As a cat owner, it can be worrisome to observe your feline friend not drinking enough water. Our vets at Goleta offer some helpful tips on how to encourage your cat to stay hydrated.
Why Your Cat Won't Drink Water
It's essential for all animals, including cats and people, to stay hydrated to maintain good health. Thirst usually prompts animals to drink, and the amount of water required for hydration varies among different species. In the case of cats, they may not consume large amounts of water at once but rather small portions.
While dogs require more water per kilogram of weight than cats, your feline friend may not need as much water as you think. If your cat has a diet of dry food, they will need to drink more water than those that eat fresh or canned food. Typically, cats drink one ounce of water for every ounce of dry food they consume. Conversely, cats that eat wet food drink less water because their diet provides much of the hydration they require.
If you suspect your cat isn't drinking enough water, there may be an underlying health issue, or the bowl's cleanliness or location could be deterring them from drinking. However, you could also be mistaken, and your cat may be drinking enough water without showing it.
Signs That Your Cat May be Dehydrated
If cats don't consume enough water, they may become dehydrated at a rapid pace. This could pose a serious risk to your cat's well-being. To determine if your cat is dehydrated, there are several methods you can use.
- 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. Your feline friend could be dehydrated if your cat's skin doesn't snap right back.
- 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 you notice that your cat is dehydrated, it's important to reach out to your vet immediately. Dehydration can have fatal consequences for cats, and if your feline friend has been refusing to drink water for over 24 hours, it's a veterinary emergency that requires urgent attention. Don't wait until the symptoms worsen before seeking 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
If you suspect that your cat is not drinking enough water, it's crucial to get in touch with your veterinarian immediately. Dehydration may be a sign of a severe underlying health issue like kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. It's always better to be cautious when it comes to your cat's well-being.