Staying hydrated is as essential for animals as it is for humans. If your cat won't drink water, you might be wondering what to do, and our New Iberia vets are here to share tips on why your cat may not be drinking and what to do.
Why Won't My Cat Drink Water?
All animals need hydration to stay healthy (indeed, to stay alive) and this applies to people and cats alike. Animals generally drink when they are thirsty, and the amount of water that different animals will need for their ongoing health will vary widely. So it is possible that your cat is getting enough water, even if it doesn't seem like they're drinking much.
Dogs will often lap up lots of water in one go, while cats are more likely to drink very small amounts at one time.
Dogs also require much more water per pound of weight than cats do, meaning your cat may not need to consume as much water as you think.
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, they could be reacting to an underlying health condition, the cleanliness of the water, or their bowl being in an unfavorable location.
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.
- Skin Elasticity - Check your cat's skin by gently pinching the extra skin between their shoulder blades to form a tent-like shape. After you let go, the 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 - Look closely at your cat's eyes. If your kitty's eyes seem dull or unfocused, dehydration may be the cause.
- Dry Mouth - Examine your kitty's gums. Your cat's gums should always be pink and moist. Gently press your finger against your cat's gums. This will make the spot 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 - Check your cat's litter box. When cats are dehydrated they often become constipated, meaning that they experience difficulties passing feces. 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 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 exhibiting any of the symptoms above there are a few things you can try to increase your cat's water consumption.
- If your cat's water and food bowls are near their litter box, move them to a spot far from there - in another room, if possible.
- Provide fresh water every day. Many cats will avoid water that has been sitting for an extended period of time.
- Try moving the bowl to a different location (even if it's not currently near the litter box).
- Try a different bowl or a miniature cat fountain that provides running water
- If your cat eats dry food, switch to wet canned food (ask your vet for tips on introducing new food to your cat)
Dehydration in Cats & Related Health Conditions
Contact your vet right away if you believe that your cat isn't hydrated enough. Dehydration can be an indication of a serious underlying condition like kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. When it comes to your feline friend's health, it's better 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.