Proper hydration is essential for both pets and people, so it can be worrying if your cat won't drink water. Join our Fremont vets today as they share some reasons your cat may not be drinking and what to do.
Why won't my cat drink water?
People, cats, and all animals require hydration to stay healthy. For the most part, animals drink when they are thirsty and different animals require different amounts of water to stay hydrated. It's possible that your cat is getting enough water even if they don't appear to be drinking much.
Unlike dogs that often lap up large quantities of water at one time, cats are more likely to drink very small amounts at a time.
Dogs also require much more water per kilogram of weight than cats do, meaning that your cat may not need to drink as much water as you think.
Cats whose diets consist of dry food need to drink more water than those who eat canned or fresh foods. Cats usually drink about an ounce of water for every ounce of dry food they eat, whereas cats eating wet foods will drink considerably less because much of their hydration comes from their food.
With this in mind, you know your pet best - perhaps your cat isn't drinking enough water. If your cat won't drink water they may be reacting to an underlying health condition, the cleanliness or taste of the water, or the location of the bowl (e.g. in high-traffic areas, near their litterbox).
How do I know if my cat is dehydrated?
Dehydration is more than just feeling thirsty; for your cat, it can be a serious threat to their health. Cats that don't drink enough water can quickly become dehydrated. There are a few ways to check if your cat is dehydrated:
- Skin Elasticity - You can check your cat's skin by gently pinching the extra skin between their shoulder blades to form a tent-like shape. Once you let go your kitty's skin should return to its normal shape in less than a second. If their skin doesn't snap right back, your feline friend could be dehydrated.
- Sunken Eyes - Look closely at your cat's eyes. If their eyes seem unfocused, sunken or dull, dehydration may be the cause.
- Dry Mouth - Examine your kitty's gums. Their gums should always be pink and moist. Apply gentle pressure with your finger against your cat's gums; the spot you are pressing turn white, but if they don't return to a healthy pink color within a second or two of removing your finger your kitty may be dehydrated.
- Constipation - Check your cat's litterboc. When cats are suffering from dehydration, they're often constipated. If your cat hasn't been passing as much stool as usual, this could be a sign of a lack of hydration.
- Panting - Cats don't usually pant like dogs do. If you find your cat is panting, this may be an indicator of dehydration.
If your cat is showing signs of dehydration contact your vet right away. Dehydration in cats can have fatal outcomes, and once symptoms above are observed in your cat, it is likely that they are already severely dehydrated and need veterinary care.
How can I hydrate my cat if they won't drink water?
If your cat doesn't exhibit any of the symptoms of dehydration but you are still concerned about their water intake, there are a few things you can try to increase your cat to drink more water.
- If your cat's water bowl is near their litterbox, make sure to move it (to another room, if possible)
- Make sure your cat has access to fresh water throughout the day. Many cats will not drink water that has been 'sitting out' for an extended period of time.
- Try moving the bowl to a different location
- Try a different bowl or a pet fountain/bowl that provides running water.
- If your cat eats only dry food, introduce wet food to their diet.
Contact your vet right away if you're concerned that your cat isn't drinking enough water. Dehydration can be an indication of a serious underlying condition such as kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. When it comes to your cat's health, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.