Dehydration in cats: signs to look out for in the summer heat

Tóth Eszter

2024. May 22 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

They say that you should drink at least 2-2.5 litres of water a day. But this does not always work. We often suffer from headaches, or even a bad mood, because of this. But how do you know if a kitten has had enough to drink and what symptoms indicate that it is dehydrated?


If you keep a cat, you need to look after its well-being and health. Many cats spend most of their time outdoors, so they can drink from puddles, swimming pools or other containers during the day before running off. They often don’t reach for their bowls and only hydrate at home by eating wet food. This is why we often don’t know, exactly how much water our cat has consumed.

How can we tell if our cat has drunk enough water?

To know this, there is a very simple trick that can always be applied. Water is absorbed by every cell in the animal, including the skin. When the body contains enough water and the cells are well hydrated, the skin becomes firmer. When the cat is dehydrated and the cells are “dry”, the skin becomes loose and wrinkled. So, if you gently pinch your pet’s skin and it quickly bounces back to its original state, no problem. However, if it remains crumpled, it settles back slowly, the animal needs more fluid.

What is the cause of dehydration?

Of course, the summer heat is the most common cause, but there may be other reasons for cats becoming dehydrated. Such reasons may include:

  • vomiting and diarrhoea following an infectious disease or poisoning;
  • significant kidney damage;
  • adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease);
  • burns;
  • certain medicines (diuretics);
  • or certain types of diabetes

Whether you have an outdoor or indoor cat, make sure it always has fresh water. Cats have an instinctive dislike of stagnant water, preferring to drink from running water, such as a fountain drinker for cats. That’s why your cat might jump up next to you when you wash your hands to drink from the tap. The trickle of water makes it drink. You can also get your pet to drink by freezing a stock of broth into ice cubes and dropping one in his water every now and then.

Symptoms of dehydration

  • loss of skin elasticity
  • lethargy, decreased activity
  • panting
  • dry, pale gums
  • loss of appetite
  • sunken eyes

What to do if your cat is dehydrated?

If your cat shows signs of severe dehydration, contact your vet immediately! The doctor will rehydrate your cat carefully with an intravenous solution. The infusion can be administered under the skin or directly into the veins, and its composition always depends on the type of dehydration. After you have taken your kitten home, for good electrolyte balance and hydration, it is advisable to feed your pet with wet food!

cat diseases cat in heat dehydration Health sick cat symptoms of the disease

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