Some cats just don’t appear to drink any water. Or, at least they don’t let us catch them in the act of doing so.
However, like other animals, cats need a regular water intake in order to survive and thrive. How long can cats go without water is something you should know, to be able to provide just the right amount of refreshment for your pet.
How long cats can go without food is just as important, so make sure you are well aware of your pet’s nutrition and hydration needs.
Here’s what you need to know about a cat and its drinking habits.
How Long Can Cats Go Without Water?
Cats can go 3 days without water before they start experiencing serious organ failure. Dehydration can however set in in as little as 12 hours, so it’s incredibly important to always provide access to fresh water for your cat.
Cats and water are quite a funny pairing. Some cats just love water in all its forms, and won’t shy away from drinking from the tap or even taking a bath. Others never seem to drink, but their water bowl does show that they frequent it from time to time.
The average cat can survive about 3-4 days without water. While they may be able to survive around 2 weeks without food, they need a regular protein intake, so in all likelihood, a cat that has had nothing to eat or drink in 3 days will die.
Cats also get a fair portion of their water intake from wet food, so don’t worry if they seem to be drinking very little. As long as they are not showing signs of dehydration, they are getting the amount they need.
Let your cat drink how they like it best (as long as the water is clean). One of my cats used to only drink from the kitchen sink and never from a bowl, so I always made sure the sink was soap-free and that there was some water in it at all times.
Can a Cat Go 12 Hours Without Water?
Yes, a cat can go 12 hours without water, but it will start to get dehydrated, which can lead to various health complications.
Make sure that your cat always has access to water. A water fountain can be a great solution for those hot days when you are at work but want to make sure your cat has something refreshing to drink.
Before you leave your home, always pour fresh water for your kitty, even if there is plenty of it left in their bowl.
Can I Leave My Cat Overnight Without Water?
You can leave your cat overnight without water, but it’s definitely not the best idea. They will start to get dehydrated and it certainly won’t be a pleasant experience.
If you know in advance you will be gone overnight, leave your cat several water bowls before you leave. If it’s an emergency or a spur of the moment thing, consider when you’ve left your home, and how much water the cat has access to. Try to make it home or ask someone to stop by if the answer is “this morning” and “probably very little”.
Again, a water fountain can be a great investment if you often need to be away overnight, or if your lifestyle gets unpredictable at times.
How Often Should Cats Drink Water?
How often cats drink will depend on their specific habits. It’s much less important how often they drink, as long as they are getting enough water every day.
Some cats will drink after every meal, while others will never be seen drinking at all. You also need to consider the fact that wet cat food is almost 80% water, so they will be getting plenty of hydration from it as well.
As long as you leave enough water out for your cat(s) and keep refreshing it, they should be just fine. Do note that a cat refusing to drink water can be a sign of illness, so a trip to the vet will be in order.
How Much Water Do Cats Need?
Cats need around 3 to 4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day. So, a 10-pound cat will need about a cup a day. Smaller and younger cats will also require less water than older, larger cats.
Don’t forget that cats get a lot of moisture from eating wet food, which is around 80% water. If you are leaving a cup of water a day out but it’s not being finished, your cat is most likely getting all the hydration they need from their diet.
Dry food is less than 10% water, and your cat may like to drink after it has had a dry meal, so always serve the two together.
Cats also tend to drink from sinks, tubs and glasses, so as long as they appear healthy and are behaving like their usual selves, they are not likely to be dehydrated.
What Happens If a Cat Does Not Drink Water?
When a cat does not drink enough water, they will get dehydrated. This can lead to kidney and other organ damage, and over time, death.
Drinking enough water is very important, both for cats and humans. When a cat gets dehydrated, their blood won’t be circulating properly, for starters. Their kidneys will be put under a lot of stress, which will impede their ability to flush toxins out of the body.
A lowered blood supply will also be stressful on the heart, which will need to beat faster to make up for it. This can lead to shortness of breath and even heart failure.
A cat’s skin and coat will also get dry, coarse and flaky when they are dehydrated. They may start to get weak and lethargic, refuse to eat and have problems with bladder control.
Serious dehydration will kick in within 24 hours. However, a cat that has regular access to a wet diet and water, or even a dry diet and plenty of water, is unlikely to suffer from it.
To help your neighborhood strays, leave several water bowls out for them, especially during the height of summer, and keep replenishing them with fresh water as often as you can.
How Do I Know If My Cat Is Dehydrated?
To test if your cat is dehydrated, pinch the skin between their shoulder blades. If it snaps right back into place, they are fine. If it remains loose, they are showing signs of dehydration and need to be seen by a vet.
Other signs of dehydration you should keep an eye out for include:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry gums and mouth
- High heart rate
- Excessive urination
To prevent dehydration, always ensure your cat has enough water to drink, especially on a hot day or if they prefer dry food to wet. If you aren’t at home for several days, have someone come in daily to provide fresh water and a fresh meal.
Wrapping It Up
While cats can in theory go 2-3 days without water, they will start to get dehydrated in 24 hours or less. Dehydration is considered a medical emergency, so always give your cat plenty of water.
Don’t worry if you never see your cat drinking. Chances are they are getting their daily water intake from a tap or glass when you are not looking. As long as they are showing no signs of dehydration, they are just fine.