What do I do if my cat won't drink water?
You need to figure out if your cat is just being picky about what water it drinks or if it has stopped drinking entirely. If the cat is just being picky, you can fix this easily by changing what kind of water you give it or how you give it the water. If the cat has stopped drinking entirely, it is sick and needs to go to the vet at once.
If you think your cat is picky (won't drink out of the bowl, but does drink elsewhere) then you should try the following ideas:
1) Change the water. See if it will drink bottled water. If it does, then it's a taste issue - tap water in many places has added fluoride and some other chemicals, and your cat just doesn't like that water.
2) Get a cat water fountain. This is usually the best idea if you notice that your cat will drink water coming out of the faucet, but not elsewhere. Some cats like to only drink running water. Some people think this is an eyesight issue - the eyes of a cat are designed to focus on movement, and they may not always realize the water is there if it's still. It is also partly a taste thing, as still water loses oxygen and becomes stale.
3) Do you have multiple cats? If so, give them separate bowls, and keep the bowls away from each other. It may be a territorial thing - one cat thinks the bowls are the territory of the other cat.
4) Change the water more frequently. Sometimes this is the issue - water gets stale-tasting if it just sits out.
5) Switch to wet food instead of dry food. Cats can absorb a lot of moisture this way - in the wild, that's how they get most of their water anyway - by eating animals. Dry chow will not work as a source of water.
6) Try moving the water bowl away from the food bowl. Some cats don't like to drink where they eat.
What if my cat has stopped drinking entirely?
Then you need to take it to the vet to get it checked out. A cat cannot go that long without drinking, so don't put it off. Often a cat stops drinking because of a urinary tract infection in the cat. This can be very serious, so you will want a checkup for the cat. The best short term solution may be to used wet, canned food - if the cat is still eating, that will delay dehydration - it won't stop it entirely, but it will give whatever your vet prescribes some time to work.
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