How to Force a Cat to Drink Water: A Comprehensive Guide

Cats and Water: A Complicated Relationship

Welcome, fellow cat-owners! We all know how important it is for our feline friends to stay hydrated, but what do you do when your cat just refuses to drink water? Cats are notorious for being picky drinkers – some cats only like to drink water from a certain bowl, while others prefer running water. In this article, we’ll explore the different ways to force a cat to drink water and the pros and cons of each method. Let’s dive in!

Why is it important for cats to drink water?

Before we dive into how to force a cat to drink water, let’s first understand why it’s important for them to stay hydrated. Water is essential for cats’ health and well-being – it helps regulate their body temperature, aids in digestion, and helps flush out toxins from their system. Cats are also prone to developing urinary tract infections and kidney problems, and dehydration can exacerbate these conditions. As such, owners should monitor their cats’ water intake closely and ensure that they are drinking enough water.

How much water should cats drink?

On average, a cat should drink between 3.5 and 4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day. This means that a 10-pound cat should drink between 7 and 9 ounces of water per day. However, this is just a general guideline – the amount of water a cat needs can vary depending on factors such as their diet, activity level, and overall health.

How to Force a Cat to Drink Water: Methods

Now that we understand why cats need to drink water, let’s explore the different ways to force a cat to drink water. There are several methods that owners can try, but it’s important to remember that not all cats will respond to the same method. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for your cat.

Method 1: Wet Food

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your cat is getting enough water is by feeding them wet food. Wet food has a higher moisture content than dry food, which can help keep your cat hydrated. Additionally, many cats prefer the taste and texture of wet food over dry food, which can encourage them to eat more. If your cat is a picky eater, try adding a little bit of water to their wet food to increase their water intake.

Method 2: Water Fountains

Many cats prefer drinking running water to still water, and water fountains can be a great way to provide your cat with a source of running water. Water fountains can also help keep water fresh and clean, which can encourage cats to drink more. However, it’s important to clean the water fountain regularly to prevent bacteria growth.

Method 3: Ice Cubes

Some cats enjoy playing with ice cubes, and adding ice cubes to their water bowl can make drinking water more fun for them. Additionally, the cold temperature of the water can be refreshing for cats, especially during hot weather.

Method 4: Syringe Feeding

If your cat is refusing to drink water, you may need to resort to syringe feeding. This involves using a syringe to squirt water into your cat’s mouth. This method can be effective, but it should only be used as a last resort and under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Method 5: Subcutaneous Fluids

If your cat is severely dehydrated and not responding to other methods, your veterinarian may recommend subcutaneous fluids. This involves injecting fluids under the skin, which can help rehydrate a cat quickly. This method should only be performed by a veterinarian.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Forcing a Cat to Drink Water


Advantages of Forcing a Cat to Drink Water
Helps prevent dehydration and related health problems
Encourages cats to drink more water, which can improve overall health
Can be an effective way to administer medication or supplements


Disadvantages of Forcing a Cat to Drink Water
Can be stressful for cats, especially if they are not used to being force-fed
Some methods may not be effective for all cats
Can be time-consuming and require extra effort on the part of the owner


Q1: How do I know if my cat is dehydrated?

A: Signs of dehydration in cats include dry mouth and nose, sunken eyes, lethargy, and loss of skin elasticity.

Q2: Will adding flavoring to my cat’s water encourage them to drink more?

A: Adding a small amount of low-sodium chicken or beef broth to your cat’s water can make it more appealing. However, it’s important to keep in mind that too much salt can be harmful to cats.

Q3: Can cats drink milk?

A: While many cats enjoy drinking milk, it’s not an ideal source of hydration for them. Most cats are lactose intolerant and can develop digestive issues if they consume too much dairy.

Q4: Can dehydration be a sign of an underlying health problem?

A: Yes, dehydration can be a symptom of several health conditions, including kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. If you’re concerned about your cat’s hydration, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian.

Q5: How often should I clean my cat’s water bowl?

A: Cat water bowls should be cleaned daily to prevent bacteria growth.

Q6: Can I use a water additive to encourage my cat to drink more?

A: Some water additives can be effective in encouraging cats to drink more water. However, it’s important to choose a product that is safe for cats and doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients.

Q7: How do I syringe feed my cat?

A: Consult with your veterinarian for instructions on how to syringe feed your cat safely and effectively.


Ensuring that your cat stays hydrated is essential for their health and well-being. There are several methods that owners can try to force a cat to drink water, but it’s important to remember that not all cats will respond to the same method. Additionally, it’s important to monitor your cat’s water intake closely and consult with a veterinarian if you’re concerned about their hydration. We hope that this guide has been helpful in providing you with different ways to encourage your cat to drink water!


The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Always consult with a veterinarian if you’re concerned about your cat’s health and well-being. Additionally, make sure to follow all safety guidelines when force-feeding your cat to prevent injury or stress.

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