What if your cat is not drinking enough water?

Cat not able to drink from glassHaving a cat drinking too few, or even a cat not drinking water at all, is dangerous. It may lead to numerous health problems and/or death.

But what if your cat is not drinking the water, even though it’s right there, in the bowl in front of him? Here are some things to try:

  •  Health issues. Before you start any changes, your cat must be examined by a veterinarian. There are several diseases that may cause avoidance of water bowl. Besides that, if your cat has already been drinking too few for some time, he may have developed new health problems, as well. After you know your cat is OK (let’s see for how long, assuming he’s not drinking water), you may try other things.
  • Ditch the dry food. If you didn’t already, switch your cat to a raw or canned diet, which normally contains up to ten times more water than the dry food. In nature cats receive most of their necessary water with the food and drink very few additional. However, cats on dry food need to drink quite much, so, if your cat is finicky about the water bowl, switching him to a diet containing more moisture, may be the one and only necessary change. Read our article about all the benefits from switching a cat to canned or raw food here.
  • Pour fresh water in the bowl regularly. How often do you replace water in the bowl? Normally, it should be done twice a day at least, or more, if possible. Also, washing the bowl with a regular dish detergent or in a dishwasher at least weekly.
  • Change placement of the bowl. In many cases, it may be the location which deters the cat from the water bowl. Naturally  to avoid pollution and reveling of their presence, cats do not drink close to their hunting area and elimination area. So, if the water bowl is too close to the food bowl (feeding station containing of two bowls is a no-go) or litter box – try reallocating it.
  • Check if the bowl is appropriate. Is the size of the bowl appropriate? Cats may avoid drinking from bowls that are: too small, to wide, too deep or too shallow. It all depends from a cat to cat, so there’s a lot of trial an error in front of you. Most cats accept a bowl that is wide enough, so their whiskers are not touching the edges, but not a lot wider. Depth of the water is an issue that has origins in the ancestry of your feline. In nature, if a cat is not able to see the bottom of the water body, he may feel threatened while drinking from there, because he can not see who’s hiding in there.
  • Get several water bowls. Cats love options. It’s extra true in multicat households where territory wars are going on. Some cat may frighten the other cat to pass the hallway on its way to the bowl. It may not even be apparent, as cats usually try to avoid conflicts. Having an alternative will solve this problem. Also, older cats who have become less mobile or lazy, may skip the bowl if it’s too far.
  • Choose different water. Maybe it’s the problem with your tap water? Many cats dislike chlorine added to the tap water, so buying a bottle or two (different brands) of drinking water may be worth a shot. Some cats may like sparkling water because of curiosity they make, but some may avoid it, though. We’d suggest starting with still water, and if he likes it, try same brand sparkling one later on.
  • Cat drinking water from a faucet.Water fountains.  Cats love running water. This habit has origins in their ancestry as well. Wild cats know, running waters are less likely to be polluted than water from a pond or a puddle. It’s amazing, assuming cats are not familiar with laws of physics. So, if a cat is not drinking water from his bowl, you may try introducing a cat water fountain.
  • Put ice cubes in the bowl. It’s a nice trick to rise curiosity in your cat about the food bowl. Sound of them clashing against each other may draw your cat’s attention. Besides that, chiller water will appear fresher to your cat.
  • Is really your cat not drinking enough? An average 5 kilo (10 pound) adult cat requires 36 to 185 ml (1.2 to 6.3 fl. oz) of water by drinking every day [Bonnie V. Beaver “Feline Behavior. A guide for veterinarians”]. The range is pretty wide, and it depends on the diet of your cat. If he’s eating canned or raw food exclusively, you may expect, his requirements somewhat close to the lower margin. It’s  not that much as many people think cats should drink. However, if your cat is eating dry food, he will need close to upper margin.

Remember, cat not drinking water is extremely serious issue. Wait no more if this website did not solve your problem instantly. Check your cat with a veterinarian. Especially, if he’s not drinking water at all.

Photos by:  CelloPics and Mike Burns.