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How Long Can A Cat Go Without Water?

Cat Drinking Water

None of us on this planet can go very long without water. A human adult is about sixty percent water. A cat is made up of sixty-seven percent water. That is over half our bodies, whether human or cat, that is water. So, we need water to replenish any we’ve lost. How long can a cat go without water? Find out below. 

A cat can go without water for between three and seven days. However, this is quite a big range as there are many variables to factor in. Read on for a more detailed explanation.

How Many Days Can a Cat Go Without Water?

The answer to this isn’t as straight forward as some say. Some say three days, others seven. However, there are many factors in how long a cat can go without water. 


Elderly cats can dehydrate faster than younger cats. Due to their small size, kittens need less water than an adult. So, a larger cat would dehydrate faster than a smaller cat or kitten.


A more active cat will need more water. As they run and play, they can lose water through sweating and panting thus need more water to replenish what they lost.


Does your cat eat soft food, hard food, or a combination? This influences their water consumption. If they are eating canned food, it has around 80% water, which can make up some water loss. Dry food saps their body’s water supply and will make it so they must drink more. A combination diet is better than dry food for water consumption but worse than a completely soft diet.  

Inside or Outside cat

Is your cat an inside cat, outside cat, or an in/out kind of feline? This will also affect water consumption. An indoor cat, especially in the hot weather months, will fare better than their outside counterparts because they are in a controlled environment. On the other hand, outside cats hunt and get some water from their prey. Outside cats must drink more when it’s hot to make up for the water they are losing just by living outdoors. 


As mentioned above, summer weather will make your cat more susceptible to water loss, especially if they live outside or like to roam outside. 


The breeding of your feline also contributes to their health. If they receive weak survival genes, they won’t last. If a cat is born with strong survival genes, they will last longer. Also, wild cats are made to survive longer than their domestic counterparts. Wild cats survive on the prey they catch themselves. They depend on water being available at watering holes, not at a dish in the kitchen. 

State of Emotions

If your cat is in a heightened state of emotions, such as fright, anger, excitement, they can use up more water. In turn, they will need to drink more. What if your cat followed you to the garden shed and you didn’t see her as she slipped in behind some boxes or shelves? What if you locked her in? She is going to panic at some point and become frightened and anxious because she can’t get out. Those three days that a cat can be without water become more dangerous because your kitty is using up more of her precious fluids by being frightened. 

Release of Bodily Fluid

Yes, I am talking about going potty, both urinating and defecating. Every time your cat uses the cat box, they are losing water. This process is part of a healthy cat, but it does release fluid from their body.  

What Happens To a Cat When They Go Without Water?

After three days without water, a cat’s body will start to dehydrate. 

Signs of dehydration are:

  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Dry gums
  • Fast heart rate
  • Moodiness
  • Lethargy
  • Panting

You should take your cat to the vet if you notice any of these signs. If your furry friend falls ill, dehydration can set in quickly if she isn’t drinking. Though there are other reasons, a cat won’t drink beside illness. Some cats are fussy about the water they drink, the dish it’s in, how clean their water bowl is, or even where it’s placed. Some cats prefer running water rather than still water. If that’s the case, you can get a water fountain instead of a regular bowl. If any of this isn’t how kitty likes it, it could lead to them not drinking. 

After dehydration sets in, it’s only a matter of time before a cat’s internal organ begin to fail. If this isn’t reversed, it’s fatal for your cat.

Why Would a Cat Go Without Water?

how long can a cat go without water

There are many reasons a cat can go without water. Most can be prevented, some are accidental, and a few are just plain wrong. 

Your Cat Falls ill

We don’t have control over whether our kitties get sick. When they do, a lot of times they will go off their food and water. Food isn’t so bad, but water is a must for all living creatures. Lack of water can lead to dehydration, organ failure, and death. 

Your Cat Is Fussy

Most cat owners know they will be catering to their cat’s whims on a daily basis. If your cat decides that their water dish is wrong, or the water in that dish is wrong, they may stop drinking. If the water is still and not running, they might stop drinking. If their dish isn’t washed at six am every morning, they might stop drinking. You get the picture. 

Your Cat Is Old

If you have an elderly cat, you may have to keep a closer eye on them to be sure they are drinking. Make sure their water is where they can access it. Is it too high so they can’t reach it or perhaps too low and they can’t lean down anymore to reach it? 

Your Cat Gets Shut In Somewhere

This can be a closet in the house to a garden shed. If your cat has gotten shut in and you don’t realize it, you could be searching for days before you realize they are locked in somewhere, including neighbor’s places. At home, you can check to be sure your cat isn’t in the closet or garden shed before you close it. If you live close enough to neighbors, you may let them know you have a cat and they like to roam. This might prevent a tragedy from happening. 

You Thought Your Cat Was Being Taken Care Of

This happens, you ask a friend you think you can trust to go to your house to feed and water your pets only to come home after a week’s vacation to find that no one bothered to come to check. This can end in not only losing your beloved kitty but also end a friendship. Though, if you can’t trust them to come to take care of your cat, you really can’t trust them to be a true friend. That’s how I feel anyway. 

You Thought You Left Enough Food and Water

You decide not to trust anyone else to come care for your cat. You leave plenty of food out, you fill several dishes full of water and set them out, thinking you are leaving enough for your kitty to be okay for a week. You return to find all the water dishes dry, and you didn’t even leave the toilet cover open. Is your cat okay? Did they run out of water in the first day or two or did they manage to go most of the week? Where are they? You need to find them. Are they still alive? You could have avoided the lack of water just by leaving the toilet cover open or possibly filling the kitchen sink. There are several remedies to that problem as well. If nothing else hire an animal caregiver or board your cat at a reputable boarder. 

Now that you know how long your cat can go without water, what happens when they can’t get water, and what to do to prevent your feline friend from having to go without water, you may save a cat’s life. 

Remember, water is essential for life.

2 thoughts on “How Long Can A Cat Go Without Water?”

    1. What is confusing about it? it clearly states “between three and seven days for an average cat” obviously, this is a large range and the fact your cat is 17 I’d say no more than 2 days. If you’ve noticed they aren’t drinking for more than a day I’d be going straight to the vets as it’s indicative that something isn’t right and at 17 years old it could be a range of different issues. I hope this helps and be sure to follow this up with a vet visit.

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