It’s Hot! Summers Coming…How to tell if your cat is dehydrated?

May 13, 2022
cat

dehydrated cat

Y’all feel that? Yeah, we’re talking about the growing heat outside.

With even warmer weather right around the corner, we figure now’s as good a time as any to educate our audience about how to tell if your cat is dehydrated.

But, first, here are some quick facts about dehydration in cats:

  • The primary symptoms of dehydration in cats include lethargy, decreased thirst and appetite, and even signs of weakness
  • Cats who are dehydrated often can develop a variety of serious medical conditions, including neurologic dysfunction, heart arrhythmia, and a loss of ability to control body temperature
  • You can test whether or not your cat is dehydrated by checking to see if her gums are still wet or if his skin “snaps” back to place after being lifted away from the body

To learn more about what causes dehydration in cats and how to prevent dehydration in cats continue reading the article below!

What are the symptoms of dehydration in cats?

lethargic catThe signs of dehydration in cats can vary from subtle and mild to very overt. A dehydrated cat will often be lethargic and may appear as if they have sunken eyes. If your cat is dehydrated, you may also notice that she’s not eating properly. A cat that is severely dehydrated may even begin panting or displaying signs of weakness.

How to test your cat for dehydration

Luckily, there are a number of tests you can conduct to see whether or not your cat is dehydrated.

Test One

The first test is to check to see if the gums are wet and slimy by lifting the lip and touching the gums. If your cat’s gums seem dry and tacky, your cat is probably dehydrated.

Test Two

The second test is to gently lift the skin over your cat’s shoulder blades, between your thumb and forefinger, and it let go. If the skin “snaps” back to position, your cat is likely properly hydrated. However, if your cat’s skin slowly melts back into position, she may be dehydrated.

What causes dehydration in cats?

how to tell if a cat is dehydratedOkay, get ready for this one.

Dehydration is caused by … not drinking enough water. Okay, okay. Not necessarily!  It’s also caused by excessive water loss.

“You mean peeing?” You ask. No, but we’re glad you brought it up.

Cats can lose water by sweating or urinating, but usually not enough to cause dehydration. Instead, dramatic water loss in cats can be caused by things including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fevers
  • Overly hot weather
  • Vomiting
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism

What are the risks of dehydration in cats?

Being dehydrated poses a number of serious risks to the safety and well-being of our furry friendscat dehydration symptoms. Untreated dehydration can cause a number of health issues including an inability to properly control body temperature, neurologic dysfunction, and an accumulation of waste in the bloodstream. Additionally, cats who are dehydrated may see their organs become less effective and, ultimately shut down. Most worryingly, dehydrated cats are at an increased risk for developing heart arrhythmia.

Unfortunately, some cats are more at risk from dehydration than others. Kittens, senior cats, and sick cats can quickly deteriorate if they become dehydrated. Moreover, cats who suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, IBS, or hyperthyroidism may be at greater risk of complications from dehydration.

One of the under-discussed risks of dehydration in cats is the risk of developing skin conditions. Cats who are dehydrated are at a greater risk of developing dry and irritated skin. These irritated spots can crack and become ideal spots for infections to develop.

In the event your cat develops a skin infection, there’s one solution you can rely on to deliver instant, sting-free relief: it’s Banixx. Banixx is clinically-proven to provide instant, odor-free relief to your cat for a variety of maladies without relying on pesky antibiotics or steroids.

Just apply it to the affected area twice daily and wait. In just a few days, your cat should be feeling much less bothered by the infection. With Banixx, relief really is that simple.

What do you do if your cat is dehydrated?

cat tiredIf you’re concerned your cat is dehydrated you should contact a veterinarian. Dehydration in cats is something that can be treated clinically with intravenous fluids. At the very least, your provider can quickly help you quickly discover why your cat is dehydrated.

However, there are a few things you can try if you’re committed to trying home remedies for dehydration in cats. The first is adding a tiny bit of chicken or fish broth to their water (yum!). Or, you can try giving them wet food if they currently eat dry food. If they currently drink water from a bowl, try getting your cat to drink water from a source of running water such as a faucet.

Whatever you try to do, remember that your goal is to encourage them to drink water. You never want to force your cat to drink water. This will only build negative associations with drinking water.

How do you prevent your cat from becoming dehydrated?

how much water should a cat drink

Preventing your cat from becoming dehydrated will require your ongoing diligence. First, you need to know how much water your cat needs on a daily basis.

How much water does a cat need to drink in a day?

A good general rule is that cats need to consume four ounces of water per five pounds of body weight per day. This means that your average 11 – 15 pound American Shorthair will need anywhere from eight to twelve ounces of water per day.

However, you need to remember that cats who eat wet food will probably actively drink less water during the day than cats who eat dry food. Additionally, kittens, elderly cats, and chronically ill cats (especially those with diabetes or chronic kidney disease) need to have more water throughout the day to maintain good health.

Tips for keeping your cat hydrated

cat water fountainThere are a number of quick, easy tips for keeping your cat hydrated that you can incorporate into your daily cat care routine!

  1. Always have fresh water available

You’d think this one was a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this. We’d like to place particular emphasis on the “fresh” part of this tip. Cats are notoriously picky eaters and drinkers – they’re not going to touch water that smells, tastes, or looks old or unsanitary.

  1. Keep your cat’s sources of water clean and easy to access

This goes hand-in-hand with the tip above, albeit it is different. You not only need to ensure your cat has access to clean water, but also to clean drinking facilities. Whether it’s a bowl or a faucet, cats only want to drink from sources that they trust are clean.

Additionally, cats need to feel safe and at ease in order to drink. If their water source is in a place where other cats or other animals are around, they may feel too intimidated by potential conflict to drink.  Make sure you keep your cat’s sources of water in places where they’ll feel comfortable and at-ease enough to drink. I personally keep a number of water sources for my cats in different areas of the house.

  1. Let your cat drink water their way

cats that like water

Don’t try to make your cat drink water out of a bowl if they don’t want to. Similarly, don’t just get your cat a running spigot because you heard that’s how all cats take their water. Find out the way your cat prefers to hydrate and ensure they can always do it that way

Generally, keeping your cat hydrated is a pretty easy task. But, if you’re having trouble making sure they get their daily dose of H2O, don’t sweat it (haha). Just remember: when in doubt, pour it out. If you’re not sure your cat has had enough water in a day, take them to their preferred source and just be very nice and encouraging. If they start sipping, great! If not, that’s okay too! Just remember to keep calm and regularly check back in to make sure they haven’t started displaying signs of dehydration in cats.

Of course, we probably don’t have to tell you of all people how to care for your feline friend. Clearly you’re a pet parent who cares a lot about keeping their fur baby happy and healthy – otherwise you wouldn’t be on this blog!

Still, there’s always more to learn! Sure, you know how to keep your cat hydrated. But do you know how often you should bathe your cat? Well, if not, click here to learn more!  Or, ever wonder why a cat gets hairballs?