Being a cat parent, you might’ve often thought long and hard about issues like, “should I get my cat a flea collar?”, “what’s a good way to discipline my cat?” and “how long can cats go without water, anyway?”
The last question tends to pop up in our mind before we take our pet out on travelling, or leave them at home for a few days when we take a trip, and also when they get sick and stop drinking. Usually high and mighty, they get really weak and lethargic when sick and make us panic.
To lessen your worries, today we’ll be talking about the length of time cats can go without water safely, what can happen if they’re dehydrated, how to check if they’re dehydrated, and also tips to coax them to drink sufficient water. Let’s get started!
So, How Long Can Cats Go Without Drinking?
The short and succinct answer is, anywhere from 3 to 7 days. This depends on the cat’s age, the weather of where you live, how active your cat is, how healthy he is and how much water is in his food etc.
Here’s another loaded question: how long can cats go without water and food? The answer is relevant to our topic of the day. If you’re feeding your cat wet-food, he will not need to drink a lot of water as most wet foods contain around 70% water, at the very least.
On the other hand, if your cat isn’t eating, but continues to drink water, he can survive up to 10-15 days. However, these cases are strictly the worst case scenario, and I really don’t want to think about my cat (or any cat!) going without food or water for even a day!
I especially don’t want to contemplate how long a kitten can go without food (not long as they’ll succumb to hypoglycemia and liver failure easily). Cats that are aged, and are suffering from diseases, can safely go even less time without water. At the very least, they’ll get dehydrated quickly.
It’s true that cat ancestors came from desert climates and ferals can go safely without food or water for a while. However their life quality is poor, and your indoor or outdoor cat seriously cannot hold on too long without sustenance, especially water. However, sometimes we cannot help it.
Maybe your cat somehow escaped outside and got stuck someplace for days. Maybe your cat got a sickness that’s preventing him from drinking or your cat is just a snob who doesn’t like his water bowl! In cases like these, knowing how many days cats can go without water can sometimes be reassuring.
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Dehydration in Cats Can Be Fatal
If your cat is in good health, there’s not much need to worry, as he will drink when he feels like it. If he’s eating wet food, you might not even notice him around the water bowl much. However, in some cases your cat may be worryingly dehydrated and you really need to pay attention in those cases.
How to Check if a Cat Is Dehydrated?
A very easy way to check if your cat is dehydrated is to see if his skin has lost elasticity. To check this, pinch the skin of your cat’s scruff i.e. the skin between his shoulder blades.
If the skin goes back to being taut across his shoulders just as you let go, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if the skin stays scrunched up the way you pinched it, and takes a while to go back to its previous state, that’s a sign that your cat is dehydrated.
Other Symptoms of Cat Dehydration
- Your cat isn’t eating
- His mouth is dry
- Eyes are sunken
- Your cat isn’t as playful and seems lethargic
- His heart rate is elevated
- He keeps panting
- Your cat seems depressed
- He isn’t urinating as normal
There are often other indicators that would tell you your cat is dehydrated or is going to be. Some illnesses will cause vomiting and diarrhea, and a cat with diarrhea will soon become dehydrated. Taking him to a vet will ensure that he’s rehydrated.
Kittens with diarrhea are especially in danger of being dehydrated. There are some illnesses which, if contracted, your cat won’t stop throwing up. Throwing up, and subsequent dehydration is one of the symptoms of distemper in cats, also known as panleukopenia.
What Can You Do?
Sometimes you can detect dehydration in a cat, in which case you should contact a veterinarian promptly. But sometimes you can’t. If you have a strong suspicion that your cat is dehydrated but you can’t really see any symptoms, I’d still recommend seeing a vet.
As I’ve already said that how long can a cat live without water is a question that has many answers, and you need to take some factors into consideration, you should ask your vet about it. He will assess your cat’s health and other criterion, and give you a more accurate estimation than a google search possibly can.
Also Read: Why Do Cats Trill? – Let’s Find Out
Mistakes That May End in Your Cat Being Dehydrated
As harsh as it may sound, sometimes it’s our fault that our dear feline friend becomes dehydrated. Maybe you just weren’t paying attention, or you didn’t know better. Well, let me tell you some of the mistakes cat parents usually make with their cat’s water intake, and you’ll not have to worry about this anymore.
Mistake #01 – A Diet Low in Liquids
It’s easy as well as cheap to only feed your cat dry food. It doesn’t go bad easily, and it’s easy to store as well as dish out. The cleanup afterwards is less cumbersome, as well.
However, dry food obviously does not supply your cat much hydration, and if your cat isn’t diligent about drinking (which he probably isn’t), you’re looking at kidney diseases a few years down the road. To prevent this, incorporating commercial or homemade wet food, or even re-hydrated raw cat food into your cat’s diet is a good idea.
Mistake #02 – Not Offering Enough Water
You might be feeding your cat wet food and thinking that’s enough, he doesn’t need more water. You’re wrong! You should always provide your cat with enough drinking water. He’ll drink when he’s thirsty. The amount may look little to you but it’s vital for his survival.
Mistake #03 – Wrong Placement of the Water Bowl
Cats often would not touch the water bowl if it’s placed next to the food bowl. Make sure your cat’s food bowl is well away from the food bowl and make sure to keep the bowl clean and filled with fresh water.
Sometimes, it’s the bowl itself that your cat might be unhappy with, or sometimes it’s the quality of the water. Try giving him water in a small bowl, and instead of tap water try giving him filtered or rainwater.
Tips to Encourage Your Cat to Drink More
If you’re left wondering how long can cats survive without water, your cat probably isn’t drinking a lot of water and is making you worry. Let me give you some tricks that has often helped me coax my Simba to drink enough water:
- Add a little bit of liquid from his wet cat food can, or a bit of broth to the water. However, try not to give your cat too much protein, or salty liquid
- Switch from dry cat food to wet or raw cat food.
- If you can’t switch from dry cat food for some reason, try to moisten the dry cat food with water.
- Let your cat play around with some ice cubes in his water bowl.
- Cats love running water, so get your fur baby a water fountain. There are quite a lot of options available on the market.
- Give him more choices, as in place more water bowls around the house. In case you have multiple cats, increase the number of water bowls.
- Instead of plastic, try using glass, ceramic or metal water bowls.
- This is important! Keep the bowl full to the brim whenever possible. Cats love to lap at a full water bowl.
- Don’t forget to clean the water bowl daily. Sometimes the water can get smelly from bacterial overgrowth and it causes your cat to snub it.
- Cats tend to prefer shallow and wide bowls. So try to provide him with this type of bowl.
Now that you know how long can cats go without water, make sure to never leave your cat alone and unattended for a long time. Yes, they can go without water for a little while, but why take that chance? Make sure your cat has plenty to drink, because dehydration might cause a plethora of serious diseases for cats.
I’ve also spoken about ways of spotting dehydration, so keep an eye out. When in doubt, don’t tarry, and contact your veterinarian. If you’ve made a trip to your veterinarian and found out your cat is just being a snob about drinking water, you can use one or multiple (or all) of the tips that will entice your cat to drink more water.
Do you have more tips on how to make a cat drink water, or better, how to spot dehydration in a cat? Don’t wait to let me know in the comments!