How Long Can Cats Go Without Water? A Cat's Water Intake Revealed!

Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Outdoor & NatureLearn more
How long can cats go without water? How can you keep your cat from becoming dehydrated?

Share this article

Cats need a constant supply of both food and water to survive.

Cats are made out of between 65-75% water and even a slight drop in this can lead to dehydration, which is extremely dangerous for cats. The exact amount of water a cat needs depends on its body fat percentage and age, however, no cat can survive without water for too long.

However, what exactly happens when a cat becomes dehydrated? Why are food and water so important for cats? It is important to learn about how many days a cat can live without water and how to get a kitty to drink more!

What happens if a cat does not drink water?

Water is extremely important to cats, even more so than food according to many vets! In fact, it is common knowledge that getting cats to drink as much water as they need to is quite a challenge. Cats often go long periods of time without even drinking a drop of water, which causes dehydration. What happens when cats go without water for too long?

It does not take very long for the effects of dehydration to creep up on a cat. Water is crucial to ensure that the blood circulates properly around a cat's body, and helps it reach all the internal organs. The most dangerous effect of a cat going without water for too long is the stress it puts on the kidneys. Less water means a lower blood supply reaching the kidneys, which decreases the ability to flush out the toxins from the body. This may lead to complete kidney failure if the signs are not recognized early enough and proper medical care is not given.

Low blood supply can also cause stress to the heart. The effects of this can be disastrous for older cats that already have weaker organs. Dehydration causes the blood circulation in the body to slow down, which causes the heart to beat faster in an attempt to make up for it. This causes cats to struggle to breathe, and may ultimately end in heart failure.

Not drinking enough water can also affect the elasticity of a cat's skin. If you pull slightly on its skin and it takes some time to fall back into place, then it means that a cat may be dehydrated. Other ways dehydration can affect a cat are excessive drooling, extreme weakness, lethargy, and problems with bladder control.

How long can cats endure without drinking water before a vet visit?

Cats going without water for anything over 24 hours is a cause for concern. Both food and water are extremely important for cats because they need a constant supply of energy to fuel their bodies. Cats are always on the lookout for something to eat and have no concept of stopping when they are full. This is why if you leave out all your cat's food for the day, you will find it gone in minutes!

However, when cats are sick or feeling weak, they act in the complete opposite manner. They do not eat at all! When cats are low on energy, they will not even move to nourish their bodies which leads to them becoming weaker and weaker until they wither away. If you are a cat owner, the most important thing to do is memorize your cat's normal eating schedule and behavior. Cats usually eat in the same way every day, and they always have healthy appetites. IF you notice that your cat has not touched its food or water for a while, it may be a warning that something is wrong.

The main reason cats do not drink enough water, even when they have access to water, is that they are suffering from a disease. Cats have evolved to not show any weakness in front of predators, because of which they usually suffer in silence if they are unwell. Kidney and liver diseases, as well as cancer, can suppress a cat's appetite as well as thirst, because of which it may not touch its water bowl for days on end. If your cat is suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, this may cause the rapid loss of fluids that can be hard to recover and weakness may prevent them from making up for it.

A cat has very sensitive whiskers, so if its water bowl is not big enough, it can cause discomfort to the tips of its whiskers which may graze the sides. This may cause the cat to stop drinking water. If you notice this is the case, replace its bowl with something bigger.

Cats are also very picky when it comes to water. Cats require clean, fresh water, and may sometimes even reject tap water in their bowl! If you observe a cat is not drinking water, try cleaning out its water bowl and replacing it two to three times a day, or fill it with bottled water instead.

Another reason a cat's water intake may be lower than normal is if the cat is used to eating more wet canned food than dry. A cat that lives on wet cat food receives a lot of moisture from the food itself, so it does not need to drink as much water as if its diet contained more dry food. It is unlikely that cats can survive for more than three to four days without water. Indoor cats also survive for a shorter time without drinking water than outdoor cats do because wild cats receive moisture from their prey.

Cats usually do not last long without a constant supply of water. Take your kitty to the vet immediately if it hasn't drunk in 24 hours or more!

Why do cats not drink water next to their food?

If your cat is not touching its water bowl, changing its location may be a good idea. Cats have an inbuilt tendency not to drink any water present near their food source or litter box, as it could lead to the unintentional transfer of bacteria to the water.

Try moving the water bowl to a different corner of the house, and if your cat seeks it out and drinks from it, then that means that all is well. The material of the bowl itself may also be a problem. As cats are extremely picky about their water, they also pick up in the slightest hints on contaminants in it. If the bowl is made out of plastic, they may not drink from it. Try replacing it with one made out of glass or metal. A ceramic bowl is another good option. Make sure you clean the bowl every time you fill it with fresh water.

How do you encourage a cat to drink water?

If your kitty does not seem to be drinking enough water regularly, there are a few ways in which you can encourage it to drink more. Cats need a lot of water to keep their systems intact and blood pumping, so make sure you do everything in your power to increase their water intake!

Cats need access to water that is fresh and untainted, so make sure to refill their water bowls two to three times every day, and if not then at least daily. If possible, keep more than one water bowl scattered throughout the house. This will encourage cats to take in water no matter what room they are in.

Keep the water and food bowls in separate locations, ideally far away from each other. Cats instinctively do not trust any water kept near their food. Cats may be repulsed by the idea of stagnant water, which is why they may not be drinking from their bowls regularly. In this case, try a cat water fountain. The flowing water may encourage them into drinking! Some cats prefer bottled water to tap water, so try filling their bowls with it. You may notice your cat putting its paw in its water bowl and moving it around. This is to imitate the feel of running water which cats love!

They also prefer cold water, as they associate it with being fresher and cleaner. Fill their bowls with cold, crisp water next time, as warm water could be the reason why they go without water in the first place! If your cat does not drink no matter what you try, give them wet cat food instead of dry kibble. This will naturally increase the amount of water they take in. If a cat has gone days without water, then booking an appointment to see a vet is recommended.


Written By

Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

Was this article helpful?

Get The Kidadl Newsletter
1,000's of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.