How Long Can Cats Go
Without Water?

how long can cats go without water

March 28, 2022

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Like all living things, cats need water to survive. However, you may not see your cat drinking water very often. We’ll explain why in just a second.

Because you rarely see your cat drinking water, you may be worried if it can survive without water. Or, maybe your cat went missing, and you’re not sure if it can find water out on the streets.

Sometimes cat owners want to take a trip with their cats, and they are not sure how long they can leave their cats without water. Or they are planning on leaving their cat home alone and wonder what would happen if their cat was to spill the water while they were gone.

There are many reasons you may want to know how long cats can go without water, and we’re here to answer all your questions, including:

  • How long can a cat survive without water?
  • How much water do cats need?
  • How long can a cat live without drinking?

We’ll tell you everything you should know about keeping your cat safe and hydrated. Let’s dive in!

How Long Can Cats Go Without Water?

Just like humans and all living things, cats require sufficient water to survive. Although it is a given, sometimes cat owners are surprised to see their cats drinking.

In the wild, cats get most of the moisture they need from their food. They hunt for prey such as small rodents and lizards, which they then consume- bones and all. The juicy meat they eat provides wild cats with almost all the water they need. Therefore, cats don’t drink much in the wild.

Cats are not very interested in drinking water.

For pet cats, the conditions are a bit different. Veterinarians often recommend wet food as the primary source of energy because it contains a lot of moisture and will prevent urinary and kidney issues caused by not getting enough moisture. Cats that eat mostly wet food may not drink very much because they are getting the water they need from their food.

On the other hand, cats that only eat dry food need more water because the food they eat contains very little moisture. Also, dry food may sometimes lead to urinary and kidney problems if the cat is not keen on drinking water from its bowl.

What it all comes down to is that usually, cats are not very interested in drinking water. Still, their bodies need moisture to function properly.

How Long Can An Adult Cat Survive Without Water?

The answer to how long adult cats can go without water is not straightforward.

Healthy adult cats are able to go longer without drinking than other pets since their renal systems are more efficient at making concentrated urine. They have also adapted to efficiently using the moisture in their food contains.

In general, cats can survive about 3-4 days without water.

However, many factors can change this estimate one way or another:

  • Cats that eat only dry food need more water than cats that are fed wet food
  • If your cat only eats wet food, it is getting a significant portion of the water it needs from its food
  • Your cat will need more water if the weather is hot
  • Lactating females need more water to sustain their milk flow
  • Some illnesses may cause your cat to need more water than usual

Because various elements affect your cat’s need for water, it is difficult to say how long it can go without drinking.

Three days is a good estimate, but you should never keep your cat without water for this long. It is important that cats have access to fresh and clean water at all times, even if you might rarely see them drinking.

If your cat doesn’t drink for more than three days, there is a high chance of developing health issues like feline hepatic lipidosis (“fatty liver” disease) and severe dehydration.

Still, it all depends on your cat and what is normal for them. If your cat is drinking less than they usually do, it is always a reason for concern, and you should contact a vet for guidance.

how long can cats survive without water

If you are planning to leave your cat home alone and you’re worried about it having enough fresh and clean water for the whole time, a water dispenser is a perfect way to ensure your pet is kept hydrated while you are away. This popular water dispenser Veken Cat Water Fountain is highly recommended by cat owners.

Also, if you’re traveling with your cat and want to make sure they stay hydrated for the duration of your journey, a travel water bottle like this MalsiPree Leak Proof Portable Water Dispenser will become handy.

(And if you’re wondering how long your cat can survive without water because it went missing again, you might want to consider a tracking device to give you peace of mind. The Tractive Waterproof GPS Cat Tracker is a good option.)

How Long Can A Kitten Survive Without Water?

As with adult cats, kittens also need water to survive.

Small kittens get most of the water they need from their mother’s milk, but older kittens need to drink or get moisture from wet food, just like adult cats.

A kitten can probably survive about 3-4 days without water, but if your kitten hasn’t been drinking for more than 24 hours, there is a reason for concern.

Dehydration can occur quickly if your kitten does not drink enough water and it is eating only dry kibble. Symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea will worsen and lead to dehydration developing very quickly.

Again, many factors weigh in on how much your kitten drinks water. If it is fed primarily wet food, it may need to drink very little water in addition to the moisture it gets from the food. On the other hand, a kitten that is fed only dry food will need more water.

If your kitten is drinking less than it normally does or not drinking at all, you should take it to the vet as soon as you can.

How Much Water Do Cats Need?

As a basic rule, cats need about 3.50 to 4.50 ounces of water per every five pounds of their body weight each day. So, on average, a 10lb cat will need around 9oz (or about a glass of water) every day.

Cats usually obtain water from their food -particularly wet food.

However, you don’t need to worry if your cat isn’t drinking as much as the daily recommendation. Cats usually obtain water from their food -particularly wet food.

Wet food contains about 80% water or even more, while dry food only contains about 10% moisture. This means that cats fed wet food may need very little additional moisture, while cats that eat dry food need to drink more.

Why Is My Cat Not Drinking Water?

Cats usually stop drinking for one of two reasons:

Behavioral Reasons

When your cat stops drinking water or is drinking very little, you may wonder what could cause such behavior. Cats are sensitive creatures, and there are a variety of behavioral reasons why they might refuse to drink.

Your cat may dislike the design or size of the water bowl -or its location. Any changes in the environment may also lead to a cat not drinking.

Also, if the water isn’t fresh, some cats won’t drink it. They can also be wary of drinking from a bowl placed against a wall because they think it puts them at risk. Also, the detergent you use to wash the bowl may smell funny.

Health Issues

If your cat has a dental condition or an inflammation of the mouth, drinking water may become difficult because of the pain it causes.

In addition, cats with underlying health conditions, such as diarrhea, renal disorders, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes will lose water faster and may be too unwell to drink enough water.

Risks of Not Drinking –
Why Your Cat Can’t Go Without Water

Most of your cat’s essential metabolic processes are supported by water, which accounts for around 60 percent of your cat’s body weight.

Dehydration is one of the most serious consequences that can occur if your cat is not drinking enough water. Dehydration develops when your cat expends more fluids than they take in, resulting in an imbalance of water and electrolytes in the body. Their bodies become unable to operate correctly as a result of this.

Dehydration can be due to a number of factors other than a lack of water intake. For example, underlying health conditions or medications are possible causes of dehydration.

The consequences of insufficient water intake include:

  • Severe electrolyte imbalances
  • Reduced blood and oxygen supply to bodily organs
  • Poor food digestion
  • Build-up of toxins in the body
  • Reduced energy
  • Poor organ function
  • Poor dermal health
  • A higher risk of urethral blockage in male cats
  • Death

If you suspect your cat has developed dehydration as a result of not drinking enough water, look out for these symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Reduced urine
  • Loss of skin elasticity

If you notice any of these signs, you should take your cat to have a medical check-up right away.

6 Tips to Get a Cat to Drink

Now that you know how important drinking water is for your cat, you want to know a few tricks that may help you get your cat drinking again:

Below are tips for increasing the amount of water your cat drinks if you’re worried that your cat isn’t getting enough:

1. Keep the water bowl clean

Stale water may collect bacteria, algae, and other contaminants from the surroundings, all of which can spoil the water in the bowl. Regular cleaning can help prevent unpleasant odors and tastes from accumulating in the water.

2. Switch to Smaller Water Bowl

Some cats dislike water bowls that are too big or deep. Trying out a bowl that is smaller and more shallow may help your cat drink more water.

3. Keep Drinking Water Away from Eating Area

Cats avoid drinking from water sources near eating areas because of their dislike for stale water. In the wild, cats have figured out that water around feeding sites is usually contaminated by pathogens from decaying animal corpses. Therefore pet cats may also refuse to drink from a bowl that is next to their food bowl.

4. Use Several Locations 

Sometimes cats may be worried about drinking from a bowl set in a specific location. This could be due to having a limited view of the space around them, or the water bowl being is a busy area with lots of traffic. You can try placing a few water bowls around the house to see which locations your cat prefers.

5. Use a Water Fountain

Some cats aren’t fans of drinking still water. To them, still water is hazardous and likely to be contaminated because bacteria are less likely to be found in moving water, like a water fountain.

Using a water fountain like this highly popular Veken Pet Fountain may help your cat drink more water and stay hydrated.

6. Feed Your Cat with Wet Food 

Water makes around 70-80 percent of most canned wet meals. There are several benefits to giving your cat a wet food diet. Over half of your cat’s daily water intake may be found in a single 5oz container of wet cat food.

Summing up – How Long Can a Cat Go Without Water?

There are several reasons why you may be asking how long your cat will make it without water. From leaving your cat home for a day or two on its own to a cat refusing to drink because of a medical issue, you should keep in mind that water is vital for your cat.

Although, in theory, cats can survive about 3-4 days without drinking, they should never be left without water for more than a few hours.

Always make sure to provide your cat with access to water and contact a vet if you notice your cat drinking less than usual.

Vet’s Comment

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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