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

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

It can be concerning for cat owners when they notice their pet hasn't been drinking water. Today, our Phoenix vets provide some reasons why your cat may stop drinking water and what you can do to help.

Why Your Cat May Stop Drinking Water

Cats need to stay hydrated for them to stay happy and healthy. Animals will usually drink when they are thirsty, and different animals require different amounts of water to remain hydrated. So, your cat may be 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 of Dehydration in Cats

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).

Hydrating 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.

Health Conditions Caused by Dehydration

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.

Are you worried your cat is showing signs of an emergency? Contact our Phoenix vets right away.

New Patients Welcome

At Phoenix Veterinary Referral & Emergency Center, we are accepting new patients and referrals for our emergency and specialty services. Our team of experienced veterinarians and on-staff specialist are passionate about the health and well-being of pets in the Phoenix area. Contact us today to inquire about appointments or find out about the referral process.

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