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Cat Won't Drink Water: Potential Causes & Emergency Cases

Cat Won't Drink Water: Potential Causes & Emergency Cases

We all know it's important for all animals to stay hydrated, so you might worry when your cat doesn't seem to be drinking enough water. Our vets in Stockton discuss some reasons why your cat won't drink water as well as when to be concerned.

My cat isn't drinking

Hydration is incredibly important no matter the animal, all bodies need water in order to perform vital functions.  It is a natural response to drink when thirsty, and the amount of water necessary to stay hydrated will depend on the animal. Cats do not require as much water as some other larger animals so while it may seem to you that they aren't drinking much they may be drinking what they need. 

Dogs have a tendency to drink large quantities of water all at once, while cats are more likely to drink very small amounts at one time.

Also with dogs being larger animals, their bodies will require a larger amount of water in general than cats do, so if you notice your dog drinking much more than your cat does, it's perfectly normal. 

If you have a cat that primarily eats a diet of dry food, it might be necessary for them to need to drink more water than those who eat canned or fresh foods. For every ounce of dry food, cats drink about 1 ounce of water on average, whereas cats eating wet foods will drink considerably less because they will be getting most of their hydration comes from their food.

Even though your cat does not require large amounts of water, there is still a chance that they might become dehydrated. If your cat won't drink water it is possible that the cause could be an underlying health condition, water that is not fresh, or the water bowl is in an undesirable location. 

Signs Of Dehydration

If your cat does become dehydrated, it can pose a serious health risk. As cats are smaller animals, it takes less for them to become dehydrated if they aren't drinking enough water. Below 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 and pulling away from its body then letting go. Your cat's skin should go 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 - If you are looking at your cat's eyes and they appear sunken or dull, there is a good chance that your cat may be dehydrated.
  • Dry Mouth - Your cat's gums should always be pink and moist. Take a look in your cat's mouth and press your finger against your cat's gums, it 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 - Taking a look in the litter box can be a clear indication of whether your cat is dehydrated or not. Often cats become constipated when they are dehydrated. 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.

It is of the utmost importance to contact your vet right away if you notice that your cat might be dehydrated. Dehydration in cats can be fatal, and symptoms usually might not become apparent until your cat may be severely dehydrated and in need of veterinary care.

Things You Can Try

If your cat is not experiencing the symptoms listed above then there are things you could try in order to get them to drink more.

  • Change the location of the bowl if it is near the litter box, either further away, or into a completely different room altogether. 
  • Fresh water daily is a must for all cats, they are hard-wired to look for fresh running water when possible. Many cats will not drink water that has been sitting for an extended period of time.
  • You could try moving the bowl to a different location (even if it's not near the litter box).
  • In some cases just changing the bowl for a different one will do the trick. 
  • If your cat eats dry food switch to canned to provide more hydration.

Serious Health Concerns Linked To Dehydration

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. It is best to not take any chances when it comes to the health of your feline friend.

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 not be drinking enough and could potentially be dehydrated? Contact our Stockton vets to schedule a thorough examination.

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American Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Stockton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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