Cats need proper care and attention just like any other pet. If you become a little bit complacent in his care, he can become sick or feel neglected.
Dehydration is a common problem in cats. Just like humans, cats depend on water for primary biological functions. Fluids are required for the proper functioning of organ systems such as the digestive system, excretory system, and circulatory systems. Fluids also maintain the levels of electrolytes in the body which are indicators of organ function. Water makes up 80 percent of a cat’s body; therefore, it is essential to keep your cat hydrated so that he remains healthy and active. You have to be especially careful during the hot weather; too much sweating and lack of fluids in the body instantly cause dehydration.
There are many health problems that can be overlooked by cat owners, this does not mean you’re a bad pawrent. It’s just a matter of being aware of the signs and causes of dehydration.
Before discussing the necessary steps to take care of a dehydrated cat, it’s important to understand the symptoms and causes of dehydration.
Symptoms of Dehydration
Dehydration in cats shows in the form of various physical symptoms. Understanding and knowing about these symptoms is crucial. Some of the common symptoms are:
1. Lethargy and Tiredness
Look out for lethargy in your cat. Lethargy and weakness are a major symptom of dehydration.
2. Dry and Sticky Gums
Typically, a cat’s gums are wet and shiny. However, if a cat is dehydrated, then the gums will be dry and sticky.
Usually, cats don’t pant, but if they are panting a lot, it means that something is wrong
4. Appetite loss
Monitor the diet of your cat. If he refuses to eat, then you should be worried.
5. Loss in Skin Elasticity
Dehydration results in loss of skin’s elasticity. There is an easy way to check the skin’s elasticity. Lift the skin between the shoulder blades and check if the skin snaps back quickly or not. If the skin remains lifted for some seconds, then it means that the body is dehydrated.
6. Increased Heart Rate
Increased heart rate is also an indication of dehydration. The loss of fluids from the body causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood which increases heartbeat.
7. Poor Capillary Refill Time
Capillary Refill Time is a test through which you can access the cat’s blood circulation. Poor Capillary Refill time is an indication of dehydration. This test can be done by pressing a finger against catto’s gum. On pressing, the gum turns white but as soon as you release the finger the gum should quickly turn pink. If the gum takes longer to turn pick, then it’s a sign that your cat is probably dehydrated.
Adequate fluids are required for proper bowel movements and the right functioning of the digestive system. With the loss in liquids, the bowel movements also get affected causing constipation.
Causes of Dehydration
1. Inadequate Water Intake
One of the primary reasons for dehydration in cats is the less intake of water, especially during hot weather. You have to make sure that your cat is drinking enough water during the day.
2. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is common during summer months, which is another cause of excessive dehydration in cats. It is another reason to monitor the water intake of your kitty-cat. The right amount of fluid intake also protects him against heatstroke.
3. Vomiting and Diarrhea
Vomiting and Diarrhea cause the loss of water and electrolytes from the cat’s body resulting in dehydration.
4. Excessive urination
Excessive urination is an important but often ignored cause of dehydration. There can be an underlying reason for too much urination such as diabetes and kidney disease.
Levels of Dehydration
Looking closely, cats demonstrate three levels of dehydration to help determine how serious the situation is and whether to consult a vet or not. Up to 5 percent dehydration is mild, 5 percent to 10 percent dehydration is moderate, and 10 percent or more is severe dehydration.
Steps to Treat Dehydration
There are some steps that you can take to help your dehydrated cat. If you have a cat, you should always be prepared to give primary care to your cat in case of dehydration. Depending on the level of dehydration, you need to determine if you need to take the cat to a vet or not. In case of severe dehydration, don’t wait for a second and immediately take the cat for examination. In this case, the cat will need IV fluids and proper medical care.
In case of minor dehydration, you can do the following:
1. For at home treatment you will need:
- A bottle of unflavored Pedialyte
- 1cc dropper
- Ice Chips
- Canned Food with no onion or garlic
In case, catto isn’t drinking on his own, you can give him small amounts of Pedialyte every ten minutes for an hour. You have to feed Pedialyte slowly so that your cat doesn’t suffocate. After that, you can mix some canned food with water and feed him slowly with the help of a dropper. Continue to feed him alternatively with Pedialyte and canned food throughout the day. When your kitty appears to eat and drink on his own, you can fill a bowl with half water and half Gatorade and feed this to your cat.
If this doesn’t work, you can use ice chips. Cats who feel nauseous will not like to eat or drink therefore ice chips are more suitable for such cats.
Apart from offering the cats some fresh drinking water, it’s also necessary to restore their electrolyte balance. For that, you can buy oral serums and fluids from a pharmacy or veterinary clinics.
3. Feed Canned Food
Canned food contains up to 80 percent moisture. Cats naturally tend to drink less water therefore canned food is an excellent alternative to dry food. This way, they can get the necessary amount of fluids from the diet.
4. Visit the Veterinarian
It’s always better to visit the vet to check the complete status of your pet’s condition. A vet can conduct some essential tests and also administer IV fluids to replenish the electrolyte levels in the cat’s body quickly. In case of severe dehydration, you shouldn’t wait for a second to visit the doctor. Dehydration can have some serious consequences and in extreme cases, lead to death. If your cat is suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, the vet may advise some medications too. Only a vet can determine other underlying conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes.
5. Administer subcutaneous fluids at home
The vet may ask you to give subcutaneous fluids to your catto at home. This is a simple procedure, just lift the skin at the back of his neck, insert the needle under the skin and administer the fluids slowly.
How to Prevent Dehydration
It’s always better to prevent dehydration than to treat it after it happens. Do the following things to prevent dehydration in your cat.
1. Ensure a constant supply of fresh water in the house. Your cat should have access to fresh water at all times. Placing multiple bowls at different locations also ensures easy access to water. Moreover, the water bowl should be kept clean to prevent any bacteria from forming.
2. The kind of water bowl is also important. Firstly, the bowl should be wide enough for the cat to drink water easily. Secondly, the material should be such that it doesn’t absorb any odor. Plastic is not suitable for keeping the water as it is porous and it absorbs odors. Ceramic or stainless steel is a much better option.
3. If water bowls aren’t working, then you should invest in a water fountain. Some cats don’t like to drink still water; they fascinate running water. When water is running continuously under circulation through a fountain; therefore it smells and tastes fresh and is more desirable for the cat.
4. Canned food is a much better option than dry food as it contains moisture which will help in maintaining the levels of fluids in the cat’s body. If you are looking to increase the fluid intake of the cat, then canned food is better. You can also moisten dry food to boost the water intake.
The importance of seeing a doctor in dehydration cases in cats cannot be stressed enough. Although you can try some remedies and measures to treat the dehydration at home, only a vet can truly determine the level of dehydration in your cat and suggest proper treatment based on that. It’s also essential to keep yourself informed about the usual symptoms of dehydration and prevent it from happening. Hopefully, this article will be helpful to all cat owners and animal lovers.
About the Author
Rabeea Shahid is a content writer for PennySaviour and an aspiring blogger. Rabbea loves to write about topics such as health and fitness, lifestyle, environment, and literature. She has written blogs on topics including, technology, beauty, and lifestyle and content marketing. While dreaming of traveling the world and eating delicious cuisines around the world, Rabbea uses writing as an outlet of self-expression; it’s a bridge through which you can connect with people.