What You Need to Know About Dehydration in Cats | PetFirst
What You Need to Know About Dehydration in Cats
Pet Care & Health

What You Need to Know About Dehydration in Cats

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
9 months ago

It’s summertime which means the weather is hot, and you’re probably focusing on drinking as much water as you can to help keep yourself fueled through the heat. Did you know this is an important step for your cats too? It makes sense, but it can be overlooked how important frequent and regular water breaks are for both outdoor and indoor cats – especially during the summer months. 

Dehydration can be dangerous! Keep reading to learn how you can tell if your cat is dehydrated, when you should worry about potential health dangers, and how to encourage your cat to drink more water.

Symptoms of Dehydration in Cats

The following symptoms can signal potential dehydration in all cats:

  • Panting
  • Sunken eyes
  • No appetite
  • Dry gums

You can also check for dehydration by gently pinching the skin6 around your cat’s shoulders. If your cat is well-hydrated, the skin will immediately collapse back into place. But if the skin goes down slowly or not at all, it’s time to talk to your vet and get some help with your cat’s possible dehydration.

It is important to watch and check older cats and nursing mothers frequently as they tend to become dehydrated more easily.

Dangers of Dehydration

Dehydration can sometimes signal an underlying health condition. Even if dehydration is the only health concern going on, leaving it untreated can cause more serious complications down the road. In extreme cases, severe dehydration can even lead to death.

Sometimes, dehydration can be caused by issues such as a gastrointestinal virus or parasites7. These conditions can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which in turn cause dehydration. Regular dehydration, severe dehydration (gauged by the skin check), or dehydration along with other symptoms (seizures, unusual lethargy, vomiting, etc.) all call for a visit to the vet.

How Much Water Does Your Cat Need?

According to VetWest Animal Hospitals, most cats need to drink approximately two ounces of water per pound each day8. Speak with your vet to get an accurate number of how much water your cat should be drinking each day. Every cat’s individual needs will vary depending on climate, diet, size, and other lifestyle factors. 

Hydration is important. But keep in mind that too much water can be dangerous, too. If your cat is drinking an excessive amount of water, conditions like polydipsia (excessive thirst9), diabetes, or kidney disease could be to blame. Keep an eye on how much your cat is drinking and speak to your vet directly with any concerns you may have. 

How to Get Your Cat to Drink More Water

Cats aren’t naturally inclined to drink water. They’re carnivores, and in the wild, they would get the majority of their water intake from the food they’d eat. So it’s up to you to encourage your cat to drink up. Here are a few ideas to help:

  • It’s essential to change out your cat’s water every day. You wouldn’t want to drink day-old, dirty water, would you? Your cat doesn’t want to, either! Make a habit of replacing your cat’s water every day when you feed him or her. You might also try placing multiple water bowls for your cat around the house. This is especially important if you have more than one cat — each pet needs his or her own bowl. 
  • Is your cat’s water bowl sliding around on the floor? Place a no-skid mat underneath.
  • Is it made of plastic? Some cats don’t like the way water tastes from plastic bowls, so try purchasing a stainless-steel product instead.
  • And how big is the water bowl? Your cat should be able to lower its head and drink without its whiskers touching the sides of the bowl.
  • For pickier cats that get bored with their water bowl, a pet water fountain can be a fun change. You might have noticed that your cat likes to drink from the bathroom faucet if you leave it dripping. A water fountain is essentially the same concept — cats love running water10! Pet water fountains have the added benefit of keeping the water clean by circulating it around. This creates less work for you, and it’s easy to leave the fountain when you go to work or go out of town.
  • If your vet recommends it, try feeding your cat wet food in addition to (or instead of) dry food. Wet food has higher water content. 

These are all good methods to encourage your cat to drink more water and avoid dehydration during the hot summer months and throughout the year. 

Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst Pet Insurance1 can help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1  has cat and dog insurance policies2 as well as Routine Care Coverage2 to fit every budget. Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.


1PetFirst Healthcare, LLC (“PetFirst Pet Insurance” or “PetFirst”) is the program administrator authorized to offer and administer pet health insurance policies underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company, with its main office at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, or New Hampshire Insurance Company or The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, each with its main administrative office at 500 West Madison Street, Suite 3000 Chicago, IL 60661. For costs, complete details of coverage, and a listing of approved states, please contact PetFirst Healthcare, LLC.
2Like most insurance policies, insurance policies offered by PetFirst Healthcare, LLC contain certain exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force.
6Purina: Your Cat and Dehydration
7Vetted Pet Care: How to Tell if Your Cat is Dehydrated, 2018, Heather
8VetWest Animal Hospitals: Thirsty Cat – Is It Just Hot or Is Something Up?
9Arizona Pet Vet: Polyuria and Polydipsia in Cats, 2020, Andrew Leger
10TreeHugger: Why Are Cats So Quirky About Drinking?, 2019, Mary Jo DiLonardo 

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