what should i do if my cat is dehydrated?

Treating a Dehydrated Cat

If you believe your cat is dehydrated, seek medical attention as soon as possible.  Dehydration in cats is incredibly serious and can have fatal consequences.

my cat is dehydrated

Of course, there are times where immediate medical attention is not possible and in those times home remedies can be used to help hydrate kitty until she can be checked out by a vet.

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If for some reason veterinary assistance isn’t immediately available, then kitty will need to be actively monitored and administered fluids.  The best source of fast hydration is unflavoured, pediatric electrolytes which can be found in most pharmacies, grocery stores and warehouse stores.

How Do I Administer Fluids?

If you take kitten to the vet, the  vet will undoubtedly perform a number of tests (including the neck elasticity test). The vet will also likely attach a saline sack. This is simply a little pack of fluid that is attached to kitten’s back and slowly releases fluids into her. Most packs simply dissolve and do not require a subsequent vet visit to be removed.  Of course, a follow up appointment to check in on kitty and her overall healthy after a dehydration spell is a good course of action.  This helps the vet monitor the situation and can allow for better diagnostics in the future.

However, if upon realizing that kitty is dehydrated, it is no possible to get to the vet in a timely manner, or bills are cost prohibitive, then administering of electrolytes until a vet visit is possible, can help.

To do this, you will need a simple syringe (without a needle), and pediatric electrolytes (be sure to get unflavoured to avoid artificial flavourings and making it more unpleasant for kitten). Simply fill the syringe with the electrolytes and while holding the kitten, gently release the electrolytes into her mouth.

The amount and frequency that you need to give will vary on the size of the kitten and the level of dehydration. Start with 1cc and see how easily kitten can swallow it, and if she can keep it down.  Follow up doses will be necessary, but it is important to go at a pace that keeps kitty from spitting the liquid back up or having it simply spill out of her mouth.  You may have to adjust the speed of delivery until you find a pace that kitten can handle

As you give the electrolytes, pay close attention to kitty’s behaviour and reactions to the syringes.  Wait a couple of minutes between doses.

As more doses of the electrolytes are administered kitty will most likely start to perk up and be more attentive and aware. After several doses, she will likely start to show interest in food and begin to eat. This is a good sign!

As kitty gets more energy, she will also start to put up a fight to the syringes.  As frustrating and devastating this may feel for the human, it is actually a good sign.  Her refusal of the electrolytes demonstrates her hydration levels increasing and the situation becoming less emergent.

It is still a good measure to take kitty to be checked by a medical professional as soon as possible, even if she appears to be back to normal.  Cats are notoriously good at hiding poor health until too late, and as such, getting checked out to determine the cause of the dehydration can prevent a catastrophic event.

How Do I Know If My Kitten is Dehydrated?

Determining that a cat is dehydrated is definitely best left to those who are trained in veterinary medicine.  However, they biggest key for lay people is found in kitty’s behaviour.

The key sign of dehydration in a cat is lethargy. 

If kitten is not playing, sleeping more than normal and generally inactive, something is wrong.  She needs to be closely monitored, watching for other signs or rapid deterioration.

how can I tell if my cat is dehydrated?

If kitten is dehydrated, she will also be less active around the food bowl. Interestingly, with increased thirst, comes decreased hunger. If you notice a dramatic change in kitty’s food habits, combined with lethargy, it is quite likely that something is wrong and dehydration could be the culprit.

Noticing the changes in energy and food intake, a neck elasticity test is a simple way to test kitty’s hydration.

Gently pinch and pull on some of the skin on kitty’s neck.  If the skin quickly bounces back into place, kitten has enough fluids. If the skin stays sticking up, and/or is slow to return to normal, she needs fluids and veterinary assistance should be sought.  If it is not possible to get to a vet immediately, then the Pedialyte protocol above should be followed.

What Causes Dehydration in Kittens?

There are a number of factors that can cause a kitten to be dehydrated and veterinary testing may be necessary to determine individual causes. However, some of the common causes of dehydration include:

– Ingestion of something – kittens are curious little critters, and get into anything they can! Kitten may have eaten a plant, some food that fell on the floor, or may have ingested something she was playing with (like string) and is waiting for it to pass. If kitten is vomiting, or has diarrhoea – any of these are likely explanations.

how do i know if my cat is sick?

– Change in diet – a sudden change in kitten’s diet can have a dramatic impact on her well being. She may simply refuse to eat the new food and in doing so cause dehydration or she may have digestive upset from the change which could also lead to dehydration.  If changing kitten’s diet, it should be a slow and gradual process to avoid illness and reactions.

– Illness – Just like humans, cats can pick up illnesses and bugs. Some bugs can be minor (like a cold) whereas others can be much more serious.  Sometimes dehydration can be a symptom of a much bigger illness, which is why kitty should be examined by a veterinarian during any bought with dehydration.

– Overheating – In extreme heat, kittens can fall victim to the elements and suffer dehydration. When the weather is hot, make sure kitty has access to lots of clean water and shade.  Pay attention to how kitty is feeling and reacting when the weather is hot to avoid her becoming dehydrated.

Remember that dehydration is a very serious infliction and must be addressed. If medical care is not immediately accessible, the use of pediatric electrolytes can help lessen the severity of dehydration.

We at Bringinghomekitten.com are not medical experts and our experience does not substitute medical advice. These are strategies we have found effective in treating dehydration in cats at home.  Always contact a veterinarian for diagnostics and to develop a treatment plan.