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How To Hydrate A Cat That Won’t Drink Water? 11 Tricks To Improve Kitty’s Water Consumption

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With more than 40 hours of research along with inputs by our leading vet Dr. Iulia Mihai, with a Master’s degree in Pets’ Pathology and PhD in Pets’ Cancer from our team, we bring you the practical approach on the issue of “How to hydrate a cat that won’t drink water”.

Cats have primarily been desert animals and on an evolutionary basis consume less water than dogs. Normally, cats in the wild get most of their water content from raw meat or prey they feed on. When cats are domesticated and remain as our pets, they might not be consuming enough water to compensate for the water deficit from commercial food. If their drinking habits aren’t observed, there is a potential risk of medical conditions that may occur, such as urinary tract stones, as mentioned in New Dietary Guidelines Issued For Cats And Dogs (1).

In order to improve the water consumption of your feline, let’s look at the following 11 ways on how to make your cat drink more water:

#1. Feeding Wet Food vs. Dry Food

If your cat prefers and eats wet food this is good because wet food provides adequate water content. If you feel like your cat must drink more water, try mixing some water into the food and indulge your kitty to consume it. If your cat refuses, then don’t force it and adopt other strategies, as you will read below. 

If your cat prefers dry food, you can increase its water content by mixing water with the kibbles..

#2. Adding Ice Cubes In Your Cat’s Food

You can add ice cubes along with the rest of the cat food as a treat. Most of the cats like to lick and nibble on the ice cubes while having their food!

Don’t exaggerate with the ice cubes! You don’t want your cat to have a sore throat!

#3. Feed Your Cat With Smaller Quantities But Multiple Times

Eating regularly causes thirst in cats. So, instead of providing larger meals at less frequency, try to reduce the food quantity and increase the amount of meals per day.

#4. Substituting Water With Broth or Flavoured Water

You might be surprised to know that cats like to drink broth. Try feeding them more if they refuse to drink water and also be cautious to avoid salt or onion which might be present in broth as they are toxic to cats. You can also add flavours such as tuna juice to water while feeding cats. Also, keep an eye out on your cat’s weight if you choose to replace water with broth!

#5. Water Bowl Cleanliness

Cats want their places and bowls to be clean and they are extra sensitive compared to humans when it comes to the smell, taste, and temperature of the water. Therefore, always ensure that their water bowls are regularly washed. Food crumbs might find their way into the water bowl, especially when it is placed near the food. Also, when you regularly clean the water bowls, your kitty’s bowl will avoid bacteria formation. 

#6. Water Bowl Type

Cats prefer specific types of water bowls. So, if your cat dislikes its bowl, try experimenting with other types. The best water bowls are ceramic or metal. Avoid plastic ones because they can leak harmful chemicals into the food/water and help bacteria to build up.

Also, try different sizes and shapes of bowls based on your kitty’s likes and dislikes.

#7. Water Bowl Proximity to Food

Try placing the water bowl close to your cat’s food since most of them prefer to switch between food and water while feeding and drinking. Placing the water bowl next to the automatic feeder is also beneficial for cats because, during the waiting time, your cat can drink some water.

#8. Water Bowl Refilling

Always fill your cat’s bowl with fresh water whenever the water level goes down. Also, ensure that it is fully filled with water because cats prefer to drink from fully filled bowls. Another reason is your cat might hate it if its whiskers touch the rim of the bowl.

#9. Water Bowl At Multiple Locations

Place a water bowl in multiple locations within your home. This will make it convenient for your cat to access water.

#10. Try A Glass

Instead of a water bowl, try offering water in a glass and your cat might improve water consumption. There are a lot of cats that like to drink from a full glass or stick their paws in it.

#11. Water Fountain Usage

Since cats in the wild like to drink water from rivers, there is no wonder that our cats at home have a slight preference for that rather than still water. So, using a water fountain might attract your cat’s attention and will also save your water bill since you won’t need to open the faucet and waste running water for your kitty.

How Much Water Should A Cat Drink

While we looked at different tricks to make your cat drink more water, your kitty’s water requirement depends on the type of food it eats, the environment it lives in, its age and size. It is better to check with your veterinarian in order to identify the right amount of water your cat needs.

As per National Research Council Of The National Academies (2), for every gram of dry food your cat consumes it needs 2 milliliters of water. Also from the same source, dogs will drink enough water to replace 6% of their body weight in one hour, while cats will take 24 hours to do the same.

As a general rule of thumb, a 5-kilogram cat will consume 250 mils of water per day.

What Will Happen If Cat Avoids Drinking Water

When your cat avoids drinking water, dehydration might result, which is the depletion of normal body fluids, including water and electrolytes. This can lead to kidney or urinary tract diseases, heatstroke, and diabetes.

How To Tell If A Cat Is Dehydrated

There are multiple ways to check if a cat is healthy or dehydrated. “Skin tenting” is the first practical check. For this, place your cat on your lap and gently lift the skin on the back of its neck, between the shoulder blades. If it quickly falls back into its place, then your cat is hydrated. If its skin stays up and forms like a tent or slowly falls back, then it indicates dehydration.

Dehydration may be accompanied by the following clinical signs, especially when severe:

  • Dull coat
  • Dandruff 
  • Weak pulse
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Infrequent urination
  • Lack of urination
  • Sunken eyes
  • Refusal to eat
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite


Water for your kitty is as important as it is for you! Treating your cat similar to the way you treat other humans by providing fresh water, clean bowls, and caring for your cat by having timely and regular consultations with your vet is the secret for improving your cat’s health and happiness.

If you want to know more about cat feeding or litter practices, please check the links below:
1. Is Dry Food Bad For Cats? Pros and Cons of Wet and Dry Cat Food
2. How To Clean Cat Litter Box? Best and Easy Guide for Clean Management
3. Why Your Cat Won’t Use Litter Box? 11 Major Reasons To Look Out

Dr. Iulia Mihai

Dr. Iulia Mihai

Dr. Iulia Mihai grew up with cats since she was little – basically all her life! Because she love and appreciate animals so much, especially cats, she became a vet!
She graduated the University of Agronomical Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in 2012 in Romania and, since college she started to volunteer in various veterinary clinics. She first volunteered at the faculty’s clinic in her 3rd year of study and continued to pursue her career in small animal pathology and laboratory.
She currently has two cats, five rats, and two African clawed frogs!
She says that having pets comes with great responsibilities, but the satisfaction is commensurate!

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