Hydration is essential for cats and people alike. So what should you do if your cat won’t drink water? Whenever your cat won’t eat or drink it’s bound to be a cause for concern. To stay healthy all animals need to stay properly hydrated. Typically, animals drink when they are thirsty, and different animals require different amounts of water to stay hydrated. So it is possible that your cat is getting enough water, even if they don’t appear to be drinking much.
If your cat eats a diet of dry food they will need to drink more water than those who eat canned or fresh foods. For every ounce of dry food, your cat should drink about 1 ounce of water, whereas a cat that eats wet foods will drink considerably less because much of their hydration comes from their food.
While dogs will often slurp up large quantities of water at one time, cats are more likely to drink very small amounts at one time. Dogs also require much more water per kilogram of weight than cats do, meaning that your cat may not need to drink as much water as you think.
What are the signs that my 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. 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.
- 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.
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.
10 Ways to Keep Your Kitty Hydrated
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. A cat not drinking water might not like his water bowl’s location. Keep your cat’s water bowl away from his litter box. Would you want to drink near your toilet?
- Try a water fountain or a bowl that provides running water for cats to enjoy. Many cats like drinking out of fountains. It might take a while for them to get the hang of it, but once they do, they’ll love it! This approach definitely helps if you forget to change your cat’s bowl every day.
- Place water bowls throughout the house. Make it super easy for your cat to get himself a drink by offering multiple water stations throughout the house. A cat not drinking water might have trouble accessing the water in question.
- Make sure the bowls are refilled regularly. Cats like fresh water — and who can blame them? Make sure to change the water at least once a day and wash out the bowl completely with soap and water regularly to keep it from getting slimy and gross.
- Flavor the water. A cat not drinking water might drink flavored water! You can try to make your cats drink more water by flavoring it with a bit of tuna juice or chicken broth.
- If your cat eats dry food switch to canned. Canned food simply has more moisture. According to my vet, this is the easiest way to get your cat to drink more water and avoid a dehydrated cat. If your cat won’t eat wet food, add water or broth to dry food and see if he’ll eat that. If your cat digs canned food, add water or broth to it to make it even wetter. Some cats love the soupy consistency this creates.
- Try putting ice cubes in your cat’s food. Thus adds moisture and it’s like a little treat for the cat. The cube takes on the food’s flavor, and while your cat’s licking the cube, he’s getting more water, too. Ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl might work with a cat not drinking water, too. Some cats prefer icy-cold water, just like some humans do.
- Serve smaller, more frequent meals. Eating prompts thirst, so a cat not drinking water might drink more water if he gets food more often.
Cats are finicky about just about everything (big shocker!), and you can go ahead and add drinking bowls to that list. Test a few out (glass, stainless steel, ceramic or plastic) and you might discover your cat has a definite preference. We can all stand to drink more water, and your cat is no exception. Helping your cat to drink more water has many benefits and helps you avoid the dangerous health issues of a dehydrated cat. More water = more peeing = healthier kitty = happier everybody!