How can you tell when a cat is dehydrated?

How can you tell when a cat is dehydrated

By nature, cats don’t habitually drink water as much as they probably should.  This makes them prone to dehydration.  Dehydration can be a bit severe in cats.  Without enough water in their systems, there could be severe health issues.  Here are the things you should be on the lookout for to see if your cat needs to have a drink.

How to tell if cat is dehydrated

If you want to check if your cat isn’t dehydrated, there is four signs to look after. First look for the skin elasticity. Take a look at their eyes. Check if their cum is moist and last but not least their poop tells the story about if they are dehydrated.

Signs that your cat is dehydrated

  1. Skin elasticity.  Water keeps your cat’s skin elastic and supple.  Pinch the skin between their shoulder blades.  As soon as you let go, the skin should go back to their normal position quickly.  If their skin doesn’t snap back within one second, your cat needs a drink.
  2. It’s in their eyes.  If your cat’s eyes look a bit sunken and dull, get your cat some water.
  3. Gum check.  Healthy cats have pink moist gums.  Dehydrated cats have sticky gums.
  4. Their poop says it all.  Does your cat take longer than normal to go poop?  Are their poops smaller and harder than usual?  If so, your cat will have to up their water game.

What do I do with my dehydrated cat?

The first thing you do once you notice that your cat is dehydrated is to rehydrate them.  If they are able, give them something to drink.  Keep them in a cool quiet place while they drink.

One reason as to why your cat is dehydrated could be that they didn’t like drinking from their water bowl.  For now, encourage them by letting them drink using a water fountain specifically built for cats.  If that’s unavailable, put a bit of juice from canned tuna or salmon in their water.  The smell and taste of the meat could entice them.  It would also help greatly if you add in an electrolyte supplement bought from a pet store.

If your cat refuses or cannot drink, visit your vet as soon as possible so they can give your cats fluids from under their skin.  If you are not familiar with how to do this, DO NOT ATTEMPT. 

How do I keep my cat hydrated and avoid dehydration in the future?

Having a healthy amount of fluids in your cat’s body is severely important to their health and well-being.  Water helps them keep their organs healthy, flush toxins out of their bodies and to prevent other urinary problems.  To avoid future dehydration issues, it’s best to set up preventive measures.

How much water your cat should drink largely depends on how much they weigh, what time of year it is, and how active they are.  Generally, for every kilo, they should drink 60ml of water every day.

Observe your cat’s drinking habits.  Some cats are actually very picky about the taste of their water. Replace your cat’s water regularly and clean their water bowls with soap and water.  Make sure you get rid of the soap residue.  Cats don’t like the taste of stale water. If you notice that your cat prefers tap water and barely touches the water from their water bowl, invest in a cat water fountain.

If your cat won’t eat read this: How to get a sick cat to eat

Common questions about cats’ relationship with water

Why do cats hate water?

Cats have a very complicated relationship with water.  They love drinking from the tap on the sink, but they will put up a fight, tooth and claw, whenever you give them a bath.

The reason why most cats would rather not swim on a hot day would be because they never really evolved to go swimming.  While they can swim – in their eyes, there’s no real advantage to doing it.

Another reason could be that they’re just not used to it.  Cats are creatures of habit and they HATE surprises.  If they’re not used to getting baths, or have had negative experiences around bathing.

Lastly, cats take their time to groom themselves thoroughly every day.  When they get wet, it only means they have more grooming to do.

Should cat food and water be together?

You’ll often see dual bowls meant to be used for food and water in pet stores.  These things are better for dogs than for cats.  Cats like to keep their food and water away from each other.  Cats are very picky when it comes to how their water tastes.  They evolved this way because in the wild, they needed to make sure that the water they were drinking were safe and clean.

That being said, cat food and water bowls should be kept away from their litter boxes for the same reason.  If cats don’t think the water on their bowls are good enough, they’ll resort to drinking water somewhere else (like the toilet) or none at all.

What water temperature do cats prefer?

If you’ve considered everything from how “fresh” their water is, to the type of water bowl they use, to where your cat’s water bowl is in relation to their food bowl and litter box, yet they still won’t drink nearly as much as they should, consider the temperature.

How hot or cold their water is would really depend on their individual preference, but as a good rule of thumb, on hot days, give them cold water – add some ice cubes for extra coolness.  In colder days, give them room temperature to slightly warm water (but never hot).

How do you rehydrate a cat?

The first thing to try out, when you want to rehydrate your cat and make it drink more, is to cool down the water a little. Add one ice cube to their water bowl. You can also add a little flavor to the water. That could be tuna or clam juice.

How much water should a cat drink in 24 hours?

How much water a cat should drink depends of it size. In average cats needs 60 mls. of water per kg they weigth. So a 4 kg cat should drink 240 mls in 24 hours for its body to be well hydrated.


Water intake is very important in cats.  Make sure to check how much water they’re drinking every day, and check how they are doing: do they look a bit duller and weaker than normal?  Are their poops more solid?  If so, increase your efforts in hydrating your cat.

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