Tiny kittens require, like all mammals, proper hydration. When an infant kitten becomes dehydrated, it is a desperately serious matter. Being able to recognize dehydration, and administer subcutaneous (sub-q) fluids can truly make the difference between a live and a dead kitten in a matter of hours.
Kittens most often get dehydrated from diarrhea, but they can also become dehydrated from a lack of food/milk or from fever or illness.
If a kitten’s skin, when pinched, does not spring back into position, she is dehydrated and needs fluids. The amount to give your kitten will very much depend on the weight/size of the kitten. If you give too much, you can upset the balance of electrolytes in the tiny animal and/or effectively drown the kitten in fluids.
My vet is very willing to give me a bag of lactated ringers, a solution that is specifically for hydrating cats. If you need to do this, hopefully your vet is as willing – most will gladly train you if needed, and then provide supplies. Fluids and syringes and needles is about the least expensive thing I EVER get from my vet! I can get enough for an entire kitten season for under twenty dollars.
I never WANT to be in a situation to have to sub-q a kitten, but I was glad I thought to film it when little Mackey needed it so I could make this tutorial. This is split into three videos. The first where I prepare the fluids and needle, the second where I administer the fluids, and the last when he rallied! Happy endings are wonderful things!