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Syringe

Injections

Injections are given sub-cutaneously, generally once a day, although there may be circumstances where you may be directed to administer them more frequently in order to stabilize your cat. Try to administer them roughly 24 hours apart, although there is some wiggle room if you cannot administer it at the same time, as the medication does stay at effective levels for more than 24 hours.
 

Injection Equpment

Syringes: For most cats a 3cc luer lock syringe will work best -- do not use a luer slip syringe as the medication is thick and the pressure from pushing it through the needle can cause it to pop off!  Kitties with larger doses may need a 5 cc luer lock syringe instead.


Needles: Whatever size needle works best for you and your cat is the right size. Generally a 20g-22g needle (3/4" or 1") works well for most cats, but feel free to experiment to find what works for you.
 

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Preparing for the injection

I recommend using the least amount of restraint necessary -- often the cat may fight more against the attempts at restraint than at the injections themselves! If you are  having trouble:

  • Bribery: This works especially well for food-motivated cats. Giving your cat food and giving the injection while eating can work, and also makes the injection a more positive experience. If you're looking for a treat that will motivate your cat, try Churu.

  • Distraction: Sometimes just keeping your cat from focusingon the injection will help. Food, a toy, or a helper distracting them can give you the opportunity to get the injection done. Some people have tried having a helper touchng their cat on the nose or areas of the head to distract them helps

  • Be Calm and Fast!: The more nervous and worked up you are, the more the cat will pick up on it and get worked up as well. Take a moment to calm yourself beforehand, and as you become more confident, that will help as well. Try practicing with a towel and extra needle/syringe or orange if it makes you feel more confident. The faster and less of a production that you make injection time the better.  

  • Gabapentin and other mild sedatives: Ask your vet about gabapentin, which is a mild and safe sedative often used to make office visits easier. Some cats may not respond well to this alone, and may need a combination of gabapentin and trazodone.

  • Towel wraps: If you need to restrain your cat, towel wrapping may help

  • Try a different location/position: For some people having the cat on a surface like a countertop is helpful, others find it easier to sit on the ground. You can use the environment to help limit their mobility, for example on a table in a corner, facing a wall, holdng them between your legs while sitting on a floor, etc.

  • Wrap them up!: for some cats a burrito wrap may be a useful restraint mechanism. You can order custom-sized ones here made for this purpose. Video of how to use this type of restraint.

  • Grooming bag: For some cats a grooming-type bag may work better.

If you are having trouble with injections, the "arm bar" hold technique may be useful.
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Know your dose!

Find your kitty's dose. If you are using a dosage calculator, this will be the "total liquid dose" amount.

Be sure to weigh your kitty regularly and adjust your dose for weight gain!

Preparing the Syringe

  • If this is your first time using the medicine, take the cap off the vial.

  • Insert the needle into the rubber top. Do not touch or bend the needle.

  • Turn the vial upside down and hold it up in the air. Keep the needle tip in the medicine

  • Pull back the plunger to the line on your syringe for your dose. For example, if you need 1 cc of medicine, pull the plunger to the line marked 1 cc on the syringe. Note that some syringes may say mL. One cc of medicine is the same amount as one mL of medicine.

  • To remove air bubbles from the syringe:

    • ​Keep the syringe tip in the medicine.

    • Tap the syringe with your finger to move air bubbles to the top. Then push gently on the plunger to push the air bubbles back into the vial.

    • Draw medicine out again slowly and tap air bubbles out. Double check that you still have the right amount of medicine drawn up.

    • Remove the syringe from the vial and keep the needle clean.

    • Put the cover back on the needle.

The dose is measured by lining up the top ring of the plunger tip with the calibration marking

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Switch to a fresh needle after drawing up the medication, as poking through the stopper will blunt the needle. A sharp needle will make the injection easier and less painful. You can use the same size needle for both drawing up the medication and the injection.

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Where to inject?

Anywhere on the back or shoulders where you can pinch up loose skin to make a tent is fair game. Be sure to move your injection spot around doing it in the same location repeatedly can cause skin issues.

Some people find that shaving some areas on your kitty makes it easier to see what you are doing.

Doing the sub-cutaneous injection

  • Start by pinching some loose skin along the back of your cat between your thumb and forefinger.

  • Hold the syringe firmly in your dominant hand in whichever way feels most comfortable. Be sure not to place your hand or finger over the plunger of the syringe in case your cat suddenly moves and pushes your hand, resulting in the contents being wasted or accidentally injected.

  • Insert the needle swiftly into the fold of skin, with the needle angled downwards at a thirty- to forty-five-degree angle. 

  • Administer the contents of the syringe quickly and withdraw the needle.

  • After the injection, inspect the injection site to make sure that the full dose was administered and did not leak.  If you find that some medication was not injected or leaked out, estimate the amount that was missed and do another injection.  If you are unsure, administer a half dose.

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It is very important that your cat receive a full dose!

If you have leakage, a or an injection failure, be sure to do a second injection of the remainder of the dose, as well as any amount you think leaked. Medication that doesn't go in the cat won't help! Estimate leakage amounts -- if you're really not sure, you can give another full dose. If you have injected more than the intended dose it will not harm your cat, but underdosing has serious consequences.

How should I dispose of the needles and syringes?

You should be aware that some communities have strict rules about disposal of medical waste material, so do not throw the needle and syringe into the trash until you know if this is permissible. It is usually preferable to take the used needles and syringes to your veterinary clinic or local pharmacy for proper disposal.

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