Cat Dehydration 101: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

by Curious Cat People October 28, 2021 4 min read

Cat Dehydration 101: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Like all living things, cats need water to survive. But unlike dogs and other pets, cats generally have a low thirst drive. Some of them even down right dislike drinking from their water bowls. Some experts believe this could be due to their ancestral instinct to avoid drinking contaminated water.

Regardless, hydration is absolutely essential to your cat’s health.

But what exactly is cat dehydration? How do you tell if your cat is dehydrated? And most importantly, how do you prevent dehydration? Let’s take a look!

Cat Dehydration 101: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Benefits of Hydration

Being well hydrated can have many positive benefits for our cats. For one, water helps their kidneys flush out toxins from their body more effectively. It also helps encourage better circulation and digestion.

In fact, your cat’s body is made of 67% water! To survive and live happily, they need to at least maintain that level of water in their body. As the weather gets warmer, cats may also instinctively drink more to help maintain their hydration level.

Of course, excessive water intake can be a problem.

If you notice your cat drinking too much water despite no changes in their environment, it may be a sign of diseases like feline hyperthyroidism or feline diabetes. In this case, it’s a good idea to bring your cat to a veterinarian for a second opinion.

Cat Dehydration 101: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Symptoms of Cat Dehydration

As your cat gets dehydrated, they may experience several symptoms. However, these can be hard to diagnose, especially since cats are not as vocal about their needs as other animals. As such, it’s important to keep a close eye on your cat.

In particular, look out for the following signs:

  • Dry Gums
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Lethargy or Depression
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Decrease in skin elasticity

A good way to tell if your cat is dehydrated is to take note of “skin tenting”. Gently pinch the skin on your cat’s shoulders and release. If the skin stays gathered, your cat is likely dehydrated.

If your cat doesn’t get enough hydration, it could be a sign of illnesses like chronic kidney diseases, diarrhea or diabetes. If your cat is beginning to show signs of serious dehydration, it’s vital to get them to a veterinarian. A vet will be able to diagnose any serious illness and give your cat fluids.

Cat Dehydration 101: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

How To Get Your Cat To Drink Water

Different cats require different amounts of water, based on their weight and even the type of food they eat. As a rule of thumb, an adult cat will require at least a cup of water a day if they’re on a dry food diet. Adult cats on a wet food diet will require about ⅔ cup of water daily.

But how do you even get your cat to drink from their water source? 

Fresh, Clean Water

To encourage your cat to drink water, it’s important to make fresh and clean water available to your cat at all times. It’s important for the water to be fresh and clean as cats are biologically programmed to avoid water that could be contaminated.

A water dispenser like Stefanplast’s Food & Water Dispenser can help make it easy to monitor your cat’s drinking. It’s also easy to clean and can ensure your cat always has access to water.

This also means that you may need to try and separate your cat’s drinking area from their food or toileting area. You should also wash your cat’s water source thoroughly at least once a day.

Cat Dehydration 101: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Try Different Water Sources

If your cat is still avoiding their water bowl, you may have to consider changing it. Cats generally dislike having their whiskers touch the sides of a bowl while they drink water - so consider using a wide-brimmed bowl.

Cats also tend to prefer drinking out of ceramic, glass or metal bowls like FuzzYard’s Easy Feeder Cat Bowl. This stylish bowl also has sturdy rubber feet to prevent the bowl from slipping, providing your cat with a better drinking experience.

But more than that, most cats will prefer to drink from a running water source. So water fountains like Cheerble’s Pet Fountain can help encourage your cat to drink more. This fountain is wonderful because it uses a shallow wide-brimmed bowl, with no noisy motor or filter.

Cat Dehydration 101: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

Wet Cat Food Can Provide Hydration

Most cats actually get a majority of their hydration from their food. If your cat is on a fully dry kibble diet, consider either switching over to a wet food diet or giving your cat wet food like Schesir’s Tuna with Squid Soup Pouch a few times a week to help maintain their hydration level.

Wet food like Wellness Core’s Tuna & Salmon Cat Food can also help boost your cat’s wellbeing as it’s infused with healthy protein and other vital nutrients.

Other than giving your cat wet food, you can also consider giving your cat the occasional milky treat in the form of Feline Natural’s Lactose Free Milk for Cats. Feline Naturals’ Milk for Cats is also infused with Calcium, Flaxseed Oil and Omega-3 to aid in your cat’s heart, eye, joints and immune systems.

Cat Dehydration 101: Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

With cats, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if they need anything. However, now that you know what to watch out for and how to help your cat hydrate more frequently, it’ll get easier.

Most importantly, if your cat suffers from symptoms of dehydration for an extended period, it’s important to bring them to a vet as dehydration can also be sign of other illnesses!










Tammi Chng
Tammi is an avid writer, but especially loves learning and writing about animals! She spends her free time visiting cat cafes, playing video games and having plenty of cuddle time with her pup.

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