Staying hydrated is vital for both pets and people, so it's understandable to worry if your cat won't eat or drink water. Today, our Mechanicsburg vets share some reasons why your cat may not be drinking and what to do.
Why Cats Might Not Drink Water
Everyone, whether human, feline, or another animal, needs to stay hydrated to be healthy. Animals drink when they are thirsty, and different animals require varying amounts of water to stay hydrated. So, even if your cat does not appear to be drinking much, it may be getting enough water.
While dogs will often lap up large quantities of water at one time, cats are more likely to drink very small amounts at one time.
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 (or might be drinking when you're not watching).
Cats who eat a diet of dry food need to consume more water than those who eat canned ('wet food') or fresh foods. For every ounce of dry food, cats usually 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 in thinking that your cat might not be drinking enough water. Reasons for this can range from an underlying health condition to the cleanliness of the water or the location of the bowl.
Signs Of Dehydration In Cats
Dehydration seriously threatens 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 - Gently pinch the extra skin between your cat's shoulder blades to form a tent-like shape. When you let go, your kitty's skin should return to normal in less than a second. If your cat's skin does not immediately snap back, he or she may 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 turn that spot white, but if they don't return to a healthy pink color within a second or two of removing your finger your kitty could be suffering from dehydration.
- 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 - Cats don't often pant; unlike dogs, this does little to cool them. 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.
- Make sure your cat's water bowl is away from their litter box. If it is, move it to a better spot in the room or a different room altogether.
- Provide fresh water every day. Many cats will not drink water that has been sitting for an extended period (much as a stale glass of water is unappealing).
- 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 believe your cat isn't drinking enough water, contact your veterinarian right away. Dehydration can be a sign of a serious underlying condition like kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. When it comes to your cat's health, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
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.