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Why Is My Cat Lying Down to Drink Water?

Gregory Iacono

By Gregory Iacono

bengal cat playing water in the bowl

Whether you’re a new cat parent or you’ve had cats for years, we’ve all seen the old trope about cats drinking (and loving) milk. The truth is, while cats like milk, it’s not very healthy for them. Instead, your cat should drink water and plenty of it. Most cats like to drink running or moving water for reasons unknown to veterinarians. You might have wondered, “Why is my cat lying down to drink water?” There are several answers to this question, and all depend on certain factors.

Some cats lie down next to their water bowl simply because that’s the way they like drinking water. However, lying down to drink water might indicate your cat has diabetes or kidney disease. An older cat might lie next to their water bowl because they’re exhausted or can’t keep their balance standing up. Not surprisingly, if your cat is dehydrated, they will often lie down next to its water to get as much as possible.

We have more information below that will be very helpful if you’re trying to figure out why your cat is suddenly lying down to drink water. We also look at what you can do to resolve the situation and give you some actionable tips and advice.


What Are the Reasons Cats Lie Down to Drink?

As we mentioned, there are several reasons your cat might lie down to drink water. We’ll take a close look at all of them below.

1. Your Cat Might Have Diabetes

If your cat is lying down to drink water and is also overweight, there’s a good chance they have feline diabetes. A cat with diabetes will have an abnormally high thirst and hunger and will “beg” for food more often. A trip to your local vet is recommended for a cat exhibiting this behavior.

sick cat
Photo Credit: one photo, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Might Have Kidney Disease

A cat that lies down to drink water could have kidney disease. The reason they lie down is they need a lot of water. Veterinarians will tell you that even well-cared-for felines can get kidney disease. Also, since the signs start small and gradually worsen, noticing them is difficult initially.

Some other signs to look for if your cat has kidney disease include:
  • Pronounced weight loss
  • Very bad breath that smells like ammonia
  • They’re peeing a lot more often
  • Their pee is bloody
  • They are vomiting and have diarrhea

3. Your Cat Is Dehydrated

Some cats don’t drink enough and become so dehydrated that they barely have any energy. If that’s your cat, lying down to drink water might be the only way they can do it. If you’re not sure if your cat is dehydrated, here are a few ways to check:

  • Look at your cat’s gums. They should be pink and look wet. If they aren’t but instead are pale and sticky, that’s a sign your cat’s dehydrated.
  • Do the “tent test.” Grab (pinch) a small amount of fur between two fingers. The extra skin between their shoulders is a good place. Lift the skin slightly and let it go. Normally, it will go back immediately as if nothing happened. If it takes longer than 2 or 3 seconds, your cat is probably dehydrated.
  • Look at your cat’s eyes. If they are sunken in, can’t focus, or appear “dull,” your pet might be dehydrated.

If your cat is lethargic or seems depressed when they’re usually full of energy or they’ve suddenly lost their appetite, these may also be signs they’re dehydrated.

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

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Why Is It Important That Cats Drink Water?

Like humans, water is a vital nutrient cats need to thrive and survive. Amazingly, your cat is between 60 and 70% water, and it affects every single cell, organ, and system in their furry little body. Water helps their heart and brain to function, helps keep their skin and fur healthy, and helps their digestive system digest their food and absorb its nutrients. Water also flushes toxins out of your cat’s body and prevents various health problems from occurring. It’s telling that, without food, a cat can survive about 2 to 3 weeks, but without water, a cat can’t survive more than 3 or 4 days.

How Much Water Do Cats Need to Drink?

The amount of water a cat needs depends on several factors, including their weight, age, and the amount of water they get from their kibble. Dry kibble has much less water than wet kibble. For every 5 pounds of body weight, your cat needs 4 ounces of water. Most cats weigh around 10 pounds and would need at least 8 ounces of water per day.

What Can You Do to Get Your Cat to Drink More Water?

cat drinking water
Photo Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

Cats innately know they need to drink water, but some simply don’t like it that much. Another problem is that cats have a unique tongue that makes drinking water unusually difficult. Amazingly, the average water in a single cat “lap” is a measly 3/100 of a teaspoon, hardly enough to wet a napkin, let alone quench their thirst. In other words, a solution is needed for some cats to ensure they get enough water in their diet.

Below are a few methods that can help:
  • Freshen their water regularly. Cats, as we know, are picky and ignore old water that has fur, dust, and other debris in it.
  • Feed your pet wet cat food. Wet cat food won’t completely satisfy a cat’s water needs, but it’s a great start. A combination of wet and dry kibble works well.
  • Get your cat a water fountain. As we mentioned, cats like drinking water that’s moving. Buying your finicky feline a cat water fountain might solve their hydration situation.
  • Use a wide, shallow water bowl. Most cats don’t like deep, narrow water bowls because their whiskers get wet.
  • Proper water bowl placement is essential. It should be out in the open and allow your cat to see what’s happening.

Why Do Cats Sit Next to Their Water Bowl?

If your cat isn’t lying down but instead sitting next to the water bowl all the time, the same possible health problems and concerns might be affecting them. On the other hand, your cat might enjoy the spot where their water bowl is located and like sitting there watching the day go by. If your cat is standing in their water bowl, they are likely suffering from separation anxiety and trying to get your attention.

Why Do Cats Paw at the Floor Before Drinking Water?

Many cats will paw at the floor around their water bowl before drinking, which, while it may look unusual, is actually an instinctive behavior they’ve had for eons. They’re “claiming” the water for themselves like a male cat sprays to mark their territory.

Do Cats See Their Water?

One fascinating (and problematic) fact about cats is that they can’t see the area directly in front of their nose! It’s very difficult for them to determine how far away the water in their bowl happens to be. That’s why you might occasionally see your cat jump back from their water bowl; they’ve startled themselves by accidentally snorting a noseful of water!

a tabby cat sitting next to a bowl of water
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

If you’ve ever wondered why your cat is lying down to drink water, now you know! Some cats like where their water bowl sits and will lie around it for enjoyment, or they could be suffering from kidney disease and need to see a vet. A cat’s tongue makes drinking water difficult, and the blind spot in front of its face doesn’t help either. Plus, cats like running water more than standing water.

Hopefully, the tips we gave today will help your cat to get the water they need to stay healthy and happy. They might not like water, but, like their pet parents, cats need it to live their best life!

Featured Image Credit: kalyanby, Shutterstock

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