What is Fluid Therapy?

Like humans, all animals need to drink or take in water and/or other fluids every day. More than half of a cat’s body weight is water!  Your veterinarian may recommend that your cat needs specially formulated liquids to help treat feline disease and prevent problems. The management of these fluids is done by you and your veterinarian.

White cat in pink carrier

Why Would My Cat Receive Fluid Therapy?

Normally, cats consume enough water by drinking and eating their meals. However, there are reasons your cat may not get enough fluids:

In these types of cases, fluid therapy can help make up for what is lost or not being taken in.

If your cat has problems with its internal organs (typically the kidneys), fluid therapy may help. Issues with internal organs may prevent their body from properly using the water they drink. Additionally, some cats may have issues with their electrolytes. In these cases, your cat may need fluids to help restore a normal electrolyte balance.

Anesthesia is another reason that can require a cat to receive fluids. Cats need to maintain normal blood pressure while under anesthesia. Fluid therapy helps maintain and replace fluids lost in surgery.

What Is In The Fluids?

There are several kinds of fluids and electrolytes. Your veterinarian chooses the one that works best for your cat. All of the different types of fluids have water but may contain other nutrients and minerals like sodium, potassium, glucose, and/or other electrolytes. The fluids are all sterile and specially packaged and handled.

How Are Fluids Given to My Cat?

Generally, fluids are given via intravenous fluid (IV) therapy. This is when a tube or catheter is placed in your cat’s vein. The fluids are carried through the IV into the body quickly. This type of fluid therapy allows your veterinarian to measure and control the amount and rate of the fluids.

In some cases, your veterinarian may want you to give your cat fluids at home subcutaneously, or under the skin. Your veterinarian will discuss with you and provide training so you feel comfortable giving fluids on your own.

Usually, subcutaneous fluid therapy is given when your cat has an ongoing condition. Your cat will most likely have had treatment in the hospital and need the fluids continued on a regular schedule at home. Again, if this is necessary for your cat, your veterinarian will teach you how. You can also view the video below which demonstrates how to give subcutaneous fluids.

The text on this page is excerpted from the 2013 AAHA/AAFP Fluid Therapy Guidelines for Dogs and Cats Implementation Toolkit. ©2013 American Animal Hospital Association (aaha.net.org). All rights reserved.