How To Tell If a Cat Is Dehydrated

How do you know that your frisky feline companion is getting enough water? Dehydration is a serious problem for cats, but if you know the signs you can discover it early and take steps to protect your pet.

How Do Cats Get Dehydrated?

Outdoor cats get dehydrated quicker than indoor cats do because cats prefer clean water. They will reject any water source that isn’t up to their standards. Unlike our canine friends who love to drink out of puddles and are not the most discerning connoisseurs of food or water, cats are.

Cats who eat primarily dry food can become dehydrated easier as well. Wet food has a higher liquid content. If your cat roams freely between indoors and outdoors, you might want to consider switching over to a diet of wet food and making sure plenty of water is available inside.

What’s The Best Way To Find Out If My Cat Is Dehydrated?

The absolute best way to test for dehydration is to tug on the skin between its shoulder blades. Hydrated cats will have elastic skin that bounces right back into place.

If the skin tents or sags, you have a dehydrated animal on your hands. This is easily the best way to quickly test for dehydration at home. Pinching the skin won’t hurt your cat. If your cat is dehydrated, it’s time to take additional steps to make sure that they get the fluids that they need right away.

Do Dehydrated Cats Look Different?

Dehydrated cats will appear more lethargic and might even have trouble with balance, but the biggest clue is in their eyes.

A dehydrated cat will have dull, sunken eyes that generally have trouble focusing. If your cat is exhibiting signs of vertigo and their beautiful eyes are lacking a little shine, dehydration is the culprit. If your cat’s eyes are lacking a little luster, it’s time to try out the skin test and see if he or she is dehydrated.

Are There Other Ways To Determine If My Cat Is Dehydrated?

Another way to check for dehydration is to go straight to the litter box. Lack of water constipates cats, so their feces will appear small and pellet-like. If you see an abundance of these sorts of leavings, it’s a sure sign that your cat needs some water as soon as possible.

Sometimes litterbox issues are related to other complications or sicknesses. As a general rule, if you see anything strange happening in the litterbox, it’s best to consult your vet. Cats with chronic conditions will often avoid their litter boxes as well, so if your best friend is going in strange locations keep an eye on them.

What Could Cause My Cat To Reject Her Water?

Cats are finicky creatures, and there could be a million different reasons for them to reject their water. Generally, it’s because you have placed the water dish too close to their litterbox. Cats do not like to drink water next to where they use the bathroom, and who can blame them?

Some dishes can also irritate your cat. If the dish brushes too closely against his or her whiskers, your feline friend could completely reject it. The temperature of the water might also be a problem. Some cats prefer ice-cold water to the room temperature stuff. If the water isn’t ideal, your cat will reject it.

Do Dehydrated Cats Need Veterinarian Care?

To be on the safe side, you should always take a dehydrated animal to your veterinarian. Dehydration can cause bigger problems over time, and your cat can’t communicate their symptoms to you. Your veterinarian will be able to properly assess the situation and even give you tips for keeping your cat hydrated in the future.

If your cat is severely dehydrated, they might need to go to the hospital for a few days. This is simply to ensure that your feline friend does not have any underlying problems or complications from dehydration. Your cat could also be given a fluid injection, which acts a lot like a human IV and gets them rehydrated immediately.

What Creative Ways Can I Employ To Get My Cat To Drink More Water?

Some cats are more finicky than others. Observe your cat’s behavior and make any necessary adjustments to their water bowl. Some cats simply need a wider dish to drink out of. Wide dishes allow the cat to drink with ease without getting their whiskers wet.

Some cats prefer moving water. You can get a cat fountain at just about any pet store. The circulating water will convince your cat that they are getting the best refreshment available. Some cats also like to interact with their water and might enjoy batting it before settling in for a drink.


It’s common to have questions when it comes to your cat’s health. These FAQs will help you better understand dehydration in cats, and how you can keep your pet safe and healthy.

Is Dehydration A Sign Of Something More Serious?

Unfortunately, severe dehydration is often the sign of something more serious in cats. Dehydration could be indicative of kidney problems, diabetes, or cancer. These things occur in extreme cases, but if your cat is prone to dehydration, it’s best to have them checked regularly.

How Can I Get My Cat To Drink More Water?

Aside from investing in a cat fountain or dish, you can also add ice cubes to the water to make it freezing cold. Many cats prefer ice water. Another great trick is to add a touch of flavor to the water. A small bit of clam or tuna juice can get your cat interested in their otherwise boring water dish.

Dehydration is a problem for cats, but with early detection, it doesn’t have to be serious. There are plenty of ways to address dehydration and make sure that your cat is feeling great.