My cat is almost 9 years old. She is dehydrated despite regular refills of her water bowls, and occasional wet food mixed with her kibbles. Should I switch her diet to raw or dehydrated food, where I can increase and control the water content of her meals? My fear is that too much canned food would lead to unhealthy weight gain, if I feed too much of it, hence the thought of switching.
To address the first part of your question - we will first need to ascertain if your cat is dehydrated, and if she is actually drinking adequate amounts of water.
The common ways in which we visually assess if a cat is dehydrated or not is based on the following:
You may want to take your cat to a vet to have this assessed, if you are not sure on how to do so.
The average daily water intake should be about 40-60ml/kg/day. This is equivalent to at least 160ml per day for a normal-sized 4kg cat. This includes the water that is in the wet food or any raw or home-prepared diets. If your cat's daily water intake is less than that, we can work on modifying her diet and water intake. There may be a medical problem if your cat is dehydrated despite having normal water intake or drinking more water than normal (increased thirst). The most common reasons cats have increased thirst is due to kidney disease and diabetes. Given your cat's senior's age, I would strongly recommend a visit to a vet to have her checked up. Blood tests and urine tests may be recommended by the vet to check on your cat's internal health condition.
If your cat is dehydrated because she is drinking less than the recommended water intake, we can work on different ways with which you can try to increase her water intake. Here are some suggestions on how you can increase her water intake:
(Written by Dr Gwenda Lowe, Veterinary Surgeon, Amber Vet)