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How Much Water Should a Cat Drink?

We all know that cats can live for several days without water. Sometimes the owners seeing their pets playing with a dripping tap or drinking from glasses/decorative fountains/water-pots do not really pay attention to that (the animal knows better what it needs, right?). But does it mean we don’t have to care about how much water a cat should drink? Absolutely no!

 It’s crucial to give your feline friend enough water since it’s the most essential component of any diet. Lack of liquids in the cat’s body leads to poor metabolism, slow digestion of nutrients, excessive weight, apathy, and many other problems with health. Let’s find out how much water should cat drink, what are the signs of dehydration, and how to track water consumption. 

How Much Water Cats Should Drink?

how much water cats should drink?

Here, we should draw the difference between cats eating dry food only and those who prefer semi-moist formulas and wet food or combined nutrition. Since dry food has only 6-10% of moisture, it should be served with a large amount of water. 

According to the study of Dr. Jennifer Coates, an adult 10-pound cat should drink 261 +/- 52 ml of water per day. Here, the rule is that the water needs should equal the caloric needs in kcal. Thus, if a pet consumes 300 kcal per day, it should drink 300 ml of water to be able to digest the food properly. 

Dry food contains about 10% of moisture, so 0.5 cups of dry kibble will provide about 12.3 ml of water. That’s nothing compared to the daily norm. In canned food, the moisture contents are 70-80%: it’s about 180 ml. That leaves us 81 ml of water to be given to a cat additionally. 

Does this math sound complicated? Let’s simplify things. A clear formula is provided in “Feline behavior for veterinarians” book by B. V. Beaver, 2003. 

A cat needs a total of 44 to 66 ml of water per kilogram of body weight (or 0.67 to 1 oz. per pound) each day.

Keep this rule in mind, and it will be easier for you to answer the question “How much water should my cat drink?”

Alternatively, you can use the rule “50 ml of water per kg of body weight daily”. It was proposed in 1975 by Scott PP. in his Nutrition and disease study. By the way, you can learn more about the scientific research concerning water intake norms in cats by checking the information here

The study by Brian M. Zanghi from Nestlé Research Center reveals that there are three main approaches to the calculation of water intake norms:

1) ml/kg body weights;

2) ml/kg dry matter ingested; 

3) ml/ME kcal ingested

No matter which approach you use, the water intake can be calculated from the combination of the ingestion of water as food moisture, water received during drinking, and metabolic water. The last is generated from the oxidation of macronutrients and usually keeps at the level of 10-16 ml water per 100 kcal through the calculation of water (g) per 100 g of macronutrients. 

TIP: keep in mind that by having low-carb food your cat should drink more water for proper kidney functioning.

How to Monitor Your Cat’s Water Intake?

If your cat does not have the habit of drinking somewhere aside from her bowl, it will be easier for you to calculate the intake.

  1. Start with counting how much moisture is obtained from food. Figure out how much grams of dry or wet food is consumed and calculate the amount of moisture in it (~10% in dry food, 70% in wet food).
  2. If possible, find a bowl with a ml scale – you will see how much pure water has been drunk. 
  3. Watch your feline friend’s habits: does it drink water from home fountain/taps/your glass? 

Now when you know how much water should a cat drink per day you can define whether the consumed amount of moisture is within the healthy range.

To help pet owners track their water and food intake, some companies create useful devices and dispensers. For example, you can try the new water fountain from Pura startup: it lets you connect to a Bluetooth tag on a cat’s collar to track how much a cat drinks during the day.

What is Cat Dehydration?

To put it simply, dehydration is a lack of water in the cat’s body. Unfortunately, some pet owners dismiss the signs of this condition and notice dehydration only when it becomes severe. 

The article on Pets.WebMD mentions the following symptoms of dehydration: 

  • Sunken eyes, loss of appetite, dry mouth and lips. In case of severe dehydration, a cat looks and feels ill.
  • Elevated heart rate;
  • Signs of depression and apathy;
  • A dehydrated feline will have flakey skin and it can have dandruff. Check skin’s elasticity: the scruff should restore its shape quickly. 

Besides, pets that don’t drink enough urinate very rarely. Urine becomes intensely yellow and smells stronger than before. Check your cat’s litter box and keep in mind that adult cats urinate 2-3 times a day. 

Why Does My Cat Drink So Much Water?

There might be several explanations. The article by Dr. Patty Khuly VMD provides a few reasonable arguments:

  • When your pet eats a lot of dry cat foods, it has to compensate for water loss for proper digestion.
  • Some pets are social drinkers, e.g. they will drink water only in the presence of the owner.
  • Some cats like freshwater only, that’s why they prefer drinking from an open tap. Besides, they can do it just for fun. 
  • Sickness and illnesses (diabetes, kidney disorders) can make pets drink more than usual. 


Always keep water fresh

Some owners ask “Why does my cat drink out of the toilet?” Pets love freshwater, so if you change the contents of the bowl once a week, do not expect your feline friends to be an eager drinker. 

You can either use tap or filtered non-boiled water. Replace it at least once a day and don’t forget to clean the bowl regularly. If you notice a strange odor from it – change the contents.

Have a couple of water bowls in different places 

According to PreventiveVet, it’s crucial to have several bowls of water to encourage your pet to drink more. If you have several cats, place their bowls at different places: they will not drink from one container since the smell of another pet will repel them. 

Monitor your cat’s water intake

Regularly check how much your pet drinks: that will help you reveal possible problems with health and digestion in a timely manner. Take into account all sources of moisture: food, water in the bowl, etc.


Is it normal for a cat to drink a lot of water? 

Yes, if your pet eats dry food only, it needs to replenish the amount of moisture in the body. However, if the norm of water intake is constantly exceeded, take your cat to a vet – check whether it’s healthy. 

How do I know if my cat is drinking too much water?

According to Purina.co.uk, the signs of excessive drinking include:

  • It approaches the water bowl more frequently;
  • You refill the bowl more often than usual;
  • Cat started drinking in places it ignored before. 

Should I force my cat to drink water? 

Absolutely no if your pet consumes a normal amount of water (or a bit less than normal). You can simply attract your cat by providing it freshwater, delivering new sources and places for drinking (remember about several glasses?), and replacing dry food with wet.

Why does my cat drink out of the toilet?

There are two reasons for that: 1) your pet wants fresh water and you should replace the bowl’s contents more often; 2) your cat suffers from dehydration and searches for the sources of water. If you use toxic cleaners and detergents, please, close the toilet lid – that will save your cat from poisoning.

Final Thoughts 

When answering the question “how much should a cat drink”, you should take into account your pet’s weight, age, and nutrition habits. Those who eat dry food need much more water than pets given canned food. 

Rule of thumb: 50 ml of water per kg of body weight daily.

Doing calculations is great but you should also watch the habits and wellbeing of your feline friend. Does it drink in places other than its bowl? Are skin and fur looking healthy? How often does the cat urinate? Does it search for sources of fresh water? By answering all these questions you can ensure a normal food intake for your pet. Whenever in doubt, visit a vet to discuss the issues and have your cat examined. I also recommend reading how much to feed your cat, how to pick the right cat food, and check our definitive list with the best cat food options.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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