Our cats are often picky when it comes to their dietary habits – particularly when it comes to drinking water.
Cats are more susceptible to becoming dehydrated than other animals because they are less inclined to crave water. They’re also fairly stoic in their facial expressions and communicative habits; so while a dog might let you know if they’re thirsty, cats make things less obvious. In fact, studies have shown that many cats live in a state of chronic dehydration. When cats are dehydrated, they’re more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes and kidney failure.
We’ve rounded up a few key causes of dehydration in cats, indicators that your cat might be dehydrated, and how you can encourage them to drink more water.
Reasons your cat might be dehydrated.
One of the main culprits for dehydration in cats is their food. If your cat primarily eats dry kibble, they won’t get the extra hydration that comes alongside wet food. Cats who eat a predominantly dry diet will not have the urge to drink water compared to cats who eat a moisture-rich diet, making them even more prone to dehydration.
Cats can also become dehydrated as a result of their environment and weather conditions. The hotter and drier their climate is, the more likely cats are to suffer from acute dehydration. If your cats are quite active, they’ll also need more water to keep up with their energy levels.
Hydration levels can be dependent on the personality and breed of your cat, too. Some cats are simply pickier than others, so if your cat’s water supply isn’t up to their standards – bowl size and freshness of the water, for example – they might not be interested in drinking. Notice if your cat reacts to water touching their whiskers, as it might make them uncomfortable. In that case, opt for a more shallow water dish. Certain breeds are also more prone to dehydration, particularly Persian cats and larger, fluffier cats.
How to tell if your cat is dehydrated.
It can be a challenge to tell if your cat is thirsty or dehydrated. One of the best ways to test for dehydration is to do a skin test by gently pinching their skin into a small fold and releasing it. If their skin doesn’t snap back to normal within a few seconds, they are more likely to be dehydrated. This is because dehydration often leads to decreased skin elasticity.
Other symptoms of dehydration in cats include lethargy, loss of appetite, sunken eyes, dry gums, and panting.
How to keep your cat hydrated.
The first step to taking care of your cat’s hydration levels is to pay regular attention to their water intake. Opt for feeding them wet food instead of only dry kibble to keep them hydrated, even if they’re picky about drinking water. Additionally, keep multiple water bowls throughout the house and test different types of water bowls to see what your cat prefers. Lastly, regularly freshen your cat’s water supply by refilling their water bowl one to two times daily.
Recommended water intake for cats varies based on their size. As a general rule of thumb (or paw 😉), it is recommended that 3.5-4.5 ounces of water is consumed per 5 pounds of body weight each day.
Looking for more cat health tips? Stay tuned to the VitaCat blog for regular updates! Shop our line of healthy cat chews here to keep your cat happy and healthy.