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My Cat Won't Drink Water - Tips to Encourage Hydration in Your Feline

My Cat Won't Drink Water - Tips to Encourage Hydration in Your Feline

Many cat owners become worried when they observe their pet refraining from drinking water. Today, our Clearlake vets discuss what you can do for your cat if they won't drink water.

Why Your Cat Won't Drink Water

All animals require hydration for their well-being, including both cats and humans. Animals typically consume water when they experience thirst, with varying water needs among different species. Consequently, your cat might maintain adequate hydration, even if it doesn't exhibit substantial drinking behavior.

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. 

For cats on a dry food diet, their water intake needs to be higher than those on a fresh or canned diet. Cats typically consume about one ounce of water for every ounce of dry food. In contrast, cats on wet food diets drink less water since they obtain a significant portion of their hydration from their food.

That said, you might be right; maybe your cat isn't drinking enough water. If your cat doesn'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 consume insufficient water may rapidly experience dehydration. Inadequate hydration poses a significant risk to your cat's well-being. Below are some methods to determine if your cat may be dehydrated.

  • Sunken Eyes - Look into your cat's eyes. If they 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 have concerns about your cat's water intake and they do not exhibit the mentioned symptoms, you can attempt various methods to enhance 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.
  • 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.

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 Clearlake vets to make sure your kitty stays happy and healthy.

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