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PSA for owners of elderly cats

Lets talk fluids, specifically sub-cutaneous, or sub-q fluids.

Some background; my elderly cat, Jester is 19 (he’s the orange and white and he was 16 when this was taken), which is about 92 in human years, but he’s in pretty good shape for a really old guy; his heart, liver and kidneys are showing no signs of aging. His appetite is still excellent.


Still though, I’ve been seeing a lot of signs of extreme old age; his fur is getting dry, he’s weaker than in years past, with his legs buckling under him fairly easily and he falls over if you look at him sideways, so his balance is off too. He’s stopped climbing and jumping, he’s going blind, and just seems a bit vague in his demeanor. And the youngest cat has been bullying him.

He does have an inflammatory bowel condition, and he can get dehydrated when this flares up. I’m currently giving sub-q fluids to another elderly cat (18; she’s the tortie) for failing kidneys, so I have bags of fluid and sharps on hand. So I decided to give him some fluids to help with the dehydration. Generally, fluids are so benign that they are rarely a bad idea. More on that further on though.

I noticed that he perked up within a couple of days; more alert, steadier, etc., and I thought it might be a good idea to start with fluids on a regular basis. I mentioned this at the vet and they said to bring him in to have his heart checked because fluids are contra-indicated if they have congestive heart failure (remember I said “more on that further on?).

During the consultation, the vet was mentioning that he’d been to a conference recently, and another vet, who is known for cat expertise, was saying that she’s advising that cats start with fluid therapy at about 15, even without any signs of kidney problems, as preventive medicine, to stave of kidney failure, bladder infections, kidney infections, and other problems associated with dehydration in older cats. Older cats tend not to drink enough, and IV fluids have salts, electrolytes and other goodies that are more beneficial than just plain water.


So; my guy has been getting 50 mls of fluid, twice a day now, for about a week and a half, and he is finally showing no signs of dehydration (checking using the “pinch” test), AND he is stronger, his balance is better, he is climbing, his fur is in better condition, his legs are not buckling under him, I swear he is seeing better, he seems less confused, and the youngest cat is no longer bullying him. I think it’s taken a year, maybe two, off his age.

I’m suggesting to anyone that has a cat over 15, to check with your vet (always check with your vet), but see what they think about fluids as a maintenance therapy for older cats, to keep them healthier longer, and feeling better longer.

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