July is Pet Dehydration Month: What Causes Feline Dehydration?

Did you know that July is Pet Dehydration month? Since it is, I thought this the purrfect time to open a discussion about this highly dangerous condition commonly occurring in our kitties. Cats who don’t get a sufficient daily amount of water can quickly develop this life-threatening condition.

cat drinking from faucet

Photo credit: Flickr User: momboleum

This disorder develops when an imbalance of water and electrolytes (minerals such as potassium, chloride and sodium), occurs in the cat’s body. If cats don’t receive enough fluid, they become dehydrated and are at a great risk of developing serious medical issues.

To both maintain robust health and to replace those fluids that are routinely lost through respiration, feces, and urine, cats must have the appropriate amount of daily fluid intake. Getting enough water is essential to felines in order to keep them in top-notch physical condition.

Additionally, since the cat’s body is made up of around 80 percent water, when the water ratio drops 5 percent below normal, the cat will begin to exhibit signs of dehydration. This life giving substance is crucial to all of the cat’s biological processes; which includes digestion and the removal of waste products. When cats start showing symptoms of dehydration, immediate veterinary attention is critical. Failure to provide immediate veterinary intervention can result in the cat’s death.

There are many causes for feline dehydration: vomiting and/or diarrhea, heatstroke, an illness causing the cat to stop eating, excessive urination caused by medical conditions such as renal failure and diabetes, lacking clean, fresh water, blood loss, shock or fever.

There are three classes of dehydration which ascertains the severity of the condition: 1. Mild dehydration – up to 5%, moderate dehydration – between 5 and 10% and severe dehydration – 10% or more.

Symptoms of dehydration include poor skin elasticity, lethargy, increased heart rate, sunken eyes, dry, sticky gums, insufficient capillary refill time and constipation. The colon resorbs fluids. If the cat is dehydrated, the body will withdraw water from the stool in an attempt to conserve water which causes constipation.

It’s relatively easy to determine whether your kitty is dehydrated. Check your cat’s skin elasticity by grasping some skin at the scruff of the neck and gently pull it up. If the skin snaps back immediately the cat is not dehydrated. If the skin retracts slowly, your cat may be dehydrated.

Another way you can tell if your cat is dehydrated is by gently opening his/her mouth. Rub your index finger over the gums. If they gums feel “sticky” this may indicate dehydration. You can also check your cat’s blood circulation for dehydration, shock or heart failure. Lift up your cat’s upper lip and press the gum with the flat of your finger then remove your finger. You will see a white mark on the gum on the spot your finger was placed. Time how long it takes for the color to return to pink. In a cat health cat the pink color will return in 1-2 seconds.

If you suspect your cat is dehydrated contact your veterinarian right away. Since there are many reasons that cats get dehydrated, your veterinarian will perform the necessary tests to correctly diagnose and treat the underlying cause for your kitty’s condition.

Keep a careful watch on your cat’s fluid daily intake and output. In order to help keep your cat hydrated, a moisture-laden diet is essential . Since canned cat food contains approximately 78% water, versus dry cat food which only contains 10% water, it makes good sense to feed a high quality canned or a raw diet.

Just like the cat in the above photo, many cats who will go to extremes for a drink of fresh running water. There are some excellent kitty fountains that are extremely attractive to kitties. Although some cats are initially reticent to use fountains with noisy motors. We are now using the Glacier Pont Fountain, which is extremely quiet. It sounds a little like a very quiet babbling brook.

Watch the video uploaded to YouTube by Barry Farris demonstrating the Glacier Point Fountain.

What do you do to keep your cats from becoming dehydrated? Tell us in a comment.

Jo

Source: Cat World

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Comments

July is Pet Dehydration Month: What Causes Feline Dehydration? — 17 Comments

  1. Good article, Jo.

    Kittens, especially, are very vulnerable and dehydrate quickly. The photos I’m showing are the 2 baby kittens I found very sick and dehydrated. They both died from complications of their exposure to the raging heat here.
    The first is the grey little boy who succumbed after back-to-back-to-back seizures.

  2. Dee! Thank you.

    What a pity about this adorable kittens. It’s heartbreaking after trying to save them. It is just so sad.

  3. A well know veterinarian and author. Elizabeth Hodgkins believes that dry cat food leaves cats who feed on it constantly in a state of mild dehydration because cats don’t compensate for the lack of water in the food by drinking more.

    If that is correct and I believe it is in general true it is a terrible indictment of the pet food manufacturers and their insensitive and uncaring ways.

    There are a number of pages about water on PoC. This is a general search result but I wondered if the sort and position of water bowl is important.

    Also adding water to food is good at getting water into cats.

  4. We were very worried about Walter a few weeks back when both our boyz had some sort of virus and weren’t interested in food, because he never drinks water. Jozef does enjoy his water so we weren’t as worried about him, but Walt usually loves his wet food so gets enough moisture from that. But when a cat who doesn’t drink goes off his food it’s serious. Thankfully our vet put him right before he became dehydrated and he was back to eating well again as was Jo too.

    • I’m so glad Walter and Jozef are feeling better! Monty enjoys hearing about their adventures. Actually, he just likes hearing me talk to him because he never knows when I might use a food word.

  5. Essential article, Jo, thank you! We have water bowls at several locations around the house; they are cleaned and filled daily. There is also the DrinkWell fountain in the breakfast room, which attracts cats not only to drink, but also to play. They are fed wet food twice daily, as well.

  6. I was impressed with my nephew when he was here recently to work some fireworks shows with us. While he was staying with us he asked if Monty had access to water while he was outside. I said no, since he doesn’t usually stay out very long. But Stevie insisted that it was hot outside and Monty’s a black cat, so he should have some water. I did put a bowl out for him them. It took awhile to think of where to put it, because I knew he wouldn’t drink from it if it was anywhere near where he poops, and he has several toilet areas back there. I’m not sure if Monty drank any water outside, but that was pretty nice that a young man (Stevie is 21) would think about the needs of an animal like that. I have been at friends’ houses who didn’t have a single clean full water dish out anywhere for their cats. I actually rinsed out and refilled the water dish and the cat did come and drink some water after that.
    I gave Monty the water that was in with the sardines we shared the other day. I usually drain it off, then I thought, “Why am I throwing this away? Monty will drink it right along with eating his share of the fish.”

  7. I like the cat drinking from the bubbler in the top picture. Bubbler is what you call that in Milwaukee. The word is actually in the Oxford English Dictionary.

    I always chuckle thinking about how all the immigrant children from Mexico living in Milwaukee know only one English word for that thing: Bubbler. As my cousin found out when he joined the military, outside of Milwaukee you just can’t ask where the bubbler is.

    I am impressed with the cat’s ability to drink from the bubbler. I usually end up turning the handle too far and it bubbles up higher than I expected, going right up my nose or all over my clothes.

  8. Great article about a very important issue! My cat Sienna loves her Drinkwell fountain. Someone gave me one about 3 1/2 years ago and I have been using it ever since. At the time, I had three cats (two of my sweeties are no longer with me due to illness) and all three were a little freaked out by it at first but after a day or two they all became very comfortable with it. When the weather is hot like it is now Sienna loves when I throw in a couple of ice cubes in the bowl.

  9. Oh Dee that photo of that kitty looks horrible! The poor wee kitty. Love the article and very timely. Its a good reminder. I give our cats & one kitty, Filtered water most of the time. Though they do prefer water out of the bath,toilet, basin. etc. Jasmine was booked in today to get spayed. Shes doing OK very tired still. I had them check her teeth, which she was fine. I hope you saw my scrap page i made for you on Facebook. Happy birthday by the way. I think just like water is important for us, water is just as important for cats. I got some free Neutered Cats, Cat Biscuits from Royal Canin from the Vet, this months Promation. It will be interesting if this stuff says what it says. It says helps prevent formation of two main types of urinary crystals. Which im sure Cassy had. Anyway this sort of thing makes you more aware.

  10. What a wonderful article with some awesome information! I keep two water fountains running 24/7 for our kitties. (Well, except for the daily rinses/refills and the weekly run through the dishwasher) As you can see from this photo, they LOVE the fountains! 🙂

  11. This photo shows how impatient they get waiting for the weekly run through the dishwasher. It’s just awful to wait TWO HOURS for running water! Nevermind that there are bowls placed throughout the house. 🙂 So, the line forms the minute that I put the fountain back where it belongs….

  12. Our cats have two bowls of water. One is an elevated bowl and the other is a fish bowl filled each morning with fresh water. They also enjoy drinking from the bathroom tub faucet. It keeps a steady drip so they can get fresh water at all times. We have thought of trying a drinking fountain but so far haven’t found one we like. The one pictured in the video looks promising.

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