How Long Can A Cat Go Without Water? 4 Tips To Avoid (Dehydration In Cats)

Russell Cargill

Ever wondered, how long can a cat go without water? Cats need adequate hydration to survive and should drink water regularly throughout the day. 

How much they need per day depends on their weight and age, but the general rule of thumb is one ounce for every pound of body weight per day.

On average, domestic cats can survive about three to four days without water, although there have been cases where they have survived longer.

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Water?

Like humans, cats become dehydrated when they lose too much fluid from their bodies. Losing water is not the only problem with dehydration. They also lose the essential minerals in their body like chloride, sodium, and potassium.

Cats need water for proper blood circulation, digestion, and assistance with waste removal. Drinking enough water will also help cats digest lose fur they might have ingested from grooming, as well as reducing symptoms like hiccups. In addition to maintaining good health, water replaces the fluids lost through urine and feces. 

If your cat’s dehydration goes untreated, it could lead to other serious medical issues. This is why it’s so important to track your furry friend’s water intake and make sure they are getting the water they need daily. 

How Much Water Should Cats Drink?

The amount of water your cat needs to drink will depend on the weight and age of our feline friend. With that said, the general guideline is 1oz of water for every pound of body weight per day.

How Long Can Kittens Go Without Water?

Kittens require plenty of fluids as well, and shouldn’t go for longer than three days without drinking. 

If you don’t already do so, fill up a bowl with fresh drinking water, both in the morning as well as at night after you have fed them. 

What Causes Dehydration In Cats?

Dehydration in cats is typically caused by a lack of water intake or by excessive water loss. 

Cats can also sweat through the sweat glands on the bottom of their paws, but this does not usually result in drastic water loss. 

Many factors can cause dehydration in cats, such as:

  • Having diabetes
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Heatstroke
  • Overheating due to hot weather
  • Trauma
  • Vomiting

Your cat’s diet might be causing them to be dehydrated without you even knowing it. 

Even the best dry cat food lacks the required moisture content cats need in their diet; they can often be dehydrated, even if they are drinking more water than usual. 

Because of this, your vet will typically recommend feeding your cat good quality wet cat food.

What Can Happen If Your Cat Is Dehydrated?

When a cat doesn’t consume enough water, it may suffer from health conditions such as urinary problems, bladder stones, or crystals. Additionally, they may suffer from constipation or inflammation.

This is particularly true for male cats. It is an extremely painful medical emergency for cats.

Strangely, even if your cat has access to water they still might not drink enough of it. 

It may seem like your cat doesn’t like drinking water but that might not be true. 

It is thought that cats have an instinctive reluctance to drink water close to their food or toileting area. We think they do this because they’re afraid of contamination with bacteria in the area.

In order to keep your cat from suffering from organ failure, kidney failure, urinary tract infections, and urinary blockages, it may be a good idea to move their drinking bowl away from their food and litter tray. 

Finally, severely dehydrated felines may experience disorientation, lethargy, and a change in their breathing patterns.

How Do You Know If Your Cat Is Dehydrated?

In order to know if your cat is suffering from dehydration is to perform a quick test that’s called ‘Skin tenting’. 

Please keep in mind skin tenting is not a symptom of dehydration in cats, it’s just a test. 

You can perform the test by gently pulling up a small portion of your cat’s skin around his shoulders and then letting go. Similar to what we do with the back of our hands. 

If your cat is hydrated, the skin will quickly fall back into place. If the skin is slow to fall back down, your cat may be dehydrated.

If your cat’s skin remains in a tenting position and does not fall back into place, this may be a sign of severe dehydration. In such cases, you should seek medical attention for your cat immediately.

Usually, your cat will be the first to notice that they’re dehydrated, however, keep an eye on them in extreme heat. If you see your little kitten panting then that could be a sign they need a drink.

Below Are Common Symptoms Of Dehydration:

  • Loss of energy
  • Panting
  • Lo of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Tacky and dry gums
  • Dry nose
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Low body temperature

How To Prevent Dehydration In Cats? 4 Simple Tips

The best way to prevent dehydration in cats is to make sure they have easy access to water, and they are getting fresh water daily. Remember that it’s a good idea to separate their drinking water from their food and litter area. 

There are some things that you can do to help keep your furry friends hydrated:

Tip #1: Feed them soft dry cat food or semi-moist foods. 

If that’s not your thing, then go for a simple cat-friendly broth. Keep in mind that cats shouldn’t eat sodium and salt, and many off the shelf broths won’t be suitable for cats. You’ll have to make it yourself

Tip #2: One of the best ways to make sure they’re drinking enough is to purchase a cat fountain in your home.

You should also watch where and how your cat prefers to drink. Some prefer drinking from certain bowls while others prefer tap water, or oddly enough the shower water. Kinda gross I know. 

Tip #3: Don’t forget to wash your cat’s drinking bowl daily to stop bacteria from growing. Cats are very fussy about their cleanliness.

Tip #4: If your kitten or cat is recovering from an illness, it can be difficult to encourage them to drink. A good trick for this is to give them an ice cube to lick on.  

How Is Dehydration Treated?

Veterinarians will treat dehydration in cats by giving them fluids through a drip under their skin. 

In severe cases, a veterinarian can hospitalize your cat and give them fluids directly into the cat’s veins. By doing this, cats can usually rehydrate back to normal in a few hours depending on their condition.

You should always ask what they think was the cause of your cat’s dehydration and they will go through a process of elimination with you. 

By working closely with your vet you should hopefully be able to identify the underlying cause of dehydration in the first place. 

How Much Water Do Cats Really Need?

For every 5 pounds of their body weight, cats need to drink about 3.5-7 ounces of water daily. For example, the daily water intake for a cat weighing 10 pounds is between 7 and 9 ounces.

When you feed the cat a lot of wet food, you may notice that it isn’t drinking as much water. Don’t be alarmed if they aren’t because wet food is made of up to 80% water. Of course if you do notice any symptoms like the ones above them take action asap. 

Those who eat primarily dry food, on the other hand, will not consume as much water from their food. 

Surprisingly, even if they drink significantly more water than they usually would, they could still be dehydrated. 

If you feed your cat dry food only, it might be a good time to start mixing wet food into their diets. 

What To Do If Your Cat Is Dehydrated

If you suspect your cat to be dehydrated here are some helpful tips on getting them rehydrated as quickly as possible. 

  • Try adding chicken broth or tuna juice to their water. 
  • Instead of dry food, try mixing a 50/50 ratio of dry/wet food. 
  • Put ice cubes in their water bowl.

Learn what your cat likes and doesn’t like. If your cat loves drinking from the tap, a water fountain is a must. 

Are Certain Breeds Particularly Vulnerable To Dehydration?

No particular breed of cat is prone to dehydration. Older cats are generally prone to dehydration or cats with underlying illnesses such as diabetes. 

If your cat is diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or kidney disorder, talk with your vet about how to best maintain healthy hydration levels for your cat.

Let’s Wrap This Up

A serious medical condition can arise as a result of dehydration in cats, so it is important to address them as soon as possible.

You might need to get creative in order to get your cat to drink enough water. To find what works best for your kitty, try various types of water fountains, wet foods, and even different shapes for the water bowl.

Below are some recommended water fountains to help your cat get their daily water requirements. 

PetSafe Drinkwell Original Cat Water Fountain, Filtered Water for Your Pet

The PetSafe Drinkwell Original Automatic Cat Water...
  • WATER CAPACITY: 50 oz. water capacity is...
  • ENCOURAGES DRINKING: The fountain's...
  • FILTERED WATER: Includes replaceable...

This water fountain is a clear favorite among cat owners. If your cat likes to drink from the tap, consider giving this one a go. Its free-falling stream replicates the kitchen sink or any running tap for that matter.

It does come with a filter which will need replacing eventually, if that’s not your thing consider another option. It’s BPA-free and easy to clean making it my top pick to give your cat plenty of water daily. 

You will want to consider purchasing the cleaning brushes and extra filters to go along with the fountain. The brushes will make life easier as they are a perfect fit, and the filters will match right up.

PetSafe Drinkwell Sedona Cat Water Fountain, Ceramic and BPA-Free Plastic Pet Drinking Fountain

PetSafe Drinkwell Sedona Dog and Cat Water Fountain,...
  • WATER CAPACITY: 100 oz. water capacity...
  • ENCOURAGES DRINKING: Moving water...
  • FILTERED WATER: Includes replaceable...

This water fountain is a bigger, better version of the one above. It does provide nicer styling in my opinion. It would be a great option if you have a multiple cat household, its extra water capacity will be more than enough to see them through.

It’s also very quiet when operating making it a much better product overall. It is however a little expensive.

You have the option to choose either the foam filter or the carbon filter

Both will get the job done.

Last update on 2024-02-26 at 10:36 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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