Is your cat at risk of dehydration?

How much water does kitty need and what should you do if your cat is suffering from dehydration?

21 Mar 2016 By Erin Donovan Comments

We know that in summer we need to drink more water to stay hydrated and avoid nasty sunstroke but what about our cats? Dehydration in cats is a serious health issue, so it pays to know the signs and how to treat it.

Cats bodies are similar to humans in that they’re made up of 80% water, so just like us they can suffer from dehydration. Particularly during the warmer months it’s important to be on the look out for visible signs of dehydration.

Signs your cat is dehydrated

The telltale sign of dehydration in your furry friend is a change in their normal pattern of behaviour. If your kitty-cat usually wakes you up by jumping on your bed and meowing until you open your eyes, take note when that stops.

Lethargy, depression and drops in appetite often go hand in hand with dehydration. Panting like a steam train and increased trips to the water bowl should also alert you to the signs of dehydration in your cat.

Skin tenting is an easy, at-home method of checking up on your cat’s level of hydration in the hot summer months. During playtime or cuddle time, lightly pinch the fur at the back of your cat’s neck, right above the shoulder, between two fingers. Normal, hydrated skin will snap back into place after you let it go (or the cat squirms away). Your cat is dehydrated when the skin stays bunched up and tented.

Dry, tacky gums are another, more serious sign of dehydration in your moggy-mate. If this occurs, take your cat to a vet immediately as dry gums only occur when the animal is 7—8% dehydrated.

Other signs of dehydration include:

  • Listlessness
  • Sunken or yellowed eyes
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Heightened anxiety (they jump a little higher when the front door slams)


Normal signs of dehydration occur when your cat is already 4 – 5% dehydrated so you need to act fast.

If you think your feline friend is dehydrated seek immediate attention from a registered veterinarian; this isn’t the time to put to test everything you’ve picked up from Bondi Vet! In more serious cases a blood test may be used to determine the health of your kitty and a vet will pop in an IV drip for instant re-hydration.

If your cat is able to drink, putting them in a cool, dark place with lots of water is recommended. Also a cooling bath or damp towel (might be tricky, we know how much cats love water!) is a good idea!

A quick tip for getting your cat to drink: grab a hose or spray bottle and mist the water into the air or into your cupped hands. Also try pouring the juice from canned salmon or tuna into the water to flavour it; this is a good option for the more high-class tabbies.

Dehydration is often the result of consistent hot weather or lack of access to water, but it can also be linked to a range of diseases and other health concerns so it’s important to seek quick medical help.

How to keep your cat hydrated

It is essential, especially in the warmer months, to make sure your cat has access to clean drinking water. It’s also a good idea to strategically place a few extra water dishes around the house, trick the horse into drinking if you will! Try areas you know your cat likes to nap or rooms where they like to hang out such as next to a food bowl or in play areas where toys and treats are usually kept!

It is worth a mention that older animals struggle more with the heat and need to be monitored throughout the day to make sure they are drinking enough. Cats should drink between 1-2 cups of water each day (expect more in hot weather), so the next scorcher that comes around spare a thought for your furry feline and double check their water bowl.

21 Mar 2016 By Erin Donovan Comments

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