In the heat of the summer, you may find yourself filling up the kitty water bowl more often than not. Or if you’re planning a trip and wondering how much water to leave out, you may wonder how long can a cat go without water. We answer this question and more about a feline’s need for hydration in this article. Whether you have an indoor or outdoor pet, having water stations may be more crucial to your cat’s health than you think.
Let’s dip our paws in!
How Long Can a Cat Go Without Water?
Cats, like all animals and humans, require water to maintain proper hydration and bodily functions. Three days is the longest a cat can go without access to water before it’s at risk of severe health consequences.
Dehydration in cats can have detrimental effects at cellular and biological levels. Water is essential for numerous bodily functions, including digestion, circulation, temperature regulation, and waste elimination. When a cat becomes dehydrated, its body begins to compensate by conserving water, which can lead to concentrated urine, reduced blood volume, and thickened saliva. It also loses minerals such as chloride, sodium, and potassium.
At the cellular level, dehydration disrupts the balance of electrolytes and impairs the normal functioning of cells. This can affect a cat’s organ function, leading to issues such as kidney dysfunction, urinary tract problems, and compromised immune response. Severe dehydration can cause electrolyte imbalances, organ failure, and even death. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide a consistent supply of fresh water.
How Much Water Does a Cat Need To Drink To Stay Hydrated?
Felines have a relatively low thirst drive compared to other animals, which means they may not actively seek out water as frequently as they should. This is because of their development to be obligate carnivores in relatively desert-like conditions, meaning they adapted to get most of their water needs from their food. So, making sure water is available is vital, especially if you feed a dry cat food diet.
A cat needs four ounces of water per five pounds of body weight daily. If you feed your cat wet food, which can contain up to 80 percent water, you can decrease its daily water intake. On the other hand, if your cat is extremely active or you live in a warm climate, ensuring it gets more water throughout the day may be necessary. If you have an indoor-outdoor cat, be sure to keep multiple water stations where your pet can easily access it whether in the house or outside.
We found the following excerpt from Debra L. Zoran, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM’s paper on “The Carnivore Connection to Nutrition in Cats” particularly interesting, as she weighs the pros and cons of feeding wet vs. dry diets.
How Do You Know Your Cat Is Dehydrated?
Recognizing the signs of dehydration is essential for ensuring your cat’s quality of life. One of the most noticeable signs is a lack of elasticity in the skin. When you gently pull up the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades and release it, it should quickly return to its normal position. In dehydrated cats, the skin will stay in a tented position and not go back down quickly.
Another sign to watch for is dry and sticky gums. Normally, a cat’s gums should be moist and slick. If they’re dry or sticky, it could be an indication of dehydration.
Other common symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, panting, and a decrease in urination. If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated and not bouncing after getting it to drink water, it’s important to contact your veterinarian for advice or treatment. Since cats have low thirst drive, they may need subcutaneous fluids to quickly get them out of the danger zone.
Common Causes of Dehydration in Cats
The most common cause of dehydration in cats is limited access to water or accidental empty water bowls. It’s important to provide your feline with water stations it can access at any time of day, and keep them full. So, if your cat is outdoors for most of the daylight hours, be sure to have a fresh bowl of water in the same place every day. Cats also prefer cold water, so keeping it fresh and chilled will help your pet drink more frequently.
Other causes of dehydration in cats include excessive heat. This is especially true for outdoor cats in hot and humid weather or desert climates, they simply may not be drinking enough to compensate for the heat. Another cause is sickness. If your cat is ill, it may be struggling to drink or eat. Stress is another reason cats become dehydrated. For example, if you go on vacation and your fur baby misses you, it may choose not to drink.
How Do You Hydrate a Cat Quickly?
To quickly hydrate a cat, there are a few steps you can take to help replenish their fluids. You can try enticing your cat to drink by adding a small amount of water to its wet food or offering them a low-sodium chicken broth or tuna juice in its water. Also, try putting ice cubes in its water, which it can lick. These solutions can help increase your cat’s intake fast.
Another effective method is to use a syringe or dropper to put water directly into your cat’s mouth. Keep the water at room temperature, and gently administer small amounts at a time to prevent choking. Be patient and allow your cat to swallow before giving more water.
When Should You Go To the Vet With a Dehydrated Cat?
If your cat is severely dehydrated or refuses to drink anything, seek veterinary assistance immediately. And if your cat has sunken eyes, this is a sign of dehydration that requires an immediate vet visit. Your vet may provide IV fluids to rapidly rehydrate and address any potential health issues the dehydration caused.
How Do You Encourage Your Cat To Drink Water?
There are multiple ways to encourage your cat to drink water. For starters, cats prefer chilled water. Keeping your cat’s water fresh and cold will keep it happy and more likely to drink frequently. They’re cute and sometimes finicky creatures! In fact, they also prefer their water bowl to be set away from their food dish.
As we’ve discussed, having multiple water stations will also help your cat continuously have access. It’s also important to keep each bowl clean so it stays healthy. Just like we don’t want to drink out of dirty glasses, cats prefer clean dishes too.
Suggested Cat Read: Felines are curious and like to climb, but do cats really need to be rescued from trees?
Prevent Your Cat From Getting Parched
How long a cat can go without water is a very short period of time. So, prevent your fur baby from getting parched by following the simple tips in this article. Your cat will be happier and healthier for it.
How many water stations do you have set up for your cat? Share any tips you have in the comments below.
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