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Why Won't My Cat Drink Water? Is This an Emergency?

Why Won't My Cat Drink Water? Is This an Emergency?

Keeping your pet hydrated is important, but cats might not always drink enough. Our Marina del Rey vets discuss why your cat may not drink water and what to do.

Why won't my cat drink water?

Hydration is key for your cat's health and well-being. Cats usually drink when thirsty, and their water needs may vary. Your cat might be well-hydrated even if it seems they don't drink much.

Cats often drink small amounts, needing less water per kilogram than bigger animals.

A wet or fresh diet provides cats extra water, while dry food eaters need more water daily. For each ounce of dry food, cats drink about 1 ounce of water. Wet food eaters drink less, getting hydration from their food.

If you think your cat isn't drinking enough, consider potential reasons like health issues, stale water, or the bowl's location.

How To Tell That Your Cat Is Dehydrated

If your cat becomes dehydrated, it can be a serious threat to your cat's overall health. Dehydration can happen quickly if your cat isn't drinking an adequate amount of water. Here are some ways to tell if your cat might be dehydrated.

  • Skin Elasticity - Check your cat's skin by gently pulling the skin between their shoulder blades out. Once you let go, your cat's skin should return immediately to its regular form. Your feline friend could be dehydrated if your cat's skin doesn't snap right back.
  • Sunken Eyes - Take a good look at your cat's eyes. If your cat's eyes appear sunken or glazed over, this could be another indication that they haven't been drinking enough water. 
  • Dry Mouth - Take a look at your cat's gums. They should always be pink and moist. If you press your finger against your cat's gums, they should 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 - Checking your cat's litterbox is easy to tell if they have been drinking enough water. When cats are dehydrated, they often become constipated. If your cat hasn't been having regular bowel movements, dehydration may be to blame.
  • Panting - Unlike dogs, cats do not typically pant. If your feline friend is panting, it is a sign that they may be dehydrated.

Do not hesitate to contact your vet immediately if you notice that your cat has become dehydrated. It is possible for dehydration to be fatal in cats. If you are clearly noticing the symptoms listed above, then 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 your cat is not clearly showing the signs above, but you are still concerned that they may not be drinking enough water, then there are a few things you can try in order to increase their water intake. 

  • Cats are clean creatures and may not drink if their water bowl is in close proximity to their litter box.
  • Cats have a natural instinct to drink fresh, flowing water, so you should be sure to provide them with fresh water daily.
  • Sometimes your cat may just not like the location of its water bowl in general, and moving it may help.
  • Try a different bowl or a bowl that provides running water for cats to enjoy.
  • Switching to canned food is an easy way to increase water intake if your cat eats dry food.

What to do if my cat won't eat or drink? 

If your cat isn't eating or drinking, it might mean health issues, stress, or something less serious.

Follow these steps:

  • Watch your cat: Look for extra symptoms or behavior changes like tiredness, throwing up, diarrhea, weight loss, or hiding.
  • Try different foods: Offer various food types (wet or dry), flavors, or warm it a bit to improve smell and taste. Ensure the food is fresh.
  • Check surroundings: Make sure food and water bowls are clean and the area is calm and stress-free. Cats might not eat if they feel scared or uneasy.
  • Help with hydration: If your cat doesn't drink, use a dropper or syringe to give water, or try a water fountain. Adding water to food or giving wet food can help too.
  • Watch the litter box: Monitor their pee and poop. If something seems wrong or they don't use the litter box, it might signal a health problem.
  • Call your vet: If your cat won't eat or drink for over 24 hours or if you see other worrying signs, contact your vet. They can identify and treat any health issues

Serious Health Conditions Linked To Dehydration

It is important to contact your vet right away if you believe that your cat isn't drinking enough water. While it may be possible that your cat is not drinking enough, dehydration can also be an indication of a serious underlying condition such as kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. It is always best to have your cat examined in order to ensure the health of your cat.

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 Shane Veterinary Medical Center vets right away to book an examination for your kitty.

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