Johnny, would love to hear those tips and I for one don't see why this thread shouldn't be the platform....
1st and most important, daily hydration must be done with the guidance and approval of your vet. The vet can tell you how much fluid your cat needs and there are conditions that would be worsened by hydration. I.E. the cat has cardiomyopathy or another condition that causes fluids to collect around the heart and/or lungs. Hydrating the cat would only worsen this condition.
Make sure you are using lactated ringers fluids. There is a fluid out there that contains sugar in the solution. You don't want to be injecting super under your cat's skin.
Clinics in this area charge anywhere from $10-20 for a 1000 ml bag of fluids. So I called drugstores in the area and found several that would cost much less when buying by the box of 12. Several years ago when I first started doing hydration I could buy a box for $30. Now it's $60 which is still a lot less than what the vet would charge. My vet was happy to write an RX so I could get the fluids at the drugstore.
You will need an area that will be comfortable for you and your cat. I use a cat tree that has a platform about 4' above the floor. 2-3 feet above that I hammered in a nail and I hang the bag from that. Hanging the bag above the cat is important and hanging it is also important because you don't want to hold it up manually. You will get tired.
You will need an I.V. Administration set. This consists of one end with a point that is stuck into the proper insertion point of the fluid bag. A tub leads from that to a resourvoir and from that another tub leads to where the needle is attached. When I first insert the sharp plastic probe from the set into the bag I take care to keep it sterile. Before I do this is also make sure that the valve on the set off, so that fluids will not flow.
The set I use is 20 drops/ml which I guess refers to the size of the drops and I think also the frequency of the drops. The label says it is 72" long but there's no ways it's six feet.
I typically use the set on 10 bags before I change it out for a new one. If you are careful you can keep it sterile from bag to bag.
When the bag is pierced, I squeeze the bag to cause fluids to fill up about half the reservoir. You now the IV Admin Set with a large part of the tubing filled with air. I will then open the valve and allow fluids to flow until all the air is gone and the fluid comes out of the needle. I have on occasion forgotten to do this which means I put a small amount of air into the cat and this has been no biggy.
Needles. I use 20G x 1" long needles. I have found that gauge to be happy compromise between a thicker needle (which would allow more fluids but also make a bigger poke into the cat) and a thinner needle which would hurt the cat less (but also create a thinner stream of fluids which an feel like a needle inside the cats body). The needles come in boxes of 100 and are SINGLE use.
The admin set and needles I get thru a local humane group. They are not expensive. The may cost more from a vet who's trying to make buck.
You've got the bag hung and the set inserted into the bag. Now's the time to put on a new needle. Even though there are no visible threads, the needles will twist on clockwise and twist of counterclockwise. Don't try to push them straight on. Now you have the whole setup hanging on the wall ready to go.
No there's one more thing. Take a sharpie and mark on the bag where you want to stop the hydration, often a 100ml. There are marking on the bag to guide you in this. Don't fail to do this. This way you won't forget where you started and where you want to stop.
You need one more thing...a cooperative cat. Over the years I have not had a cat I couldn't hydrate. I have found that doling out treats during the process will help. Mackie knows that he will get a treat at the start, midway through, and at the end. He's very treat oriented and this helps him to cooperate. Often you are doing this to older cats and they tend to be more mellow and cooperative anyway. But...a cooperative cat is essential. If your cat won't allow it, see your vet for something like amitryptylene which will take the edge off.
I like to alternate the sides of the cat that I stick. Left side today, right side the next time. If you're doing it once a day that means a side gets to rest 48 hours before it's pierced again.
To stick the needle in, I grab the skin and pull up a tent of skin and quickly and firmly, but not violently, insert the needle. I usually choose an area behind but not far from the shoulder blades. The needle is parallel to the body when I do this. You will get better at doing this the more you do it. It will become routine. Expect a learning curve. Once I stuck the needle in, it came out the other side of the tent, and entered my finger. No biggy, it required no treatment. Remember, you want the needle under the skin but not into that interior body shell that I don't know what the official name for it is.
The needle is in and now you turn on the valve. Sometimes the fluid flows well and sometimes it's slow. Reposition the needle or withdrawing a little can help. On rare occasion I will remove and restick When done, turn off the valve, remove the needle from the cat and cap the needle. I usually leave the old needle on till the net time and replace it then.
You are done. The next use of the bag will be less work since the admin set is already on the bag. I usually lay the bag down in a cabinet that the cats can't get to. Otherwise you risk it being played with and I have also noticed the bag can stretch if left hanging causing the markings to be off slightly though this is no biggy. If you vet says a 100 ml and the cat gets a little more or less, no problem.
Depending on the tightness of the skin, you may see a saddlebag on the cat where the fluids are. I have seen the fluids flow down into leg, making it appear swollen. Again, no biggy.
If your cat has some stage of renal failure and older cats always do (certainly by 15 years) hydration is wonderful. I have had moribund cats perk up and come to life and to happiness again. But it must be done on a regular basis. Preferable the same time every day.
The valve on the admin set consists of a cheap plastic wheel which pinches the tube to shut it off. I have had the wheel break i the middle of a bag and when that happens, I just crimp the tubing to shut if off until I use up the bag. Then I replace the admin set.
A nurse is going to get me this device to speed things up. You put the fluid bag into it and it has an air bladder which squeezes the bag and increases the flow. I have to be careful not to over do it because too much flow will hurt. Right now, it takes me about 5 minutes to put in 100ml.
That's all I can think of at the moment.