Helping Guide Bengal Cat Owners

Why Does My Cat Paws at Water But Won’t Drink?

Some feline behaviors are odd but can be easily explained as something common. When your cat always hovers over the water bowl but doesn’t drink, you should note other behavioral concerns leading up to that moment.

Cats stare at the water bowl with the desire to drink but can’t do so because of pain and discomfort from an upset stomach or vomiting.

There are notable signs that you can look out for when your cat is experiencing sickness. Below you will know more why they exhibit this behavior and what you can do about it.

Why Does My Cat Stare at the Bowl but Won’t Drink?

When cats don’t like their water, they simply walk away or check it for a second and leave.

Although cats can be picky about their water, they don’t just hover over the bowl and stare. This behavior is usually seen after they have vomited. They want to drink but are stopped by the discomfort felt in their stomach and throat.

Vomiting is a process, making the cat drool and heave before puking. Regurgitation happens suddenly and without warning. When your cat appears weak and refuses to drink and eat after 24 hours, it’s time to go to the vet.

For senior cats over the age of 10, it could be an effect of cognitive decline. They forget to do things such as where the litter box is and act oddly.

Read: Where Can to Declaw Cat for Free?

Should I Force My Cat to Drink Water?

We feel for our cats when they appear to be sick and it makes us worry. We can do tricks such as adding flavor to the water and switching dry food with wet food but we should never force our cats to drink water because it can lead to choking.

This is usually done with a syringe and it is pushed down the cat’s throat or the side of its mouth. Your cat has no choice but to ingest it otherwise it will choke, and more likely than not, this method results to unfavorable outcomes.

Why Does My Cat Stare at Her Food Bowl?

Similar to when they stare at their water bowl, your cat feels too ill to consume solid food. She could be suffering infections, kidney or liver disease.

For a more concerning situation, the cat does this in a week or so and has lost a bit of weight. Their coat is ruffled and they are lethargic. These are general signs of many diseases but a bland diet of rice and boneless chicken should do until she gets checked by a vet.

Read: Why Having a Cat Helps You Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Why Does My Cat Paw at Her Water Bowl?

Cats can’t measure the depth of water in the bowl by simply looking at it so they put their paws in it to make sure it’s safe to drink from. They do this before drinking it.

For other cats, by tapping at the surface, the water simulates a moving water which cats deem to be safer. They also do it out of fun and curiosity.

What Do I Do to Make My Cat Drink Water?

  • Add flavor to their water. A drop of tuna juice or meat broth smells enticing to your cat.
  • Add electrolytes to their drinks. Electrolytes play a vital role in your pet’s overall health. Electrolyte powder like HydrADE Electrolyte Supplement Powder is a good place to start.
  • Switch dry food with wet food. It is more expensive but you don’t have to make this a permanent diet switch. Wet food contains 70% water than dry matter and serves to hydrate and satisfy your cat.

The moment your cat displays disinterest in drinking water, lethargy, and a poor coat, do what you can to ensure they are well hydrated. Dehydration is more fatal than starvation.

Read: Why Do People Love Their Bengal Cats So Much?

What Happens If My Cat Doesn’t Drink Water?

As much as we love for our cats to have nine loves, they’re unfortunately bound by their body’s limits. They need water to function, much more so than food, and a cat that doesn’t drink much water is at risk for dehydration.

Dehydration isn’t just the loss of water in the body but also the loss of essential minerals that are key components for your cat to function properly. Minerals such as potassium, sodium, and chloride are macro-minerals that each play an important role.

Signs include pale and tacky gum, sunken eyes, and skin that doesn’t snap back quickly over the flesh. When your cat refuses to drink and hides from you, they need medical attention.

How Long Can Cats Survive without Water?

Like humans, cats can survive without water for more or less than four days depending on their current conditions. For cats that are already sick, they should be hydrated within 48 hours or risk complications from dehydration.

Rarely do cats utterly refuse water for more than two days. They also get this need met with wet food as the moist content is enough to supply them for a few hours. In the rare occasion that a cat absolutely goes without water for a few days, it will eventually die from dehydration and other complications.

Read: What Makes Bengal Cats So Special?

Should I be Worried If My Cat Drinks a Lot of Water?

There are factors that should be considered when your cat’s excessive drinking becomes worrisome. Dry food makes cats drink more and so does hot weather. However, in some cases, it can be a medical condition.

Along with excessive drinking, concerning symptoms include vomiting, foul-smelling breath, lethargy, diarrhea, increased urination, and swelling of the face and abdomen. A combination of these symptoms can point to diabetes in cats, hyperthyroidism, and kidney and liver disease. Only your vet can diagnose.

However, when your cat appears to be healthy and unchanged, make sure to keep observing because cats are good at hiding their discomforts!

Read: The Role of a Scratching Post in Maintaining Your Cat’s Nails and Claw Health

Why Is My Cat Drinking So Much in Winter?

This could be an effect of stress due to the change of season. Environmental changes also play a factor in this behavior that include intolerable heat such as inside the house or the area they sleep in.

Generally, cats drink just enough water in winter to satisfy their thirst. Dry food also makes cats drink water in excess. In older or sick cats, they could be suffering from kidney and liver disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism.


To summarize this post, cats hovering over their water bowl but not drinking is a sign that they are unwell. This is a behavior commonly observed after the feline has vomited. When they start to weaken within 24 hours, shiver, and refuse to eat and drink, it’s time to see the vet.

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