How to help your cat drink and pee

Water is essential to all animals because the body depends on it in order to get rid of waste materials. When your cat can’t pee, those waste materials start to build up in the body, which is a serious matter with potentially dire consequences. So how can we fix this?

First things first: If you find your cat actually trying to pee, but no urine comes out, that is an immediate emergency that you can not fix at home. This is something that needs to be looked at by a veterinarian as soon as possible! Do not think the problem will go away by itself. Call your vet immediately!

Dehydration

When your cat just doesn’t drink a lot or never visits the toilet to try to pee, that is a different problem. In these cases, the problem is likely due to dehydration. This is pretty common thing because cats have a very low thirst drive, but there are many other possible conditions that can compound the problem:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High temperatures

To combat dehydration, you may take steps to encourage your cat to drink more. Here are seven tips that I have found to work from experience:

Drinking tips

1. Location, location, location

Most people think they should place food and water bowls right next to each other. In fact, the bowls are often sold attached to one another. This is actually a huge misconception! Cats don’t like to drink in the same place as where they eat their meals. They prefer their water source and their food source to be placed separately from one another.

So it may be time to switch things up. Try to put the water bowl in a different room entirely. It might take your cat some getting used to, but eventually, you will likely notice her starting to drink more often.

This is totally wrong! Cats do not like to drink in the same place as where they eat.

2. Provide clean water

Bacteria can grow rapidly in a water bowl, especially on those hot summer days. If you want your furry friend to drink, one of the most important steps is to provide clean water at least once a day. My own cat is actually quite picky and will just flat-out refuse to drink water that’s not fresh.

A feline drinking water from the tap
Your furry friend is more likely to drink fresh water, so make sure to refresh the bowl daily.

Also, don’t forget to rinse the bowl with some warm water and soap every so often. Doing so will get rid of that sticky coating forming on the inside, which is actually a big heap of nasty bacteria.

It might also be a good idea to experiment with different kinds of water like bottled water, water from the tap, or even rainwater to see which one your cat likes the most.

Tip: Add a water additive to reduce bacterial growth and promote oral health

3. Switch to wet food or raw meat

Dry kibble usually contains about 10% water, whereas wet food and raw meat diets can consist of up to 80% liquid. That means you can increase the amount of water in a meal by as much as eight times, just by switching over.!

4. Buy a drinking fountain

Fountains are a great way to encourage a cat to drink more often. One of the major reasons they work so well is because cats have a very difficult time recognizing still water. The best way to deal with this is by buying a small drinking fountain that constantly pumps up clean water throughout the day. They look pretty fashionable too!

When buying a fountain, you should get a product that’s quiet, good-looking, and easy to clean. Petlibro has a great Automatic Water Fountain that is completely silent, and it’s very simple to use.

5. Add extra water into meals

If your kitty’s favorite food does not contain enough liquid, why not add some yourself? Simply throw the meal into a blender and add the desired amount of water (do make sure the water is fresh). I like to mix with proportions of about 75% food and 25% water to keep the mix from getting too gooey, but you can obviously conduct your own experiment to find out what works best.

A soaking wet cat wrapped in a towel looking very angry
Poor kitty! Some gentle encouragement probably works better than throwing your cat into the pool

Tip: You should not leave this mixture out of the fridge. The reason is that once it’s soaked, it will spoil in a matter of hours.

6. Get a good quality water bowl

It may seem trivial, but your cat can be picky when it comes to the type of bowl she wants to drink from. Something few people know is that whiskers are extremely sensitive. Now imagine for a second that you are a cat, and your most sensitive parts are touching cold water every time you want to drink. Not a very pleasant sensation!

When choosing a water bowl for your cat we recommend you go with a small and tall design. Make sure to chose one that is made from a high-quality, soft material like plastic or RVS.

7. Flavored water

This solution might seem a bit radical, but if your cat has serious renal problems and needs to drastically increase her fluid intake, this could be the perfect emergency fix. You can make water more enticing by adding a few drops of flavor to it. We recommend skipping the artificial flavors. Instead, op to go for something more natural like some juice from a can of tuna or wet food.

The reason why cats have such a low thirst-drive

It is believed that the answer to this can be found in the natural diet of wild cats. Did you know that a mouse is made up of at least 65% and in some cases even up to 80% water? Logically, if your diet mainly consists of live prey like mice and rabbits, you would gain a lot of fluid just from eating raw meat.

Evolution
Scientists’ hypothesis is that the feline brain has evolved over a period of millions of years to become less sensitive to the sensation of thirst. And this makes sense when you think about it: drinking pure water probably just wasn’t very essential to their survival. What mostly mattered was eating enough juicy meat.

But ever since cats were domesticated, their raw meat consumption has gone down radically. Indoor cats’ diets mainly consist of wet food or dry kibble from the store. While wet food contains a good amount of water, the dry version does not contain very much at all (hence the name dry).

Add to that that their drinking habits aren’t exactly efficient (they use only the tip of their tongue to spoon the water in) and you can guess why drinking a little extra water every day probably wouldn’t be the worst thing for your cat.

Final words

Problems such as “Why can’t my cat pee” and “How do I help my cat pee” are almost always linked to dehydration. With these tips, you can help your cat drink and pee more frequently at home. But it is always advised to consult a veterinarian, as they will be able to provide a better analysis of the cause of dehydration.

Frequently asked questions

How much do cats need to drink?

According to RoyalCanin’s vetfocus, a cat needs about 50 mL (or 1,7 oz) of water per day for every 35 ounces of body weight. With the average cat coming in at around 140 ounces, that would add up to almost 200 ml per day.

How long can a cat go without peeing?

Urination is vital to their survival. Cats that can’t pee at all (from severe dehydration or urinary blockages) will die after 3 to 6 days, so see a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

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