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Why won't my cat drink water?

It is important to keep your pet well-hydrated but sometimes our feline friends may not drink as much as they should. Our vets at the Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital talk about why your cat might not be drinking water and what you should do about it. 

My Cat Isn't Drinking

Staying hydrated is important for the overall health and well-being of your cat. Typically, animals will drink when they are thirsty, and the amount of water needed to stay hydrated varies from animal to animal. So although it may seem to you as though your cat hasn't been drinking much water, they may be perfectly hydrated. 

Cats are known to drink small amounts of water each time as that is all they require.  

Cats don't require as much water per kilogram as some larger animals do, meaning that your cat may not need to drink as much water as you think.

Having your cat on a canned or fresh food diet also provides them with additional water, whereas cats who primarily eat dry food will require more water on a daily basis to stay hydrated. Cats typically drink about 1 ounce of water for every ounce of dry food, whereas cats eating wet foods will drink significantly less because much of their hydration comes from their food.

While it is true that your cat requires less water than other animals, there may be times when your cat does not drink enough. If you notice your cat isn't drinking any water, it's time to investigate why. Your cat may not be drinking enough because of an underlying health condition, the water may not be fresh enough, or the location of the bowl.

How To Tell That Your Cat Is Dehydrated

If your cat becomes dehydrated it can be a serious threat to your cat's overall health. Dehydration can happen quickly if your cat isn't drinking an adequate amount of water. Here are some ways to tell if your cat might be dehydrated.

  • Skin Elasticity - Check your cat's skin by gently pulling the skin between its shoulder blades out. Once you let go your cat's skin should return immediately to its regular form. 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 cat's eyes appear sunken or glazed over this could be another indication that they haven't been drinking enough water. 
  • Dry Mouth - Take a look at your cat's gums. They should always be pink and moist. If you press your finger against your cat's gums they should 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 - Checking your cat's litterbox is an easy way to tell if they have been drinking enough water. When cats are dehydrated they often become constipated. If your cat hasn't been having regular bowel movements, dehydration may be to blame.
  • Panting - Unlike dogs, cats do not typically pant. If your feline friend is panting it is a sign that they may be dehydrated.

If you notice that your cat has become dehydrated, contact your veterinarian right away. Dehydration can be fatal in cats, so if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, 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 your cat is not clearly displaying the above signs but you are concerned that they are not drinking enough water, there are a few things you can try to increase their water intake.

  • Cats are clean creatures and may not drink if their water bowl is in close proximity to their litter box.
  • Cats have a natural instinct to drink fresh flowing water so you should be sure to provide them with fresh water daily.
  • Sometimes your cat may just not like the location of its water bowl in general and moving it may help.
  • Try a different bowl or a bowl that provides running water for cats to enjoy.
  • An easy way to increase water intake if your cat eats dry food is to switch to canned food.

Serious Health Conditions Linked To Dehydration

If you believe your cat isn't drinking enough water, you should contact your veterinarian right away. While your cat may simply not be drinking enough, dehydration can also be an indication of a serious underlying condition such as kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. It is always best to have your cat examined to ensure his or her health.

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.

Are you concerned that your cat isn't drinking enough water? Contact our Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital vets right away to book an examination for your kitty.

New Patients Welcome

Lafayette Companion Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Boulder County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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