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How Much Water Should A Cat Drink? (Is Your Cat Drinking a Lot of Water?)

Posted in: Cat Health - Last Updated: May 18, 2023 - Author: Rebekah Carter
Posted in Cat Health 
Last Updated: May 10, 2022  
Author:  Rebekah Carter
How Much Water Should A Cat Drink

How much water should a cat drink, and how do you know when they’re drinking too little, or too much?

Cats are complicated creatures, particularly when it comes to ensuring they stay happy and healthy. 

Many cats naturally have a low thirst drive

Worryingly, your cat can’t tell you if they’re feeling dehydrated or drinking extra to counteract other discomforts, like heat and nausea.

This means, as a pet parent, it’s up to you to keep a close eye on your cat and determine whether their drinking habits are problematic, or normal. 

Water is also essential for a cat’s circulation, digestion, and waste removal. 

So all in all, cats must remain hydrated.

This might seem like a relatively simple process, but when you consider the fact that most cats don't like to drink water as much as other animals, tracking hydration can become increasingly complex. 

Today, we’re going to look at how much water your cat should actually be drinking, and how you can make sure they’re getting plenty of moisture.

How Much Water Should a Cat Drink (in Short)

A cat should drink on average 60mls/kg per day of water. That means a 4kg cat should be drinking approximately 240mls a day (about one cup). This will ensure their body functions as normal.

How Much Water Should a Cat Drink a Day?

You may have noticed if you’ve cared for cats for quite some time, that they don’t drink nearly as much as other animals. 

There’s a reason for this. 

Cats are specially designed to have physiological characteristics to help with water intake. 

Domestic cats, for instance, can tolerate acute fluid losses of up to 20% of their body weight with very few side effects. 

Cats can also produce highly concentrated urine to conserve liquid if necessary – which might be why you notice your cat’s litter tray smelling so terrible from time to time. 

The amount of water your cat should drink depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your cat, and the time of the year. 

Like human beings and other animals, your cat will probably need to drink a little more during the summer months, when they’re trying to regulate their temperature.

It’s also worth looking at your cat’s diet. If your cat eats mostly wet food, they’re unlikely to need anything close to the standard amount of water of another cat. 

The moisture content levels in wet canned food are high. While dry food contains only around 10% water, wet cat food is up to 80% water – perfect for hydration.

The age of your kitty will determine a cat's water intake too. 

According to most vets, the average intake requirements for cats of different ages will be:

  • Kitten up 3 months or 1.4kg: 70ml
  • Kitten over 6 months or 2.7kg: 135ml
  • Mid-sized adult cat (Around 4kg cat): 200ml
  • Large-sized adult cat (Around 6kg cat): 300ml

You can speak to your vet about your specific cat breed if you’re not sure how much water your kitty should be drinking.

How much water do cats drink

How to Encourage Your Cat to Drink More

It’s hard to determine how much water your cat is actually getting into its system on a daily basis by looking at the water bowl alone. 

As mentioned above, there’s a good chance your kitty will get a lot of moisture from their wet food, if they have this in their diet.

However, if you’re concerned your cat might not be drinking enough tap water, there are a few ways you can encourage them to rehydrate. For instance:

  • Change the water dish type: Some cats prefer different bowl materials and shapes to others. Plastic bowls can sometimes cause discomfort and cat acne, while metal bowls might create an odd flavor for some cats. Experimenting with different kinds of bowls is a good way to check your cat’s preferences, and deliver better potential results.
  • Get the water moving: Biologically, cats are programmed to seek out moving water, as still water is more likely to be stale or dirty. With that in mind, it’s worth looking into a cat water fountain to get your cat’s water moving if it doesn’t seem interested in a basic bowl.
  • Add some flavor: If your cat seems to be having a serious problem with dehydration, you could consider adding a tiny bit of flavor to their water bowl. A teaspoon of broth, or some tuna juices added to water can make the liquid seem more appealing.
  • Chill the water: During hot months, consider keeping your cat’s water cool and refreshing by adding some ice cubes to the bowl. You can even add some salmon or clam juice to the ice cubes for an extra-tasty treat.
  • Add more water sources: Speaking of experimenting with different bowls and sources of water, you can also consider adding more bowls, cups, glasses, and other water sources around the home. Giving your cat multiple “vessel” options to choose from can help encourage them to drink more.
  • Clean regularly: Remember to clean the bowl or fountain regularly so it doesn’t end up with unattractive growths and substances floating around in it. This will ensure your cat is less likely to get sick from your water too.
  • Location: Try to place your cat’s water in a quiet place where they can drink without being disturbed. Avoid placing your cat’s water bowl next to their food or their toilet. Most cats are naturally predisposed to avoid water in this area.

How to Tell if Your Cat is Dehydrated

Cats can be picky and awkward with their water consumption. 

A cat who appears to be drinking less might not be unwell or dehydrated, but it’s important to keep a close eye on them. 

Dehydration is dangerous for any animal, and it can lead to significant dangers, including lethargy, and even organ failure.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Reduced skin elasticity: Carefully move the skin on the back of your cat’s neck (where there aren’t as many nerves). If the skin doesn’t naturally snap back into place, this could be a sign of dehydration.
  • Dry gums: Dry gums or sticky gums which look overly red or white could be a sign of dehydration. Check your feline friend’s mouth, if their gums are pink and wet, on the other hand, this is a sign they’re healthy.
  • Lethargy or depression: Does your cat seem to be particularly miserable, sleepy, or lazy? Changes in behavior like this indicate potential sickness and dehydration.
  • Lost appetite: if a cat isn’t eating, this is a clear sign something is wrong. It may not be dehydration, but if your cat doesn’t eat for more than 24 hours, you’ll need to see a vet.
  • Diarrhea or vomiting: A cat who has diarrhea or appears to be vomiting regularly will quickly become dehydrated. It’s important to see a vet as quickly as possible to determine the root cause of the issue.
  • Sunken eyes: If your cat is dehydrated, it may look as though their eyes are dull or sunken. This could also be a sign of other health concerns. 
  • Elevated heart rate: This is a symptom that’s difficult to spot on your own. However, if your cat seems to have a higher or lower pulse rate than normal, this could be a sign that they have a health issue.
  • Panting: Cats generally won’t pant, but they can when they’re severely dehydrated, overheated, or unwell. Panting should be a cause for an immediate vet visit.
  • Less urination: If your cat isn’t going to the bathroom very often, both for urination and bowel movements, this is a common sign of cat dehydration. 
How Much Water Should A Cat Drink a Day

What Should You Do if Your Cat is Dehydrated?

Most cats, provided they have access to clean water, do a relatively good job of staying hydrated on their own. 

However, if you notice signs of dehydration, this could indicate something is seriously wrong. 

If you suspect your cat is dehydrated, contact your vet immediately for advice. You can also try some of the following steps:

  • Try adding a small amount of tuna juice (from tuna in spring water) or chicken broth to the water to encourage drinking with a delicious flavor. 
  • Switch to wet food for a while, or combine wet food and dry food so your cat is getting some moisture from their food. 
  • Place ice cubes in their water bowl, or switch to a different style of water bowl in a different position, somewhere else in the house.

Dehydration should be addressed by a vet as quickly as possible, particularly if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like panting, lethargy, or vomiting.

This could be a serious sign something is wrong with your cat which needs immediate investigation.

Is Your Cat Drinking A Lot of Water?

Generally, we don’t look at drinking “too much” water as a bad thing. However, if your cat is excessively drinking, this is likely a sign something is seriously wrong. 

It’s important as a pet parent to get a good idea of how often your cat naturally visits their bowl or water fountain.

A cat who is drinking too much might be urinating a lot, which could mean you see signs of going to the bathroom outside of the litter box

You might also notice some diarrhea in certain cats. 

If your kitty is drinking excessively, they may just be extremely warm or dealing with something like a hairball they want to get rid of. 

However, extra drinking can also be a sign of a more significant disease, so it’s important to have your cat checked by a vet. Some issues which can cause excessive drinking include:

  • Kidney disease: More common in older cats, but possible among younger cats too, Chronic kidney disease in cats can cause significant issues with dehydration, and push your kitty to drink more than usual. Treatment will usually involve management of the progression of the disease.
  • Hyperthyroidism: This is a condition caused by the thyroid gland, which begins producing excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. This condition is most common in cats in their middle years or older. Treatment often involves giving the cat oral medications.
  • UTI: Caused often by a bacterial infection of the bladder, Urinary infections are common in cats of all ages, though they tend to occur in females more often than male cats. UTIs are usually treated with a round of antibiotics, though some cats may also require subcutaneous injections.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes Mellitus is a health issue responsible for causing blood sugar levels to become extremely high. When this happens, sugar is released into the urine. Diabetes in cats can develop in all kinds of cats over the age of 5, and it happens most often in male cats. Insulin injections are the most common treatment.

If you believe your cat is drinking too much, you can visit the vet and have a thorough examination completed.

Your vet will usually use various tests to get to the bottom of the issue, including a “CBC”, or complete blood count, “Serum biochemistry” test, and a urine analysis.

What Happens if My Cat is Drinking Too Much or Too Little?

Cats have unusual drinking habits compared to humans and other animals. 

If your kitty eats a wet food diet, this is likely a good sign they’re getting the majority of their liquids outside of their water bowl, so you shouldn’t need to worry too much if you don’t see your cat drinking. 

However, if you believe your cat seems to be drinking far too much, or they’re not drinking enough, you can encourage them to take in more water. 

If their dehydration is mild and their internal organ function is normal your vet may be able to help you to come up with ideas to ensure they drink enough water to fix the acute issue. 

If the dehydration is more advanced in your cat, or your feline friend seems to be suffering from an underlying disease causing the dehydration, this could be a sign additional treatments are needed. 

Everything from electrolyte fluids to specialist medications could be necessary for some cats.

Cat Drinking A Lot of water

How Much Water Should A Cat Drink? The Verdict

Well done on asking yourself, how much water should a cat drink? It is something that can easily be neglected.

Ensuring your cat gets the right amount of liquid into its diet is one of the most important things you can do as a pet parent. 

Ultimately, all kitties need a regular supply of freshwater to survive, but they may not need to drink as much as you might think. 

Understanding your cat, and paying attention to signs your feline friend might be having an issue with their health is the best way to ensure you stay on top of any potential issues with dehydration.

About the author

Rebekah Carter is a dedicated animal lover. Her Savannah cat, Roscoe, has a lot of attitude, while her Maine Coon, Dukino, is full of love. When not writing, she’s looking after her cats and researching ways to help them live their best possible life. Her passion for animals and natural skill for writing led her to pursue pet blogging.