Pet Health Articles

Giving Injections to Cats

Certain medical conditions can be controlled by the use of drugs that are only available in an injectable format. Two of these conditions are diabetes mellitus, which is controlled by daily insulin injections, and certain allergies, which are controlled by regular injections of allergenic extracts. In many cases, cat owners are willing and able to administer these medications at home. If you decide to provide this treatment to your cat, your veterinarian will review the specific administration technique and make sure that you are comfortable with it. The following questions and answers may help you make your decision.


Will the injection hurt my cat?

Most cats don't seem to mind routine injections. Disposable single-use needles ensure that the needle tip is very sharp to minimize pain. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate needles and syringes for your pet's needs.


What happens if my cat moves when I give the injection?

"Some clients find that it is easier to give their cat an injection while he is eating a meal."

administering_drugs_by_injectionIdeally have someone assist you while you give the injection, especially when you are just learning how to do it. Try offering the pet a special food or treat as a distraction while you administer the injection. Some clients find that it is easier to give their cat an injection while he is eating a meal. By injecting quickly, you can minimize the chance that your pet will move. Most pet owners find that their pet becomes more cooperative once a routine is established. 


Is there any danger if he doesn't keep still?

Most owners are concerned that they may break the needle off in the skin but this is extremely unlikely to occur. The needle may bend but it is much more likely that the injection will end up outside the pet rather than inside when dealing with a wiggly pet. If you are unsure that your pet received the full amount of the injection, contact the hospital for instructions. Generally, if you're unsure how much you injected, do not administer more unless directed by your veterinarian.


Can you explain the exact technique of giving an injection?

The injections are given in the subcutaneous tissue (sub = under, cutaneous = skin), which is considerably looser in the cat than in the human. Start by pinching some loose skin along the back of your cat between your thumb and forefinger.

"Having someone assist you will make the procedure easier."

Hold the syringe like a pencil with the other hand. Be sure not to place your hand or finger over the plunger of the needle 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, keeping the barrel roughly level with the fold but with the needle angled downwards at a thirty- to forty-five-degree angle. Most syringes are small enough to allow the plunger to be depressed with the palm of the same hand once the needle has been positioned underneath the skin. Administer the contents of the syringe quickly and withdraw the needle. Gently massage the area. Having someone assist you will make the procedure easier. With a little practice, however, most pet owners find that they have no problems administering routine injections to their cat without assistance.


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 disposal.

Ernest Ward, DVM
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