Dehydration In Cats: What to Do and How to prevent it

Dehydration In Cats: What to Do and How to prevent it

Have you ever suffered from dehydration? Do you realize how awful it can be? What to do if your feline friend catches it?

Between nausea, lethargy, and muscle cramps, depression can quickly drain all the energy out of you. When excessive fluid is lost from the cat’s body, it is called dehydration. It is not just a loss of water, but a loss of essential minerals in its body like sodium, potassium, and chloride also.

Water helps maintain regular blood flow to organs, carries nutrients, and expels toxic waste by the kidneys. But dehydration can mess with those essential activities. 

If treatment of dehydration is delayed in your cat, it can lead to other critical medical concerns. Know about the signs to look for, causes, how dehydration in cats is treated, and what precautions to take to protect your favorite feline.

How Much Water Is Sufficient for a Cat

Your cat requires around 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of cat’s body weight every day. If your kitty eats wet food normally, you may observe that it doesn’t take more water than usual. That’s because the kitty is consuming water when it eats. Wet cat food has 80% water content. 

On the other hand, cats who prefer to eat dry food will consume less water from their food. They need to get hydrated by drinking from their water bowl. 

How Much Water Is Sufficient for a Cat

What Are Signs of Dehydration in Cats

It’s imperative to observe your cat and ensure that it is getting plenty of freshwater as a part of its daily diet. Otherwise, it may be at risk of becoming dehydrated. 

Signs of dehydration in cats include:

  • Dry, tacky gums
  • Loss of energy, poor appetite
  • Sunken eyes, panting
  • Hiding behavior
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Poor skin elasticity 
  • Muscle weakness caused by electrolyte disturbances

What Happens in Dehydration

Lack of required elements such as electrolytes, sodium, potassium, and water in a cat can cause organ failure. This lack of fluids leaves vital body cells deprived of water can ultimately cause death, too, in some cases.

What Happens in Dehydration

The level of dehydration is checked by checking the cat’s blood protein level and packed cell volume. Another test is by checking the urine concentration. If the urine is more concentrated and yellow, the cat is dehydrated.

Causes of Dehydration in Cats

Healthy and happy cats usually drink enough clean water to maintain hydration. However, there are reasons that some cats can become dehydrated. Some of these include:

Inadequate Consumption of Water

Suppose the cat’s water bowl is not refilled timely, or if a cat is locked in a room away from the water, or it has limited mobility that makes getting to the water bowl difficult, it may not be able to reach the water bowl. It could easily make it dehydrated.   

Extreme Hot Weather

When temperatures are high, pet owners should pay attention and make sure their cats are drinking adequate water. Make sure that your cat has perfect access to fresh water and a clean bowl all day, every day to help your cat maintain healthy hydration.

Gastrointestinal fluid loss

Frequent regurgitation, vomiting, fever, trauma, heat stroke, diabetes, or diarrhea can lead to water loss. 

Diseases or Medical Issues

Certain cat diseases may lead to more fluid loss through the kidneys than normal. Kidney disease and diabetes are two of the most common reasons. Some medications for cats act as diuretics. It boosts the amount of salt and water that comes out of the body through urine. Diuretics are used to cure congestive heart failure.

How to Prevent Dehydration in Cats

As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure,” it is better to do all that it takes to prevent your furry kid from dehydration if the dehydration is not illness-related.

How to Prevent Dehydration in Cats

These are different ways that you can help prevent dehydration in your cat:

  • Stimulate your cat’s appetite by giving an electrolyte supplement or meat-flavored water. 
  • Provide enough sources of clean water around your home for the cat to drink from.
  • Provide fresh water in your cat’s water bowls daily. Offer ice chips.
  • Invest in a cat water fountain with fresh water to motivate them to drink. 
  • Offer canned food with no onion or garlic.
  • Moisten dry food
  • Add Pedialyte to the water bowl.
  • See your vet if you suspect dehydration.

How Is Dehydration Treated?

Treatment will be done by your vet, depending on your cat’s dehydration severity. Your vet will diagnose the underlying reason for your cat’s dehydration and help nurse them back to health.  

Your vet will do a physical check and laboratory testing, which generally includes blood tests. It looks at red blood cells and the proteins in the blood. Urine tests check the concentration of urine. 

Your vet may hospitalize your kitty in critical cases and give fluids through a needle that goes directly into its vein. This process can usually rehydrate your kitty within a few hours or days.

If there is more than moderate dehydration or a medical reason that oral water will not correct dehydration, then intravenous fluids are required. If there is light dehydration, fluids under the skin may be adequate. Intravenous fluids are made of sterile electrolyte water solution given to your cat with the help of a needle. The water solution is slowly absorbed into the body tissues and bloodstream.

Your vet will do a procedure called ‘skin tenting’ to know if your cat is dehydrated. They smoothly take a small part of the cat’s skin around its shoulders and pull it up and leave. If the skin will snap back into place, it indicates your cat is hydrated. If the skin falls slowly, this means your cat is dehydrated. But if the skin remains up in a tent position and does not come back, get alert. It is a sign of severe dehydration. Go for medical care for your cat right away.

How Is Dehydration Treated?

How to Treat Dehydration in Cats at Home

Dehydration in cats is sometimes a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. If you notice that your cat is dehydrated, act fast and consult your veterinarian for help. Low to mild levels of dehydration can be managed at home. If you are treating at home, talk to your vet first if your cat is diabetic. So, you can try some of these home remedies to try to rehydrate your cat: 

How to Treat Dehydration in Cats at Home

The material you need to treat at home:-

  • Unflavored Pedialyte 1 bottle 
  • Size dropper one cc
  • Water & Ice chips
  • Canned food/meat baby food 


  1. Every 10 minutes, give small amounts of Pedialyte by mouth slowly for an hour. Ensure your cat does not suffocate.
  2. Dilute baby food/cat canned food with warm water and dropper feed slowly.
  3. Alternate the Pedialyte droppers and the diluted food droppers throughout the day until the cat appears less dehydrated and interested in eating independently.
  4. Once the cat appears interested in drinking on its own, fill a bowl with water.

Note: Small kittens affected by vomiting or diarrhea can dehydrate very quickly, so veterinary attention is best.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. How long does it take for a cat to recover from dehydration?

It depends on the level of dehydration your cat is suffering from. It may take from a few hours to a few days.

  1. Is it okay to force your cat to drink water?

It is advisable not to force your beloved cat to drink water. It would be best if you encourage it by arranging freshwater fountains etc. 

  1. How long can cats go without water?

With no water, a cat is unlikely to survive longer than three days.

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