Water is as essential for a cat's survival as for a human being. But it is hard to tell that if your cat is taking enough water or not. Do you know that cats were basically desert animals? They can get the required moisture from their prey. So, a cat can survive even if it does not drink water. Today the food we serve to our domestic cats can mainly be dry food that contains only 7 to 10% moisture. But the cats, being cats, stick to their habit and don't drink enough water. It can cause dehydration and many other severe issues in our cats.
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How Much Water Does My Cat Need to Drink?
If your cat doesn't take enough water, it will slow down its metabolism and the body will not be able to function correctly. However, cats generally don't drink much water to fulfil their need.
The basic formula of water intake for a cat is 60 ml per kg of body weight. It means that if your cat's weight is 6 kg, it needs 360 ml of water per day:
- Don't forget to consider your cat's diet while calculating their water intake.
- Most of the dry food or kibble contains only 10% of water. For example, if your cat consumes 90 grams of dry food. So, its food will have only approximately 9 ml of water, and it still needs to drink 351ml of water each day.
- Wet and canned food contain more amount of water as compared to dry food. So, if you feed your cat canned food all the time, it will need to drink less water as wet food already contains 60% to 80% water. For example, if your cat consumes 300 grams of wet food, the food will have 240 ml water, and your 6 kg cat needs to drink only 120 ml of water every day.
You can determine that how much water your cat should intake in a day. But the need for water intake also depends upon the weather and the health condition of your cat. If your cat is playful and keeps active the whole time, it may need to drink a higher level of water.
How to Keep a Check on My Cat's Water Intake?
We all are concerned about keeping our furry friends healthy. Not consuming enough water can lead our cats to dehydration. So, ensure that your cat drinks enough water throughout the day. If you want to track your cat's water consumption, here are some tips to help you:
- Put a measuring cup full of water at your cat's favourite spot. Calculate how much water did it consume at the end of the day.
- Make sure to cut off all other water sources for your cat, such as any water bucket or leak pipes.
- Don't forget that some water also evaporates due to the dry air.
But this method is valid only if you have one cat. If you have several cats in the same house, you can never monitor their water intake by this method as you will never know which cat is drinking from which cup. You can tell if your cat is getting enough water by looking for some simple signs:
Check Your Cat’s Skin
Generally, a hydrated cat has supple skin. Skin elasticity shows the level of moisture in your cat's body. Pull the skin around the shoulder gently, and if it comes back to its place immediately, it means that your cat is getting enough water. The more dehydrated the cat is, the slower the skin returns to place. If your cat's skin stays up like a tent, it can be a sign of severe dehydration. This “skin testing” can be useful but it may not work in cats that have less elastic skin due to age factors, and overweight cats as the fats under the skin help it falls back down faster.
Check Your Cat’s Gum
A hydrated cat’s gum should be moist and light pinkish. If the gum feels tacky or sticky or dry; or appears to be pale, white or bright red, it can indicate dehydration in your cat. Furthermore, you may try to press your cat’s gum to make a white spot, the white spot made by your finger should return to its normal colour in 2 seconds; it can be a symptom of dehydration if it is longer than 2 seconds.
Observe Your Cat’s Litter
A dehydrated cat is usually constipated at the same time due to a lack of fluid in the body. You should observe if your cat is using the toilet less than usual? And are the poops small and hard like pellets instead of normal poops? These could be a sign of dehydration in your cat.
Causes of Dehydration in Cats
There are so many factors that affect the hydration level in cat's bodies. Not drinking enough water according to the body's weight is the main reason for dehydration. However, there are some other reasons too:
- Overheating or hot weather is one of the big reasons for dehydration in our little furry friends.
- If a cat is highly active, it needs to consume extra water. If your cat remains physically active and doesn't drink excess water, it can face dehydration.
- If a cat suffers from diarrhoea or vomiting, its body can lose an enormous amount of water that causes dehydration.
- Cats with other health issues like cancer, diabetes or kidney disease can also suffer from dehydration.
- Feeding only dry food tends to cause dehydration in your cat. So, if your cat consumes 100% dry food, make sure that it drinks enough water.
Symptoms of Cat Dehydration
The common signs of dehydration in cats are:
- Breathing problem
- Vomiting or diarrheoa
- Dry mouth
- Dry gums
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Urine in a dark colour
If your cat shows one or more of the above symptoms, it may have become dehydrated. Take your cat to the vet as soon as possible if you suspect severe dehydration.
Diseases in Cats Caused by Chronic Dehydration
Chronic dehydration is not immediately life-threatening. Yet, this kind of long-term low dehydration can lead to severe health problems in a long run. A cat can suffer from serious health issues like diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, urinary tract disease and formation of urinary stones when there is no optimal level of water in the body for the long term. You can prevent chronic dehydration by consistently monitoring your cat's water intake and detecting the symptoms of dehydration in the early stage.
How to Prevent Cat Dehydration?
A cat can face many serious health issues if it doesn't drink enough water, and none of us wants that, of course. If you think that your cat is not consuming the required amount of water, you can prevent dehydration in them by taking some simple steps:
1: Add Water to Your Cat’s Food
If your cat does not like to drink water, the perfect option for you is to add water to the food especially kibbles and freeze-dried pet food. Adding water to the food can make it more palatable to enhance your cat’s appetite and easier to digest.
Does your cat always slurp up dry food in huge mouthfuls? Adding moisture to the food can also help to prevent your cat from “vacuuming” in all the food in a short time because speed eating can cause vomiting or bloat in cats.
Take caution however, any hydrated food should not be left out there for more than an hour or two because moisture speeds up bacteria growth and the food can be spoil within a few hours.
2: Change Your Cat's Water Bowl
It is possible that your cat's current water bowl is not comfortable or tempting for it. You can try a new one. Buy a wider and shallow bowl and monitor your cat's water intake. It might help it to drink more water each day.
3: Change the Location of the Water Bowl
Most cats do not like closed places. They want to roam around freely. If you have a fixed location for food and water bowls, try switching the space. Most cats like to sit near the window so that they can look outside throughout the day. Find out your cat's favourite spot in the house and put the water bowl at that spot. This might increase its water intake.
4: Always Provide the Cat with Fresh and Filtered Water
While the amount of water to consume is important, the quality of water matters as well. Fresh and clean water is essential not only to prevent dehydration but also to ensure the health of your cat.
Cats may be naturally attracted to drink running tap water. However, tap water can be contaminated along the way, such as passing through rusty pipes, before it reaches your cat. Hence, your cat should drink filtered water rather than tap water to prevent unnecessary stomach aches.
Dust particles, a cat's fur and many other things can make the water dirty when it sits for a long time. So, change the water at least once a day to keep it clean and appealing for your cat.
5: Get a Drinking Fountain for Your Cat
According to several studies, many cats hate drinking still water, no matter how attractive the bowl is or how clean the water is. They prefer running water as they find it appealing with the sound mesmerizes them. Bring a cat drinking fountain for your little feline so that they will get excited to drink more water daily. The drinking fountain should be cleaned regularly to avoid bacteria and algae growth which can make your cat sick.
6: Try Flavorful Water
Cats are very picky and specific about the taste of their food. They prefer flavours instead of plain water. So, if you have tried everything and nothing seems to be working to increase your cat's water intake, try flavorful water.
There are many recipes to make water delicious for your cat. For example, add concentrated chicken or fish broth to four to five cups of water and freeze it. You may need to make your own broth because most of the commercial broths contain flavourings, seasonings, garlic and onion that are harmful to your cat. Broth for cats should consist only of raw ingredients like chicken, bones and water.
Take one tasty ice cube daily and put it into a bowl for your cat. Watch out so that your cat is not biting the ice because it can damage the teeth. Don't forget to throw it away after the ice is melted for a long time because it can go bad.
How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Recover from Dehydration?
Dehydration can cause many severe health conditions in your cat. It will not function properly if the water percentage in your cat’s body is less than the required level. Cats never show apparent early symptoms of dehydration unless it is vomiting or having diarrhoea.
Your cat can recover from dehydration once you find the reason behind it and resolve it accordingly. You should remove the cat from any hot environment and place it somewhere cool to rest. Most of the mild dehydration can be recovered in a day by providing the cat with the right amount of fluid. If your cat has severe dehydration with symptoms like refuse to eat, vomiting or diarrhoea for 24 hours, please take it to the vet immediately for proper treatment. This kind of dehydration may be cured in 2 to 3 days in the hospital.
Check their skin elasticity and monitor their water intake carefully. A urine test can help to determine if your cat is on dehydration and to what degree. With the help of a urine sample, you can detect dehydration of your cat at an early stage. In this way, you will be able to take measures and stop further dehydration.
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