Just like dogs, cats can also be a man’s best friend(or woman’s best friend). Cats have been known to help reduce stress and anxiety in some people. Unlike dogs, cats aren’t really high-maintenance. But with that being said, they have needs and sometimes become ill. If you suspect your cat might be dehydrated, here’s the signs and what you should do.
Signs of dehydration:
Dry, tacky gums
- Poor skin elasticity
Increased heart rate
- Poor capillary refill time
- Constipation. Water is re-absorbed from the colon and if the cat is dehydrated, the body will try to conserve water by removing additional water from the stool.
Skin turgor test: To check for dehydration grasp some skin at the scruff of the neck and gently pull it up. In the hydrated cat, the skin will spring back immediately. In a dehydrated cat, the skin will be slower to retract. The more severe the dehydration the slower the skin will take to retract.
Capillary refill time: This helps you to test your cat’s blood circulation and can indicate dehydration, heart failure or shock. To test capillary refill time life your cat’s upper lip and press the flat of your finger against the gum tissue. Remove the pressure and you will see a white mark on the gum where your finger was placed. Using a watch with a second hand, time how long it takes for the pink color to return to the white spot. In the healthy cat it should take around 1 – 2 seconds to return to pink.
If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, take it to the vet for tests and treatment. Dehydration is reversed by giving fluids either subcutaneously or via IV. This will need to be done at your veterinarian’s surgery.
In some cases, you may be asked to give your cat fluids subcutaneously at home. This is a relatively straightforward procedure. You will be provided with needles and syringes as well as fluids. To give fluids, you lift up the loose skin at the back of the neck insert the needle under the skin and slowly administer the fluids. Your veterinarian will be able to show you how to do this. It is useful to be able to administer fluids to a cat who has an underlying medical condition such as diabetes.
Addressing and treating the underlying cause of dehydration is also essential. Some cats can be fussy when it comes to water, if you need to get more fluids into him you can try the following:
Feed him canned food instead of dry.
Make sure you change your cat’s water at least once a day. If you have multiple cats, think about adding additional water bowls.
Some cats prefer running water. Consider buying a cat water fountain, if you think your cat will enjoy this better.
Make sure you take your cat for regular check ups and yearly exams, as well as updating shots.