How Long Can Cats Go Without Water – Essential Guide You Must Read


Medical studies are not able to identify patients. How long can cats go without water? The only thing that can save a cat from dying of thirst is water. It is morally unsound to experiment on cats and deprive them of water to see how long it takes. Humans know how long they can live without water before they die from thirst. Many desert travellers who were unlucky enough to run out of water left bitter memories of their final days, leaving diaries that ended four days after running out. Our knowledge about cats’ ability to live without water is mainly anecdotal. From the cat stuck in the cellar to the cat who was accidentally locked in, it seems that cats can live without water for three days.

How long can cats go without water

Cats are known for not drinking enough water. There is even an entire industry dedicated to pet fountains that encourage cats to drink more. Even if your cat is a lucky owner who has access to enough water, it is possible that your cat was not able to drink water at one point. Perhaps your cat got bored and finished the entire water bowl. Or maybe your cat lost track of you and ended up in a closet or bedroom all day. Let’s discuss how long cats can go without water.

Learn more: How to clean a cat’s ears


Your feline’s health is also affected by how you breed them. They won’t survive if they have weak survival genes. A cat with strong survival genes will live longer if they are born with them. Wild cats can also live longer than domestic cats. Wild cats live off the prey they catch. They rely on water at the watering holes and not in the kitchen.

Cats can be inside or outside

Are you a cat that is an indoor cat, an outside cat, or an in/out feline? Water consumption will also be affected by this. Indoor cats will do better in hot weather than their outdoor counterparts, as they live in controlled environments. Outside, cats, on the other hand, hunt and drink water from their prey. To make up for the water, they lose from living outside, cats need to drink more heat.


Do your cat-like soft or hard food? This can impact their water intake. Cans of canned food can contain as much as 80% water. This can lead to some water loss. Their body will need to drink more water as dry food can deplete their water supply. Combination diets are better than dry foods for water intake but less than a soft diet.


Older cats are more likely to become dehydrated than younger cats. Because kittens are smaller than adults, they require less water. An enormous cat or kitten would be more likely to become dehydrated than a smaller one.

The state of emotions 

Your cat may need more water if they are experiencing a high level of emotion, such as fear, anger, or excitement. They will also need to drink more. What if your cat followed a person to the garden shed, but you weren’t able to see her when she got in between boxes and shelves? What if she was locked in your house? You can be sure she will panic and get anxious if she is unable to leave. The three days without water for cats can become even more dangerous as your cat consumes more fluids from fear.


A more active cat needs more water. They can lose water from running and playing, and they will need to drink more water to replenish their water.

Bodily fluid release 

Yes, that’s right, we are talking about potty training, including urinating and defecating. Your cat is losing water every time they use the cat box. Although this is normal for healthy cats, it can cause fluid loss.

How long can a younger kitten go without water

Up to three to four weeks old, kittens are dependent on their cat moms for all of their needs, including water and food. Kittens as young as this are still nursing which means that they get nutrients and hydration through their mother’s milk. Very young kittens cannot be left alone for more than 2 hours before they become seriously ill. Read more to keep a cat out of planet.

How long can cats go without water

How long can older cats go without water

The Feline Nutrition Foundation states that a wild cat should eat at least once every 24 hours to be healthy. We now know that wild cats get their water primarily from mice, rats, and other small rodents. This would mean that an adult feral or wild cat must drink water at least once a day. The Journal of Experimental Biology and Medicine explains that the average small rodent, when eaten whole, has around 75 per cent water – enough to provide adequate water for an adult cat. What if the cat can’t catch prey? How long will it be before this situation becomes a life-threatening one in terms of water consumption? Again, this depends on the food your cat eats and how much water they get from it. Dehydration can quickly set in if your cat doesn’t eat or drink for more than 24 hours.

How long can a cat survive locked in a shed

How to identify dehydration in a cat

Skin tenting is the most common way to check for cat dehydration. You can test for skin tenting by pinching your cat’s skin between its shoulder blades. If the skin snaps back, then everything is good. If the skin cannot snap back or remains “tented” after pitching, your cat may be severely dehydrated. You should consult a veterinarian immediately. It is essential to determine the root cause of your cat’s dehydration so that you can rehydrate it safely. Dehydration can also manifest as skin tenting. You can double-check your results by checking the cat’s gums for dryness, panting, and general lethargy. These signs are a sign that your cat is severely dehydrated. Dehydration can also cause vomiting, lack of appetite, excessive urination, and diarrhoea. These symptoms may not be signs of dehydration, but they can indicate that your cat needs medical attention. In cases of severe or moderate dehydration, your cat will need to be admitted to the hospital. IV fluids are administered, and the reason for the dehydration is identified and treated.

How long can cats go without food

Danger of dehydration 

We do know that dehydration can be deadly and can occur within 24 hours. Many cats have suffered severe dehydration, resulting in permanent organ damage within 24 to 48 hours. Many cats lose 20% or more of their body weight due to dehydration. This is the threshold that will cause organ damage. This type of extreme dehydration is unlikely to occur in a cat with access to water or on a dry diet. Even a cat with access to water and a dry diet is unlikely to suffer from severe dehydration. Dehydration can also affect elderly and sick cats. Cats that have been vomiting or are suffering from diarrhoea may quickly become severely dehydrated, losing their vital electrolytes and water within hours. These cats need immediate veterinary care. To prevent their condition from spiralling, they may need IV fluids or medication to stop vomiting and diarrhoea.

How much water a cat needs

Cats require approximately 3-4.5 ounces of water per 5 lb body weight each day. A 10-pound cat will need approximately 1 cup of water per day. If your cat isn’t drinking enough water every day, don’t be panicked. Wet food is a good choice for cats as they get moisture from it. Dry food contains less than 10% water, while wet food can contain 80% water. Both feral and outdoor cats can get moisture from the things they catch and eat. Indoor cats, however, may steal water from sinks, toilets, and glasses.

How long can a lost cat go without food

How cats can get used to drinking water

We mentioned in the previous section that cats could go without water for superficial reasons. It is so simple that it may be hard to see them. Preventative Vet offers some creative and fun tips to encourage your cat to drink more water every day. These tactics may be worth a shot if your cat refuses to drink and you are unable to find any health problems with your cat.

How long can cats go without peeing

Add some flavour 

Perhaps your cat doesn’t like the smell of water. Although you may not believe there is anything unusual about your water’s smell, Cats International points out that cats have approximately 200 million olfactory neurons (about five million). Perhaps your cat is picking up something that your nose can’t detect. This problem is easily fixed, thankfully. You can add a little cat-safe broth or salmon juices to the mix.

Place the water in a more attractive place

Your cat might not like being near the toilet, just as you wouldn’t like to eat near it while eating or drinking.

Get the water moving

Water is a natural attraction for cats. It may not be appealing to your cat’s attention if you give it water in a boring bowl. You can find many cat fountains in pet shops and online. They are popular due to the way the water moves and bubbles. This can encourage your cat’s playfulness and, eventually, drinking the water.


Domestic cats are tough animals, but they rely on their owners to provide the best care and environment for them. It is essential to ensure your cat has adequate water at all times. But the good news is you can still provide for them, even if they refuse to drink. You should monitor your cat’s water intake. If you notice any changes in their drinking habits or behaviour, speak to your veterinarian. Sometimes a cat will prefer to play or eat water than drink it, but other times there could be something more serious.

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