Animals such as dogs and cats are 60% water. They need to be adequately hydrated in order to be healthy. Even a 5% decrease in their body water level can cause them great distress.1
Since they cannot communicate their discomfort to us, it is up to us to identify the dehydration and correct it immediately. Here’s how to identify if your cat is dehydrated.
1. The Cat’s Skin Doesn’t Tent
This is a very easy test that you can do at home and is one of the earliest signs of dehydration. Lift the top of the skin on your cat’s head and notice how quickly it springs back. If it takes a bit of time, she is dehydrated.2 If you notice an obvious reason for this, such as the cat resting in a hot place, bring her indoors and offer her ample water and fluids.
2. The Cat Has Diarrhea
Any form of stomach discomfort is easy to spot in cats. For one, they stop showing any interest in food. Also, they may make choking noises, as though they were going to puke. Diarrhea is easy enough to spot as a watery stool when you take your feline out for a morning walk.
In such cases, there is an underlying infection, the consequence of which is dehydration. Take your pet to a doctor immediately, because diarrhea can cause water loss at a very rapid rate. Symptoms of dehydration are often not very obvious- and lethargy is one of them.3
3. It Is A Case Of Feline Distemper
Feline distemper is a disease in cats that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. Do not ignore the problem. Symptoms start out as lethargy and a lack of interest. The cat may prefer to rest away from people. Over time, nausea and aversion to food develops, which is followed by the more severe symptoms as listed above.
Diarrhea and vomiting can exacerbate dehydration caused due to improper eating. The only way to treat the disease is with a visit to the doctor, so do not delay.4
4. The Cat Is Drinking Too Much Fluid
This is a very obvious sign of dehydration. However, not all days are alike. If you cat is making a pattern out of drinking too much water over a period of time, you need to figure out the underlying cause.5
Reasons for dehydration can range from spending too much time outdoors or losing too much hair in a short span that makes the skin more prone to perspiration.
5. The Cat Has Dull Eyes And A Dry Mouth
If her eyes look sunken, always check your cat’s mouth and gums. You can do a simple capillary test. Pull the upper lip of the cat and press on its gums. In a healthy cat, the area you press turns white and recovers its red color in less than 2 seconds. In a dehydrated cat, it takes much longer for the gum to turn back red. This is because dehydration makes blood flow more slowly through capillaries.6
6. The Cat Has An Irregular Heartbeat
While this can be due to several reasons, dehydration can be a common cause. Other symptoms include a fall in blood pressure and confusion in your cat. If any of these symptoms are present, it is an emergency. Rush your cat to the nearest animal care center so they can administer fluids and identify what is causing the dehydration.7If you suspect dehydration in your cat, always try and offer it some fluids. If she refuses to consume anything, it may be best to take her to a vet and get her evaluated.
|↑1, ↑2, ↑3, ↑6||Shojai, Amy.The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats.Rodale, 2001.|
|↑4||Bacon, Carly. Cat Care. Raintree, 2017.|
|↑5||Mash, Holly. Holistic Cat: A Complete Guide to Natural Health Care. Crowood, 2014.|
|↑7||Shanan, Amir. Hospice and Palliative Care for Companion Animals: Principles and Practice. John Wiley & Sons, 2017.|