Do House Cats Drink Water? This is Important

More Meows is an Amazon Associate. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions if you purchase products from other retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

It’s common knowledge that we all need water to survive, but it can become tricky when monitoring an animal’s hydration. There are plenty of factors to consider when ensuring your cat’s hydration. So, do house cats drink water?

House cats do drink water and need water to survive. They need water to maintain proper body and brain function. Most cats drink around 1-ounce of fresh water to 0.5 ounces of dry food that they consume.  If they eat wet cat food, they may receive the minimum hydration they need.    

With so many different aspects to consider, it can become confusing when trying to make sure your cat has enough water. Stick around to find out how water and hydration affect cats and how to ensure your cat’s health by providing freshwater accessible to your fluffy feline around the clock.

Do house cats drink water?

Yes, every cat needs water to survive. House cats usually do not need encouragement to drink water if they are healthy, as they will drink when they are thirsty, much like humans would. However, some situations will necessitate encouragement.

I use a water fountain for drinking water for my house cat Charlotte (domestic Shorthair).  I rarely see her using the water fountain, but I know she does because I have caught her using it before, and I can see the water level go down.  I highly recommend this water fountain on Amazon (affiliate link):  Click Here To See This Awesome Water Fountain on Amazon.

My Cat’s Veken Water Fountain That I Recommend. Check out the Amazon Link (affiliate) Above This Photo.

About your cat water container

The cat water container that you use can matter. Water stored in galvanized cat water containers can become toxic since this material is coated in zinc which is toxic to cats and dogs. For this reason, water bowls should be made of glass, steel, or ceramic.

If you are looking at a cat water container made out of plastic or resins, I suggest getting something that is BPA-free.  The cat water fountain that I suggested above is BPA-free. 

Why is my cat not drinking water?

Of course, there is a wide range of medical issues that could cause this, most of which would need professional guidance to resolve. But, there are many simple reasons which can be resolved without a trip to the vet.

This includes the water bowl placement, which may be too close to the food source and the condition of the bowl. Some cats are pickier than others, and you may need to wash the water bowl daily or even more often to keep them content with their water source.

How do I get my cat to drink water?

In many cases, indirect encouragement can do the trick. Multiple freshwater sources, running water sources like water fountains, a range of containers, and various placements may encourage curiosity for drinking. Trying out different containers or placement may also help test what the cat may like more, helping more successful cat hydration in the future.

Before buying more than one water fountain, I’d just try using one, testing out some different locations, and monitoring the water level on it. I rarely see my cat drink from her water fountain but I can tell she is because the water level goes down. Also, I caught her drinking from it a couple times and it made me happy!

One could also try adding ice cubes, meat flavored electrolytes, or juice from canned fish to encourage drinking. It’s also a good idea to test various safe water options, such as tap, bottled, or mineral water, as your cat may have a preference.

What if your cat won’t drink water?

If your cat simply refuses to drink water, this will necessitate a visit to the vet. However, it’s important to note that cats cannot live long without water, so owners should do their best to add some water in other areas where possible. One of the best ways to do this is to replace dry food with wet food and always keep clean, fresh water nearby.

The main goal is to add moisture to the food source, as this will provide some hydration for your cat.  Switching to we cat food can be a game-changer since dry food contains around 6 – 10% water compared to wet food containing around 70% – 80% water.

Most cases of cats drinking more or less than usual could come down to environmental influences and changes. Still, it’s important to monitor your cat and try different methods, as there may be a simple solution. If abnormalities continue for more than 24 hours, add as much water as possible to food sources and contact a vet.

Benefits of water for cats

All cats need to have efficient hydration to maintain proper brain and body function, and they cannot survive for more than a few days without water, even if they have food. The lack of water can cause a wide range of harmful repercussions, some of which will need medical attention to resolve safely.

Dehydration in cats

Dehydration can be identified by decreased skin elasticity, characterized by the skin condition at the back of the neck. After lifting this flap, it should return to its original position in a healthy cat.

Other symptoms include drooling, trembling, unusual urination, dry or tacky gums, a weak pulse, an elevated heart rate, panting, weakness, and a decreased appetite. A visit to the vet is recommended in the event of such symptoms.

How much water should a house cat drink a day?

Cats usually drink in smaller quantities by slurping delicately with their tongues or even dipping their paws in and licking them. They will drink at varying points throughout the day in different amounts.

This is the primary reason they need to have access to water at all times, and they need to know that their water source is stable, reliable, safe, and clean. On average, cats usually drink approximately one ounce of water per half an ounce of dry food which they consume.

Why do some cats drink more than others?

Cats do not need much water to survive and remain healthy, but it will vary based on the food source, which may be wet or dry, the environment and weather, which may be hot and dry, or cold and rainy, as well as the specifics of the cat itself.

Much like humans, cats may not drink the same amount of water every day. Thus, it’s important to monitor the cat and ensure they are drinking as normal for them.

How much water is too much for a house cat?

While all cats drink different amounts, anything over 2.5 cups per 2.2lbs of body weight may indicate polydipsia.  Polydipsia is an issue with metabolizing carbohydrates. If the cat is over-drinking, it could indicate medical issues with the liver, urinary tract, and kidneys and may indicate diabetes or hyperthyroidism.

Cats drinking water outside

Cat Thinking About Drinking Water From A Puddle

There are various reasons why an owner should make sure their house cat gets enough water, many of which come down to basic care. Another reason is that by ensuring that your loveable feline is hydrated at home, you are also preventing them from contracting a range of illnesses and diseases by drinking from other water sources out of desperation.

If you allow your house cat to venture outside regularly, which I don’t recommend, you should keep in mind the risks around outdoor drinking water.  Understanding the water sources available to your cat outdoors is important because cats are sometimes known to drink water clearly seen as not safe by a human.

Cats drinking rainwater

Although most cats drinking rainwater outside should be fine, there are some cases of rainwater becoming toxic when stored in certain containers, such as galvanized steel, or when it has run through dirty areas like gutters or drains. When cats drink rainwater outside, they may suffer the repercussions of ingesting the harmful substances it contains.

Cats drinking pool water

Pools are another concerning water source outside for cats, regardless of how clean they are or what sort of treatment the pool undergoes. Although small amounts are unlikely to harm your cat, larger quantities may cause adverse side effects and health issues.

Cats drinking puddles

It’s probable for puddles outside to have plenty of bacteria and bugs, including E.coli, Giardia, Leptospira, Cryptosporidium, Campylobacter, and many more. Ingesting such bacteria can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and a wide range of other illnesses that necessitate a visit to the vet. All cats encounter puddles outside, and it’s important to be prepared for situations like this.

Cats drinking pond water

Ponds, lakes, and swamp water is home to plenty more living organisms in addition to bacteria. This includes algae which could be toxic, particularly if the algae is green, red, brown, blue, or purple.

Water that has foamy residue floating on the surface is even more dangerous, and pond water treated with heavy metals like copper sulfate. Cats outside shouldn’t go anywhere near this water – let alone drink it. Contact with this water requires immediate cleansing of the cat and a visit to the vet.

Cats drinking sea water

This can be a particular concern for those who live in coastal regions or for households near the beach. While it may be fun to take your feline outside for a stroll on the beach and even an occasional swim, caution needs to be taken since ocean water contains high amounts of salt – not to mention human waste and pollution. I would not recommend taking your cat near the seashore.

It’s not advised to let cats interact with this water, and ingesting it can cause salt intoxication, characterized by depression, vomiting, fatigue, and diarrhea.

The bottom line is that if you won’t drink from a water source outside, your cat should not either. Drinking water from these outside sources can cause illness at best and could be fatal at its worst. Vaccinations help prevent worsened effects, but it’s best to discourage your cat from drinking from puddles and ensure they have enough fresh water available to them.

If you are going for walks or adventures with your cat, ensure that you have enough clean water for both you and your cat. Ensuring that your cat has the freedom to drink clean water when they feel the need will help prevent them from being drawn to poorer quality water sources.


House cats do drink water.  Clean water is essential for a house cat.  You may find that your house cat does not want to drink the clean water you have set out for it.  In this case, you may need to switch to wet cat food, or if you are worried, take your cat to see your veterinarian. 

If you let your cat go outside from time to time, which I do not recommend, your cat will have exposure to many potentially contaminated water sources.  Don’t assume your cat will not drink tainted water. 

My recommendation is that if you want to let your cat outside, take your cat out using a leash and harness, cat backpack, cat stroller, or putting them into a catio outside that is secure.  If you take your cat outside, make sure you bring clean water because your cat may want a drink.

If you enjoyed this article, please check out a few more:

  • Do American Shorthair Cats Like Water? Complete Truth:  Click Here.
  • Do Burmese Cats Like Water? See The Best Reasons:  Click Here.
  • Do Baby Cats Drink Water? Read This Now:  Click Here.

Christopher Carlson

I have an Domestic Shorthair Tabby named Charlotte. She is full of energy when she isn't sleeping most of the day. I share what I learn about cats on this site.

Recent Posts