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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 19798
Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
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My regular vet just gave my cat subcutaneous fluid yesterday

Customer Question

My regular vet just gave my cat subcutaneous fluid yesterday morning. He said his test levels (BUN level) came back normal, though he has the beginning of renal failure. Based on his lethargy of the last few weeks, he gave him fluids. It's now about 38 hours after fluids. Ever since I brought him home he is acting like he doesn't want to move, eat or drink. He just lies in my bed like he's half dead and feels horrible. I gave it some time, thinking the fluids needed to disperse but it's 36 hours later and he's not interested in walking or moving. What should I do and what could have caused this
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 5 years ago.

It sounds like you may be dealing with kidney failure or it could be something else (liver disease, cancer, pancreatitis, IBD- inflammatory bowel disease).

If he's that lethargic, then sub Q fluids may not be enough. He may need a day or two in the hospital on IV fluids to rehydrate him. He may also need meds to help stimulate his appetite and treat the disease process more specifically.

With a normal BUN, I would guess it's something else causing the signs. Usually cats with kidney failure will have increased kidney enzymes (BUN and Creatinine). They will also have dilute urine and often an elevated Phosphorous.

If this is a type of cancer, then she may need steroids (Prednisone) to start treating.

If pancreatitis, then IV fluids, antibiotics and pain meds are needed. Those cats typically take 2-3 days in the hospital to get over an acute attack.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He had already started down the renal failure road about 9 months ago. When I say the BUN level wasn't bad, i mean in comparison to the last blood tests, which were barely below normal level. He was fine when I took him in, other than being slightly lethargic. Now, after subq fluids he looks labored in his breathing and doesn't want to move. He was not like this before I took him in. My question is more could these fluids has caused this and can I wait until the morning to take him in?
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 5 years ago.
If you're also seeing labored breathing then we may be going into kidney failure. You may have an underlying heart disease that you didn't know about and the fluids pushed him over the edge.

I would get him seen tonight rather than waiting- the reason being that he worsened with the fluids and due to the breathing. The lungs are this shock organ in cats so any labored breathing should be dealt with right away.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Well, I am very sad to report that you were correct. I took him in and they found underlying massive heart disease when they did the xrays. The fluids indeed, "pushed him over the edge". How horrible to know that by doing something to help him I made him worse and basically caused him to die. I just hope he wasn't in horrible pain for the 36 hours it took me to do something. I have an amazing vet and in no way do I blame him, but I would think vets need to tell their clients that sub Q fluids can trigger this if they have other underlying disease. Had I known this, I would have been quicker to get him to the emergency vet. Anyway, thanks for your response - it impressed upon me the need to get him in right away.
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 5 years ago.
I'm sorry to hear that. It's not something that happens often, but in cats it can happen.

These guys are just so difficult to treat. If you give the kidneys fluids to help them then it hurts the heart. If you dehydrate them for the heart, then it hurts the kidneys. There is just no way to treat these cats without making one of the diseases worse.

99 times in 100 the sub Q fluids are safe. It's these cats with both heart and kidney disease where it can be a problem.