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My Cat Doesn’t Drink Water But Eats Wet Food (What Now?)

If your cat is happily eating wet food but does not appear to drink water you may be worddied and wondering what to do and why its happeing…

Why doesn’t my cat drink water but eat wet food?

The reason why your cat eats wet food but appears to not drink water is that the chances are it gets enough hydration from the wet food alone. It is quite common for cats that drink wet food to consume very little water directly.

So, now you know. But, is it normal for cats to drink less water if they eat wet food? What can a cat drink instead of water? How much does a cat need? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Do cats drink less water when they eat wet food?

My cat doesn't drink water but eats wet food.

A cat eating from its bowl.

Cats that eat wet food do usually drink less water. This is because they tend to get the majority of their hydration from wet food. This emulates the behavior of wild big cats as well that tend to get hydrated from their prey.

This is one of the reasons why many cat owners choose wet food (click here if your cat refuses it). Not only does it taste good to them but they also get the benefit of keeping their cat hydrated.

Cats that consume dry food tend to need to drink more water because this food type does not offer the same benefits of hydration as wet food does.

What do I do if my cat doesn’t want to drink water?

If your cat does not want to drink water you can help them by making sure they eat wet food. This will help to keep them hydrated. If you are already feeding them this the chances are they should be getting most of their hydration from this.

Another technique is to use a water fountain (click here to se my best one). Cats tend to be drawn to these fountains and are likely to consume more water this way.

What can a cat drink besides water?

Other alternatives to water can be using cooking liquid that is more than 95% water. For example, boiling some chicken or fish and offering your cat the liquid.

This is a clever way because they will be attracted to the flavor from the meat or fish and get the hydration from the water it cooked in.

How can you tell if a cat is dehydrated?

There are some physical signs of dehydration that you can look out for such as lac of energy, your cat may appear to be panting without over existing itself, losing its appetite, or its eeys appearing to be sunken.

Some of these signs are more subtle than others but do not hesitate to get your cat checked out by your vet if you have any concerns.

Should I be concerned that my cat didn’t drink any water?

If your cat is not drinking any water you should definitely be concerned. However, in reality, you may find that your cat has actually been drinking but it might not always be obvious (More on this later).

Now that you know it could be a cause for concern, let me go on to explain how much water your cat should be drinking, how to measure this, reasons why he might not be drinking and so much more.

How much water does a cat actually need?

A cat licking its mouth.

A cat licking its mouth.

Cats typically need 3 to 4 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight, according to this site. However, they really do not need to drink as much as you think they do.

The reason for this is because they originate from the desert. Meaning, they learnt how to survive on less water because, as you can imagine,  there wasn’t that much available.

So, you should find that your cat will draw a lot of water from the food that they eat. Especially if they eat wet canned food.

Why do cats need water?

This may seem quite obvious because we all know that every living thing needs water, right?  Water has a lot of jobs and all of them are essential. Including, but not limited to, helping their metabolism, digestive system, brain function, etc.

The bottom line is, water is something that any living thing could not live without. Food? Well, that is another story.  They could last a lot longer without food. But, water is definitely one of the biggest factors. In fact, a cat will not live for more than a few days without having water.

Why has your cat stopped drinking water?

There are several reasons why your cat may have stopped drinking water. The annoying thing is, it could be something very small that has triggered this behaviour. Here are a few reasons why it’s happening…

  • Their water is dirty.
  • The location of their water.
  • They simply forgot to drink.

01. The water is dirty.

If their water is unclean, and I mean, this could literally be one speckle of food in their water, your cat may refuse to drink the entire bowl. Yes, the entire bowl, but honestly, would you drink a glass of water if you saw a random piece of food in it? Especially if you never poured the glass yourself? (Exactly).

Therefore, this is one of the reasons why people say it’s very important to clean out the water bowl once a day, at least. To be honest, it should be more frequent than that.

02. The location of the bowl.

Believe it or not, the location of the bowl may influence how much water your cat will drink. The annoying thing with this is, there is no exact science as to where this idea location is, are you with me?

Therefore, you have to take just test it to see how your cat responds.

03. Forgetting to drink.

This may seem silly, if not unbelievable, but sometimes your cat may not have a compelling urge to drink. This could be because they are indirectly getting enough water through the food they consume.

Or, it could be because they simply do not like drinking from the water bowl you’ve provided.

Using devices such as a pet water fountain (Click here for my best one) can vastly increase the chances of them drinking if they are refusing to drink from the bowl.

How do cats drink?

You may be wondering how your cat actually drinks. The funny thing is, a cats drinking technique is very different from dogs. They do not lap up the water in big gulps like a dog may do.

Instead, they skim the water with their tongue at an alarming rate. This will create a vacuum of water which they quickly lap up. If you see this it’s very hard to catch it with the naked eye.

In fact, it’s better to see this recorded in slow-motion to fully understand how impressive this is.

How can you monitor how much water your cat is drinking?

You may be wondering how you can actually work out exactly how much your cat is drinking. This can be useful, so you can get an idea if they’re drinking enough. This is a great thing to consider but is not as easy as you may think it is to actually do.

The reason is, cats do not make it easy for you to see how much they consume. Why? because you may find that there is a large proportion of their water consumed through the food they eat.

To add more confusion, they do not always drink when you are watching them. Therefore, you may think that they’re not drinking but in reality, she might just be drinking when you’re not around.

Therefore, the best way to measure it is to monitor the levels of water that’s been consumed from their bowl directly.

You need to take a measure of the level of water you’re putting in and consistently put the same in every day. Then monitor how much has been consumed since the last refill. By looking at the water level.

To do this it is important to be consistent about when you fill and refill the bowl.

What happens if your cat does not drink water?

If your cat persists without drinking water and you are confident they are genuinely not drinking properly, it is important to get them to the vet as soon as possible.

Because without water they can become dehydrated which will cause them serious problems long-term. If they are dehydrated your vet may be able to give them a solution that will start working almost straight away.

But, in the worst cases, it could be a longer and more complicated solution that could take days. So better to get her over to the vet ASAP.

How can you encourage your cat to drink more water?

Obviously, it is much better to prevent dehydration from happening. Rather than waiting for it to happen and then fixing it, are you with me? That old saying, prevention is better than cure, right?

Therefore, in this section, I’m going to suggest several ways that you can encourage your cat to drink more water (Click here to see how much a kitten should drink) to avoid dehydration.

01. Elevating the bowl or changing its location.

Elevating the bowl, believe it or not, may change the way that your cat perceives the water. Try this simple trick to see if it makes a difference.

Also, you can try, as discussed earlier, to change the location of the bowl to see if it makes a difference.

02. Water fountain.

As discussed earlier, water fountains are ideal (Click here for my best water fountain for your cat) because they are more natural to cats. It’s more in line with their instincts to drink from flowing water rather than still water in a bowl.

In fact, some cats will only drink from water fountains because it is more natural for them to do this.

If you tried everything else this is quite a quick-win that you can try. The good thing is because it’s flowing constantly it will encourage your cat to have regular drinks of fresh water.

04. Switching to wet food.

As discussed earlier, if your cat primarily drinks dry food and you are finding that she is getting dehydrated. Then there is a good chance that you need to consider switching to wet food.

The reason for this is it a lot easier to get them to consume more water by having them eat wet food rather than doing it the opposite way round, are you with me?

05. Adding water to dry food.

If your cat is adamant that she won’t eat (should it watch you have dinner then? click here) wet food or there are some reasons why you cannot do this. You can also consider applying some water to their dry food to see if this make a difference.

06. Another suggestion is adding flavour to the water.

Sometimes cats are not drinking the water in the bowl because they just do not like the flavour. You can test out adding some flavour to the bowl. This can be done by adding clam juice, chicken broth, etc. See if this will encourage them to drink more water.

How does old age affect their water intake?

As cats get older they need to consume more water. As discussed earlier, their water intake is based on their body weight (Click here to learn how to measure your cat’s weight). Therefore, they naturally will drink more as they grow bigger and their body will require more hydration.

As they get even older though, beyond their adult years, you will find and they will need to consume even more water to keep them active.

Lindsey Browlingdon