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kittens not drinking water

Kittens need hydration more than adult cats. If your kitten isn’t drinking its fair share of water, you have the right to be very concerned.

But what constitutes the right amount of water for a kitten? and What to do when the kitten is not drinking water?

Let’s check the semantics of kitten hydration and find out what we can do to keep the little ones hydrated.

Recently we listed the 10 best spill proof cat water bowls which will help you keep your feline hydrated.

How Long Can Kittens Be Without Water?

Be aware that kittens often get water and liquid hydration through the kitten formula or their mother’s milk when they’re smaller than four weeks. Often, it’s their mother who teaches them about solid food and water.

If you have kittens and a mother cat, you’ll have to wait until the kittens are weaned off for them to take any interest in drinking water.

However, if you feed kittens a kitten formula, there’s a different method to get them interested in water.

When to Feed Kittens Water

Typically, kittens should be introduced to water and wet food at 4–6 weeks of age.

If the kitten doesn’t take to water right away, this may be because they’re getting adequate hydration from wet food. So, there’s no need to be too worried.

But, you must get the kitten used to drink water now. Otherwise, this creates problems later.

What to Do When Kittens Don’t Drink Water

Kittens usually don’t create problems when drinking water.

If they do, take this as a sign that your kitten may not be feeling well. They may have experienced a heat stroke, a stomach problem, or might be feeling ill.

Taking by age and time, here are some things you can do in different situations:

6 Week Old Kitten Not Drinking Water

First, ask yourself whether this has happened suddenly or is this a habit?

If your kitten has regularly been drinking water and abruptly stopped, keep them under observation for a day. Check their stool for any blood, diarrhea, or uncommon smells, colors, and textures. Next, count how many times your kitten uses the litter box.

Kittens should pee after they’ve had food and should do so 1–4 times a day. Also, check if your kitten displays any discomfort when urinating.

Alongside, change their water bowl to a ceramic bowl or glass bowl. Change the water to cool or room temperature water. A 6-week old kitten should be able to drink water easily. If it doesn’t, you will need to take your kitten to the vet. This may be a sign of an underlying health issue.

8 Week Old Kitten Not Drinking Water

At eight weeks or two months, kittens become used to having water, wet food, and dry food at their disposal. If your kitten isn’t drinking water, check their stool for any irregularities.

Also, please find out how much water content is in the wet food you feed them. Often, if kittens have more wet food, they don’t feel as thirsty. If their stool is loose or watery, despite them not having water, this may actually mean they’re having too much water and not enough fiber. You will need to balance out their diet.

You should also use different things such as water fountains and increase water bowls in your house. Your kitten should have access to water at all times.

In general, your kitten will start drinking water within a day or two, especially if they receive medical attention. However, you might want to take some steps within the first few days to confirm whether a visit to the vet is needed.

Kitten Hasn’t Had Water in 12 Hours

Quite frankly, 12 hours is not as alarming as it sounds.

Kittens often start with irregular dietary routines until they settle. They even have some days where they don’t feel as thirsty, same as humans. Do not worry if your cat does not drink water throughout the day but behaves as it always does.

But be vigilant of their behavior. If they act lethargic, listless, show no interest in food or play, and have watery diarrhea or vomit, you’ll want to take your kitten to the vet.

Kitten Hasn’t Had Water in 24 hours

Going without water for 24 hours is concerning.

This is normal behavior if your kitten displays other symptoms of illness such as those mentioned above. In this case, your kitten will revert to its drinking habits as they get better. But if your kitten doesn’t touch their water bowl at all, here are some things you can do:

  • Change their water bowls for ceramic water bowls
  • Use tuna water ice cubes or broth ice cubes to add flavor to the water
  • Change the water in the bowls with cooler temperature water (it should not be cold)
  • Keep the water bowl in an accessible space
  • Keep the water bowl away from the food bowl. Cats often don’t drink from where they eat.

If these techniques don’t work, go to the vet. Kittens should not be without water for too long. If your kitten’s health deteriorates, your vet will use an IV to rehydrate your cat with fluid and electrolytes.

Kitten Hasn’t Had Water in 48 Hours

Two days is a long time without food and can be dangerous. Being without clean, fresh water for this long can worsen your kitten’s health if it is sick.

If your kitten does not display any symptoms, though, this still doesn’t mean your kitten is okay. A cat’s body has a way of telling if they’re dehydrated.

The phenomenon is called tenting. Start by gently pinching the skin above their neck and lift it up as you would. Once your kitten’s skin is tented, release it. If your kitten hasn’t had water in two days, you’ll notice that its skin will remain pinched and tented. Otherwise, it will bounce back.

If your kitten’s skin bounces back, this means your cat isn’t as dehydrated. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to get your cat checked with a vet, to be sure.

How to Introduce My Kitten to Water

In general, cats do not like water. They will more likely run away from baths, but they won’t stop drinking water. At least, not if you introduce them to water in an appropriate way:

  • Start by putting your kitten in an empty sink or tub, and use their favorite toy there, so they get used to the environment. Use positive reinforcement and treats so they associate their surrounding with something positive.
  • Use a wet washcloth, and in the dry tub or sink, rub the washcloth on them, enough that it makes them a bit damp, but not so much that it soaks them. Make sure the environment is warm, and you have a warm towel handy.
  • Begin by filling the tub with warm water, at least two fingers deep, so that they can roam around with their feet. Use toys and treats to make this a happy experience.
  • When it comes time for their first bath, use the same water and a washcloth to avoid getting scared.

Introducing cats at a young age to water allows them to drink it without fear as well. Use a small dropper or a syringe when feeding them food and give them some water with each meal. 

Next, when your kitten starts eating from a plate or a bowl, put a small bowl of water a little away from their food and lead them to water after they’ve eaten.

Creating this habit will ensure that they get the necessary amount of water without even realizing it.

I recently published guides to address two more problems cat drinking a lot of water suddenly & can cats drink Gatorade that might help you to deal with the common issues of felines.


Kittens and adult cats all require water to grow happy and healthy. As a concerned cat owner, these tips and details will help you care for your kitten more and will keep you worry-free for a longer time.

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