Dehydration is an imbalance of
water and electrolytes (minerals) in the body, and can cause serious
complications for pets and people alike. Water is essential to cats, who depend on proper daily fluid intake to
maintain appropriate health and replace fluids that are routinely lost through
urine, feces and respiration. Water makes up 80 percent of your cat’s body, and
is necessary for all his biological processes, including circulation, digestion
and waste removal.
Dehydration occurs when fluid levels drop to less than normal. This is due
to either reduced water intake or increased fluid loss. Overheating in hot
weather, increased activity or a bout of vomiting or diarrhea can all result in fluid loss in cats. Many
owners don’t see their cats drinking water and assume they are not sensitive to
water loss, but they are-even though they may not drink fluids until they’ve
lost as much as eight percent of their body’s water stores. That’s why it’s
very important to give your cat access to fresh water at all times to maintain
How Much Water Does My Cat Need?
As your cat consumes more calories and produces more metabolic
waste, he needs more water to maintain his body temperature. In general, an
adult cat should drink roughly the same amount of water (in milliliters) as the
number of kilocalories eaten per day. Dry cat food contains 7 percent to
12 percent water, while canned food can measure up to 80 percent water. Cats
who eat only dry food don’t get as much water from their food as those who eat
canned food, and should always have easy access to clean, drinking water to
supplement their intake.
What Are the General Symptoms of Dehydration in Cats?
Loss of appetite
Elevated heart rate
Decreased skin elasticity
What Should I Do if My Cat Is Dehydrated?
Dehydration may indicate a serious underlying problem. If you suspect that
your cat is dehydrated, take him to a veterinarian immediately. You may be able
to detect dehydration at home by gently lifting the skin on the back of your
cat’s neck or between the shoulder blades-unless your cat is seriously
overweight or very thin, his skin should immediately return to a normal
position. If he is lacking in fluids, the lifted skin may not quickly return to
normal. Often, however, the signs of dehydration are not as obvious, and only a
veterinarian can provide proper diagnosis and treatment.
Are Certain Cats Prone to Dehydration?
Cats most at risk for dehydration are those who suffer from various
illnesses such as kidney disorders, cancer and hyperthyroidism. Elderly and
nursing cats may be prone to dehydration, as well as diabetic cats whose
condition is not regularly monitored.