Holding a cat still for subcutaneous fluids

This forum is for cat lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your cat.


Purred: Thu Jan 7, '10 11:39am PST 
Hi everyone,

Our vet is having us give subcutaneous fluids at home to our cat Rainbow due to her kidney troubles. However, we're having an awful lot of trouble with it. She wriggles and thrashes and pulls the needle out, and it becomes upsetting for everyone. Anybody out there have ideas on how to best hold a very uncooperative cat for this procedure? (We already know how to do the procedure otherwise -- the vet tech walked us through it a couple times. She holds very still at the vet's, presumably because she's scared there.) We need to do this every other day, so we need to get the hang of it! Any ideas would be much appreciated, thanks!


Life's- short....live- large.
Purred: Thu Jan 7, '10 1:35pm PST 

That can be so difficult to do at the clinic much less at home to your own cat! When I worked at a shelter and had to occasionally give fluids, I found that the cats liked to hide their faces in the bend of my arm. Now let me figure out if I can describe this to you~

No one likes to have to restrain their own cat, but really you need to be prepared, just in case, to keep Rainbow from hurting herself. OK, so I would be the one holding the cat, with the cat on a covered table/countertop (not a slippery countertop, something covered so they feel secure). I would let the cat ‘hide’ its face in the bend of my arm and at the same time with my other hand, pet them on the back of the neck and talk softly. As soon as person #2 goes to put the needle in (assuming the fluids are being given sub-Q since you are doing it from home) I would gently rub the tip of one of the cats ears between my fingers- sometimes that distracts them just enough that they don’t flip out when the needle goes in. (Sometimes not……)

Now- what if Rainbow decides while you are doing that to try to wiggle and thrash around; remember you are petting her behind her neck and rubbing her ear? If she starts doing that, gently scruff her to correct her. She probably won’t like it and will most likely hold a grudge, but it may be enough to calm her down long enough to get fluids into her, which in the end is the most important thing.

Try to use a new needle each time; a used one gets dull and is harder to get in the skin each time.

Always follow up with her favorite treat/toy so she doesn’t hold that grudge for too long ;-)

Good luck to you and Rainbow!

Strangelove- (1988-2006)

Queen of the- cats!
Purred: Thu Jan 7, '10 5:58pm PST 
Ask your vet if they sell restraint bags. My vet allows you to rent one to try it out for a couple of dollars a week and I used it with my cat Strangelove when she needed fluids and meds for her kidney disease.

Here's an example of one on Amazon.com that's similar to the one I used with Strangelove. It was easy to get her in the bag and being confined seemed to relax her and made her wriggle less. There's a zip down the back and I'd just pull it back a couple of inches to expose her scruff and insert the needle.

They're not very expensive so its worth a try since Rainbow is so feisty and wriggly.


Purred: Fri Jan 8, '10 12:31pm PST 
I sure feel for you. When we gave our Rainbow Bridge Kyawa fluids. We had a rather deep box (so it was "almost impossible" for him to jum out) with something soft in the bottom. We did this in our computer room (closed the door). We placed the box on top of the ironing board. Placed kitty in it and my husband would pet him and console him. We first warmed the bag. I would hold the bag and was in charge of monitoring how much fluid went in. My husband would pet and "try" to console Kyawa and he inserted the needle. I also heard something about putting a treat in the box.

Sorry, this is how we did it. It is very frustrating.


Purred: Fri Jan 8, '10 2:04pm PST 
Thank you everyone for the feedback! It's comforting to know we're not alone in having some difficulty. These are some hopeful sounding techniques to try. Rainbow does in fact like to hide her face in a blanket when she's getting shots, so I think we'll try that technique tomorrow with a blanket or the bend of my arm. (It also didn't occur to me to try grabbing the scruff a bit, I suppose because it feels so rude to do it! But it's a good idea.) I am intrigued by this restraint bag, I have never seen one before. I'm definitely going to ask my vet about those, I think that's a very good backup plan if we still can't get the hang of things.
Here's hoping tomorrow's dose goes a little more smoothy!

Milo Reyna

Momma's Moe
Purred: Fri Jan 8, '10 2:19pm PST 
Lenny is right about cats they like to hide their faces in their owners arms sometimes.

with any cat or pet, it's a good idea to cover their eyes when you know they aren't going to like what you're doing.

I foster strays and I found that by covering there eyes handling them is so much easier and stress free on both parties.


Purred: Sat Jan 9, '10 4:30pm PST 
Today went much better! I held a blanket for Rainbow to hide her head in. She hated being scruffed, so we stopped trying that, but she felt much better with the blanket. Thank you everyone for your suggestions and support, hopefully this positive trend can continue. smile


*does happy- dance*
Purred: Sat Jan 9, '10 4:40pm PST 
pumpkin didnt like this eaither. we held her in a towel. one person holds the other person holds the bag.

good luck!


August 2002-May- 2010. I AM- MISSED!
Purred: Sat Jan 9, '10 7:28pm PST 
I until I got use to them I always got mine wrapped in a towel. I like getting mine in my side so I can wash my bubble!

Alaidh - my little- angel

The only real- cat is a grey- cat!
Purred: Sun Jan 10, '10 11:42pm PST 
The blanket is a great idea!

Alaidh would not stay still no matter what I tried...and she was tiny! I eventually switched from the IV line to a syringe, so it would take less time. I was able to give it to her in about a minute, so she didn't have much time to squirm. She certainly yelled at me, though!! You could ask your vet to show you how to use the syringe. smile

The restraint bag is great, as well. My vet used one on Alaidh all the time, as she was a little spitfire when I brought her there. Sometimes she even needed a kitty muzzle! When she was at home, though, she was a little sweetie!

I thought I had a picture of Alaidh in the restraint bag at the vet, but it doesn't seem to be on her page. I'm at work now, so I don't have access to my photos, but if you'd like to see the pic, just send me a message and I'll send you the pic. smile