How Long Can A Cat Survive Without Water?

Throughout the years of owning a multitude of cats I have noticed the amount of water they drink varies dramatically depending on the cat. This lead me to start thinking about how long can a cat survive without water. My curiosity forced me to research this answer to help any other curious cat parents.

How long can a cat survive without water? The average cat may survive four to five days without water. The longer they go out of the water, the more severe dehydration can lead to serious health complications and, eventually, death.

How Long Can Cats Go Without Water?

When we have a cat, we do our best to give it care, love, and affection and fulfil its fundamental needs such as water and food. But what will happen when you accidentally lock your cat indoors with a house key?

Or worse, you move out of town and forget to leave food and water suitable for your cat? How long can a cat survive without drinking water? Will it be over in a day, or can you leave it for a week, confident that you will get home and your cat is still happy and healthy?

The average domestic cat can survive only a few days without water.

As long as your pet has a source of water in your home, your cat will survive, even if you fail to remember to leave food for it. But, without water, your cat will most likely die within a week because water is more critical to their health than food.

Without water, the cat will suffer from liver failure, and its muscles will deplete speedily, leading to the slow and painful death of your poor soul.

A study by R.S Anderson states that cats rarely survive if you left them with food and water, so it would be wise to leave your cat with accessible food and water supply when going outside.

Dehydration In Cats:

You never want to test water depletion on your cats. It cannot be enjoyable and may be life-threatening for your felines.

For whatever reason, if you want to know how long a cat can go without water, read on for more information on better care for your pet if she gets dehydrated.

Dangers Of Dehydration In Cats:

Dehydration is a real threat and can kick in within 24 hours. Within 24 to 48 hours, cats experience severe dehydration, and there are many worldwide examples of having permanent organ damage. For many cats, losing 20% ​​of their body weight due to dehydration is the ultimate limit to organ damage.

Overall, free access to water for your average cat and letting her eat wet food does not cause this type of extreme dehydration. Even a feline on a dry diet with access to water is unlikely to have dehydration.

In addition to stray cats, sick and elderly cats are more prone to get dehydrated. Sick cats that have diarrhoea and vomiting can quickly become dangerously dehydrated by losing vital electrolytes and water in a matter of hours. For these cats, veterinary attention is significant. They may need IV fluids and medications quickly to prevent diarrhoea or vomiting from controlling their condition from getting worse.

Elderly cats suffer from health conditions that develop with age, such as hyperthyroidism or kidney damage, maybe at more risk of dehydration. To keep them in good shape, they need to be monitored regularly and fed with proper diet and water access. If you identify them as dehydrated, then a doctor’s visit is arranged.

Grey tabby cat drinking water from a glass bowl

How Much Water Do Cats Need?

Generally, you leave only one cup of water for your cat, and she will drink it whenever she is thirsty. But do you know how much quantity of water your cat needs? On average, a cat needs to drink 3-4 ounces of water at the top of its diet.

Factors Affecting The Water Intake Of Felines:

Cat water intake depends on several factors. However, you can find out if it is getting enough water by looking at your cat and looking for some signs. Below is a list of helpful information about the need for water for cats.


A cat’s need for water depends mainly on its size – small or little cat breeds need less water than large or significant cat breeds.

Food type:

The food you offer to your cat is also a significant factor. If your cat eats only dry food/kibble, it needs more water. Because to dissolve and break dry food also require more water. If you feed your cat canned or wet cat food, which is about 82% water, it requires less to drink.


Another important factor for water consumption is protein intake. If the protein quantity or more meat you offer to your cat, your cat needs more water to breakdown protein contents. As we know, cats are obligate carnivores naturally, and their main diet is meat. So they require more water to breakdown and dissolve that meat as compared to other animals.


If your feline partner’s skin is elastic and its coat is shiny and free from dryness or flakes, then your cat is getting enough water to sustain a healthy life.

You can also detect dehydration of cats from a skin pinch test. In that, you pick the skin a little lower to the vertebral column above the ribcage and pinch it in clockwise action, and then left. If skin comes back to normal position in 1-2 sec, your cat is normal. If it takes more time to get back to a normal position, then your cat is dehydrated.


Suppose your cat is active and does not sleep all the time. It requires more water so you must take care of that.

Frequent urination:

If your cat urinates regularly, it’s a sign of a healthy animal. And you must provide adequate water to your furry friend.

Now you know how much water is required for your cats, go ahead and find out what will happen when your cat doesn’t drink enough water. Next, we will discuss how long cats can live without drinking water.

What Will Happen When A Cat Does Not Drink Water?

Just like humans, your cat needs to drink enough water to stay healthy and active. Drinking too little water can have a negative effect on your cat’s health and behaviour.

As a result, you may experience frustration, especially if you do not know what to do when it happens.

Your cat may get dehydrated. This happens when your cat does not drink enough water but stays active and urinates often. Losing a lot of body fluids and minerals can have a detrimental effect on your cat’s health.

tabby cat licking his nose in front of a glass of water

Body Changes When A Cat Does Not Drink Water?

When your cat gets too dehydrated or does not drink enough water, it may face certain abnormal conditions, including constipation, dry gums, vomiting, severe weight loss, and a rapid heartbeat. Your cat may become lethargic, weak, and depressed. Panting will be more frequent in the dehydrated cat.

Fluid Loss In Cats:

Your cat does not just lose fluids by urinating or sweating. (Yes, cats sweat, especially when they get hot). The following factors can also lead to increased fluid loss:

  • Recent vaccines
  • Kidney and urinary tract problems
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Other diseases

On the other hand, if your cat does not drink enough water, even a standard amount of fluid loss per day can be dangerous for your pet.

Many cats drink water from cups of water/water bowls:

When it comes to their cups of water, most felines are very picky. If they are too deep or made up of irritating plastic, cats refuse to drink from them. Furthermore, if a water cup is placed near food, some kitties do not even drink from them.

Some cats prefer bottled water:

Some kitties will not like tap water in their cups. If this is the case with your furry companion, it would be more willing to drink bottled water.

Regardless of the onset of the problem, if your cat is not drinking enough water and is not getting fluids from wet cat food, it will begin to suffer severe dehydration.

The article ‘Potability of seawater with special reference to the cat’ explains that some cats can also drink seawater up to some extent in emergency conditions

Other important factors affecting the cat survival rate are:

  • Age
  • Weather
  • Environment
  • Surrounding
  • Genetic make up
  • Emotional state

Conclusion: (Regularly check your cat’s water intake)

There is a lot of responsibility in keeping a pet cat at home. However, as long as you take care of your pet at home, you won’t have any problems. When you get out of town, you must do something to take care of your cat. Submit it in temporary rescue shelters or give it to some friend to take care of those utensils in which food or water lasts for many days.

Keep in mind that water is essential for your cat’s survival, so keep your cat hydrated and keep an eye on the early signs of dehydration to make sure your cat is healthy and happy!


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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