How to Give a Cat an Injection

Original article on, 15.5.2019

Injections are often a problem for owners. The technical term for the category of injectable medicinal products is subcutaneous medicationwhich means it is applied subcutaneously. Some subcutaneous drugs are simply administered under the skin, while other types of subcutaneous drugs must be administered intramuscularly (intramuscular injection), and the route of administration will depend on the desired injection site. Proper subcutaneous administration can help reduce stress levels and keep your cat happy and healthy.

Preparing the cat for injection

Make sure your cat is hydrated. If you are giving the cat subcutaneous injections, it is essential that the cat is hydrated before and after administration. If your cat is severely dehydrated, the medicines you give may not be completely absorbed. This should not be a problem for most healthy cats, but if you suspect that your cat may be dehydrated, you should consult a veterinarian on how to keep it well hydrated.

Decide where you want to inject. You may want to keep your cat in your lap to calm it down during the injection, but this increases the likelihood that your cat may scratch or injure you, and may cause you to associate staying in your lap with injections. If you decide to keep your cat in your lap, it is best to put on a rough towel to cover your feet. However, it is best to place the cat on a flat surface, such as a tabletop.

Select a suitable injection site. The injection site will vary depending on whether you are giving a single subcutaneous injection or an intramuscular injection. Too many applications in the same place can be a problem for your cat. This is because it takes the cat's body six to eight hours to fully absorb the injected fluids. If you apply too many medicines to one site before they are absorbed, it can cause fluid to build up called edema. This can be annoying for your cat and could prevent many of the medications you give from running in your cat's body.

  • You should be able to give about 10 to 20 ml of medicine per kilogram of body weight before you have to choose a new injection site.
  • Check your cat to make sure the injections are adequately absorbed. The area around the injection site should remain dry.

Wipe the injection site with an alcohol swab. Most cats will not need this step unless they have a compromised immune system. The bactericidal effect is only one of the advantages. By easing the coat, you can see the skin better when injecting.

Use food to distract attention. Just before the injection, give your cat a taste that really tastes good, such as your favorite can or tuna. As soon as it starts to eat, gently pinch the skin at the injection site. After about five seconds, you should stop beasting and take food. Return the food and this time pinch (pinch) more intensely. Repeat this until your cat is tolerant to biting and stays focused on food. This will help her prepare for the injection and reduce the pain and stress she experiences when injecting.

Subcutaneous injection

Find a place with loose skin. In general, the areas between the neck and the back of the cat are the freest and most flexible places. Gently squeeze and stretch the skin where it is loosest, hold it between your thumb and forefinger, and distract the cat with food. The resulting shape resembles a tent.

Insert the needle. When you have the skin fold firmly between your fingers, you should see a narrow strip of skin between your thumb and forefinger. Insert the needle into this area.

  • The needle should be kept parallel to the skin along your cat's back at all times. Tilting the needle could pierce the skin on the other side and the needle could stab you in the finger.
  • Do not hold your thumb over the plunger until you are sure the needle is inserted correctly. Holding the plunger when inserting the needle could cause premature injection if the cat jerks or if you have inserted the needle incorrectly.

Pull out the plunger before injecting. It is important that you pull the plunger slightly before injecting the medicine. This will make sure that you hit the injection site.

  • If blood enters the syringe after pulling the plunger, it means that you have hit a vessel. You will need to pull the needle out and try again in another place.
  • If air bubbles enter the syringe, it means that you have pierced through the skin fold and sucked in air from the other side. You will need to pull the needle out and try again.
  • If no blood or air bubbles have entered the syringe, you have hit an acceptable site and can continue to inject.

Inject the contents of the syringe. Make sure you inject all the medicine. Once the syringe is completely empty, carefully pull the needle out and follow the same path that you used to inject it. 

  • Holding the syringe between your index finger and middle finger and thumb (same hand), push the plunger.

Check for bleeding or leakage. You must check the injection site after the injection. If you find that blood or medicine is leaking from the injection site, apply a clean cotton swab or tissue to the injection site until excretion stops. This should take about a minute, or longer if the cat is too restless.

Dispose of the used needle correctly. Do not dispose of the syringe in the household waste, as needles are considered to be biohazardous waste. Contact your veterinarian to see if they can dispose of needles. Never throw the exposed needle in the trash, as this could cause injury or infection to the waste collector or anyone else handling your waste.

Intramuscular injection

Find the injection site. Your veterinarian should give you specific instructions on where to take intramuscular medication and you should follow them carefully. In general, most veterinarians recommend intramuscular injections into the quadriceps (upper thigh) or lumbar spinal epaxial muscles (dorsal muscles along the spine). 

  • Be sure when giving intramuscular injections extremely careful . A poorly inserted needle could cause serious damage to your cat's nerves. For this reason, it is best to follow all the veterinarian's instructions. If you are unsure about any part of your veterinarian's instructions, or if you do not find a recommended injection site at home, call or visit a veterinarian for more detailed instructions.

Insert the needle. The needle should be inserted at an angle of 45 to 90 degrees, depending on the site chosen for the injection. To prevent the cat from moving and for the needle to enter the muscle correctly, it can help to keep the muscle flat.

  • Make sure you insert the needle at the correct angle as shown by your veterinarian. Inserting the needle at too small an angle can prevent the injection from reaching the required depth and penetrating the muscle. 
  • Do not hold your thumb over the plunger of the syringe until you are sure that the needle is inserted correctly. If you touch the plunger while inserting the needle, it may result in premature injection if the cat moves or you have inserted the needle incorrectly.

Pull the plunger before injecting. As with subcutaneous injection, pull the plunger slightly before injecting. Air bubbles should not be a problem with intramuscular injections, but if you see blood, you must pull the needle out and try again, as this may mean hitting the blood vessel.

Inject the contents of the syringe. It is important to ensure that the full dose of the medicine is given in the syringe. Once the syringe is completely empty, pull the needle out the same way you inserted it. 

  • Holding the syringe between your index finger and middle finger and thumb (same hand), push the plunger down.

Check for bleeding or leakage. Check the injection site after the injection. If you notice signs of blood or leaked medicine, press a clean cotton swab or swab into the injection site. It only takes one minute for the bleeding or leak to stop at the correct pressure.

Dispose of the needle properly. Used syringes are considered to be biohazardous waste and as such should never be disposed of with household waste or left uncovered in waste. Ask your veterinarian if they dispose of used needles.

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