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Why won't my cat drink water?

Has your cat suddenly stopped drinking water? If this is the case for your kitty, you may be a bit concerned as it can indicate a veterinary emergency. Today, our Southgate vets explain why your cat may not be drinking water and what you can do. 

Why won't my cat drink water?

Hydration is critical to the health of every animal. Some cats may only drink when thirsty, and different pets need different amounts of water to maintain their optimal level of hydration. So, even if you don't think your cat is drinking enough water, it's possible they may still drink enough to stay hydrated and healthy. On the other hand, your cat not drinking water at all can signify a serious problem. However, your vet should offer some easy solutions. 

If you notice your cat has suddenly stopped drinking water, there may be a couple of reasons for this. Cats take cleanliness very seriously, so keep their water bowl clean and filled with fresh, clean water. Even a bit of dirt, dust, or fur in your cat's bowl may keep them from wanting to drink from it. 

Another thing that may prevent your cat from drinking water is the location of their bowl. Placing a water bowl in an area that induces a lot of anxiety for your cat, such as near a dog or more dominant cat's food and water bowl can also cause them to avoid drinking. Try placing multiple water bowls round the house in a quiet, safe location to tempt your cat back into drinking water. 

How much water should a cat drink?

Typically, cats need about ½ a cup of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day. For example, if you have a 10-pound cat, they should drink between about 1 cup of water. Your vet can direct you more specifically regarding how much your cat should drink every day.

Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Dehydration can set in quickly if your cat doesn't get enough water, and dehydration can threaten your cat's health. Here are a few indicators of dehydration in cats:

  • Sunken Eyes - Look into your cat's eyes. If they  lack focus or appear dull or sunken, you may have to blame dehydration.
  • Dry Mouth - Check your cat's gums, which should appear moist and pink. Press your finger against the gums and see if the spot turns white. If they don't return to a healthy shade of pink within a second or two of removing your finger, you may need to blame dehydration. 
  • 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. Constipation often accompanies dehydration. If your cat hasn't been passing as much stool, as usual, you may need to blame dehydration.
  • Panting - Unlike dogs, cats don't often pant. If your feline friend pants. they may be dehydrated.

If your cat shows 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 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 don't think your drinks enough water, but they aren't showing any concerning signs, try some of the following tips:

  • Place your cat's water bowl away from the 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 sits 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.

Health Conditions Linked to Dehydration in Cats

Don't hesitate to consult a veterinarian if your cat won't eat or drink 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 and see their vet if any concerns arise.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.

Do you suspect your kitty may be dehydrated? Contact us today to book an exam. We can diagnose any health issues and prescribe treatment options.

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

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