How to Tell if your Cat is Dehydrated?

how to tell if your cat is dehydrated

If you have a cat, you may have noticed that you rarely see it drinking water. It is true that cats often live on the verge of dehydration, because for one, they just don’t like drinking water all that much. However, most cats will still drink enough fluids to stave off dehydration.

That said, this does not always occur. Your cat may not be drinking enough water to stay hydrated. Although this may be as simple as the cat not enjoying water, it’s usually a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Let’s discuss how you can tell if your cat is dehydrated. We’ll then try to figure out why the cat is dehydrated.

How Much Water does a Cat Need?

First off, you need to know how much water an average cat needs to drink per day. A cat needs to drink around 4 ounces of water for each 5 pounds of body weight. Therefore, a 10 pound cat would drink around 8 ounces of water per day.

This is normal. If you notice that your cat is drinking substantially less water than this, chances are that it is dehydrated.

Therefore, if you suspect that this is the case, that your cat’s not drinking enough, try to measure how much water it drinks on a daily basis. If your 10 pound cat is drinking well under 8 ounces of liquid per day, you’ve probably got a dehydrated kitty on your hands.

Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Keeping the above points in mind, be aware that not all cats are the same, and some need more or less water than others. You cannot rely on how much you see your cat drinking as the sole indicator of dehydration.

Remember that cat food, especially wet food, contains a lot of moisture, so this also need to be factored into the equation.

Your cat may also be finding a different source to drink water from, such as a toilet, sink, puddle, or anything in between. However, there are other signs that you should look out for, clear indications that your cat is dehydrated. What are some of the other symptoms of dehydration in cats?

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Lower skin elasticity

Cause of Dehydration — A Medical Condition?

Equally important to note is that the above symptoms, while they may be indications of dehydration in your cat, they may also be symptoms caused by a more serious underlying medical condition.

The symptoms of dehydration may indicate that there is something else wrong with the cat. After all, cats want to stay alive, so they should stay hydrated on their own. Drinking water, at least enough to stay healthy and alive, is a natural instinct.

A cat that is not drinking enough water or is dehydrated, is most likely also ill in some other way. So, what are some of the causes of dehydration in cats? Are there medical issues to blame?

  • Cancer
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Urinary tract issues
  • A lack of access to clean water
  • Extreme heat

If you have provided your cat with clean drinking water and you have encouraged it to drink, but it still refuses to do so, or if the cat still appears to be dehydrated even when drinking, there is a more serious medical condition to blame. If you suspect that this is the case, you need to seek medical attention for the animal right away.

Preventing and Treating Dehydration

Whether your cat is not dehydrated yet or it is already dehydrated, here are some good tips on how to prevent dehydration in cats, as well as how to treat dehydration once it has occurred.

Ensure that your cat always has access to clean, cool, and fresh water. As you probably know, cats can be picky, and it may prefer the water to be warmer or cooler.

Try to see what your cat likes drinking out of the most. Yes, once again, cats are picky. Some may prefer a certain type of bowl or container over another.

Feeding cats who do not drink a lot wet food is always a good idea. Wet food contains a lot more moisture than dry food, making it a great way to provide your cat with more liquids.

If you have done all of these things, but you still notice your cat not drinking or being generally dehydrated, you will want to take it to a vet. If you cannot solve the issue on your own, as it is rather serious, you will need to seek immediate medical attention.


Just like humans and virtually all other animals, a cat can only go for so long without proper hydration. If you think that your cat may be dehydrated, you need to take immediate action to rectify the situation.

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