What if your cat is not drinking enough water

If your cat is drinking too few, or even not drinking water at all, then it is a serious condition to consider. Chronic dehydration can lead to serious health problems, some of them life-threatening.

A cat is not drinking water from its bowl
Photo by Vladimir Cosic

In this article, you will learn what to do if your cat does not drink enough water and how to help him intake the much-needed liquid.

  •  Health issues. Before you start any changes, your cat must visit a veterinarian. Several diseases may cause avoidance of water bowl. Besides that, if your cat has already been drinking too few for some time, your vet can help administer fluids to ail dehydration. After you know your cat is OK, you may try other things.
  • Ditch the dry food. If you didn’t already, switch your cat to a raw or canned diet, which usually 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 only necessary change.
  • Pour fresh water in the bowl regularly. How often do you replace the water in the bowl? Usually, it should be done twice a day at least, or more, if possible. Also, washing the bowl with 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 to disclose their presence, cats do not drink close to their hunting and elimination areas. So, if the water bowl is too close to the food bowl or litter box — try relocating it.
  • Check if the bowl is appropriate. Is the bowl large enough? Cats may linger to drink from bowls that are: too small, too wide, too deep or too shallow. It all depends on a cat, so there’s 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. That is extra important in multicat households where territory wars are going on. One of your cats may frighten the other one 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. If you have several in other locations, there’s always one in the vicinity.
  • Choose different water. Maybe it’s a problem with your tap water? Many cats dislike chlorine added to the tap water. Therefore buying a bottle or two (different brands) of drinking water may be worth a shot. Some cats may like sparkling water because of curiosity, but some may avoid it, though. We’d suggest starting with still water, and if he likes it, try the same brand sparkling one later on.
  • Water fountains.  Cats love running water; you’ve likely seen a cat drinking from toilet or tap. 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.
    cat drinks water form the running tap
    Cats love running water. Photo by Michel Curi, cc

    Cats love running water. It’s fantastic, 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. One problem is that they are relatively loud, and some cats may be scared of the noise.

  • Put ice cubes in the bowl. It’s a nice trick to raise a curiosity in your cat about the bowl. The rattle they make as they clash against each other can draw your cat’s attention. Besides that, chiller water is more palatable and apparently fresher.
  • Is your cat indeed not drinking enough? An average 5 kilo (10 pounds) 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 broad, and it depends on the diet of your cat. If your cat is 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. Learn more about cat’s water requirements here.

Remember, if your cat is not drinking water, you have a serious issue to deal with. 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.