Most of the time, if you give your pet cat plenty of love, wet food, and regular medical checkups, he or she will remain healthy and happy for many years.
But if your cat gets sick, or suffers from an unexpected serious illness, like heatstroke, they may be at risk for dehydration.
And unlike dogs, cats usually don’t just go drink water from their bowl unless they are very thirsty. You may have to try Pedialyte for cats.
We advise if your cat needs medical attention for dehydration, and the veterinarian recommends Pedialyte to replace water and electrolytes, you may have to administer the medicine to your cat.
As you might imagine, this can be tricky because your fur baby will probably dislike the taste. Fortunately, we have provided a few simple ways to make the process less stressful for you and your cat.
When your cat is dehydrated
Cats are susceptible to becoming dehydrated, because they have no strong urge to drink water like other animals, including dogs. Because cats are carnivores, they are conditioned to gain moisture from the food they regularly eat.
If the water is dirty or inconvenient to attain, the cats may simply avoid the water altogether. Once your cat becomes dehydrated, they may become even more resistant to drink water.
Signs of dehydration include some or all of the following symptoms:
If you’d like to check physically to see whether your cat is dehydrated, grasp him by the scruff of the neck.
A hydrated cat will have skin that bounces back right away, and a dehydrated cat will have loose skin that takes quite a while to retract.
The more severe the dehydration, the longer the skin will take to retract. In a severely dehydrated cat, the skin will take and maintain the shape of a triangle. This requires immediate veterinary attention!
An easy way to rehydrate your cat might involve placing an ice cube in a bowl. (It also works for dogs!)
Your cat might visit the bowl, and if they have been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, it’s a good strategy.
Further, if you travel with your cat, he or she may be stressed out. So, make frequent stops, feed them wet food, and let them walk around in the open air (always on a leash!)
The capillary test
The following additional steps will help you check your cat’s blood circulation, which often indicates dehydration, heart failure, or shock. Please keep in mind, these symptoms may need veterinary care.
- Raise your cat’s upper lip and press the flat part of your finger against the gum line.
- Remove the pressure and check for a white mark on the gum.
- Measure how long it takes for the pink to return to white once you remove your finger.
- If the pink fails to return, get the cat to a vet as soon as possible.
Keeping your cat hydrated
- Offer clean, fresh water every day in a bowl that has been cleaned.
- If your cat refuses to drink water, add in some tuna oil or clam juice.
- Some cats enjoy drinking from a fountain, so if you’re able to buy one, it will make your job easier.
- Provide plenty of wet food, because it has a higher water content than dry food and can help.
If you do end up having to give your cat liquid medicine, feel free to follow our plan based on common sense and experience. Always expect the worst and hope for the best. And if you anticipate your cat will give you trouble, remember many hands make light work. Enlist a few of your friends to come in and help.
Add medicine to your cat’s food
Before you rush to give your cat the liquid medication, remember that they will take the path of least resistance. Most cats prefer canned cat food, so even if you supplement their diet with dry food, you can add the Pedialyte to their food with a dropper and mix it in.
Keep your fingers crossed. If the medicine has a mild smell or taste, your cat may simply accept the dose with no problems. Keep in mind, if your cat has dietary restrictions, you may need to forfeit the entire plan and try a direct dose. (It won’t be easy.)
In general, cats respond very negatively to bullying, admonishment, and/or restraint.
Try to remain patient and calm while you administer medicine to your cat.
Never become upset with your cat while trying to administer medication. When dealing with tense situations involving animals, and people, patience will take you a long way.
If your cat struggles as you attempt to give medicine, be persistent but kind. Speak to him softly, calmly, and urge him into his happy place. If necessary, wrap him in a towel or small blanket with only his head exposed. Hold him close to you or have your helper hold him, and continue offering positive reinforcement. Good kitty!
Try to make the experience pleasant, and remember it is your responsibility to give him or her the medicine. If you hold him by the scruff of the neck, it naturally opens his mouth. However, if he or resists strongly, stop and reconsider consulting with the veterinarian.
Prepare Your Space
Before you dose your cat with Pedialyte, clear the room of pets and people who might interfere with your goal of accomplishing the task.
Use a flat surface, like a countertop or table. Moreover, cover the surface with a towel or newspaper. If possible, hold your cat in your lap and offer him or her some reassurance.
Perhaps, wrap your kitty in a towel to make him, or her feel secure.
Also, this swaddling may help the cat keep his or her paws in and gently restrain them.
If you have a calm cat, the wrapping may be unnecessary. Just in case, however, keep tissues, gauze, and antibacterial lotion nearby.
Always read the label on the prescription or over the counter bottle to make sure you give the exact dosage. If you have medicine that requires refrigeration, before you give the dose to your cat, let the medicine reach room temperature.
Pedialytes for cats
If you must administer diluted Pedialyte to your cat, here are some steps to follow:
- Mix equal parts Pedialyte and water, and pour it directly into the water bowl.
- Lead your cat to his or her water bowl filled with the mix. (If your cat completely refuses to drink the mix from the water bowl, you may have to try a different method.) Give your cat plenty of time to walk to the water bowl.
- If the dehydration is not an emergency, leave the bowl out and simply check back a few hours later to see if she has taken a drink. If she is very dehydrated and fails to drink right away, you may have to administer the Pedialyte directly.
- If your cat is severely dehydrated, a more concentrated dose may be required. Also, very sick cats may be unable to take in fluids. And remember your cats are smart enough to detect Pedialyte in the water and may not drink.
If you must administer undiluted Pedialyte, follow these steps:
- Draw out the correct amount of Pedialyte using the syringe. This will usually be between two to four milliliters per pound of the cat, depending on the severity of the dehydration. Consult your veterinarian for the correct amount and frequency of dosage.
- Take your time administering the Pedialyte. Also, limit the amount of liquid given at any one time and be sure to give your cat plenty of time to breathe in between. This may take longer but will prevent issues such as aspiration.
- Stay aware of how much liquid you give your cat. Place the syringe gently toward the cheek area. Administer a little and let your cat breathe. Take a few more seconds to continue, and gently hold your cat’s neck to make sure they are unable to spit out the Pedialyte. Slowly continue until all of the syringes is empty.
- Remember to move slowly and be patient. Cats dislike being forced to do anything, and this will be an unpleasant experience for them. Plus, shoving a syringe full of liquid down their throat could cause serious consequences.
- Small bits of liquid at a time aimed toward the cheek area, and not the throat, will help ensure your cat stays calm.
- If you’re struggling with trying the safe syringe technique, watch the video below, or seek some instructional videos. Also, never overlook the advice of your veterinarian.
Going through the motions
Steady your cat’s head with your non-dominant hand. Hold the syringe with your dominant hand and gently insert the tip into the corner of your cat’s mouth between the cheek and teeth. Move quickly, but confidently.
Point the dropper toward the back of your cat’s head between his teeth and behind his fangs. Be careful to keep your kitty’s head steady, so they don’t accidentally aspirate the medicine.
Very slowly squeeze the dropper, and give your cat time to swallow the medicine. Gently hold your cat’s mouth closed as you empty the syringe and make sure he swallows. If he seems to be holding it in his mouth, blow on his nose to encourage swallowing. If your cat spits some medicine out, do not re-medicate.
Rinse the dropper or syringe, and place it back in the refrigerator if necessary. Now, it’s time for a treat for the both of you, and you’re all done until next time.
Words of warning
Dehydration in cats may be a symptom of a serious health condition, and your first plan of action should always be a trip to the vet. That way, you can get advice from a medical professional, and he or she can help you decide whether you need to use Pedialyte. And if your cat becomes dehydrated because of heat shock, make an emergency trip to the vet.
Please note: we recommend that you never give Pedialyte to your cat without a veterinarian’s direction. Too much Pedialyte can be lethal, and too little will probably be no help at all. Moreover, always use unflavored Pedialyte.
If your cat is unable to hold down Pedialyte because of continuous vomiting, please see a veterinarian immediately. If your cat is dehydrated, and he or she is vomiting, the dehydration can become severe, and they may need IV treatment.
The sooner you recognize your cat is dehydrated, the easier time you will have in rectifying the situation. And if your cat has no signs of apparent physical distress (vomiting, seizures, etc.) simply offer your cat clean, fresh water. And of course, cats prefer not to drink anywhere near their litter boxes.
If you think the dehydration is being caused by some other issue, such as a gastrointestinal virus, call your vet immediately. In some cases, dehydrated cats may only take water through medical intervention, such as an IV or injected under the skin. Dehydration can become very serious in just a matter of hours, so if you can’t get in touch with your regular vet, please take your cat to an emergency veterinary clinic.
The sugars and electrolytes that Pedialyte contains are in the ratio and quantity recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Pedialyte tends to be lower in sugar than sports drinks, and higher in electrolytes like sodium and potassium. The electrolytes are critical in the functioning of muscle tissue and brain neurons. Dehydration causes decreased electrolytes that may lead to heart and brain complications. This is why it’s important to replenish electrolytes and water lost during dehydration.
A few last words
Pedialyte for cats can be an effective way to treat mild dehydration and prevent dehydration in cats prone to the issue. For severe cases, as mentioned, please see a veterinarian before giving your cat Pedialyte. The appropriate method will depend on the cat’s behavior and severity of dehydration.