How Long Can a Cat Go Without Water?

Cat Drinking Water

One of the scariest things about leaving the pets home alone is wondering if they will have enough water. There are ways that cats can get trapped in a closet or even a garden shed that could keep them from getting to water. A lack of water is very bad for their health and could kill them. How long can a cat go without drinking water?

A cat can go three or four days without water. After that time, the animal will experience symptoms of dehydration and possibly death. Keep a close track of how much water your cat drinks by measuring water before filling their bowl.

Taking care of an animal that doesn’t depend on you can be hard to figure out. They might not want to eat while you are around and could be picky about what kind of water they drink. Some might not even want water that isn’t from the refrigerator. Don’t worry. You will get it figured out! Read on and learn just how long cats can go without having to drink water.

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How Long Can Cats Go Without Water?

Cats are some weird and fantastic creatures. They move quickly and quietly and don’t need much help to get by. If you have an indoor cat, there are things that they must have that an outdoor cat can scrounge up on its own. You should not let your indoor cat go more than three days without water.

Outdoor cats are a bit more resistant to dehydration as they get a good deal of water from the wild game they consume. They should be able to get water every four or five days from natural sources, and if not, you should leave a bowl outside for them. Even though they stay outside, you should support their lifestyle with the occasional bowl of kibble and clean water.

A few things that will shorten/lengthen a cat’s timeframe are:

  • Age – Older cats are going to need more water than kittens. They have aching bones and possible injuries that make their body processes crave more hydration. Ligaments and muscles need water to prevent cramping, and older cats could have severe problems with cramps.
  • Temperature – Another thing that could make a cat need more water is temperature. When temps go up, cats, just like humans, need to increase their water intake. Though it may not look like it, cats sweat just like humans and lose precious water and electrolytes when they get too hot.
  • Health – If your cat is in good health, it might be able to stay away from water a bit longer than others. Just because a cat is healthy doesn’t mean that it can’t suffer from the effects of dehydration. A good diet and proper exercise make a cat healthy, and water is a massive part of that diet.
  • Shade – Just because you see cats lazing around in the warm sunspots of your home doesn’t mean that they want that feeling all the time. Too much sun will make a cat lose water pretty quickly. Always have an outside bit of shade for the cat to retreat from what could be deadly sun exposure. 
  • Last Drink – Another thing that people don’t think about when they think about cats and their lack of water is how much they had their last drink. If a cat fills its belly with water, there’s a good chance they might see four or five days without another drink.

Cats and Hydration Sources

Cats need between three and five ounces of water per five-pounds of body weight. That means if you have a cat between 10 and 15 pounds, it should have between nine and fifteen ounces of water per day. Water the cat accordingly, but remember that giving them more than a 12-oz bottle of water could be too much. Cats will always let you know.

Some great ways for cats to get water are:

  • Food – If you feed your cat wet food from a can, it gets more water than dry food. Food is essential to the animal, and it will crave warm, wet food after you throw in a few cans. The thing to do is to make a mixture of each type of food. This way, they get some hydration from the wet and vitamins they need from the dry.
  • Water – A cat should have its own bowl of cool, clean water every day. Their bowl needs to be shallow enough that they don’t have to raise their heads to drink. Keeping the water by the food is a great idea, though some cats may only want water that comes from a bottle.

How to Tell if Your Cat Needs Water

Sometimes cats live opposite lives of their owners. Inside cats aren’t as bad about this as an outdoor, though they can have personality quirks as well. If you never see your cat much, it can be hard to tell if they are getting enough water or not. Track them down and give them a good once over occasionally to make sure they are getting enough water.

A few ways to tell if your cat isn’t getting enough water are:

  • Pinch Test – It sounds painful, but an excellent way to tell if a cat is dehydrated is by pinching it. Grab a bit of skin somewhere, around the shoulders is good, and watch how long the skin takes to return to normal. When a cat has begun to dehydrate, its skin will not be as elastic and will not spring back to normal form immediately.
  • Diarrhea – If your cat is having a case of diarrhea, then it could become dehydrated. You have to watch what a cat eats because they are very curious and will try just about anything they can chew on. Runny poo is a good indicator that there are some problems, and giving the cat extra water is a good idea.
  • Less Pee – If a cat goes to the litter box less to urinate, it could be dehydrated. Keep an eye on how many trips they make into their box each day. After a while, if there is no action, you should try and get them to drink something. Try water directly from your fridge as the cold could help stimulate their tongue and inner organs.
  • Check the Gums – A cat’s gums should be moist when you feel them. Like humans, their mouth is a wet place that is full of sensory organs and teeth. If it is dry, the throat could be as well. If the gums feel sticky, they could be showing signs of dehydration.
  • Lethargy – Cats are well known for excessive sleeping. If your cat is laying around more than usual or has visible signs of being tired, they could be dehydrated. Tired cats’ appearance, excess shedding, and sunken eyes are pretty good indicators that something could be off with your feline.

Final Thoughts

A cat should drink water every day. They need more than three ounces per five pounds of body weight of cold, clean water whenever they want it. It is vital to their growth and longevity to have wet food thrown into their diet as a secondary water source. If they get too dehydrated, they could begin to have health problems and possibly die.

If you think your cat could be suffering from dehydration, you should keep a sharp eye on their litter box and water bowl. Watching the two will let you know if their body is showing any signs of losing water.