Why Hydration is Critical to Your Cat’s Optimal Health


Water is critical to keeping your cat healthy. Cats as a species don’t have a high thirst drive, and this can lead to chronic low-level dehydration if a cat is fed mostly dry food, which in turn, can lead to urinary tract and kidney problems. Proper hydration can help prevent urinary tract disease and promote healthy kidney function by flushing toxins.

The importance of proper hydration

A properly hydrated body will have an optimal balance of electrolytes, specific minerals and fluids. Water affects everything from transport and absorption of nutrients and digestion to circulation to maintenance of body temperature.

Signs of dehydration

When a cat is dehydrated, she doesn’t just lose water, but also electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chloride, all of which are important for normal body function.

An easy way to check for dehydration is skin tenting. Gently pinch the skin over your cat’s shoulder blades and pull up. The skin should spring back into place when released. When a cats is dehydrated, the skin goes back in place increasingly slowly. It the “tent” stays in place, it is a sign of severe dehydration, which is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Other signs of dehydration are

  • Dry, tacky gums
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Panting
  • Loss of appetite

How to increase water intake

Even though cats get moisture from a raw or canned diet, they should still have plenty of fresh water available at all times.Try one or all of the following suggestions:

  • Choose the right bowl. Cats prefer wide, shallow bowls to deep, narrow bowls. Your cat’s whiskers are super sensitive, and it may be uncomfortable for her if they touch the side of the bowl (something that is also knows as whisker stress.)
  • Location, location, location. Place water bowls in easily accessible locations and in areas where your cat tends to spend a lot of time. Place multiple bowls throughout the house.
  • Keep water fresh. Wash bowls daily and change water once or twice a day. You wouldn’t want to drink stale water that’s been sitting out for hours, and neither will your cats.
  • Get a fountain. Fountains are a great way to encourage cats to drink more water.


Welcome to the Conscious Cat

The Conscious Cat is an award winning website published by writer and cat expert Ingrid King, author of Buckley's Story and Purrs of Wisdom. Here at The Conscious Cat, we're passionate about cats. Our mission is to educate cat guardians so that every cat, and every cat's human, can have a happy, healthy life together.


On this site, you will find expert advice from a seasoned cat consultant. The Conscious Cat features articles on cat health, cat nutrition, cat behavior, cat lifestyle, pet loss, and, of course, pictures of cats. We'll bring you product and book reviews, as well as news from around the cat world.

We'll also share Purrs of Wisdom: lessons in conscious living, inspired by the cats who share our lives. Other features include our Mews and Nips; fascinating feline stories from around the globe, and Allegra's World and Ruby's Reflections; written from the perspective of Ingrid's two feline companions. After all, who better than a cat to teach us a thing or two about how to live a joyful life!

And let's not forget, we have a soft spot for tortoiseshell cats and their unique personalities, also known as "tortitude."

We hope you'll enjoy our site. Please join our community of cat lovers: sign up for our newsletter and join us on Facebook. Your comments and feedback are always welcome.

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