How Much Water Should A Cat Drink?

cat drinking water

Do Cats Drink A Lot Of Water?


Estimated Read Time:  6 ½ minutes

Summary: In this blog, we explore and explain whether cats drink water and how much water cats should drink! We will establish if they can drink cow’s milk or not, how to encourage a cat to drink water, and what it means when a cat won’t drink water. Read on to discover more about a cat’s drinking water habits…


Do Cats Drink Water?

Yes, our feline friends do drink water and they need to. Their bodies are made up of 60-70% water, which makes it a vital part of their diet. Like humans, water helps keep cats alive. Unfortunately, cats don’t like it very much so can sometimes need encouragement!

You may have noticed that your cat prefers water that’s been freshly poured or running - they’re generally fairly reluctant to drink still/standing water. This is because cats used to dwell in deserts, and haven’t evolved out of having a low interest in water/thirst and can survive on significantly less water than humans or dogs. 

Can Cats Drink Milk?

From the amount we see cats drinking milk on TV and film, you’d be forgiven for believing cow’s milk is all a cat will drink. However, an adult cat does not need to drink milk and in fact, most cats are lactose intolerant (allergic to the naturally occurring sugar in milk) - in some cats, it makes them feel very unwell.

In addition, a saucer of milk is the fat equivalent to a cat eating a 12-inch pizza! If they’re being fed a saucer of milk a day, that’s one whole pizza alongside their regular meals… This can pave the way for one very overweight kitty which in turn, can be detrimental to their health!

And, even milk designed for cats is arguably just a money-making ploy. Yes, the lactose content will be very low or nil, but the fat content won’t be much different. Milk is an unnecessary addition to your cat’s diet if you’re feeding them properly and regularly with high-quality, nutrient-rich cat food. 

"So, can cats drink almond milk? Or soy?" Unfortunately, although these are usually lactose-free, these can cause cats to get a tummy ache so they are probably best to avoid. And, if you’re wondering whether cats can drink coconut milk - in theory, yes because it’s not toxic, but the fat content in coconut milk is very high.

It’s advisable that cats are only given water to drink.

tabby cat drinking water

How Much Water Should A Cat Drink?

Cats need water. Water helps their organs function correctly, optimizes the working of their digestive system, and contributes to transporting nutrients around their body. It helps reduce the likelihood of urinary tract infections, urinary stones and keeps the kidneys working at peak condition by flushing out toxins regularly. 

Cats will usually self-hydrate when they need to, so make sure there is fresh, clean water accessible to them at all times at various points in your home. Cats are more drawn to flowing water, which is why cat drinking fountains are popular purchases for passionate cat owners.

As a cat owner, you should know that like us, cats can become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration in cats include:

  • Appearing lethargic/in low spirits
  • Not eating
  • Dry gums
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Tight skin/Low elasticity in their skin

You can check for the latter by pinching the skin over their shoulders (“skin tenting”). If it stays where you’ve pinched, this is a sign of dehydration. If you spot any of these symptoms in your cat, get them to a vet stat. 

Why Is My Cat Drinking So Much Water?

If your cat is drinking noticeably large amounts of water you should have them looked over by a vet to rule out conditions like diabetes and hyperthyroidism. 

Cat Won’t Drink Water? Why?

Your cat may not be drinking for a number of reasons. Firstly, is their water clean? Check their bowl for debris and provide them with a fresh bowl and a new pour of H2O.

Secondly, some cats simply don’t like where their water bowl is placed with many don’t like it being in the same place as their food. Try moving their bowl to a different area and see if this does the trick. 

And remember, cats don’t drink like dogs. They don’t like getting their chin or whiskers in their bowl so they drink slowly and delicately. As long as they’re attending their water bowl on occasion throughout the day, then they should be providing themselves with what they need. 

That said, if they have a urine infection they may be expressing more liquid than they’re consuming which can leave them vulnerable to dehydration. Cats who have diabetes, heatstroke, kidney disease, or are vomiting/experiencing diarrhea can also become dehydrated. So, if you’re concerned and they have one of the symptoms listed above, take them to the vet pronto!

two cats drinking water in street

How To Get A Cat To Drink Water

To make sure your cat is getting the amount of water they need, or if you think they may need some general encouragement, there are some tips you kitty parents can try:

  • Invest In A Cat Drinking Fountain - Cats are more attracted to flowing, moving water so having a miniature fountain keeping the water active may be what your cat needs to tempt them to try it. 
  • Introduce Wet Food To Their Diet - If your cat is on a diet of kibble, and reluctant to drink water, a meal of meaty wet food instead can be a great way of keeping up their hydration levels up and prevent unwanted dehydration. 
  • Refresh It - Change their water and check their bowl is clean at least a couple of times a day. 
  • Move It - Cats like to see the area around them whilst they eat and drink as it helps them feel more secure. Some also don’t like their food and water bowls to be in the same location either. Try moving their water bowl elsewhere in your home and see if this helps. 
  • Change It - Are you using a deep, narrow bowl? They may not like that their whiskers are touching the edges. Try a wide, shallow dish instead with as small a lip as possible and see if this helps change their mind on licking up some liquid. 

Remember, your vet is always there to support you with your questions, concerns, and queries. If you’re worried or want some clarity over your pet’s habits, new or old, give them a call!

Related Read

Cat UTIs: Everything You Need To Know

Diabetes In Cats




Hills Pet


Sarah Milton

Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!

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