It's important for both pets and people to stay hydrated. So what should you do if your cat won't drink water? Our San Diego vets list some reasons why your cat may not be drinking and what to do.
Why won't my cat drink water?
All animals need to stay hydrated to stay healthy, including both cats and people. Animals will usually drink when they are thirsty, and different animals require different amounts of water to remain hydrated. So, it's possible that your cat is getting enough water, even if they don't appear to be drinking a lot of it.
While dogs often lap large quantities of water at once, cats are more likely to drink very small amounts in one sitting. Dogs also need much more water per kilogram of weight than cats do, meaning your cat may not require as much water as you think.
If your cat eats a dry food diet, they'll need to drink more water than those who eat fresh or canned foods. Cats typically drink about 1 ounce of water for every ounce of dry food. Compare this with cats that eat wet foods and drink significantly less because they receive much of their hydration from their food.
That said, you might be right; maybe your cat isn't drinking enough water. If your cat won't eat or drink, an underlying health condition, the cleanliness of the water, or the location of the bowl could be to blame.
Signs That Your Cat May Be Dehydrated
Cats that don't drink enough water can quickly become dehydrated. Your cat's health can be seriously threatened by dehydration. Here are a few ways you can assess whether your cat might be dehydrated.
- Sunken Eyes - Look into your cat's eyes. If they seem to lack focus or appear dull or sunken, dehydration may be the culprit.
- Dry Mouth - Check your cat's gums, which should always be moist and pink. Press your finger against the gums and see if the spot you are pressing turns white. If they don't return to.a healthy shade of pink within a second or two of removing your finger, your kitty may be dehydrated.
- Skin Elasticity - Examine 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.
- 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 emergency veterinary care (refusal to drink for 24 hours or more qualifies as a veterinary emergency).
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.
- 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
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.