Is Your Cat Dehydrated?


Is your cat one of them? And what is the easiest solution to be sure your cat is well-hydrated?

Last year at 6 years old I was diagnosed with borderline kidney failure after my blood work results came back. Mom says that is this is a chronic problem she hears from so many pet parents who get the same news about their pet. 

The good news is – is that there is much more discussion about the issue of keeping your cat well-hydrated, therefore many more pet owners are becoming aware of this health problem and can do something about it before it gets too late and turns into renal failure.

By now I’m sure you want to know why us cats are having hydration issues to begin with! 

Simply said, it starts with the diet…just like humans, we are what we eat. Modern-day cats (during the last 70-80 years) have mostly been fed a diet of processed foods that come in a can or a sack. 

Generally these foods are not super high in moisture with kibble being the lowest at 6% - 10%. Canned food is around 70%. Pet owners leave out a bowl of water, but tell us that their cats really don’t drink from the bowl or the fountain much of the time. I can tell you, us 3 kitties here never drink water out of the bowl.

That is because genetically we are still desert animals sharing 96% of the DNA with wild cats to this day. We would get our moisture from our prey through the blood and the contents of the stomach.

Now in full disclosure if you didn't already know this, we are an “all raw food house” and have been for almost 6 years. We eat a diet of human grade animal protein, bones and organs with as little carbs as possible. Mom buys it from independent pet stores that carry a selection of frozen and freeze-dried raw food. The frozen is packed with moisture, and the freeze-dried is reconstituted with water before serving. As a result we are starting out with food that is full of moisture. However, I still wasn’t getting enough water apparently!

During my last visit with my holistic vet, Dr. Gerald Buchoff told mom that he could tell that I was dehydrated before the blood work even came back. He said that all he had to do was employ the “pinch test” on me and it was very obvious that I was dehydrated!

What is the pinch test? 

Just pick up a fold of your cats skin in the center of its back by the shoulder blades – and if your cat is well-hydrated, the fold of skin will “snap back” into position. 

If your cat is dehydrated, the fold of skin will just stay “up” and take a few/several seconds to go back down into position.

The blood work came back and confirmed his diagnose and immediately told mom that I needed more water in my diet. Mom was surprised because she had actually been putting a little water in our food because she noticed that we were not drinking from the bowl.

Dr. Buchoff said that I needed more water immediately and the best way is to put it in our food. He said I needed a cup of water every day to help reverse my numbers! And he instructed mom to be proactive and add a cup of water to Beau’s and Bouvier’s food as well.

Mom said she had to think about that idea for a bit because it meant that our meals, which now resemble “stew” with the ¼ cup of water, and we like it just fine. Now with a ½ cup, our food will become more like “soup” – and you know how us kitties hate change!

Dr. Buchoff said the optimum “visual” is to think of chunky chili!


So mom started to slowly introduce more liquid to each of our meals, and over the course of a couple weeks, had us up to ½ cup in each meal for a total of 1 cup of hydration every day. 

Mom says YAY - we are on our way!

I must say there have been a few times when I said “enough with the liquid mom” and walked away from my food…but she sprinkled some freeze-dried chicken breast flakes on top of the “chunky chili” – and that lured me back to finish my meal – liquid and all! 

She says it’s like “parmesan cheese” when she uses the crumbled chicken as a topper…but we call it “kitty krack” because we love it so much!

It’s gotten to the point that us 3 kitties lap up all the water with our delicious raw food and leave the bowls licked clean…and mom doesn’t even have to coax us anymore with a topper.

In the end, adding the required 1 cup of water to our food each day was super easy as it was gradually introduced.

The only other dramatic result of this increased hydration is – what goes in – must come out!

So it’s a good thing that we have 4 litter boxes for us 3 cats! They are definitely getting more use! 


Mom says she doesn’t mind the extra cleanings, if it means we are well-hydrated and that the increased liquid intake adds to our wellbeing and reverses my numbers!

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