by Michael
(London, UK)

by QuintanaRoo (Flickr)

A dehydrated cat might have a loss of skin elasticity, dryness of the mouth, thick saliva and, in advanced cases, sunken eyeballs and shock.

A cat becomes dehydrated when the input of fluids is less than the loss.

It may be due to an insufficient water intake if ill. Fever makes things worse. Vomiting and diarrhea involve loss of fluids.

Dehydration can seriously weaken a cat. Dehydration "stops the motion of the cilia"1. These are part of the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity and a defense against infection. Dehydration reduces the effectiveness of the mucous membrane of the nasal cavity. This predisposes, for instance, the cat to bronchial infection.

A dehydrated cat can be due to acute infectious enteritis. This is an infection of the gastrointestinal tract. It causes vomiting and diarrhea coupled with a fever, rapid pulse and depression. The parvovirus (see feline viruses) that causes panleukopenia is a common cause of infectious enteritis.

Rapid dehydration can cause acute kidney failure.

Treatment is the obvious, it seems to me. It involves replacing fluids and preventing fluid loss.

Drinking water is the obvious first step. If the cat won't drink water an electrolyte solution can be given (by syringe to the cheek pouch of the mouth).

Electrolyte solutions for children are said to suitable for cats1.

Prompt veterinary attention is demanded.

See also Feline Chronic Dehydration and Newborn Kitten Care.


1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook

Header pic: - "..found her in the street, stuffed her in my hoodie and ran her give her lots of food and water for her poor dehydrated and starved body..." (Flickr). She survived a year as far as I can tell.

Dehydrated Cat to Cat Health Problems

Comments for
Dehydrated Cat

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Apr 13, 2011 dehydration in cats
by: Anonymous

Dear Micheal and Ruth

Well thanks for bringing this up.
I have a cat and had been feeding him a mix of dry and wet commercial cat food. I was unaware of the hazards of feeding dry food to cats. And sure enough my cat would drink up almost 350ml of water in a day! I never suspected anything till the time my cat started getting sick, throwing up and all.

This made me very suspicious about his diet and I read up almost everything that i cud on homemade cat food. Its been 4 MONTHS since then and I have been feeding him partially boiled chicken of very good quality, with wet commercial food mixed in it. His health has improved a lot, he has stopped throwing up.
But his water intake has drastically gone down. In the months of December through Feb when the whether in India is pretty cold in India, he almost had no extra water. Whatever little he had, had to be force fed by a syringe, as i was scared he might get dehydrated!
How can I be sure if this is normal. He is peeing normal and now that its much warmer here, he's started having water, but very little.

Mar 29, 2011 Dehydration
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

Monty recently got very dehydrated due to a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. We think it was caused by hairballs. I was afraid he had swallowed some string or dental floss-- something he was not able to clear from his GI tract and could be dangerous. So off he went to the vet, shoved in his carrier and very unhappy. The vet gave him sub cutaneous fluids, recognizing the signs of dehydration. Monty had been drinking more water than usual, but it wasn't enough. Cats can go through these bouts of stomach upset. I'd say it's important not to underestimate the danger of dehydration, and err on the side of caution.

I took him to the most pro-claw vet in the area. Monty prefers the cat only place because it's quieter and he can travel in leash and harness instead of in a box. He walks around their waiting room like he owns the place. But they do things like offer declawing in package deals with spay neuter.The pro-claw place is always full of dogs. I know even in his carrier this is stressful for my cat, just smelling the dogs around. But when his life could have been on the line, I trusted the
proclaw vet. Monty can get his next rabies shot at the other place, but I'll never take him there in an emergency. The proclaw place does still do declawing, but they provide information on alternatives and discourage declawing. They don't advertise that they do it. They don't need to. Their reputation is based on all the life saving surgeries they have performed. Perhaps that's why their waiting room is always packed and the place that pushes declawing is almost always empty.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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