Why is My Cat Not Drinking Water: Reasons and Tips to Keep It Hydrated

Cats are famous for not being big drinkers. Water, however, is needed in order for cats to stay healthy. Here are some reasons why your cat may not be drinking water as well as some tips to encourage it to do so. 

why is my cat not drinking water?
Photo by Tuyen Vo on Unsplash

How much water does a cat need? 

Cats generally need about 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water for every 5 pounds of body weight. Thus if your cat is 10 pounds, it will need about 7 to 9 ounces of water every day. 

However, drinking isn’t the only way that cats get water. They also get it from the food they eat. This is especially true for cats who eat wet food. On the other hand, cats who eat dry food will need to drink water to stay hydrated. Whether your cat is on wet or dry food, you should ensure that it has around the clock access to fresh drinking water. 

Why won’t my cat drink water?

There are several reasons why your cat is not drinking water:

It is getting enough water from food. 

If you are feeding your cat wet food, it is likely that your cat is getting all the moisture it needs from its diet. 

Health issues

There may be underlying health issues if your cat is not eating and not drinking water. Cats who are suffering from dental problems, inflammation in the mouth or gastrointestinal issues may avoid drinking water as it causes them discomfort. If your cat is not eating and drinking, it is best to have your vet check it to rule out medical issues such as liver disease, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and cancer. 


Your cat may not be drinking water because its water bowl is dirty, is shared by another animal or too close to its litter tray. 

Other water sources

Cats prefer moving water compared to still water as still waters in the wild are more likely to contain bacteria. Thus, your cat may not be drinking water from its bowl simply because it has found a better preferred water source. 

Changes in routine

Cats are creatures of habit. Your cat may not be drinking or eating because of a change in its routine. This can include having a new pet or family member, moving house or even feeding it new food. 

How to tell if your cat is drinking enough water

While you can tell if your cat has been drinking from its water bowl, you may not be sure of how much your cat is drinking each day. However, you can tell if your cat is not drinking enough water if it is showing signs of dehydration. 

Symptoms of dehydration in cats include: 

  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Loss of appetite / refusing to eat
  • Less urination
  • Loss of energy / weakness / lethargy
  • Trembling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry, non-elastic skin / loose skin
  • Dry, tacky gums
  • Sunken eyes

Seek medical attention immediately if your cat is dehydrated. 

How to get your cat to drink more water

Here are some tips and tricks to get your cat to drink some H2O:

Feed it wet food

If your cat likes wet food, then your job is so much easier because wet food is a great source of water. If your cat won’t eat wet food, you can try switching your cat from dry to wet cat food over a period of time. 

Add some water to dry food

If your cat does not want to eat wet food, you can ensure that it stays hydrated by adding some water to its kibble. Kibble absorbs water and in the process, will become softer. Do note that you might need to add water gradually in order for your cat to get used to eating softer kibble. 

Location of the water bowl

Some cats like their water bowl next to their food, while others don’t. You can make it easier for your cat (and yourself!) by placing water bowls throughout the house.

Water fountains

Some cats love flowing water. Filtered water fountains can help entice your cat to have a drink. If you do not have a water fountain, you can try leaving your sink faucet to drip lightly for periods of time. 

Keep water fresh and water dishes clean

Cats are sensitive to smell and taste. Keeping water dishes clean and ensuring fresh water by changing water frequently may help get your cat to drink more water. Also, you can try changing the material of the water bowl as some materials, such as plastic, can change the taste of water. Other material options include stainless steel, ceramic and glass. 

fill up the bowl
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Fill up the bowl 

Because some cats do not like it when their whiskers touch the bowl, filling the bowl to the top might encourage them to drink. 

Add some flavour

Flavoured water might do the trick if your cat refuses plain water. Adding some bone broth or some tuna juice to your cat’s water bowl is also a good way to entice your cat to drink up. Petcubes’ Bone Broth Dr. for cats is a good, nutritions option if you want to try adding some flavour to your cat’s water bowl. 

Petcubes bone broth

Feed smaller, more frequent meals

Eating prompts thirst. Cats who do not like drinking water may do so more regularly if it is eating more often. 

Add ice cubes to your cat’s food

This is an excellent trick to ensure that your cat gets enough water. Ice cubes add moisture to the food and take on the food’s flavour.  

Check water temperature

Cats can be fussy and prefer water that is cooler. 


Water plays an important role in your cat’s health and well being. Cats should not go without water for more than 48 hours and if you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, bring it to the vet immediately.