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My Cat Won't Drink Water - What Should I Do?

Both pets and people need to stay hydrated to remain healthy. So what should you do if your cat won't drink water? Our vets in Douglasville share some common reasons your cat may not be drinking and what to do. 

Why won't my cat drink water?

Our pets need to stay hydrated to remain as healthy as possible. Animals generally drink when they are thirsty, and different animals will need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. So while your cat may not appear to be drinking much, they might still be getting enough water. 

While dogs will often lap up large quantities of water at once, cats are more likely to sip very small amounts at one time. 

A dog will also need much more water per kilogram of weight than cats do, meaning your cat may not need to drink as much water as you expect. 

Cats who dine on a diet of dry food need to drink more water than those who eat fresh or canned foods. We recommend that for every ounce of dry food that cats eat, they should typically drink about one ounce of water, whereas cats chowing down on wet foods will drink significantly less since they receive hydration from food. 

That said, if you still suspect your cat isn't drinking enough water, you can bring them to your Douglasville vet for an exam. If your cat won't drink water, perhaps the location of the bowl, cleanliness of the water or an underlying health condition are contributing factors. 

Signs That Your Cat May Be Dehydrated

Dehydration is a serious health issue for cats. If our feline friends don't drink enough water, they can quickly become dehydrated. Here are a few ways to check whether your cat might be dehydrated. 

  • Skin Elasticity - Gently pinch the extra skin between your cat's shoulder blades to form a tent-like shape. Your feline companion's skin should snap right back into place in less than a second once you let it go. If this isn't the case, your kitty may be dehydrated. 
  • Sunken Eyes - Look into your cat's eyes - do they appear sunken and dull or seem to lack focus? Dehydration may be the culprit. 
  • Dry Mouth - A cat's gums should always be moist and pink. Press your finger against the gums. The spot you are pressing should turn white. However, if they don't return to a healthy pink color within one or two seconds of removing your finger, your cat may be dehydrated. 
  • Constipation - Do a litter box check. When cats are dehydrated they often become constipated. If your cat hasn't been passing as much stool as they usually do, 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.

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.
  • 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. Some serious health conditions can have pet parents asking why their cat won't eat or drink. 

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 Douglasville vets right away to book an examination for your kitty.

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

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