Dehydration is an imbalance of water and electrolytes (minerals) in the body, and can cause serious complications for pets and people alike. Water is essential to cats, who depend on proper daily fluid intake to maintain appropriate health and replace fluids that are routinely lost through urine, feces and respiration. Water makes up 80 percent of your cat’s body, and is necessary for all his biological processes, including circulation, digestion and waste removal. What Causes Dehydration in Cats? Dehydration occurs when fluid levels drop to less than normal. This is due to either reduced water intake or increased fluid loss. Overheating in hot weather, increased activity or a bout of vomiting or diarrhea can all result in fluid loss in cats. Many owners don’t see their cats drinking water and assume they are not sensitive to water loss, but they are-even though they may not drink fluids until they’ve lost as much as eight percent of their body’s water stores. That’s why it’s very important to give your cat access to fresh water at all times to maintain proper hydration. How Much Water Does My Cat Need? As your cat consumes more calories and produces more metabolic waste, he needs more water to maintain his body temperature. In general, an adult cat should drink roughly the same amount of water (in milliliters) as the number of kilocalories eaten per day. Dry cat food contains 7 percent to 12 percent water, while canned food can measure up to 80 percent water. Cats who eat only dry food don’t get as much water from their food as those who eat canned food, and should always have easy access to clean, drinking water to supplement their intake. What Are the General Symptoms of Dehydration in Cats? Sunken eyes Lethargy Loss of appetite Dry mouth Depression Elevated heart rate Decreased skin elasticity Panting What Should I Do if My Cat Is Dehydrated? Dehydration may indicate a serious underlying problem. If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, take him to a veterinarian immediately. You may be able to detect dehydration at home by gently lifting the skin on the back of your cat’s neck or between the shoulder blades-unless your cat is seriously overweight or very thin, his skin should immediately return to a normal position. If he is lacking in fluids, the lifted skin may not quickly return to normal. Often, however, the signs of dehydration are not as obvious, and only a veterinarian can provide proper diagnosis and treatment.
Top 10 Cat Conditions What's Ailing Your Cat? Cats may have nine lives, but you want to make sure kitty hangs on to all of them for as long as she can. No matter how much love and care you give your furry companion, things happen. But by knowing how to recognize the most common conditions affecting cats, you may just be able to save your pet's life. 10. Hyperthyroidism. The most likely cause of hyperthyroidism is a benign tumor on the thyroid gland, which will cause the gland to secrete too much of the hormone. Take your cat to the vet if it starts drinking and peeing a lot, shows aggressive and jittery behavior, suddenly seems hyperactive, vomits and/or loses weight while eating more than usual. Treatment depends on other medical conditions but can range from using drugs to regulate the overactive gland, surgical removal of the gland, and even radioactive treatment to destroy the tumor and diseased thyroid tissue. 9. Upper Respiratory Virus. If your kitty is sneezing, sniffling, coughing, has runny eyes or nose, seems congested and has mouth and nose ulcers, chances are it has an upper respiratory virus. The two main forms of the virus are the feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Once at the vet's office, the cat may receive nose drops, eye ointments and antibacterial medication, especially if it has a secondary infection. 8. Ear Infection. Ear infections in cats have many causes. These might include mites, bacteria, fungi, diabetes, allergies and reactions to medication; some breeds are also more susceptible to ear infections than others. So it’s definitely a good idea to have your kitty checked if it's showing symptoms such as ear discharge, head shaking, swollen ear flaps, stinky ears and ultra sensitivity to ears being touched. Treatment, of course, depends on the cause, but will include eardrops, ear cleaning, ear and oral medications and in severe cases, surgery. 7. Colitis/Constipation. Colitis is a fancy word for inflammation of the large intestine. While the most obvious sign of colitis is diarrhea, sometimes it will hurt the cat to poop. Thus, in trying to hold it in, the cat may develop constipation. There are many causes of colitis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, allergies and parasites, among other diseases. Signs include straining to poop, lack of appetite, dehydration and vomiting. Your vet will test for the underlying cause and treat it accordingly. This may include a more fiber-rich diet, de-worming, antibiotics, laxatives and/or fluids. 6. Diabetes. Like humans, cats suffer from diabetes, too, though this is usually seen in older, overweight cats. Symptoms include increased thirst and peeing, peeing outside the litter box, lethargy and depression. While causes of feline diabetes are not really known, there is a link with diabetes and being overweight. Treatment, therefore, includes daily health monitoring, diet changes, exercise, and depending on the cat’s needs, either daily oral medications or injections. 5. Skin Allergies. Kitties, like you, are known to suffer from allergies, although their allergies show on the skin. If your cat scratches, or chews on its skin a lot, has a rash or loses hair in patches, a trip to the vet is a good idea. Causes of skin allergies vary from reactions to food, fleas, pollens, mites, and even mold and mildew. Treatments may include allergy shots, diet changes, medication and antihistamines. 4. Intestinal Inflammation/Diarrhea. Diarrhea is a sure sign of an intestinal inflammation. It affects either the cat’s small or large intestine and may due to a variety of factors, including diet changes, eating contraband foodstuffs, allergies, bacteria overgrowth, worms and even kidney disease. Symptoms include diarrhea, lack of appetite and vomiting. A visit to your vet will sort out the cause, and treatment may include hydration therapy, a bland diet, dietary changes and anti-diarrhea medications. 3. Renal Failure. This is a serious condition, which is common in older cats. While the underlying causes are not yet understood, recent research suggests a link with distemper vaccinations and long-term dry food diets. Make sure you request blood tests on your regular wellness checkups, since symptoms often don’t show up until 75 percent of the kidney tissue is damaged. The main symptom is excessive thirst and peeing, but the cat may also show signs of drooling, jaw-clicking, and ammonia-scented breath. While it’s not curable, renal failure (when not severe) can be managed through diet, drugs and hydration therapy. Kidney transplants and dialysis can also be used. 2. Stomach Upsets (Gastritis). An inflammation of the cat's stomach lining is simply referred to as gastritis. This condition may be mild or severe, but regardless of its type, make sure you bring your cat to visit the vet if it doesn't show improvement in a day or two, or if the symptoms are severe. Gastritis has many causes, from eating spoiled food to eating too fast to allergies or bacterial infections. If your cat is vomiting, belching, has a lack of appetite or bloodstained poop or diarrhea, a visit to the vet will help straighten things out. Treatments depend on the cause, but generally include medication, fluid therapy and even antibiotics. 1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease. Coming in at No. 1, lower urinary tract disease can turn very quickly into a life-threatening illness for your cat, especially if there’s a blockage caused by crystals, stones or plugs. When total blockage occurs, death can occur within 72 hours if left untreated. Therefore, whisk your cat off to the vet or emergency center ASAP if you see any of the following signs: peeing outside of the litter box, straining, blood in urine, crying out while attempting to pee, not being able to pee, excessive licking of genitals, not eating or drinking, yowling while moving and lethargy. These signs will generally occur regardless if the urinary tract disease is due to stones, infection or urethral plugs. Treatment includes catheterizing to drain the bladder, medication to dissolve stones or blockages, and in recurring cases, surgery. mitesAny type of arachnid excluding ticks renal failureThe failure of the kidneys to perform their proper functions thyroid glandA gland found in the neck of humans and animals that secretes glands responsible for metabolic rate, calcitonin, and others. lethargyThe condition of being drowsy, listless, or weak dialysisA procedure used to get waste out of the blood when the kidneys are unable to function benignNot being able to cause harm; the opposite of malignant. dehydrationA medical condition in which the body has lost fluid or water in excessive amounts antibacterialUsed to refer to any drug or medical substance that has the ability to slow down or stop the growth of bacteria and other such organisms. gastritisA medical condition in which the stomach becomes inflamed