How to Keep Your Diabetic Cat Hydrated

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Cats may not like touching water, but drinking it is essential to keeping their bodies healthy. Under normal circumstances, most cats will regulate their own hydration by drinking when they need to. However, diabetic cats can be more prone to dehydration than healthy cats. Severe dehydration (when your cat hasn't had a drink for 24 hours) is a vet emergency that could be fatal, so it's important to make sure your cat is always getting enough fluids. Here are 3 ways to keep your diabetic kitty happily hydrated to avoid a medical "cat-astrophe".

Feed Wet Food

Do you know where your cat should be getting their fluids from? You may think their water bowl is more important than their food bowl when it comes to staying hydrated, but surprisingly, the opposite is true. That's why it's so important for diabetic kitties to eat wet food. There are numerous reasons why dry cat food is not a good choice for diabetic cats. Aside from the low nutritional value and high carb levels, dry cat food can lead to dehydration. Dry cat food has a water content of around 7 to 10%, while wet food contains 70 to 80% water. This means that cats on a dry food diet need to drink about 7 times as much water as cats who eat wet food. Studies indicate that most cats on dry food do not drink enough to make up for the deficit, consuming only half as much water their wet food counterparts. To ensure your cat doesn't fall short of their daily requirements, consider switching to wet food.

Try Various Water Bowls

Do you have a picky kitty on your hands? Many cats can be picky, fussing over everything from the right toys to the right water bowl. Some cats are so choosy that they won't drink enough water if they don't like the vessel you've given them. One small study found that 19% of the researched cats consumed more water out of their "favourite" type of bowl. If you're like most owners, you probably give your cat fluids in a regular still water bowl. While this is adequate for many cats, yours might be a little fussier. Try using a "fountain" style bowl if you're worried about your diabetic cat's fluid intake. These bowls circulate fresh water, and they're particularly favoured by cats who enjoy drinking from the tap. 

Deal With Minor Dehydration Immediately

Severe dehydration doesn't happen in an instant. It takes several hours to manifest. By dealing with any minor dehydration as soon as possible, you can prevent a serious emergency. If your haven't noticed your cat drinking for a while, check for dehydration. The most simple test is to gently pinch your cat's skin around the scruff of their neck and pull it upwards. If your cat is hydrated, the skin should spring back instantly when you let go. If it takes a while for the skin to retract, your cat need fluids. You can try to treat a cat's dehydration with an electrolyte replacing solution. These can be found in most pharmacies and are commonly used for treating diarrhoea in children. For diabetic cats, ensure you choose a sugar-free solution. If you cat isn't interested in this option, they may be willing to drink some baby food diluted with water, or the water (unsalted only) from a can of tuna. If dehydration persists, or your cat is lethargic with sunken eyes, contact your emergency vet as soon as possible.