How Much Water Does a Cat Need? How to Get Her To Drink More?

It is a common stereotype that cats hate water. Truth is, some cats are fascinated by water enough to figure out how to flush a toilet just to watch it spin and some cats love being bathed and may even like swimming in shallow water. These cats need to be watched around koi ponds and aquariums because they’re not “Like the poor cat i’ th’ adage” as Lady Macbeth would say.

Drinking water for cats is of course very important as it is to all living things otherwise nutrients are not absorbed and metabolism slows, shutting down all functions and systems. Even if your cat is the type who’s a bit on the aquaphobic side, she still needs clean drinking water.

How Much Water Should a Cat Drink?

A healthy cat can go four or five days without water, but please don’t make her go through that. Dehydration is a slow and painful process that thickens the blood, saps energy and disturbs the balance of salt and water in the body. Dehydration affects older cats more quickly than it does younger cats and in any case can happen more quickly in warmer conditions.

Your cat needs to drink 20-40 milliliters per kilogram in weight. A cat that weighs 6 kilograms (12 pounds) should be drinking around 180 milliliters (6 fluid ounces) of water a day.

Water Needs Depend on Diet

If your cat isn’t drinking the water you set out for her but otherwise seems healthy and has no litter box problems it may be because you’re feeding her canned food. Canned food is very moist being almost 80% water. Cats who eat wet cat food just aren’t thirsty because they’re getting all the hydration they need from food.

Cats that eat dry cat food need a dish of water, preferably not too close to the food because cats like their water very clean. If Kitty has been getting into salty or sweet foods, she might be a little thirstier than usual.

Kittens being weaned might not drink as much as they should because they’re still getting used to this whole eating on their own thing. They may only drink if they see Mama drinking and if Mama is eating canned food, it may take them awhile to catch on.

If Baby shows signs of dehydration, you might need to feed her water with a syringe or spoon until she gets the idea to drink on her own. You can also try moistening the kitten chow a little, soaked but not stirred.

How to Monitor Your Cat’s Intake

Suppose you are curious about just how much water your cat is drinking. First, you must block off all access to other water sources such as puddles, leaky pipes or faucets. Never let your cat drink from the toilet. Put several measuring cups full of water throughout your home to calculate how much is consumed at the end of the day, allowing for evaporation.

Like any good science experiment, this should be repeated several times to get a decent calculation for a daily average. This test should be done about once every three months. Any significant change in either direction warrants a vet visit.

Your vet may request a urine sample. Here’s how to get one. First, empty the litter box then wash it thoroughly with soap and water. No other chemicals should be used as they may affect the outcome of the urine test. The clean litter tray should then be filled with something non-absorbent.

Catrine crystals or a plastic bag cut into strips will do. After Kitty urinates, pour the urine into a clean glass jar or the collection container your vet provided. It’s best to get the sample to the vet within an hour. If this is not possible, the urine can be refrigerated for 12 hours. Label this container clearly so no one mistakes it for lemonade.

Signs of Dehydration in a Cat

Dehydration is very easy to diagnose. The most obvious symptom is sunken eyes. If she’s lethargic with no appetite and her skin doesn’t seem as elastic as it should, she’s dehydrating. Panting, dry mouth and an elevated heart rate also mean Kitty needs water fast. Thirst is a painful sensation that can cause a cat to be severely depressed.

If Kitty is so dehydrated she can’t even work up the energy to lap up the water she needs or can’t drink due to a mouth injury, she needs to be brought to a vet and given fluids under her skin.

How Can I Get My Cat to Drink More?

Because modern housecats evolved from animals that live in dry climates and Don’t sweat and have more concentrated urine, they don’t drink much. This means cats can be very picky about drinking water. For one thing, most of them will only drink water that’s absolutely clean. Of course, you should only give your cat clean water to drink but Kitty has to see for herself that the water is clean.

That means a large glass or ceramic bowl so Kitty can see just how clean the water is. Cats like their water fresh so change it at least twice a day. Some cats only drink running water and may need a special cat water fountain you can get at a pet store.

Related: Read here what to do if your kitty is refusing food and water

Boiled and distilled water are not very nutritious for your cat. Tap water might be fine, but it tends to have chlorine compounds that your cat might smell and taste more than you would. Bottled water will work if it’s a quality product from a natural groundwater source. Ordinary bottled water is often enriched with minerals that may lead to urinary stone disease.

Filtered water might be the best bet. There are lots of water filtration products on the market that you’re supposed to attach to your faucet, but here’s the easiest way to get filtered water. Just put it in a tightly sealed glass jar and refrigerate for six to eight hours.

Resources:

  • March 22, 2018
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.