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Pet Peeves: Kitty Will Not Drink!

Q: I don't think my new kitten Belle is drinking! She eats her food but I've yet to catch her taking a sip of water in the two weeks since she's joined my home. I've even started marking the outside of the bowl so I can see if any disappears while I'm at work, but I see little to no difference. What should I do?

A: Oh no! Water's very important for our furry friends, so we've got to fix this pronto! While many cats love the water, others seem to show little interest in taking sips. First off, try adding more or less water to the dish. Kitty whiskers are super sensitive, and it's possible that there's not enough water to begin with and the sensation of the dish sides is scaring her away (or that there's too much and she doesn't want to get her head wet).

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Make sure you keep fresh water in a clean bowl at all times; if you come home from work and the water is still there, empty the dish, clean it, and refill. Be mindful of any soap residue from washing or even chemicals in unpurified water that could be altering the taste, too. Finally, consider testing a dish with a different shape or even a pet fountain, 'cause some cats can't get enough of the tub and only want running liquid! In the meantime, be certain to moisten her food with a touch of water to make sure she's getting enough fluids until you find the solution.

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Join The Conversation
kate266 kate266 7 years
Cats are obsessed with having the freshest water. Some even meow at their owners in the bathtub or sink to turn on the tap to drink from! I also recommend the water fountain. Cats need fresh water every day.
lawchick lawchick 7 years
ehadams - they say cats become lactose intolerant after they quit nursing. when my kitten was really young (like 2-3 mos) I did wet her food with "mothers milk" from the pet store. it comes in what looks like a kid's juice box but is supposed to be insanely nutritious. so, my kitten got some extra hydration that way. but you can't give that to them for long or they will be fat!
ehadams ehadams 7 years
Have you tried giving her milk? Or is that bad for cats? I give organic whole milk (with the highest fat content I can find haha) to my dog because the vet told me it would help her sleep, but not sure if cats can tolerate it.
mudnessa mudnessa 7 years
i dont think i read this but if i am repeating im sorry, try different bowls, shapes for sure, like mentioned, but more importantly material. i have a cat that WILL NOT drink out of metal bowls, not a big fan of plastic but have no problem what so ever with ceramic bowls. my kitten loves drinking out of cups, our cups, so i took a small rocks glass and put it on the coffee table specifically for her, i think she feels more included, it also stops her from drinking out of my glass, which sometimes gets to me, hehe. also like mentioned a fountain might be the way to go if none of the simpler suggestions work, my cats come running when they hear me pouring water in their bowls. best thing to do is take a vet visit, have a check up and make sure there is not any underlying health issues, the sooner you catch things the better and better to be safe than sorry. oh and the litter box should also be an indicator, if it is being used regularly and with normal sized clumps of pee then your kitty is probably getting its water from elsewhere, the lovely toilet probably, hehehe.
TsuKata TsuKata 7 years
Oh, one more thing...grab at the kitty's loose skin a little, not a pinch, just a gentle grasp that moves the skin up, almost like you're scruffing him/her but not necessarily at the scruff and not so much that you're lifting the kitty. See if the skin has elasticity (as in, it goes back to the body quickly). If it does not, your cat is dehydrated and should be taken to a vet to be given fluids immediately. If it does go back even though the kitty hasn't theoretically had water in 2 weeks, your cat is likely drinking from a sink, toilet, or other source...and you just need to find that source. My vet told me about the skin trick to check on cats after I had a cat that was refusing water. It comes in handy!
TsuKata TsuKata 7 years
I second the idea of putting water dishes in other places in the house. Also, consider if there are other reasons the cat might avoid that spot...is it too close to litter? Is it near something that makes a loud noise or has an odd smell (dishwasher)? It may be that a chemical smell near the water dish is turning the kitty off to that location. Putting dishes in other parts of your house can help eliminate potential culprits. Also, try closing up all of your toilets. It may be that your kitty is doing acrobatics to drink from the toilet (a running water source) rather than the dish. If that ends up being the case, a pet fountain is your solution. You can start the fountain in the bathroom, near the sink, and then move it to a more convenient area (although I found that I like having mine by the bathroom sink!).
wakeupandora wakeupandora 7 years
sometimes i would add water to the dry food, or give them moist treats and wet food b/c they wouldn't drink very much. the pet fountain is said to work for cats especially. you could try putting ice cubes in the water, maybe they'll try to play with them and drink some water in the process?
lawchick lawchick 7 years
my cats don't like water, either. so, I put a little water in their bowls before I put the dry food in. I guess they don't want their dry food getting soggy -- They slurp up the water to get to the dry food!
erinridgeway erinridgeway 7 years
Marking the bowl is a smart idea! I think the pet fountain and experimenting with dishes of a different shape or material are good ideas, but you might also consider getting another water bowl or two and placing them throughout the house. Something instinctual makes some cats prefer to "find" sources of water, I think. I have two cats and four total water dishes, and for whatever reason, they never drink from the dishes next to their food in the kitchen but they empty the bowls in the living room and bedroom daily. I could probably get rid of the kitchen bowls entirely, but I like to have them there in case of emergency!
annebreal annebreal 7 years
We had this same problem with our cat when he was a kitten and my mom ended up opting for the pet fountain. He loves it and drinks from it and the sinks almost exclusively (although he does have a water bowl he uses sometimes now that he's older), but one thing to be careful about is that they don't let the water get up their nose because that's really not good for their little lungs. Our past cat really loved ice cubes in his bowl, that got him interested pretty fast.
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