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My cat won't drink water, what should I do?

As much as we need to stay hydrated, so do our pets. So what should you do if your cat won't drink water? Our Gilbert vets list some reasons why your cat may not be drinking and what to do to make sure your kitty stays healthy. 

Why won't my cat drink water?

All animals need to remain hydrated to stay healthy. Generally speaking, animals need different amounts of water to stay hydrated and will drink when they are thirsty. So your cat may be getting enough water, even if they don't appear to be drinking much. 

Though dogs will often lap up large quantities of water at one time, cats tend to drink very small amounts at one time. 

Dogs also need much more water per kilogram of weight than cats do, meaning that your cat may not require as much water as you think. 

Cats who eat a diet of dry food will also need to drink more water than those who eat fresh or canned foods. For every ounce of dry food, cats typically drink about 1 ounce of water, though cats eating wet foods will drink significantly less because their food will contain much of the hydration your kitty needs. 

However, you may be right - perhaps your cat isn't drinking enough water. If your cat won't drink water, this could be due to an underlying health condition, the location of the bowl or the cleanliness of the water.  

Signs That Your Cat May Be Dehydrated

Dehydration is a serious threat to your cat's health. Cats that don't drink enough water may quickly become dehydrated. Here 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 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. 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 Gilbert vets right away to book an examination for your kitty.

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Contact us today to book your first appointment and find out the difference that caring, compassionate and knowledgeable veterinary service makes in your pet's health and happiness. 

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