What Should I do if My Cat Won’t Drink Water? (in 2024)

Spread the love

As a caring pet owner, I understand how crucial it is to ensure my furry friends, especially my beloved cats, stay hydrated for their overall well-being.

Cats, much like us, have a natural instinct to drink water when they’re thirsty, although the amount can vary from one cat to another.

I’ve learned that my cat might be getting enough hydration even if I don’t see them drink visibly. Unlike dogs, who might gulp down a lot of water at once, cats usually prefer taking small sips throughout the day.

The type of food they eat also plays a role in their water needs. Cats on a dry food diet, such as the “cat sitting in front of water bowl but not drinking,” might need more water compared to those enjoying canned or fresh foods.

Typically, for every ounce of dry food, cats consume about 1 ounce of water. On the other hand, cats on a wet food diet get some of their hydration from their food, leading to less water intake.

Despite these variations, I’m aware that a significant decrease in my cat’s water intake or What should I do if my cat won’t drink water?

It could be a sign of an underlying health issue, especially if it aligns with the behavior of “cat sitting in front of water bowl but not drinking,” and in such cases, seeking prompt veterinary care is crucial for their well-being.

Reasons of why my cat won’t drink water

Water Bowl Locations:

In my role as a cat parent, I’ve observed that cats have preferences when it comes to the location of their water bowls. Placing water bowls strategically, such as on a shelf or in a cool room, can influence their choice to hang out nearby.

To test if the location matters, I can experiment by moving the water bowl to a different spot, gauging whether my cat’s behavior changes.

Understanding that cats can be territorial, I ensure there are multiple water bowls in different areas of the house. This practice helps prevent any potential competition between cats, fostering a peaceful environment.

Cat drink Water in her Bowl Locations

Signs of Dehydration:

Remaining vigilant about signs of dehydration in my cat is an integral part of responsible pet ownership. Conducting simple checks, such as assessing skin elasticity by gently pinching the skin between the shoulder blades, observing eye condition for focus and appearance, and inspecting gums for color and moisture, allows me to promptly identify any concerns.

If the skin doesn’t snap back, the eyes seem dull, or the gums don’t return to a healthy pink color, these could be indications of dehydration, necessitating swift action to ensure my cat’s health and well-being.

Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Checking for Constipation and Panting:

In my commitment to my cat’s well-being, I maintain a watchful eye for potential signs of dehydration, such as constipation. Regular litter box checks help me monitor the frequency and consistency of my cat’s stool.

If there’s a noticeable decrease, it might raise a red flag. Panting, an uncommon behavior in cats, is another indicator that I pay attention to.

Unlike dogs, cats typically don’t pant, and if I observe this behavior, it prompts me to investigate further as it could suggest dehydration.

In any instance where signs of dehydration are apparent, my immediate response is to contact my vet promptly. Early intervention is crucial in preventing severe consequences and ensuring a rapid and effective resolution to the issue.

Checking for Constipation and Panting in Cats

Health Concerns – Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD):

Noticing my cat spending an excessive amount of time by the water bowl or displaying heightened thirst raises concerns about potential health issues.

While dehydration is a possibility, I also consider more serious conditions, such as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Understanding that CKD involves a gradual decline in kidney function, I’m aware of its prevalence, affecting up to 50% of cats.

Recognizing the signs of CKD, including increased thirst, reduced appetite, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, an unhealthy coat, or unpleasant breath, prompts me to take swift action.

Even if my cat doesn’t overtly display these signs but exhibits unusual behavior around water sources, consulting with a vet becomes imperative.

Regular veterinary check-ups become a routine aspect of caring for my feline friend, ensuring their ongoing health and addressing any potential concerns proactively.

Health Concerns in cats - Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Getting Older

As our cats grow older, their needs and behaviors start to shift, and they might face health issues like diabetes, CKD, and hyperthyroidism, leading to increased thirst. Explore our insights on how long can a kitten go without eating for information on caring for aging cats.

Aging can also impact their cognitive abilities. The ASPCA mentions that over 55% of cats aged 11 to 15 and over 80% of cats aged 16 to 20 may experience Feline Cognitive Dysfunction (FCD).

During this time, our furry friends might undergo behavioral changes, such as forgetting how to use the litterbox correctly, becoming less social, and losing interest in food.

You may notice your cat frequently visiting the water bowl, perhaps wandering around aimlessly. They might even choose to sit next to their water and food bowls because they feel tired or simply have less interest in exploring the house like they did when they were younger.

Understanding these changes helps us provide the extra care and attention our aging cats may need.

As our cats grow older, their needs and behaviors start to shift, and they might face health issues like diabetes, CKD, and hyperthyroidism, leading to increased thirst.

Determining the Right Amount of Water for My Cat

As I see my cat finding comfort next to their water bowl, it’s a gentle reminder of the essential task of keeping an eye on their water intake for their overall health.

While most cats typically need 7 to 10 ounces of water a day, some may not drink enough, leading to potential health issues. To understand the specific water needs for my cat, I consider various factors:

Weight: I take into account my cat’s weight, recognizing its crucial role in understanding their hydration needs. For instance, a 5-pound cat might need 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water, while a larger 10-pound cat should aim for 7 to 9 ounces daily.

Food intake: The type of food my cat enjoys is a significant factor. If my feline friend prefers wet cat food, with its 80% water content, it contributes to their overall hydration, potentially reducing the extra water they require.

Water quality: Knowing that cats can be particular about water, I pay attention to their preferences. Some cats may avoid tap water due to its smell or taste, making a pet fountain with running water a more appealing option.

Lifestyle: Considering my cat’s daily activities is crucial. If my cat loves exploring outdoors, they might have access to additional water sources beyond our home, affecting their overall intake. Also, active cats, engaging in play and exploration, tend to consume more water to stay adequately hydrated.

Observing my cat’s behavior, like their unique routine of meowing and hopping on the counter until I turn on the tap, gives me valuable insights into their preferences and needs.

This interaction provides a more accurate gauge of their water consumption. Understanding and considering these various factors empower me, as a responsible pet owner, to tailor my approach to meet the individual hydration needs of my feline companions, ultimately contributing to their overall health and well-being.

Determining the Right Amount of Water for My Cat

How Long Can Cats Go Without Water?

Just like us, cats can manage without water for around four days, but this timeframe depends on their specific situations. If my cat is under the weather, it becomes crucial to make sure they’re properly hydrated within 48 hours to prevent any complications arising from dehydration.

In my experience, it’s quite rare for cats to completely shun water for more than two days. Moreover, if they indulge in wet food, the moisture in it can fulfill some of their hydration requirements for several hours.

However, from what I’ve learned, if a cat goes without water for an extended period, it can lead to severe dehydration and other issues, ultimately risking the cat’s well-being.

How Long Can Cats Go Without Water?

Is It Concerning When My Cat Drinks a Lot of Water?

When your cat starts drinking a lot of water, it’s essential to consider various factors. Factors like dry food consumption and hot weather can contribute to increased water intake, which might not be a cause for worry. However, there are instances where excessive drinking could signal an underlying medical condition.

Keep an eye out for additional symptoms that might raise concern, such as vomiting, foul-smelling breath, lethargy, diarrhea, increased urination, and swelling of the face and abdomen.

If these symptoms occur together, it could indicate potential issues like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or kidney and liver disease. It’s crucial to consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.

Even when your cat seems healthy and unchanged, it’s a good practice to continue observing. Cats are adept at concealing their discomfort, and subtle changes may be indicative of underlying issues that require attention.

Is It Concerning When My Cat Drinks a Lot of Water?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is it common for cats to get whisker fatigue when drinking from a water bowl?

Yes, some cats may experience whisker fatigue, where the sensitive whiskers become overstimulated. This can make them hesitant to drink from deep or narrow bowls.

Q2: Can stress or changes in the household cause a cat to avoid drinking water?

Yes, cats are sensitive to changes, and stressors like moving to a new home or introducing a new pet can affect their behavior, including their water-drinking habits.

Q3: Should I be concerned if my cat prefers running water over still water?

While some cats have a preference for running water, it’s generally not a cause for concern. Providing a pet fountain or regularly changing still water may help address this preference.

Q4: How can I tell if my cat is dehydrated even if they sit by the water bowl?

Signs of dehydration include lethargy, sunken eyes, dry gums, and decreased skin elasticity. If these symptoms are present despite the cat being near the water bowl, it may indicate an issue.

Q5: Can certain health conditions make a cat reluctant to drink water?

Yes, underlying health conditions like dental issues, kidney problems, or urinary tract infections can affect a cat’s willingness to drink water. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to identify and address such conditions.


Cats are fascinating creatures with their own set of unique behaviors and habits that can sometimes leave us puzzled. While it’s true that not every quirk needs an in-depth analysis, there are instances when paying attention to certain behaviors, like your cat sitting by the water bowl, might raise a red flag.

If you ever find yourself questioning the reasons behind your cat’s actions, the good news is that you don’t have to navigate it alone.

While I enjoy exploring these issues and sharing insights to help fellow cat parents, there’s no substitute for the expertise of a veterinarian.

Vets are the go-to professionals with a wealth of knowledge to address any concerns about your cat’s well-being. So, whether it’s a peculiar water bowl ritual or any other behavior that seems out of the ordinary, consulting with your vet ensures that you have the right guidance for your feline friend’s health.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment