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Is it an emergency if my cat won't drink water?

Staying hydrated is essential for your cat's health, but what if your cat won't drink water? In today's post, our Memphis vets share some reasons why your cat may not be drinking and what you should do.

Cat Not Drinking Water

All animals need to stay hydrated to stay healthy, people and cats alike. 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 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.

Cats fed 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.

Nonetheless, you may be right, perhaps your cat isn't drinking enough water. If your cat won't drink water an underlying health condition, the cleanliness of the water, or the location of the bowl could all be potential reasons why your cat isn't drinking enough.

Signs of Dehydration in Cats

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 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 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 tricks you can try to encourage your cat to drink more.

  • Keep your cat's water bowl and ensure it's not near their litter box. Move your cat's water bowl into a different room away from litter.
  • Provide fresh water daily (or a couple of times a day). Many cats will not drink water that has been sitting for an extended period of time.
  • Try changing their bowl or invest in a bowl that provides running water for your cat to enjoy.
  • If your cat eats dry food switch to canned.

How To Hydrate a Cat That Won't Drink Water

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 is always best to err on the side of caution.

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 refusing to drink water? Contact our Southeast Memphis vets today to book an examination for your kitty. 

Tabby cat drinking water pouring from a kitchen tap - Southeast Memphis

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