We all know that cats are especially finicky about their water. Put a bowl filled with water right in front of your feline friend and it might just ignore it completely or simply look at you quizzically.   

But it is not just because they don’t like drinking water. Cats are carnivores and it has been ingrained in their DNA to get most of their moisture through consuming the food they eat. As a result, they do not feel the need to hydrate.   

How then, would you know if your cat is not taking in enough water and is dehydrated?    


Common Causes of Dehydration in Cats 

  • Overheating in hot weather
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Blood loss
  • Illness
  • Lack of fluid intake
  • Increased urination

Why It Is Important to Recognize the Signs of Dehydration in your cat. 

Dehydration, if left untreated, could lead to severe health issues in your cat such as urinary diseases, kidney disease, cystitis and more. With, it is vital that we identify the symptoms of dehydration as early as possible before it escalates into something serious.   

9 Signs of Dehydration 

1. Sunken Eyes 

Very thin cats, older cats and cats with chronic illnesses may normally have sunken eyes. However, if you are suddenly noticing that the eyes of your otherwise healthy cat are sunken into its sockets and appear dull instead of looking like its usual shiny twin orbs, it’s highly likely that your cat is dehydrated.

2. Poor Skin Elasticity 

This is probably one of the most reliable ways to tell if your cat is dehydrated! Check the elasticity of your cat’s skin by gently pulling up some skin at the scruff of its neck. You will find that your cat’s skin snaps back into place quite slowly if it is dehydrated.

3. Dry, Sticky Gums 

A well-hydrated cat has gums that are pink and moist. If they are dry and sticky to the touch, it’s a sure sign of dehydration. Thick, ropey saliva is another indication of dehydration.

4. Constipation 

Has your fur kid been visiting the cat toilet less frequently than usual? Examine its litter! Dehydrated cats are usually constipated. If you see only several small, hard pieces of stool, it is a sign that your cat lacks sufficient fluids in its body.

5. Lethargy 

Cats typically sleep a large percentage of the day so it might take a while for you to notice when their lethargy is an indication of something medically wrong. Does your playful cat no longer react to you holding out its favorite toy? Does it sleep a great deal more than usual? If you are answering “yes” to these questions, there’s a possibility that your cat is dehydrated, or it could be a sign of some other illness.   

6. Loss of Appetite 

Another symptom of dehydration in your cat is the loss of appetite. Dehydration reduces blood flow to your cat’s digestive tract which inadvertently leads to a decrease in appetite. Suddenly your cat is rejecting all its favorite foods that it normally goes crazy for.

7. Fast Heart Rate 

Dehydration causes blood to thicken which causes your cat’s heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of its body. This raises its heart rate. The normal heart rate for cats is between 160 and 240 beats per minute. If your cat’s heart rate is higher than that range, it is like that it has some hydration issues.   

8. Poor Capillary Refill Time 

Try pressing your finger to your cat’s gum (it should turn white) and then releasing it. As you release your finger, count the number of seconds it takes for your cat’s gums to return to its normal color. If it takes longer than 2 seconds for your cat’s gum to turn back to pink, it is an indication than your fur kid is dehydrated.   

Also, if your cat’s gums are already very pale before you press on them, it could be a sign that it is severely dehydrated. Best to take it to the vet ASAP!   

9. Panting 

Dogs pant as a way of cooling down when they are overheated. But cats? That is usually an anomaly, especially when they have only been spending the better part of their day lounging around the house. When this happens, it is likely a sign of discomfort from dehydration.   

How Can you Prevent Dehydration in Your Cat? 

We mentioned earlier that dehydration could very quickly lead to greater illnesses if left untreated. The quicker you recognize the signs of dehydration, the easier it would be to treat your cat. The best way to get your cat well-hydrated again is to observe its behavior and pinpoint the exact cause of dehydration.   

Perhaps you have been leaving your cat’s water bowl too close to its food? Maybe your cat just does not like to drink from still water? Consider getting a water fountain or perhaps its water bowl is too deep, and your cat does not like its whiskers brushing against the edges? It could even be that your feline friend does not even like drinking water. If that is the case, you may want to include some canned cat food into their diet for they contain up to 80% moisture! Even adding some tasty bone broth to your cat’s regular meals would boost your cat’s hydration.   

However, if you think the cause of dehydration could be attributed to a more serious issue, it is best to take your cat to the vet immediately.   

Credits: petmd.com