You may not realize it, but your cat can suffer from dehydration. This may be a result of an illness that causes vomiting or loss of appetite. It could also be due to your cat refusing to drink very much water because of the taste or dislike of the water bowl. Here are a few things you should know about this potentially dangerous health condition.  

When To Suspect Dehydration

If your cat doesn't look up to par, you should check for signs of dehydration. Do this by running your finger along your cat's gums. They should be slick and wet. If they are dry and sticky, it's a sign of dehydration. Another thing you can do is pull up the skin between your cat's shoulder blades. It should quickly spring back into place when you let go. If there's a delay, it could be a sign of loss of skin elasticity due to dehydration. If the level of water in your cat's bowl hasn't been dropping, or if your cat has been sick, then you should keep an eye out for signs of dehydration. Another time to check is when your cat has been outdoors or missing for a couple of days and possibly been without water. 

Have A Vet Examination

Your cat should be seen by a vet when you suspect dehydration, or when your cat is sick so you can prevent dehydration. A vet can help you determine the cause. It could be due to an illness such as diabetes or cancer. On the other hand, it could be due to your cat disliking the water if you've recently changed its source. Prompt treatment for dehydration is necessary because permanent organ damage can result if your cat loses enough bodily fluids.

Treatment For Dehydration

The treatment will depend on your cat's condition. If there is no underlying illness and the vet thinks it is a behavioral problem, the vet may recommend you place out several bowls of different types of water so you can find a combination your cat likes. Your cat may prefer tap water or water that's filtered to remove the taste. Also, you can add flavoring such as tuna juice or other meat broth to the water to encourage your cat to drink it. You may also want to supplement dry cat food with wet food that has more moisture in it.

These tricks won't work if your cat is too ill or weak to drink. If that's the case, your vet may recommend placing your cat in the pet hospital for a couple of days for IV hydration. Your vet will place an IV in your cat that delivers fluid and replenishes electrolytes. This is the most effective way to overcome the side effects of dehydration and get fluids in your cat. During this time the vet can also run medical tests, diagnose, and treat the medical condition that's making your cat sick.

Although it may be stressful for you and your cat to be separated, being in a hospital is often the best choice when treating dehydration since it would be very difficult for you to manage an IV at home. As long as the condition is caught fairly early, your cat has a good chance of recovering. That's why you shouldn't delay getting medical help (from professionals such as those from Balboa Veterinary Hospital) when your cat seems sick.