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saving a dehydrated kitten

If you’ve found a dehydrated kitten, understand that this four-pawed friend is in some serious trouble. While cats do have an aversion to water, they don’t hate it so much that they dehydrate themselves.

Dehydration in cats usually occurs when they cannot find a good water source and lose too much water in the meantime. If you have a stray kitten or an outdoor cat, they become dehydrated when they experience excessive water loss. Cats lose moisture by sweating through their paws.

However, they also experience dehydration if they vomit, get diarrhea or become overheated. And if they’re not taken care of in the meantime, that leads them to become very sick. The situation can even be life-threatening. That’s why you must do everything you can to restore their hydration levels.

But how?

Treating a Dehydrated Kitten

As a savior, you must know what cats can drink besides water? It will help you save the dehydrated cat because if the cat is not inclined to drink water, you can offer something more appealing, which is easy to drink and delicious for cats.

What are the Symptoms of Dehydration?

If you suspect your kitten may be dehydrated, some symptoms will confirm that condition, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Sunken eyes
  • Decreased appetite
  • A decrease in skin elasticity
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth

If the kitten is experiencing all or even some of these symptoms, it may mean that it is severely dehydrated. The usual recommendation would be to take the kitten to the vet since severe dehydration can become serious.

But, if you do not have emergency access to a vet, you will need to dropper-feed water to the kitten at intervals. Cats cannot drink excessive amounts of water to quench their thirst like we can, especially since their mouths aren’t shaped to help them gulp water down. With a dropper, it’ll be much easier to give them water continuously and quickly.

How Much Water Should You Feed a Kitten?

Cats require 50ml per kilogram of their body weight. But, considering that kittens at times weigh ounces, you can choose to give it about 15–20 ml of water, or as much as your kitten is comfortable with drinking.

As a mammal, the kitten’s body will require this much water to compensate for the amount of moisture the body needs.

How to Treat Dehydration at Home?

Severe cases require professional help, so you will need to scour around for the best one you can find. However, if you notice your cat moving about and being somewhat normal, this may mean that your kitten is not so dangerously dehydrated. In that case, you can treat it at home. Some things you’ll need include:

  • A half-cup of fresh, filtered water
  • One cc size dropper
  • Ice chips
  • A bottle of Pedialyte (can be used for cats, preferably unflavored)

For the last item, in small doses, Pedialyte can help the kitten’s body retain moisture and essential minerals that it loses through diarrhea and vomiting. If you give your kitten Pedialyte, give it much less than what you would give to a child. A few licks of a spoon should be enough. Every 10 minutes, give the kitten small amounts of the medication and make sure it doesn’t go into the cat’s lungs.

If the kitten does not take to having Pedialyte, though, try using the one cc size dropper to give the cat several droplets of water at a time. Use the dropper twice, then wait an hour before administering the two dropper-full of water again.

At the kitten’s usual dinner, lunch, or breakfast time, dilute some baby food with warm water and use a separate dropper to feed the kitten some food.

If the kitten is feeling unwell or nauseous, it may refuse to eat and may even vomit again. If that happens, wrap the kitten in a warm, soft cloth straightaway, and wait 10 minutes before giving the kitten ice chips so that it can have something.

Remember, a kitten will get dehydrated very quickly because of its small size. Getting everything ready beforehand will ensure that you take the right steps in time.

Other Tips on Maintaining Hydration

If the kitten is fussy, try using water from low-sodium tuna. Dilute it with water and use the dropper to give that. If the kitten is too young, though, do not give it cow’s milk. Instead, use Royal Canin baby cat milk or KMR kitten weaning food so the kitten doesn’t suffer any adverse reaction.

If the kitten is older than four weeks, boil some boneless chicken breasts, and puree them in water to make a slurry.

Tips on Preventing Dehydration

If the kitten pulls through, you will have done a fantastic job. But it’s not over yet.

Dehydration doesn’t get better overnight. If you’re fostering the kitten, try your best to keep the kitten well-hydrated at all times, even if you have to wrap the cat in a towel and feed it water via a dropper.

If the kitten seeks water, though, here are some tips that will come in handy:

  • Keep ice chips at hand at all times.
  • When feeding the kitten water, add a few drops of Pedialyte.
  • Do not feed dry food. If you have dry food, moisten it with kitten-friendly milk or water.
  • Use baby food that does not contain any garlic or onions.
  • Use canned fish or tuna.
  • Have several freshwater bowls in every room of the house, and change the water every day.
  • Invest in a quiet cat water fountain, so the cat has a source of fresh cycled water.

Go to the Vet

Even if the kitten is feeling better now, it’s not out of the woods yet.

If you don’t know how the kitten became so dehydrated, the chances are that the kitten may be unwell. A visit to the vet can help establish what the problem is. And it also gives you the right resources, so you can treat the kitten and make it all better.

Final Thoughts

Dehydration is not common amongst kittens or cats.

So, if you ever see a cat expressing such symptoms, consider it your duty to do as much as you can to make the creature feel better. Kittens especially are vulnerable to illnesses and dehydration. With the right help, we can work hard to make it better and give the kitten a life it deserves to have; one with love, happiness, and lots of water with treats!

How to hydrate a cat with a syringe is our complete resource to hydrate a cat through a syringe, you can adopt this method when the cat is hesitant to intake water through the usual drinking method.

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