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Cat Dehydration: How To Detect It And What To Do

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Cats can become dehydrated for a wide variety of reasons, like due to developing kidney disease or from repeated vomiting. Since a cat can experience kidney failure if its dehydration becomes severe enough, it's important that you know how to recognize the signs of cat dehydration. Read on to learn how to tell if your cat's dehydrated and what to do about it.


In general, cats do a very good job of hiding their symptoms when they're not feeling well. However, cats who are dehydrated generally seem lethargic and under the weather. If you haven't seen your cat drinking water recently, that's a good sign that they could be dehydrated or are becoming dehydrated. Furthermore, if your cat loses interest in its dry food but will still eat the wet food, there's a strong chance that they're dehydrated.

Scruff Test

The easiest way to determine if your cat is currently dehydrated is to perform a scruff test. This works under the same principle as the snap-back test that doctors sometimes perform on the back of one's hand to check if one is dehydrated.

To perform the scruff test, get your cat situated and comfortable, perhaps on your lap or a table. Take one hand and gently grab the scruff, pulling it slightly outward, away from your cat. Hold it there for a few seconds; then release it. The scruff should snap back to the original position fairly quickly. However, if your cat's scruff stays elevated and distended, your cat is dehydrated.


If your cat is still eating, you can try adding some water to its food to get it to consume more fluids. You can also syringe-feed your cat water or even an electrolyte-balancing drink like Pedialyte. However, if you don't see any signs of improvement, it's time to seek the attention of a vet, like those at Northside Emergency Pet Clinic.

Your veterinarian can help to boost your cat's hydration by giving them a subcutaneous bolus or giving IV fluids directly into a vein. Your vet will also monitor your cat's health to determine if they've suffered from any kidney damage from prolonged dehydration.

If you think that your cat is dehydrated, take immediate action to provide your cat with necessary fluids. However, if you still can't get your cat to drink or they vomit following fluids, go to a vet right away for medical assistance. Getting help right away could potentially save your cat's life.