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  • Writer's pictureBeltsville News

Kitty Post: Beware of Dehydration in Cats

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Beware of Dehydration in Cats

Dehydration can have grave consequences for cats! As a result, it is important to understand the potential impact of dehydration and take necessary precautions to prevent it. One immediate effect of dehydration is a decrease in energy levels. Dehydrated cats become lethargic and may show a lack of interest in their usual activities. They may also experience a decrease in appetite. As water is essential for the proper functioning of various bodily systems, dehydration can disrupt the cat's metabolism, making them less efficient at absorbing nutrients from their food.

Dehydration can also cause urinary issues in cats. When cats are dehydrated, their urine becomes more concentrated, increasing the risk of bladder inflammation, urinary tract infections, and the development of urinary stones. Dehydrated cats may have difficulty urinating, increased frequency in urination, or even blood in their urine. These symptoms can be painful and uncomfortable for a cat, eventually leading to more severe health complications if left untreated.

Outdoor cats are more likely to become dehydrated than indoor cats because outdoor cats have more exposure to heat, direct sunlight, and physical activities, which can quickly lead to fluid loss. Cats lose water through evaporation, panting, and sweating through their paws.

Heatstroke is a severe heat-related illness that outdoor cats are particularly susceptible to if they become dehydrated. When a cat's body temperature rises above the normal range due to excessive heat exposure, it can result in multiple organ failures and be life-threatening. Some signs of heatstroke in cats include excessive panting, drooling, fast heart rate, vomiting, and even seizures. It is essential to recognize these symptoms and take immediate steps to cool down the cat, provide fresh water, and seek veterinary assistance.

You can check for signs of dehydration by gently pinching a cat's scruff – the loose skin between their shoulder blades. If the skin slowly returns to its normal position, the cat is adequately hydrated. However, if the skin takes longer to revert, the cat may be dehydrated, and immediate steps should be taken to hydrate it.

Preventing dehydration in outdoor cats requires proactive actions from their caretakers. Since not all free-roaming cats have access to fresh water sources, providing access to fresh and clean water every day is essential. Water bowls should be placed in shaded areas and regularly checked and refilled. Providing shelter and shade for outdoor cats can also help prevent dehydration. These structures protect cats from direct sunlight and excessive heat, helping to regulate their body temperature and minimize fluid loss.

In cases where dehydration in outdoor cats is severe or persistent, veterinary attention should be sought. A veterinarian will assess the cat's hydration status, administer fluids if necessary, and provide tips on how to manage the cat's hydration levels moving forward.

In conclusion, dehydration can have detrimental effects on all cats, especially outdoor cats. It is crucial to be aware of the risks and take pre-emptive measures to prevent dehydration. Provide access to fresh water; make provisions for shade and shelter; monitor the cats’ hydration levels; and avoid excessive heat exposure.

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