Staying hydrated is just as important for cats as it is for us humans. So what should you do if your cat won't drink water? Our Gardena vets explain why your cat may not be drinking water and what you can do to help.
Why Your Cat May Not Be Drinking Water
Generally speaking, animals drink when they are thirsty, and different species require different amounts of water to stay hydrated. So your cat may be getting enough water, even if they don't appear to be drinking much.
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, more periodically.
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.
- 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 - 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.
- 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.
If your cat is showing signs of dehydration contact your vet right away. Dehydration in cats can be fatal and warrant an emergency. 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 concerned that your cat isn't drinking enough water, but they are not showing any of the symptoms above there are a few things you can try to increase your cat's water consumption.
- Provide fresh water daily. Many cats will not drink water that has been sitting for an extended period.
- 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.
- 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.
Serious Health Conditions Linked To Dehydration in Cats
Contact your vet right away if you believe 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 best to err on the side of caution.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.