Vet Blog

6 Signs to Tell if Your Cat Is Dehydrated

December 02, 2021

Do you think your cat may be dehydrated? Are you unsure how to tell?

Cats are known to drink less water than dogs, and some humans may become accustomed to the idea that their cats don't drink water very frequently. However, even though cats don't need as much water as some other animals, they do still need some, and it's important to learn how to tell when your cat is dehydrated.

Below, you'll find information about some of the most common signs and symptoms that your cat may be dealing with dehydration in La Porte, TX. If any of this list sounds true for your cat, take her to the veterinarian right away.


Cats who are panting may be suffering from dehydration. If your cat doesn't have enough fluids, she may start to pant as her body tries to keep up with its process without having enough water to do so. This sign is generally a more advanced symptom of dehydration in cats.

Cats may pant for other reasons, too. They may pant if they're in pain, and some cats may pant when they're too hot, although not all cats do this. If panting is the only symptom you see, it's important to try to figure out if dehydration is the cause or something else.

Loss of Appetite and Energy

If your cat is dehydrated, she will soon lose her appetite. She will become uninterested in food, and even her favorite treats may not be able to entice her to eat. At the same time, she will likely lose her energy and become lethargic or unable to get up and move around much.

The longer your cat goes on being dehydrated, the more likely she is to become unable to move much at all. If your cat is so lethargic that she can't get up, she needs to see the emergency vet as quickly as possible.

Sunken Eyes

Sunken eyes generally signify a cat who is very sick. If your cat's dehydration has reached a severe level, she may have sunken eyes and may look quite sick in the face as well. The sunken eyes symptom may also be accompanied with eyes that look glossy, which is another sign of a sick cat.

If your cat looks like she has sunken eyes, take her to the vet as soon as you can. She may be dehydrated, but she could also be quite sick with an underlying health problem contributing to this symptom as well.

Sticky Gums

Sticky gums may be a little bit more difficult to recognize than other symptoms on this list. If you are a cat owner, it's a good idea to get yourself used to your cat's gum and mouth health when she is well, so you can tell when something isn't quite right.

If you know what your cat's gums normally feel like, you can press your fingertips gently against them to check for stickiness or tackiness. If her gums feel sticky or tacky, this is a good indicator that she is dehydrated and needs to see the vet quickly.

Underlying Illnesses

Underlying illnesses are not symptoms themselves, but if you know your cat has a diagnosed underlying illness, it may be easier for you to recognize when she is dehydrated. Cats who are already sick are much more prone to becoming dehydrated the longer the illness goes on.

If your cat has a diagnosed health problem, watch her closely for other signs of dehydration. Take her to the vet for her regular checkups too, so you can stay on top of problems before they get worse. This way, you can recognize dehydration before it becomes a serious issue for your cat, too.

Frequent Vomiting and Diarrhea

A cat who has frequent vomiting and diarrhea is also much more likely to become dehydrated than other cats. Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dangerous levels of dehydration in cats. If you know your cat vomits or has diarrhea frequently-either because of a diagnosed health condition or an undiagnosed issue-pay close attention to her fluid intake to ensure she doesn't become dehydrated from these symptoms.

You can entice your cat to consume more fluids by putting a little bit of chicken broth (without garlic or onions) on her dry food. You may also be able to get her to eat wet food instead.

Call Bay-Porte Animal Hospital for Your Cat's Dehydration

This list does not include all the possible signs that your cat may be dehydrated, so remember that she may show other symptoms outside those discussed here as well.

If you think your cat may be dehydrated or if you know she is, take her to the emergency vet, as she may need emergency IV fluids to help her recover. From there, you will need to take her to the regular vet to get to the bottom of the underlying cause of her dehydration.

To talk with the Bay-Porte Animal Hospital team about your cat's dehydration call (281) 471-6834!