Cats tend to drink too little and many get a big portion of their hydration from wet cat food. A dehydrated cat may develop serious health issues, make sure that your pet cat has unlimited access to water.
How long can a cat go without water?
Drinking water and staying hydrated is essential for a cat’s health and survival. Cats can go without water for about three days and effects of dehydration start to show as early as at 24 hours of not getting water. Most cats start to manifest organ damage if they lose 20% of body weight due to dehydration.
Cats that are at the worst risk the from dehydration include sick and elderly cats. Sick cats that are experiencing diarrhea and are vomiting lose important electrolytes and water in just a few hours and can easily become dehydrated. Elderly cats are also prone to dehydration because of health conditions that they have like kidney damage and hyperthyroidism. These high-risk cats should be closely monitored by the vet to ensure that they stay hydrated.
Why is proper hydration important to a cat?
Cats need proper hydration to ensure organ function as well as the efficient transportation of nutrients and proper circulation and digestion. If a cat is well-hydrated there is a perfect balance of electrolytes, minerals, and fluids in the body. A well-hydrated cat has lesser risks of developing urinary stones and the kidneys function well as hydration helps to flush out toxins from the cat’s body.
How much water does a cat need?
Cats should typically consume around 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight each day. Thus, if you have a 10-pound cat, she should be consuming around 7 to 9 ounces of water or about half an average bottle of water every day. Moreover, cats need more water to maintain body temperature as they consume more calories and produce more metabolic waste.
Things to consider in determining how much water a cat needs:
- the greater the size and weight of a cat, the more water is needed
- if your cat often has a dry food diet she should be given more water
- if your cat is more into wet food then she may need to drink less as most wet foods have 70 to 80% moisture content
- if you have a kitty that barely moves and loves to sleep she should be given more water to keep hydrated
- if your pet cat is urinating regularly then it means she’s well-hydrated and her water intake is sufficient
How do I know if my cat is dehydrated?
You’ can effectively know if your cat is dehydrated by pinching the skin between her shoulder blades. If the skin snaps back to position then she’s okay but if the skin doesn’t snap back and remains tented or loose and pulled up after you pinch it then it means your cat is dehydrated and should be checked by the vet at once. Aside from this so-called skin tenting condition, there are other signs and symptoms you should look out for, in assessing your cat’s condition.
These are the general symptoms of a dehydrated cat:
- loss of appetite
- sunken eyes
- dry gums and mouth
- elevated heart rate
- decreased skin elasticity
- excessive urination
If your pet cat already exhibits moderate to extreme dehydration, she should be hospitalized and rehydrated with the use of IV fluids and the cause of the dehydration should be identified so that the proper treatment may be given.
What should I do to keep my cat hydrated?
If your pet cat tends to be finicky when it comes to drinking water then there’s a risk she may become dehydrated. Here are some steps that you can do to keep your cat hydrated and healthy:
Try to put your cat on a wet food diet.
A good way to keep your cat hydrated is to introduce her on a wet food diet. Canned food for cats usually contain 70 to 80% of water and by regularly including it to your cat’s diet will help improve her water intake. Cat food brands like Fancy Feast offer a wide array of flavors that your cat will adore.
Install a water fountain.
Encourage your pet cat to drink more water and stay hydrated by providing innovative water sources that will pique her interest such as water fountains. Most pet parents agree that the usual water bowls get easily ignored by their kitties but for cats, there’s a deeper meaning for it. Cats dislike standing water because instinct dictates that it’s contaminated and not safe to drink in the wild and this is one of the most common reasons for a cat to not drink water. With a water fountain, your pet cat gets to have running water anytime and will entice her to drink more and stay hydrated.
Here are some recommended water fountains for your cat:
- Catit Flower Fountain
- Pioneer Pet Raindrop Drinking Fountain
- PetKit Eversweet 2 Fountain
Use a small water bowl.
Cat experts agree that cats are more willing to use and drink from a small water bowl compared to a large one. Also, a shallow bowl is preferred to avoid getting in contact with their sensitive whiskers. Always make sure to change the water at certain times of the day as cats prefer fresh and clean water.
Try to use multiple water bowls.
It’s recommended that you position at least a few water bowls at specific areas in your home for your cat to be able to have easy access anytime. Sometimes, cats can also become finicky when it comes to drinking water with their head bent because instinct dictates that they should have a clear vantage point to spot enemies from afar.
Place the water bowl in a safe distance away from the eating area.
Always place your cat’s water bowl a good distance away from her eating area because if not, cats will most likely not drink from it. This goes back to cats’ evolutionary learning where water in eating areas are supposed to be contaminated with the kill or prey.
Try to use filtered water or rainwater instead of the usual tap or faucet water.
Cats prefer water that tastes natural and doesn’t contain chemicals such as bottled water. You may use a filter to strip off chlorine because cats find it off-putting. Hopefully, it will entice your cat to drink more water because rainwater and filtered water are more tasteful and palatable.
Make sure to clean her water bowl regularly.
Cats are very particular with scents and smell so if they’ll detect something bad in their water bowl they’ll ignore it and won’t drink water from it. Be sure to clean the water bowl regularly and scrub it well to get rid of slime, pollutants, and unnecessary odors. A clean water bowl that’s always filled to the brim with fresh and clean water will surely encourage your cat to drink water more often.