How Long Can Cats Go Without Water?

Just like many animals out there, cats cannot go long without drinking water. Although it’s possible for them to endure a sustained period of time without solid food, they won’t be as resilient without their daily dose of water.

Cats can only survive for three days without water. Don’t try out this theory by the way. You’ll just have to take our word for it. The takeaway point here is actually simple.

No matter what you do, always make sure your cat has access to plenty of water, especially if you are going to be away from home for a long time.

Now let’s talk about how much water cats need, checking for dehydration in your cat, and helping your cat out if he or she isn’t drinking enough.

How Much Water Do Cats Need?

Water and food are the everyday essentials for any living thing. Water, in particular, is crucial in maintaining normal physiological processes in the body.

Due to their energetic nature, cats will also naturally lose immense amounts of fluids every day. The lost fluid needs to be replaced on a regular basis for the pet to remain healthy and active.

Don’t forget that the amount of water intake should also be proportional to the amount of food intake. That shouldn’t be too hard; if you’re serving a bowl of food to your cat, make sure there’s also a full bowl of water as well. It’s important to be careful when you’re feeding the cat dried foods.

Dry foods don’t contain moisture. This means that you’ll need to give the cat more water than normal on a dried food diet. But in case the food that the cat is eating comes loaded with lots of moisture, it’s possible for the pet to function effectively throughout the day without the need for extra water.

How Long Can Your Cat Go Without Drinking Water?

We all love our cats, no doubt, but as we live our busy lives, sometimes we may forget a few things that are simply essential in the survival of our pets.

For example, you’re in good company if you’ve ever left your cat locked in a room for a few hours… or a day. Your cat will be fine for a few hours (though you might have a mess on your hands when you get back).

cat looking into water barrel

It’s not a problem for a couple of hours. Your cat starts to struggle with dehydration after about a day. To be on the safe side, let’s say that your cat will be okay for about 8 hours without water.

There’s a misplaced assumption out there among most people that cats are capable of going nearly a month without water. This is simply not true.

Your cat can survive for about a week without food. But water is a different story.

How To Check If Your Cat Is Dehydrated

Refilling the water bowl for your cat each day is a good rule but this doesn’t always mean that the cat will end up drinking the water. They may spill it while playing or probably not even find it for one reason or another.

So, how do you know the cat is not getting its daily dose of water? Skin tenting is probably the most common sign of dehydration among cats.

Just pinch the skin above your cat’s shoulder and release. The skin should snap back into place just like a normal rubber band. If it doesn’t and instead moves slowly into position, it could indicate the cat is dehydrated.

The pace at which the skin snaps back into place determines the level of dehydration. If the pace is really slow, it means the cat is severely dehydrated.

The following are a few other signs you can look out for:

  •       Cat doesn’t eat its food as normal
  •       The gums look alarmingly dry
  •       Cat is docile, looks listless and tired

How To Treat Dehydration In Cats

The easiest way to treat dehydration in cats is to encourage your feline friend to drink more water on a regular basis. But sometimes getting to do that is often easier said than done. In the case of mild dehydration, the water can be taken orally. In cases of mild dehydration, important organs including the kidneys will be functional.

Cat bath. Wet cat. Cat washed in the shower

However, if dehydration has been severe, then more drastic action will be needed. This is because a lack of water for a long time may have affected the proper functioning of vital organs and this would be the best time to visit a vet.

While you are there, the cat will get special fluids injected directly into the blood system. But prevention is always better than cure.

In case you’re having trouble getting your cat to drink more water, here are a few tricks that you can use:

Invest In A Water Fountain

Feline behavior can be used to induce better drinking behavior. This is because cats will get excited when they see water flowing. They are more likely to drink from a fountain compared to a stagnant bowl. You don’t even need a big fountain to achieve this.

Place The Drinking Bowl In The Right Place

There are actually many cats out there that are not drinking enough water simply because they don’t like where the drinking bowl is located. A good rule would be to have multiple water dishes in different places around the house and let the cat decide where they want to drink from.

Hallways, kitchens, the bedroom, and living rooms should be ideal places to start. Any place that’s close to you should work, since your kitty is more likely to follow you around the house wherever you go.

Reduce Dried Foods in the Diet

Although most dry pet foods are cheap, but they have one major downside. They’ll dry out your cat. This isn’t a healthy way to feed your pet. Foods that come loaded with lots of moisture are often the best options. But in case you really have to feed the feline with dried food, perhaps it may be a good idea to sprinkle a few drops of water into it.

See If Your Cat Loves Drinking from the Tap

As we’ve indicated above, cats love to drink from running water and the tap isn’t any different. You can test out this by leaving the tap on slow and see if the cat jumps right in.

Some cats will be intrigued by the flowing water and drink from it. However, this is not something convenient, especially if you are not always around to put off the taps once the kitty has gouged itself. But it’s an interesting way to get the cat to drink more.

Use A Syringe To Get the Water In

I consider this a last resort, but it’s here if you need it.

Cats can sometimes be moody. They may not eat or drink for whatever reason. You cannot afford to just let them be. Using a syringe to get in the fluid could be the difference between life and death for your beloved cat.

Domestic cat drinking water from red pot on green grass in a hot sunny day

Can I Know How Much Water My Cat Drinks?

The best way to know how much your cat is drinking is to monitor his or her water bowl. But I think that this isn’t super reliable.

I don’t know about your cat, but my cat loves drinking out of toilet bowls. And she’s a partial outside cat, so we can never know if she’s drinking outdoors.

I think monitoring water bowls can drive you crazy. I’d be more concerned about checking for dehydration symptoms in your cat.


Cats can’t survive that long without water. I would start worrying after about a day.

Make sure that your cat has access to lots of drinking water. If he or she still isn’t drinking, you can try the syringe method. If the problem seems severe, I would take my cat to the vet.

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