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My cat won't drink water! What should I do?

Water is necessary for all life, whether it be human, plant or animal. What happens when your cat doesn't seem to be drinking? Our Bedford vets discuss some reasons why your cat won't drink water and what you can do to help them stay hydrated.

What are some reasons why a cat may stop drinking water?

All creatures need water in order to stay hydrated and healthy. Typically animals will drink when they are thirsty or dehydrated, and the amount of water needed will depend on the type of animal itself. So it is possible that your cat is getting enough water, even if they don't appear to be drinking much.

Dogs will generally consume larger quantities of water all at one time when they drink, yet cats are more likely to drink more often but a smaller amount at any given point in time.

As dogs are usually much larger they will 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.

If a cat eats canned or fresh food you may also find that they are not drinking as often as they get a large amount of water from their food. Cats that eat dry food will need to drink a much larger amount of water in a day. 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 an underlying health condition, the cleanliness of the water or the location of the bowl could all be potential reasons why your cat isn't drinking enough.

What are some signs of dehydration in cats?

Dehydration is a serious condition that requires treatment at first the first signs that your cat is experiencing it. 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 - Gently pinch and pull out the skin between your cat's shoulder blades. 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 - One sign you can easily see in your cat is by looking 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 - Take a look at the gums of your feline friend. Their gums should always appear 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 - This sign is easy to notice as long as you stay aware of your cat's litter box habits. 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.

How you can help your cat stay hydrated

Even if your cat is not showing any signs of dehydration you may still be worried that they aren't getting enough water. If this is the case, here 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 (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.

Conditions that are caused by 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 worried that your cat may be dehydrated? Contact our Bedford vets to book an examination for your cat.

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