How Long Can Cats Go Without Water

Water is one of the principal elements for a well-functioning and fully-active body system, ensuring smooth digestion, efficient blood circulation, and effective waste removal. Fluid consumption imbalance can cause serious problems, particularly organ damage and failure, and other unwanted illnesses, while also posing a significant risk to the cat’s life.

Like humans and other mammals, cats can also suffer from dehydration. Ancient zoological studies show that cats do not have a high thirst drive because they evolved as creatures who resided in dry areas. However, cats cannot remain healthy and in their top form without any fluid.

Pet owners carry a lot of weight on their shoulders as responsible pet parents. They have to provide for their pet’s nutrition, regular veterinary check-ups, safe and comfortable shelter, and even clothing. However, the responsibility does not stop with the tangibles. Pet parents should also understand their cat’s unique attributes and exercise vigilance to prevent serious health problems from occurring.

Start gaining a deeper understanding of your cat by learning more about how long cats can go without water.

How Long Can Cats Go Without Water?

Some might wonder if cats will perish without water in a day or a span of a few weeks. Unfortunately, there is no concrete data about the exact number of days a cat can survive without water. 

However, biologists offer an interesting insight as to what might happen to a cat if it goes without water. According to animal scientists, an entire organism is made up of cells, comprising mostly water. Any fluid reduction can reduce cellular metabolism, which is detrimental across all organ-body systems.

Insufficient fluids inside cells can hinder critical bodily processes and vital functions. It also dries out the cells, thickens the blood, and disrupts the water-salt equilibrium.

Cats require water as an essential part of their nutrition and as a means to improving waste elimination. The volume of water consumption among cats depends on several factors, including its age and general condition. For example, younger cats can go longer without water than older cats. As a general rule, cat water requirements tend to increase with age. Based on this information, you can say that the younger a cat is, the longer it can go without water.

Young cats’ bodies have a 70 percent water composition. As such, they can survive three to seven days without drinking. An older cat is more prone to dehydration because of its significantly less body water composition. Dehydration also tends to develop and worsen quickly among adult and elderly cats.

A cat’s age is one of the most important variables to consider when assessing its fluid intake. However, other factors are also crucial in creating a more accurate picture of your cat’s drinking behavior. Cats require more fluids in the following instances.

  • Increased physical activity, such as during playtime
  • Eating only dry cat food
  • Staying exclusively indoors
  • Hot weather
  • Weak survival genes
  • Heightened emotion, such as fright, anxiety, and aggression
  • Frequent urination

Cat owners need to recognize water as the primary component of their pet’s health. Health problems can develop if pet owners fail to improve their cat’s water intake.

resting cat


What Health Problems Can Develop When Cats Do Not Drink Water At All?

A cat not drinking water can suffer from dehydration within 24 hours. In severe cases, dehydration can lead to organ failure within the next 24 to 48 hours. You will notice a substantial reduction in your pet’s weight by as much as 20 percent from baseline.

Cats that have a high risk for dehydration include those with diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer. They can have vomiting, rapid heart rate, dry or cracked gums, constipation, and decreased mobility. Some cats can also be irritable.

How Can These Health Problems Be Prevented? 

Animal clinics and veterinarians can administer the right type of fluid for your cat by inserting a catheter into the cat’s veins. While the intravenous therapy is ongoing, the veterinarian will also perform a comprehensive assessment of the cat to determine the root cause of the dehydration. 

Helping your cat drink more can help prevent these health problems. It involves the regular monitoring of your cat’s daily water intake. 

What Is The Daily Water Requirement For Cats?

Veterinarians recommend helping cats drink about 20-40 ml (1.7-2.3 fl. oz.) of liquid for every kilogram of the cat’s weight. You can then multiply the result by 0.03. It is essential to understand that cat water intake requirements depend on its food intake and physical size.

A cat needs more water to prevent overheating after a high-calorie meal because of the resulting increased metabolism. Water also aids in more efficient metabolic waste removal. 

To simplify, one kilocalorie of cat food roughly equates to a milliliter of water. As such, a cat that eats 200 kilocalories of cat food per day should also drink 200 mL of water per day.

Cats that eat dry food are more likely to seek more water because of its low moisture content. Dry pet food only contains 7 to 12 percent moisture. On the other hand, cats that eat wet or canned food require a lesser amount of water because their food already contains up to 80 percent moisture. 

If you feed your pet dry cat food, it would be wise to provide it with safe and clean drinking water to supplement the moisture it gets from its food.

cat drinking water

What Are Some Effective Ways To Boost A Cat’s Water Consumption?

While cats do not have a high thirst drive, pet owners should still show concern for their cats’ drinking habits to prevent any serious health problems. However, pet parents should never force their cats to drink water because it will only complicate things. You can observe the following ways to boost your cat’s water consumption.

      1. Give your cat canned or wet food

Wet cat food is ideal for cats because it contains 70 to 80 percent water. Not only does it help them stay hydrated. It also nourishes them. A 5-oz can of wet cat food supplies more than half of your cat’s daily water requirement. 

      2. Invest in a good water fountain

Water fountains are a fun way to entice your cat to drink more water. You can choose from different styles and designs that will be more inviting to your cat. These water fountains also keep the water fresh and great-tasting because of the continuous water flow and aeration.

      3. Consider the area, size, and number of water bowls you’ll place for your cat

It would be best to place water bowls in strategic areas of your house. Place them where your cat feels most comfortable. It should be free from distractions or perceived threats. You can use smaller water bowls with a 15-centimeter diameter to help boost your cat’s water consumption.

      4. Keep the water bowls clean

Cats are naturally fastidious creatures. They hate using dirty items or being in a filthy place. That is why you will need to keep their water bowls clean. It also helps prevent the growth of microorganisms that can harm your cat.

Cats often wander and usually return home after a while or even several weeks. Ever wonder how they survived? It is because they are resilient. With their noses up, these creatures can easily find food to eat and water to drink. In short, cats are survivors.

Water is the most crucial component for our feline friends.  They can go for many days without food as long as they have access to water or any other type of fluid safe to drink. Unfortunately, it does not always ensure survival because other factors can also play a role in a cat’s longevity.

Some cats cannot survive long with dehydration. They often suffer from multi-organ failure after only a few days. 

How long can cats go without water? Many people are bugged with this question, whether pet owners or ordinary people who are naturally curious. 

Cats can survive three to seven days without water. However, several variables can have an impact on the cat’s water-dependent survival. It includes age, activity level, diet, environment, weather, emotional state, and genetic predisposition.

Cat owners need to consider their pet’s normal hydration status when framing an accurate response to the question about a cat’s survivability and longevity. 

They should also be aware that the survival rate between outdoor and indoor cats is different. Indoor cats are dependent on their owners for their fluid intake, either from pet food or from clean drinking water. On the other hand, outdoor cats can pounce on prey, giving them the fluids they need to survive. 

Of course, other factors can also come into play when it comes to survival. Indoor cats are safer from predators than their outdoor counterparts. 

Just like humans, cats also look at water as a vital component of their bodies. They also experience pain just as humans do. They also develop health problems and other issues that many people never thought possible in cats. 

Increasing your knowledge about cats can help you prevent health problems and other issues that can harm them. Not only will you save your cat’s life. You will strengthen your bond with it as well.


Rita Wagener
Rita is a resident paw expert at Pet Keepers. A registered & licensed dog trainer, she also has a degree in animal nutrition, and runs her own dog training course.

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