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Why Won't My Cat Drink Water? What to Do?

Why Won't My Cat Drink Water? What to Do?

Like people, cats need to stay hydrated. Here, our Redmond vets share some reasons why your cat may not be drinking water and offer tips on how you can help your kitty stay hydrated.

Why Is My Cat Not Drinking Water?

It's important for all animals to stay hydrated, people and cats alike. Most of the time, animals drink when they are thirsty, and different animals require different amounts of water to stay hydrated. So it is possible that your cat is getting enough water, even if it doesn't look like they are drinking much. 

While dogs will often gulp up large amounts of water at once, cats are more likely to drink very small amounts in a single session.

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 they get most of their hydration 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 possible reasons why your cat isn't consuming enough water.

Signs of Dehydration In Cats

Dehydration can seriously threaten your cat's health. Cats that don't drink enough water can quickly become dehydrated. Here are a few ways you can tell if your cat is dehydrated.

  • Dry Mouth - Examine your kitty's gums. Your cat's gums should always be pink and moist. Pressing your finger against your cat's gums will make 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 litter box. 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.
  • 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.
  • Panting - Unlike dogs, cats don't usually pant. If your feline friend is panting they may 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.

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 Keep Your Cat Hydrated If They Won't Drink Water

If you are concerned that your cat isn't drinking enough water, but they aren't exhibiting any of the symptoms above, there are a few things you can try to increase your cat's water intake.

  • If your cat eats dry food switch to canned.
  • Provide fresh water daily. Many cats will not drink water that has been sitting for an extended period of time.
  • Make sure 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.
  • Use a different bowl or a bowl that provides running water for cats to enjoy.
  • Try moving the bowl to a different location (even if it's not near the litter box).

Serious Health Problems Connected To Dehydration in Cats

Contact your vet right away if you think your cat isn't drinking enough water. Dehydration can be a sign of a serious underlying health condition such as kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. When it comes to your cat's health, it's always best to be cautious.

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.

If you are worried that your kitty isn't drinking enough water, contact our Redmond vets as quickly as possible and schedule an appointment.

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