Is Your Cat Dehydrated?

2/7/2022
Every cell and organ in your cat’s body needs water to function. Making sure your cat has sufficient water is essential to their health and survival

Your cat’s ancestors came from the desert. They could survive on very little water and had the ability to concentrate their urine to an incredible degree.

Cats have kept their ancestors’ low thirst drive. This means they don’t always drink when they need to, which makes them susceptible to dehydration. Their concentrated urine also contains less water than the urine of other species, which makes them more prone to developing urinary stones and crystals.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to encourage your cat to drink and help them stay hydrated.

Adult cat sitting down outside in long grass.

If your cat is still having an allergic reaction after ruling out environmental factors, your vet may try to rule out any food allergies by placing them on an elimination diet. This can last up to twelve weeks, during which time, if your cat's symptoms disappear, the vet may then give your cat their original food; if the symptoms reappear, they'll conclude it's sensitive to an element of this diet.

If the exclusion diet process is unsuccessful, it's likely your cat is suffering from an environmental allergy.

The impact of diet on your cat's allergy

Your cat's diet directly affects their skin, the largest organ in their body. A food formulated specifically for cats with hypersensitive skin can help limit any adverse reactions to food and support them in developing good skin health.

These foods have specially selected protein and carbohydrates that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction in your cat. The food may also include omega 3 long chain fatty acids, which help manage skin reactions (such as inflammation) and biotin, niacin and pantothenic acids—these help prevent your cat's skin drying out and strengthens its ability to protect them against irritants.

If you notice any of the symptoms of an allergic reaction in your cat, make sure to visit your local vet. Together, you'll be able to work out how to support your cat's health and improve the quality of their skin and coat.

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Does Your Cat Have Enough Water in Their Diet?

Typically, a cat needs to consume 3.5 to 4.5oz of water for every 5lb of body weight each day.

The desert-dwelling cats of yesteryear would have gotten most of their water through food, but your cat will probably need to drink fresh water to supplement their fluid intake – especially if they only eat dry food.

Your cat’s naturally low thirst drive means they may need some encouragement to drink, and some cats are particularly choosy about the type of water bowl they use.

Here are some tips to get your cat to drink more water:

  • Place multiple water bowls around your home. Ideally, they should be on different levels, in calm spots, away from litter boxes and food bowls. Try to avoid corners, as cats like to see their surroundings while they drink.
  • Keep the bowls topped up with fresh water. Replace the water completely and wash out each bowl every day.
  • Cats have different preferences when it comes to water bowls. Some like a wide, shallow saucer, while others would rather drink from a deeper container. The material of the bowl matters too, so test glass, porcelain, and metal bowls to see which they prefer.
  • Some cats only like to drink running water. You should be able to buy a water fountain at your local pet store.

If your cat is averse to drinking or suffering from dehydration, your vet may recommend a wet diet.

While dry food can contain some moisture, wet food has a higher percentage of water content, which can make it easier for a cat to get the fluids they need. Just remember that a change in diet needs to be done gradually to avoid causing food aversion and undue stress.

If your cat has a urinary or bladder problem due to dehydration, your vet will take steps to manage their condition. You can learn more about the management options they may recommend in our Urinary Management and Treatment articles.

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