain and general discomfort is the first problem. Although most cats will be given a sedative, much like humans who have injections or give blood there will be residual pain and numbness after the procedure. There is also a slight risk of embolism, as if the needle misses or over penetrates the vein, it will deliver the fluids into the surrounding tissues. Although not usually a life-threatening problem, this can be very uncomfortable for the patient. Infection is the last risk, as needles that come into contact with dirt and grime can spread bacteria and viruses extremely easily. Fortunately, a competent vet will use a fresh, sterile needle and will takes steps to lessen the risk of an outside infection by cleaning the injection site.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Fluid Therapy Prevention in Cats

Despite many causes of kidney failure being hereditary and therefore almost impossible to avoid, owners can always strive to lessen the risk of their cat becoming dehydrated. Making sure to always have accessible fresh water (especially in summer) and not constantly relying on dry food will keep a cat's fluid intake at a healthy level. If the classic symptoms of dehydration do start to appear (e.g. dry eyes and mouth, lethargy, light sensitivity and infrequent urination), then taking the cat straight to the vet will help prevent more serious conditions from gaining a foothold.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Fluid Therapy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Candy

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My pregnant cat was taken to the clinic as she was not eating, they adminitered IV fluids for a day and she did get better, but I took her the next day as she was still weak. They administered IV fluid 75 ml and B complex, but as soon as she was administered, 2 minutes later, she stopped breathing. How could this have happened?

Sept. 15, 2018

Candy's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Whiskey

dog-breed-icon

Forest

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lost Appetite

My cat have kidney failure, we took him to a vet and gave him iv saline, its his 1st day and made small amout of urinary activity , but still not eating .is it normal for a 1st day treatment?

Sept. 6, 2018

Whiskey's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Fiq

dog-breed-icon

Maine Coon

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Renal Illness

hello, my vet advice to give my cat a sub-Q drip to her everyday due to her kidney illness.around last two weeks, she was in a bad shape. i gave her drip of 150ml NS everyday. Her energy somehow gained after each day. What concerns me - after almost 3 weeks taking sub-q. Her appetite increased 3 times. right before she was diagnose to have renal illness. she hardly finish her 85grm wet food (equals to 1 pack) but now she managed to finish 3 packs under one seating. is that a good sign for her? or bad?

Sept. 2, 2018

Fiq's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Mia

dog-breed-icon

stray

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Vomiting;
Vomiting; Diarrhoea

Hi. I'm just looking for some info here. Unfortunately my dear cat passed away 2 days ago and I don't have diagnosis yet. I rushed her to the vet in critical condition but she didn't make it. Have few test results on on hand and treatment medication list so I've searched web for possible answers. To give a little bit of history of sickness progression- she was vomiting in the morning but I thought she's just not well so I left her to mind herself and sleep it off. She was almost unconscious at lunch when I checked on her (ran straight to vet). She was still vomiting & now diarrhoea added to the condition. Test showed MCV and RETIC were high. WBC, NEU, MONO, EOS, PLT were very low Another test showed CA high and GLU, ALKP were low. Other reading were within normal range however they were either on the low side or high side of normal limits. From what I could find myself, all indicates on liver/kidney disease. One of the treatment injections was NORODINE which apparently is not to be given when liver/kidney is present. Vet told me that her condition have improved after few hours of treatment but then everything went downhill and she was gone. 3 years ago she had issues with pancreas and went through an operation (although symptoms were totally different). She was on prescription dry food too afterwards. Count this initial operation be related? She was only 7.5 years old domestic cat. She can't be brought back but I'm destroyed and desperate for some answers. Please help!

Aug. 7, 2018

Mia's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

We can make ourselves crazy thinking about why our loved ones passed away and whether anything could have been done differently; without examining Mia (necropsy) and possibly submitting some samples for further testing I cannot give you a specific cause of death. Norodine (trimethoprim and sulfadiazine) is a broad spectrum antibiotic and is contraindicated in cases where there is “...severe liver or kidney parenchymal damage…” but may be suitable in mild cases, however we don’t have any biochemistry results so we cannot determine the severity of the liver or kidney disease. I wish I could give you some closure, but I don’t have enough information. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.norbrook.com/products/norodine-24-solution-for-injection www.idexx.eu/globalassets/documents/parameters/8093-us-alp-interpretive-summary.pdf www.idexx.eu/globalassets/documents/parameters/8961-us-wbc-interpretive-summary.pdf www.idexx.eu/globalassets/documents/parameters/9524-us-plateletcountmanual-interpretive-summary.pdf www.idexx.eu/globalassets/documents/parameters/8058-us-glucose-interpretive-summary.pdf www.idexx.eu/globalassets/documents/parameters/8076-us-calcium-interpretive-summary.pdf

Aug. 8, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Will

dog-breed-icon

Himalayan Rag doll

dog-age-icon

10 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea Dehydration

Hello, My kitten is 10 months old. He has a brother who lives with him as well. He had terrible diarrhea yesterday. I brought him to the vet right away and they told me he has a fever and is dehydrated. I decided he should be treated right away. They still aren’t sure what the cause of his sickness is. He was clearly in pain as he would not stop meowing. He got diarrhea all over the apartment. He’s already not a big eat and I would go so far as to call him a shy eater. He stayed over night with the IV but the vet today said he is still running a fever. He’s not better but not worse. He still isn’t eating (which might be explained by his picky eating habits) but I’m really worried about him. What are his chances of overcoming this? Should his brother be removed from the apartment in case it’s a contagious virus or something? They are indoor cats so I don’t know where he could have gotten sick. Thank you, Nathan

July 25, 2018

Will's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Despite owner beliefs, indoor cats may still get infections from fomites and other sources; however if it is something contagious we would expect Will’s brother to be affected too. Dehydration is common with diarrhoea and it can be difficult to narrow down a specific cause for the diarrhoea as infections, parasites, poisoning, diet, stress, foreign objects among many other causes may lead to diarrhoea (and fever). Fluid therapy is a good supportive method of care but it is important to determine the specific underlying cause so that the underlying condition can also be treated. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Stitch

dog-breed-icon

DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

my cat lcked up bleach, after I was cleaning my floor. I looked around & she( my cat ,stitch)was licking the floor that I just sprayed with bleach. I yelled at her & she stopped. She later ate & threw up ,twice. Next morning, she was throwing up,like white or yellowish foam saliva.She was not her self.My son called me at work & told me all of this. By the time I got off work,my vet was closed.Next Morning, we were at our vet. I told them what she did,they ran tests. All came back good. So, they gave her fluids (sub q),injection of hernia. Gave me Cerenia to give her at home. She did a little better. no vomiting, yeah. But, she still is not eating or drinking. This is day 4,since she first kicked up the bleach. How long before she starts to come back to her old self ?

dog-name-icon

anika

dog-breed-icon

Maincoon

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Stopped Eating,Peeing Other Place

my cat started peeing tiny bits and then completely missing the box when she was in it! I figured it was a infection and she got some penicillin but was also told she has kidney failure. The first week we were told to give her 200ml once a day. she was doing fantastic eating and drinking and her numbers were closer to normal but still showing dehydration.Now we were told to give her 200ml 2x a day for a week then go to 200ml and 100ml for 2 weeks. after that we have to bring her back in. she eats not only her food but everyone else's too (cats). She drinks water all day but apparently is peeing it out. I'm worried that we are giving her too much fluid ! Everyone says they give between 100 -200 once a day. Im not sure if I should follow these instructions. They were hopig we could drop down to a couple times a week after this.

dog-name-icon

Ducky

dog-breed-icon

Tuxedo

dog-age-icon

20 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Soreness

My kitty, Ducky, has stage 2 kidney failure. His vet prescribed him fluids twice a week. Lately, he's been getting sore in his chest area/around his arms a few hours after i give him his fluids. I'm not sure if I'm accidentally placing the needle in the wrong spot or something.

dog-name-icon

Patches

dog-breed-icon

Black and white

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Soft Lump On Chest
Soft Lump On Chest, Breathing Funny

I've been giving my friend's cat Patches a fluid treatment 2 time a day now for over a month After treatment his one of his legs would swell up, the vet said this sometimes happens. The reason for hydrating the cat is kidney disease which is common in older cats Patches is about 14 yrs.old and is an indoor cat. Tonight i noticed a lump on his chest it wasn't hard it is very softamd feels like fluid. I hibe him the prescribed amount. He is a small cat . Im no doctor but i think he's getting to much fluids for his size. Does anyone have information that can help me understand whats going on with him?

dog-name-icon

Charlie

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic

Went in because my cat had some crystals that formed in his dried pee.(found it in a corner after about a day ugh) but it concerned us because he wasn’t using his box. The doctor gave him fluids and since we got him home he peed himself and has peed maybe 8 times in a day. He is very lethargic and hasn’t eaten or drank any water. Is this normal after fluid treatment? Very concerned.

How can we help your pet?