"How to Tell if Your Cat is Dehydrated

"How to Tell if Your Cat is Dehydrated

Health & Safety

It can be very hard to estimate just how much your cat may be drinking on a daily basis and if they are not drinking enough, it could lead to all sorts of health issues. The other thing to bear in mind is that if a cat stops drinking enough water, it could be a sign they may be suffering from a serious health issue which would need investigating sooner rather than later.

The Dangers Associated with Dehydration

There are all sorts of dangers associated with dehydration with the most severe being total kidney failure which often proves fatal. However, cats suffering from diabetes don't drink much water which often results in them becoming dehydrated which makes things even harder for them to cope with.

The problem is that more often than not the fact a cat might be dehydrated goes unnoticed for too long with disastrous results. If you suspect your cat might not be drinking enough water, you need to get them to the vet sooner rather than later so they can be thoroughly checked over and then treated.

Why Cats Get Dehydrated

A cat could become dehydrated for many reasons. It could be they are suffering from some form of digestive disorder or any of the following conditions can be the cause of their dehydration too.


A bad case of diarrhoea that goes untreated will result in a cat becoming severely dehydrated pretty quickly. Should your cat have the runs for more than a day, the chances are they are already becoming dehydrated and it will take them a few days to make up the amount of fluids they have lost.

Cats suffering from diarrhoea for any longer than a few days would need to be given extra fluids while the vet carries out certain tests to establish the root cause of the problem. As previously mentioned, several health issues may be the cause of a cat not drinking enough water. If you notice your cat doing any of the following, you need to get them to a vet as soon as possible:

  • Drooling
  • An increase in the number of times they urinate
  • Are suffering from heatstroke
  • You suspect they are suffering from a urinary infection

Cats Are Very Fussy Drinkers

You may find your cat just does not like drinking out of a water bowl, but much prefers to drink from a dripping tap. The reason being that cats like fresh, clean water and ideally you would need to invest in a water fountain for them. Cats need to drink around 60 ml/kg of water a day, but this does depend on their size and the amount of exercise they get.

Cats fed a dry food diet tend to drink more and must have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Should a cat not drink enough water at any time, it can quickly become a very serious situation that can seriously impact their kidneys causing irreparable damage to them.

How to Test if Your Cat is Dehydrated

There are certain ways of testing if a cat is dehydrated which you can do yourself if you are at all concerned. The tests are not invasive and can easily be done without stressing out your cat in any way.

Pinching Skin – The Skin Tugor Test

You can gently pinch your pet's skin to see how quickly it lays back down in it's normal position. This is known as a 'skin tugor test' and can be done on any animal as well as people to see if they are dehydrated. The slower the pinched skin goes back to normal, the more dehydrated your cat is because the skin has lost all its elasticity. The reason for this is the lack of fluid it contains. The best way to carry out this test is as follows:

  • Gently take skin above your cat's shoulder blades and pinch it
  • Next, very carefully pull the skin slightly upwards before releasing it
  • Lastly, the skin should spring back to its normal position very quickly. If it does not, this is a sign your cat is suffering from dehydration and the slower it goes back, the more dehydrated your cat is

Checking Your Pet's Gums

Another way to check if your cat is dehydrated is to check their gums which should be nice, moist and pink. If they are dry and discoloured in any way, this is a sure sign they are dehydrated and would need to be given extra fluids as a matter of urgency which means a trip to the vet would be in order.


When a cat gets too dehydrated, it can seriously impact their health and do irreparable damage to their internal organs more especially their kidneys. It could lead to total kidney failure and the prognosis is never that good when this happens. If you suspect your cat is not drinking enough water you should take them along to see the vet sooner rather than later because the earlier the root cause of the problem can be diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome would be for your cat.

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