When Fluffy needs fluids, your veterinarian might prescribe sodium chloride solution or lactated Ringer's solution to rehydrate the kitty, depending on the cat's diagnosis. Your cat could receive fluids in the veterinary hospital or could need ongoing fluid therapy that your vet will show you how to do at home.
Normally, your cat's body is approximately 60 percent water. When cats become dehydrated, they lose electrolytes. These consist of potassium, sodium and chloride, minerals necessary for normal bodily functions. Your cat might become dehydrated after bouts of vomiting and diarrhea or after experiencing other illnesses in which she isn't drinking sufficient amount to keep herself hydrated. Normally, if you gently pinch the skin along your cat's back, it should quickly recede back in place. If the pinched skin stays up for a few seconds, that's a sign of dehydration. Take your cat to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect dehydration. Prolonged dehydration leads to kidney failure.
Lactated Ringer's Solution
Lactated Ringer's solution, containing 5 percent dextrose, is used for electrolyte and fluid replacement as well as for supplying calories to cats receiving the intravenous injection. According to the Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine, it's the most common type of solution given to cats suffering from kidney failure. The solution contains no antimicrobial agents. Cats with corn allergies shouldn't receive lactated Ringer's solution. It's available as an oral solution, so with your vet's OK you can give it to your cat by mouth if he's only mildly dehydrated. You'll need to syringe it into his mouth. Your vet can give you instructions, as well as how much and how often to give the oral solution.
Also known as saline solution, sodium chloride is used for subcutaneous fluid therapy in cats. The amount of sodium chloride in the solution is generally 0.9 percent. It's a source of both water and electrolytes, a mix of distilled water and salt. In an emergency, you could make a saline solution yourself, although not for injectable use. If your cat requires at-home subcutaneous therapy, your vet might prescribe 0.9 percent saline solution.
Choosing the Fluid
Your vet chooses a fluid therapy based on the reasons for rehydration. Both sodium chloride and lactated ringer's solution are crystalliod. That means they contain electrolytes and nonelectrolytes, both able to move freely through various membranes, cells and fluids in your cat's body. Lactated ringer's solution is an isotonic crystalloid fluid, which won't allow fluids to enter or exit your cat's red blood cells. It's used to replace fluids and support the cat's basic life functions during treatment. While 0.9 percent saline solution is also isotonic, adding additional salt makes it hypertonic, causing a shift of fluids. DVM360.com states that hypertonic solutions are useful in patients requiring a lot of fluid quickly.
- Drugs.com: Veterinary Lactated Ringer's and 5% Dextrose Injection, USP
- University of Washington College of Veterinary Medicine: Giving Subcutaneous Fluids to a Cat
- Cat World: Cat Dehydration - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Dehydrated Cats
- MedicineNet.com: Dehydration in Cats
- DVM360.com: Fluid Therapy -- Calculating the Rate and Choosing the Correct Solution
- Vet Rx Direct: Sodium Chloride 0.9% Electrolyte Solution for Cats and Dogs for at Home Subcutaneous Fluid Therapy
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.