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Help! My Cat Won't Drink Water

It's essential to your cat's overall well-being that they drink enough water. So how do you hydrate a cat that won't drink water? Here, our Bonita Springs vets share some reasons why your cat may not be drinking and what to do.

Why won't my cat drink water?

Just like humans, cats need to stay hydrated to stay healthy. Generally speaking, animals drink when they are thirsty, and different animals require different amounts of water to stay hydrated. So it is possible that your cat is getting enough water, even if they don't appear to be drinking much.

While dogs will often lap up large quantities of water at one time, cats are more likely to drink very small amounts continuously throughout the day. 

Dogs also 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.

Cats who eat a diet of dry food need to drink more water than those who eat canned or fresh foods. 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 if you notice a significant decrease in your cat's water consumption it's worth looking into. In particular, if your cat won't eat or drink or they are showing symptoms of dehydration it's a sign they need emergency veterinary care

Some common reasons why your cat won't drink include underlying health conditions, the cleanliness of the water, the location of the bowl, or external stressors (such as a move or a new pet in the household). 

Signs That Your Cat May Be Dehydrated

Dehydration is a serious threat to your cat's health. 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 - 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 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 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 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.

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's always best to be on the safe side and take them to see a vet if you have any concerns. 

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.

Is your cat showing signs of dehydration? At Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists we offer 24/7 emergency services. Contact us or bring your pet to our Bonita Springs immediately for emergency care. 

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