How Long Can a Cat Go Without Water

icon May 30, 2023

Cats are known for their independent and mysterious nature. They are often seen grooming themselves meticulously, keeping their fur clean and shiny. However, when it comes to water, many feline friends exhibit an aversion or outright dislike. Cats are known for their independence and mysterious nature. They are often seen grooming themselves and keeping their coats clean and shiny. However, when it comes to water, many of their feline friends show an aversion or complete dislike. It may not be able to drink a drop of water for half a day, and that is something to worry about. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why cats may seem to dislike drinking water and offer some tips to help you ensure your cat stays adequately hydrated.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Water?

Why Is My Cat Not Drinking Water?

Genetic Causes

The behavior of cats in the wild can shed light on their water-drinking habits. Wild cats, such as lions and tigers, obtain most of their moisture from the prey they consume. Their bodies are adapted to derive hydration from their diet, which consists primarily of meat. Domesticated cats still retain this instinctual behavior to some extent, and their low thirst drive is a natural adaptation to their evolutionary history.

Daily Causes

If your cat does not have any serious health problems, you may need to clean your cat's water bowl daily. If the bowl is dirty or the water in it is cloudy, he may not want to drink. The placement of the water source is also important. If your water bowl is placed next to the litter box or next to food, some cats do not like water near the food bowl.

What Does Water Do for My Cat?

Water plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and well-being of your cat. Here are some key functions of water for cats:

Kidney Function

Water is essential for proper kidney function in cats. The kidneys help filter waste products from the blood and produce urine. Sufficient water intake helps ensure the kidneys can efficiently remove toxins and maintain the proper concentration of urine.


Water aids in digestion by facilitating the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food. It helps to soften food, making it easier to chew and swallow. Adequate hydration also prevents constipation and promotes regular bowel movements.

Temperature Regulation

Cats do not sweat as humans do, making it challenging for them to cool down in hot weather. They rely on panting and water consumption to regulate their body temperature. Drinking water helps keep them hydrated and prevents dehydration, which can lead to heatstroke or other heat-related issues.

Urinary Health

Cats are prone to certain urinary tract issues, such as urinary tract infections and bladder stones. Drinking an ample amount of water helps dilute the urine, reducing the risk of these problems. It also promotes more frequent urination, which helps flush out bacteria and other potentially harmful substances from the urinary tract.

Overall Health and Vitality

Adequate hydration contributes to your cat's overall health and vitality. It helps maintain healthy skin and coat, supports proper brain function, and aids in the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to cells throughout the body.

It Keeps Their Brains Active

When our cats start running around like crazy, destroying everything in sight, we think how nice it would be if our cats could learn to "calm down". Still, we feel bad when they are less active - we will do almost anything to get them active again.

Considering that the brain's main component is water, it also needs water to stay active and healthy. That way, our cats can go into their natural frenzy - something we have to admit, we're used to.

How Much Water Do Cats Need?

The amount of water a cat needs can vary depending on several factors, including their size, age, activity level, health status, and diet. On average, a healthy adult cat should consume about 3.5 to 4.5 ounces (100 to 130 milliliters) of water per 5 pounds (2.2 kilograms) of body weight per day. This estimate includes both waters obtained from drinking and moisture content in their food.

However, it's important to note that individual cats may have different water requirements. Some cats naturally drink more or less water than others. Additionally, certain factors such as hot weather, physical activity, pregnancy, lactation, or underlying health conditions may increase a cat's water needs.

To ensure your cat is getting enough water, monitoring Your Cat's Water Intake:

  • Monitor whether their water bowl needs frequent refilling or if they show signs of increased thirst.
  • Check Urination Frequency and Quality: Monitoring your cat's litter box can provide insights into their hydration status. Healthy cats typically produce urine regularly, and it should be pale yellow to clear in color. If you notice a significant decrease in urination or any changes in urine color or consistency, it may indicate a potential issue with hydration.
  • Moisture Content in Food: If your cat primarily consumes wet food, they are obtaining a significant portion of its water needs from its diet. Wet food typically contains around 75% water, while dry kibble contains only about 10% water. If your cat consumes dry food predominantly, they may require more water intake.

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Water?

Water is vital for the survival of cats, and they can become severely dehydrated if deprived of water for extended periods. 
Under normal circumstances, a cat should not go more than 24 to 48 hours without water. However, it's important to note that individual cats may vary in their tolerance to dehydration. Some cats may exhibit signs of dehydration within just a few hours of water deprivation, while others may show more resilience for a slightly longer duration.

Dehydration can lead to serious health complications and, if left untreated, may be life-threatening. It can adversely affect kidney function, impair digestion, and impact various bodily functions. Additionally, dehydration can exacerbate existing health conditions and compromise the overall well-being of a cat.

It is crucial to ensure that your cat has access to clean, fresh water at all times. If you suspect that your cat is not drinking enough water or showing signs of dehydration, such as lethargy, dry gums, sunken eyes, loss of appetite, or reduced urine output, it is important to seek veterinary attention promptly.

Is There Any Way to Make Sure My Cat Gets Enough Water?

Using a water fountain

Consider using a water fountain designed for pets. Cats are attracted to flowing water, and a fountain can encourage them to drink more.

10 best cat water fountains 2023

Multiple water sources

Place water bowls in different areas of your home. Some cats prefer to drink from certain locations, so having multiple water sources gives them options and increases the likelihood of them drinking.

Wet food

Feeding your cat wet food, such as canned or pouch food, can help increase their overall water intake. Wet food has a higher moisture content compared to dry kibble, which can contribute to your cat's hydration.

Flavor the water

 Suggest stimulating their curiosity by putting a cube or two of ice in the water. If your cat is reluctant to drink plain water, you can try adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken or fish broth to their water bowl. This can make the water more appealing and encourage your cat to drink.

Regular cleaning

Cats are sensitive to smells and may avoid drinking water that has an unpleasant odor. Clean your cat's water bowl regularly to remove any residue or bacteria that could affect the water's taste or smell.


Can Cats Drink Tap Water?

Yes, in most cases, cats can drink tap water. Tap water is usually safe for cats as long as it meets human drinking standards. However, cats are sensitive to the odor of chlorine in the water source. If you don't want to drink it, consider replacing it with distilled water.

Why Does My Cat Scratch the Floor Before Drinking Water?

Cats are attracted to moving water, as it is more likely to be fresh and clean. By scratching the floor near the water bowl, they may be trying to create movement in the water, similar to the ripples caused by flowing water in streams. This behavior can make the water more enticing for them to drink.

Why is My Old Cat Drinking So Much Water?

If you notice that your older cat is drinking more water than usual, it could be indicative of an underlying health issue. Increased water intake in cats, known as polydipsia, can be a symptom of various conditions. Here are some possible reasons why your older cat may be drinking more water:

  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Urinary tract issues
  • Medications or treatments: Some medications or treatments may cause increased thirst as a side effect. If your older cat is taking any medications, it's worth checking with your veterinarian to determine if they could be contributing to the increased water consumption.

If you notice that your older cat is drinking more water than usual, it's important to monitor their overall behavior and look for any other accompanying signs, such as increased urination, weight loss, changes in appetite, lethargy, or other abnormal symptoms. It is recommended to consult with a veterinarian to investigate the underlying cause.

Do Cats Like Cold Water?

Cats have individual preferences when it comes to the temperature of their water. While some cats may enjoy drinking cold water, others may prefer it at room temperature. 
Cats may be more inclined to drink colder water during hot weather or in warmer environments. Cold water can help them cool down and regulate their body temperature.
If your cat enjoys colder water, you can drop a few ice cubes into their water bowl. This can help keep the water cooler for longer periods.

Why is My Cat Drinking a Lot of Water and Meowing?

Excessive vocalization, including meowing, can be a way for cats to seek attention. If your cat has learned that meowing results in attention, they may continue the behavior to get your focus or interaction. But it maybe could indicate an underlying health issue or behavioral concern. Increased water intake (polydipsia) and excessive vocalization (meowing) can be symptoms of various medical conditions in cats, including diabetes, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, urinary tract infections, or even dental issues. These conditions can cause discomfort, thirst, or pain, leading to increased water consumption and vocalization.

Cat Coughing After Drinking Water?

If your cat is coughing after drinking water, it could be a sign of various health issues. Here are some possible explanations for this behavior:

Hairballs: Cats groom themselves by licking their fur, and this can result in the accumulation of hair in their digestive system. When your cat drinks water, it can trigger a coughing or gagging reflex as the hairballs are dislodged or moved through the throat.

Respiratory infections: Cats can develop respiratory infections, such as upper respiratory tract infections or feline viral respiratory diseases, which may cause coughing after drinking water. These infections can result in inflammation of the respiratory tract, leading to coughing or choking.

Swallowing difficulties: Some cats may have difficulty swallowing, which can be caused by various factors such as dental problems, throat inflammation, or esophageal disorders. When they drink water, it may trigger a coughing reflex due to discomfort or difficulty in swallowing.

Heart conditions: Certain heart conditions in cats, such as congestive heart failure, can lead to fluid accumulation in the lungs. When a cat with a heart condition drinks water, the increase in fluid intake can exacerbate the coughing as the fluid is circulated through the respiratory system.

Allergies or irritants: Cats, like humans, can have allergies or sensitivities to certain substances. If your cat is coughing after drinking water, it's possible that they are reacting to an allergen or irritant present in the water or the environment.

Why Does Cat Keep Knocking Over Water Bowl?

Cats are always knocking over water bowls may be a form of entertainment, they enjoy the movement and sound that comes from knocking over the bowl, or they may be seeking new experiences and trying to change their surroundings. Or maybe their water bowl is becoming stale and they knock it over in an attempt to get a fresher source of water. However, it is also worth noting that this unusual behavior can also be associated with diabetes or dental problems.



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