Why Won’t My Cat Drink Water? Help!

Unlike other animals, cats don’t need much water to stay hydrated.

As wild cats, these creatures would get most of their required moisture from hunting prey, but this is no longer the case due to domestication.

While most cat food contains some moisture, it does not meet their daily water intake requirements. This is why your cat needs to drink water to stay hydrated.

Regardless, there could be many reasons your kitty might not be drinking enough water. Let’s take a look at them below:

Why Isn’t Your Cat Drinking Enough Water?

Several reasons may influence your cat’s water consumption, such as their diet, location and cleanliness of the water bowl, and underlying health conditions.

If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, get in touch with your vet immediately.

Your feline’s diet: If your cat gets the hydration needs from its diet, it may not feel the need to drink more water. Cats who eat wet food like canned items or fresh meat get most of their water from it.

However, it is important to note that while cats get an extent of moisture from tinned food and other sources, it is not enough.  Two meals of canned food a day only fulfill approximately 68% of your cat’s daily water requirement. They will still need to drink water to reach the daily limit.

Your kitty gets even less than 10% of its required hydration with dry food meals twice a day. This often leads to chronic dehydration in most kitties if they do not take enough water with their meals.

If you feed your cat dry food, ensure a bowl of fresh water is always available.

The water bowl: The water bowl and its location greatly influence your cat’s water consumption. If the bowl or water is not clean, your cat is less likely to drink from it. Make sure to wash the bowl and replace the water every day.

The location of the bowl is key. Cats are clean creatures, and if the water bowl is placed too close to the litter box or in a dirty area, your cat will probably stay away. Choose a spot where your cat feels safe and comfortable.

Your cat’s preferences: Cats prefer drinking running water as an evolutionary trait and will be more inclined to drink water from a tap, as flowing water seems like a safer option.

If your cat likes drinking from running tap water, you can get a fountain bowl or a pet water dispenser. These have a flowing water feature and will give your kitty the impression that it is drinking from a clean, running water source. This can greatly increase their water intake. 

Your cat may not like leaning forward to drink from the bowl. This position makes cats feel unguarded, and repeatedly bending forward can lead to joint pain and arthritis. Place the bowl at a height where they can reach it comfortably without having to hunch down.

Health issues: Your cat could also be suffering from any of these critical illnesses if it has a lower water intake:

  • A dental ailment
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Cancer

Instantly seek veterinarian guidance if you believe your feline is suffering from these diseases or severe dehydration.

A reduced water intake can lead to dehydration. If your cat’s water consumption is lower than usual, it might be considerably dehydrated. Dehydration is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Keep an eye out for the following signs:

Signs of dehydration

  • Gums show a change of color: your cat’s gums should be pink under normal circumstances. When you gently press your finger to its gums, they should turn white and then back to pink within seconds. However, if the color of the gums is a deep red or doesn’t get back to normal in less than 2 seconds, your cat could be severely dehydrated.
  • Skin elasticity: gently pinch your cat’s skin between the shoulder blades or the top of its head. If it doesn’t return to normal upon release, your cat may suffer from dehydration.
  • Hollowed eyes: if your cat’s eyes seem hollow and sunken, it could be due to extreme dehydration.
  • Constipation: dehydration leads to constipation. Check their litter box and if it seems emptier than usual.
  • Trouble breathing: Observe to see if your cat is straining to breathe or panting.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea: are signs of severe dehydration and can threaten your cat’s life.
  • Weakness: if your cat looks weak and lethargic, it is dehydrated.

Home remedies for dehydration

These home remedies might help if your cat is dehydrated:

  • Add chicken/beef broth or tuna juice to cat food
  • Add water to canned food to make a gravy
  • Put ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl
  • Use a syringe to sprinkle water in your cat’s mouth gently
  • Give meat-flavored water or electrolyte supplements after consulting your veterinarian

Note: It is important to promptly visit your vet if you suspect your cat may be severely dehydrated. If you cannot reach your vet’s clinic, get an online consultation with PetMyPal to discuss your cat’s condition.

Adam Hill

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