Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

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

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

You may be concerned if you notice your cat has stopped drinking water. Here, our Brentwood vets explain what you can do for your cat if they won't drink water. 

Why won't my cat drink water?

To stay healthy, all mammals need to hydrate regularly. This includes both cats and people. Your pet will usually drink when when they are thirsty, and different animals need different amounts of water to remain hydrated. So, your cat may be getting enough water, even if it doesn't seem like they're drinking a lot of it. 

Dogs will often lap lots of water at once, while cats are more likely to drink small amounts in one sitting. Dogs also need significantly more water per kilogram of weight than cats do, which means your cat may not need 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. For every ounce of dry food a cat eats, they usually drink about one ounce of water. Compare this with cats that eat wet foods and drink significantly less because their food offers more hydration. 

That said, you may be right; perhaps your cat isn't drinking enough water. If your cat won't eat or drink, the water may be unclean, the location of the bowl may not be optimal, or your pet could be suffering from an underlying health condition. 

Signs That Your Cat May Be Dehydrated 

If a cat doesn't drink enough water, they may quickly become dehydrated, which can cause serious harm to your cat's health. Here are a few ways you can assess whether your cat might be dehydrated. 

  • Dry Mouth - Are your cat's gums moist and pink? Press your finger against the gums to 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 four-legged friend may be dehydrated. 
  • Sunken Eyes - Look into your cat's eyes. If they appear dull or sunken, or appear to lack focus, dehydration may be to blame. 
  • 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).

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 worried that your cat isn't drinking enough water? Contact our Brentwood vets to book an appointment today and help your kitty stay happy and healthy.

New Patients Welcome

Brentwood Veterinary Clinic is happily welcoming new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Brentwood pets. Get in touch today to book your cat or dog's first appointment.

(615) 373-4777 Contact