Cat Facts

How To Force A Cat To Drink Water? 3 Practical Ways

Many Pet owners ask, “How To Force A Cat To Drink Water?”

Perhaps you notice that your cat’s water dish level has not gone down today. Maybe it seems lethargic and dull and you want to make sure it is hydrated. Your vet may have told you that your cat needs to drink more water to prevent urinary tract infections.

Although the saying goes “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”, the same is true for your cat. So how can I force my cat to drink water?

How Much Water Should A Cat Drink?

It helps to understand how much water a cat actually needs to consume. When considering how to hydrate a cat that won’t drink water, you must take several things into account.

A cat should get about 4 ounces (120 mL) of water for every 5 pounds (2.25 kg) of body weight. Your 10-pound (5 kg) cat needs 8 ounces (240 mL) of hydration each day. This is equivalent to almost one full measuring cup. They can get this from food and water.

If your cat appears not to be drinking from its water bowl, think about other water sources in the house. Cats love fresh running water, so dripping faucets and the toilets are often used. They also love to stick their heads in glasses of water that are left around your house. If you remove all of these types of sources from what is available to your cat, you can better monitor their water dish.

Cats also receive moisture from the food they eat. Dry cat food has about 10% moisture content, so cats that are on a dry diet will likely drink quite a bit. This is in comparison to cats on a wet food diet. Wet cat food has about 75% moisture, and as a result they will not need to drink as much water.

How to tell if your cat is dehydrated

why won't my cat drink water from her bowl

First of all, if you are concerned about your pet’s health you should always seek the advice of a veterinarian. However, you may be waiting for your appointment and want some more information in the meantime. This can help you better understand what your vet will tell you. It can also give you some language to use with the vet when describing your cat’s symptoms.

Your cat will reveal a number of signs if they are dehydrated. You must look for these carefully. Only one or two of them may not be indicative of dehydration, but many of them together certainly are worrisome.

Check for loose skin. This does not refer to a cat who has lost weight and has excess skin hanging off them. You need to lightly squeeze a section of skin together near their shoulders to make a “tent”. The skin should immediately go back down. However, if it goes back slowly, it is a clue that your cat could be dehydrated.

Check for sticky gums. If you press against your cat’s gums, they should feel slick and moist. If they feel dry or sticky at all, this is a cause for concern.

Is your cat lethargic, depressed, or not eating? These are changes in behavior that need to be noted. Remember, you are looking for a change from how they normally act. And a cat that is not eating is a huge cause for concern regardless of hydration.

If your cat is vomiting or has diarrhea, it obviously indicates something is not right. Both of these can also lead to dehydration.

Look at your cat’s eyes. Are they shiny and bright, or dull and sunken? An owner can often tell if their cat looks sick because of this tell-tale sign.

Although they don’t do it often, cats will also pant when overheated. This could be causing dehydration as well.

You can also monitor their litter for how much your cat is urinating. Scooping it daily helps you better notice when there is suddenly less dirty litter. This is definitely a sign that your cat stopped drinking water.

How To Force A Cat To Drink Water

Now that you know your cat is dehydrated, you wonder how can I force my cat to drink water? There are a variety of ways to provide more water to your cat. Some are less hands on than others.

If it is a non-emergency situation and you are considering how to hydrate a cat that won’t drink water, look for ways to include more water in their food. You can switch to a wet food diet which, as mentioned before, provides a significant amount of water through the food itself. If you want to keep them on dry food, try putting ice cubes in with their meal. Sometimes they will lick the ice cubes. It also moisturizes what they are about to eat. You can try soaking some of the dry food and giving it to them as well. Beware of adding anything other than water as substances like milk can cause diarrhea, which only makes dehydration worse.

Other strategies you can employ involve your water bowl. Keep several around the house. Make sure the water dish is not too close to the litter box or the food bowl. Change the water daily. Use porcelain or glass dishes instead of plastic. Shallow dishes may help because they do not disturb the cat’s whiskers. You might want to invest in a water fountain, as cats love running water.

Sometimes though, the situation is more dire. You may need to force a cat to receive hydration. You need to know how to get a cat to drink water when sick. First you can flavor their water with a little bit of tuna juice. Although you can try chicken broth, it needs to be low sodium and onion and garlic free. Sometimes this added flavor will inspire a cat to try drinking. 

You can also use a syringe and room-temperature water if you need to know how to get a cat to drink water when sick. You must hold the cat and gently squirt the water into their mouth. This will help them absorb some of it. They might even want to lick water from the tip as you push it out. Your vet may give you an electrolyte solution to mix up for this process as well. However, if your cat is dehydrated and you cannot get them to consume more water, they must go to the vet immediately.


Keeping your cat hydrated is an important responsibility as a cat owner. You need to know, “how can I force my cat to drink water?” in case of an emergency or small changes in their behaviour. Remember that any changes to your pet’s health should be referred to a veterinarian.

Here’s a video on How To Force A Cat To Drink Water?

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