Staying hydrated is important for both pets and humans. What should you do if your cat refuses to drink water? Our Staten Island veterinarians explain why your cat may not be drinking and what you can do about it.
Why won't my cat drink water?
People and cats both need to stay hydrated to stay healthy. Animals drink when they are thirsty, and different animals require varying amounts of water to stay hydrated. So, even if your cat does not appear to be drinking much, it is possible that they are getting enough water.
While dogs will often lap up large quantities of water at one time, cats are more likely to drink very small amounts at one 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 who eat a diet of dry food need to drink more water than those who eat canned or fresh foods. For every ounce of dry food, cats typically drink about 1 ounce of water, whereas cats eating wet foods will drink considerably less because much of their hydration comes from their food.
That said, you may be right, perhaps your cat isn't drinking enough water. If your cat won't drink water an underlying health condition, the cleanliness of the water or the location of the bowl could all be potential reasons why your cat isn't drinking enough.
Signs That Your Cat May Be Dehydrated
Dehydration is a serious threat to your cat's health. Cats that don't drink enough water can quickly become dehydrated. Below are a few ways to check whether your cat may be dehydrated.
- Skin Elasticity - 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 snap right back to normal in less than a second. If your cat's skin doesn't snap right back, your feline friend could be dehydrated.
- Sunken Eyes - Take a good look at your cat's eyes. If your kitty's eyes seem to lack focus or appear sunken or dull, dehydration may be the cause.
- Dry Mouth - Check your cat's gums. The gums of your cat should always be pink and moist. When you press your finger against your cat's gums, the area you're pressing turns white; however, if the area returns to a healthy pink color within a second or two of removing your finger, your kitty may be dehydrated.
- Constipation - Do a little box check. When cats are dehydrated they often become constipated. If your cat hasn't been passing as much stool as usual dehydration may be to blame.
- Panting - Unlike dogs, cats don't often pant. If your feline friend is panting they may be dehydrated.
If your cat is showing signs of dehydration contact your vet right away. Dehydration in cats can be fatal, and once the symptoms above become evident your cat is likely to be severely dehydrated and in need of veterinary care.
How to Hydrate a Cat That Won't Drink Water
If you are worried that your cat isn't drinking enough water but they aren't exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, there are a few things you can try to increase your cat's water consumption.
- Ensure that your cat's water bowl is not near their litter box. If it is, move it to a better spot in the room or a different room altogether.
- Provide fresh water daily. Many cats will not drink water that has been sitting for an extended period of time.
- Try moving the bowl to a different location (even if it's not near the litter box).
- Try a different bowl or a bowl that provides running water for cats to enjoy.
- If your cat eats dry food switch to canned.
Serious Health Conditions Linked To Dehydration in Cats
If you believe your cat isn't drinking enough water, contact your veterinarian right away. Dehydration can be a sign of a serious underlying condition like kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. When it comes to your cat's health, it's 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.