Cat owners may be concerned to find out that their beloved companions have chronic kidney failure, also called Kidney Failure In Cats. In this irreversible state, the kidneys no longer effectively remove waste, causing a potentially fatal accumulation of toxins. However, subcutaneous fluid therapy can make a sick cat feel better and can prolong his life.
Although kidney disease is usually diagnosed in older cats, it sometimes affects younger cats.
Chronic kidney failure is progressive and can affect a cat’s life for months, even years. However, acute kidney disease usually occurs suddenly and can be fatal.
In both cases, the kidneys are ineffective in removing waste products from the blood. Many kidney patients have polyuria or unusually large volumes of diluted urine and may become dehydrated.
Symptoms of dehydration
Cats naturally drink water to rinse waste. However, if a cat urinates more fluids than it can replace, dehydration occurs.
A dehydrated cat often feels miserable and may have sunken eyes, loss of appetite, lethargy, dry mouth, increased heart rate, depression, gasping for breath, and a dry or sticky line. Another possible symptom is reduced skin elasticity. Check the skin on the back of the cat’s neck; if it doesn’t break, it’s probably dehydrated.
Subcutaneous fluid therapy
Subcutaneous (“under the skin”) fluids can be administered daily, weekly, or every other day to replace lost fluids. This supportive treatment, also known as sub-Q or lactated Ringer’s solution, is administered with a needle usually inserted under loose skin behind the neck (where the nerve ending is less sensitive) and a bag of solution is constantly dripping into the solution.
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A cat could have a “pouch” where fluids have been given, but it will disappear once the fluids are absorbed into the skin.
Do’s and Don’ts of Sub-Q
Although owners can easily give their pets subcutaneous fluids, they should learn from a trained veterinarian. Warning: Sub-Qs can be dangerous for cats with heart conditions, and fluids can temporarily collapse the lungs if too much pressure is applied to the pleural cavity. For this reason, always consult an experienced veterinarian about the health and treatment of your pet.
Fluid Management at Home: A Few Tips for Kidney Failure In Cats
If you decide to give cat fluids at home, consider the following suggestions on how to run this process smoothly:
- Place the cat on a flat, smooth surface (desk or table) so that it cannot jump; you can also try to keep it in a carrier or in a box with comfortable towels to keep it safe.
- Hang the bag high – the cabinet handle works well – to increase fluid flow.
- Create a “tent” of loose skin behind the neck and insert the needle into the skin to the side. Do not push the needle down; it could hit a muscle or bone. If you push the needle through the whole skin, simply remove it and try again.
- Always use a new needle; never reuse needles that could cause contamination.
- Never give up. Remember that you are helping the cat and that learning new skills takes time. Just relax and try again.