Dehydration occurs when your cat
loses body fluids faster than he can replace them. Usually it involves loss of
both water and electrolytes (which are minerals such as sodium, chloride, and
potassium). If the cat is ill, dehydration may be due to an inadequate fluid
intake. Fever increases the loss of water. This becomes significant if the cat
does not drink enough to offset the loss. Other common causes of dehydration
are prolonged vomiting and diarrhea.
One sign of dehydration is loss of skin elasticity. When the skin along the
back is pinched up into a fold, it should spring smoothly back into place. In a
dehydrated cat, the skin stays up in a ridge. Another sign is dryness of the
mouth. The gums, which should be wet and glistening, are dry and tacky to the
touch. The saliva is thick and tenacious. Late signs are sunken eyeballs and
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Treatment: A cat who is noticeably dehydrated should receive prompt
veterinary attention. Treatment involves replacing fluids and preventing
In mild cases without vomiting, fluids can be given by mouth. Make sure
fresh, clean water is always available for your cat to drink on his own. If the
cat won’t drink, give him an electrolyte solution by bottle or syringe into the
cheek pouch. Balanced electrolyte solutions for treating dehydration in
children are available at drugstores. Ringer’s lactate, with 5 percent dextrose
in water, and Pedialyte are both suitable for cats. These solutions should only
be given orally. They are given at the rate of 2 to 4 milliliters per pound (.5
k) of body weight per hour, depending on the severity of the dehydration (or as
directed by your veterinarian).
Many cats will need subcutaneous or intravenous fluids administered at the
veterinary hospital. Secondary kidney
failure can occur as a result of severe dehydration.
WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"