Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Many Days Can a Cat Go Without Water? Vet-Approved Facts & Safety Tips

Genevieve Dugal

By Genevieve Dugal

a tabby cat sitting next to a bowl of water

Vet approved

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Cats and water aren’t great matches. We all know how they feel about getting wet. Have you tried bathing a cat? It’s so much fun. Besides their less than loving feelings about baths, felines are also well-known for not including enough water in their diet. Thanks to this notoriety, it’s understandable that cat owners wonder how many days cats can go without water.

Things happen in life. Perhaps you’re working a double and accidentally closed the bedroom door on your way out and locked your cat inside? Will your cat be okay? We all know they can survive without their kibble for those long hours but what about water? Let’s look at the answer to this question and learn more about cats and their hydration needs.

How Long Can Cats Survive Without Water?

Cats need constant access to fresh water to stay happy and healthy. In emergencies, they may be able to survive up to 3 days without water, but you should do everything you can to avoid this situation. Now, hearing this doesn’t mean your cat should avoid drinking this long or be deprived of freshwater for this extended period. When your cat reaches the 3 day mark, they are likely to suffer from organ failure.

How Much Water Should Cats Drink?

When determining how much water your cat needs, knowing their weight is important. A cat needs to drink around 3 ½ to 4 ½ ounces of water for every 5 pounds of weight. If your cat is average-sized, roughly 10 pounds, then they need a cup of water each day.

Now, don’t panic if you notice your cat isn’t taking in the exact amount of water they are required each day. Food also provides your cats with moisture. While kibble may not be packed with hydration it does contain some.  Additionally, if your cat has wet food and or any treats they are going to supply them with the additional water content they need to be healthy.

cat drinking water
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

What Should I Do If My Cat Isn’t Drinking Enough Water?

Worrying about your cat’s water intake is normal. Good cat parents worry a lot about their fur baby’s health. Before you wrangle your cat into the pet carrier and set out to the veterinarian, you should ensure your cat is actually avoiding drinking. You may not believe it, but cats are known for finding water in other places besides their water bowl. A dripping faucet, a glass of water you’ve left sitting on the table, or even the toilet or bathtub can give your kitty a sip of water when they need it.

If you’re assured your cat isn’t sneaking water elsewhere, monitoring their behavior is your next step. Take note of their urination and stools. You should also keep an eye on their behavior. Are they being aggressive or acting lethargic? Are they still eating? Are they avoiding their litter box? If you take note of any issues like these, it’s time to call your cat’s veterinarian and schedule a checkup.

The Effects of Your Cat Not Drinking Enough Water

sad cat
Image Credit: avi_acl, Pixabay

The first thing lack of water can do to your cat is dehydration. While you may think dehydration isn’t that big of a deal, it is. A dehydrated cat can experience organ failure, especially kidney failure. Your cat will become lethargic, disoriented, and suffer from dangerous changes to their breathing and heart rates.  Dehydration first becomes detectable at about 5% loss of body water, a cat is unlikely to survive being 12-15% dehydrated.

If your cat is choosing to avoid their water, the risks for kidney issues increase. Urinary tract and renal disease can be very painful and plague your kitty when they refuse water. These types of issues can be extremely painful and dangerous for your pet.

How to Increase Your Cat’s Water Intake?

Cats like interesting things. If your cat isn’t drinking enough, introducing interesting water features into the home or garden may be the answer. You can also leave water dripping in the sink or tub. Some cats prefer drinking this way.  Cats also usually prefer to drink away from their food so position the food and water bowls separately.   If none of these ideas work, then add a little wet food into their diet to help add more moisture.

If you want to encourage your cat to drink more water, a great cat water fountain can be just the thing.

Water Fountain

Our Hepper Stainless Steel Cat Water Fountain has a minimalist, modern design, advanced triple filtration, and adjustable water flow. This fountain is quiet, sturdy, and easy to clean, making it a low-fuss addition to your home. 

In Conclusion

With cats only being able to go without food and water for 3 days it is important to ensure they receive the hydration they need.  Cats don’t usually avoid water unless they are ill or have been accidentally separated from their water.   If clever tricks and creative bowls don’t interest your kitty or they are showing other signs of ill health you should reach out to your veterinarian before they begin experiencing dangerous symptoms from dehydration. This will keep your kitty happier and free of unwanted illnesses.

Featured Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database