Cat Dehydration

picture of 4 kittens drinking in a row Put very simply, cat dehydration is a result of an excessive loss of body fluids. This can happen for lots of different reasons. It's important for cat owners to know the main causes of dehydration, recognize the signs and understand how to treat and prevent it.

Causes, Signs And Treatment

1) Causes

Dehydration isn't a disease in itself; it's a symptom of some other problem. Fluid can be lost from the cat's body due to exposure to excessive heat, lack of available drinking water, and as a result of illness.

Cat illnesses that can cause dehydration include:

Acute cat renal failure
Cat diabetes*
Cat diarrhea
Cat enteritis
Cat flu
Cat leukemia virus (FeLV)
Cat vomiting
Cat worms
Chronic cat kidney failure
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

*Click here for more details on feline diabetes symptoms

2) Signs

Because dehydration is a common sign of so many illnesses, it's important for you to be able to recognize it.

Signs include:

  • Lack of skin elasticity
  • Sunken eyes
  • Rough coat
  • Dry mouth and nose

There's a simple test you can perform to determine if your cat is dehydrated:

Skin Pull Test
Gently pull up a generous pinch of skin between your finger and thumb at the back of your cat's neck. When it's released, it should quickly spring back into place. If the cat is dehydrated, it will only slowly slide back into place.

3) Treatment

Severe dehydration can be fatal. If your cat appears unwell and you think he could be dehydrated, get him some water immediately and then take him to the vet as soon as you can. Intravenous fluids may be required in severe cases.


If there's no underlying disease, cat dehydration can be prevented by making sure your cat has a constant supply of fresh drinking water, and by making sure he's not exposed to excessive heat. For advice on health insurance for your cat, click here.

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