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Do Cats Like Cold Water? Our Vet Answers & Explains

Written by: Dr. Luqman Javed DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat drinking water

Do Cats Like Cold Water? Our Vet Answers & Explains


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We all know that water is a vital part of life for all living organisms on Earth, and cats are certainly no different. Water keeps cats alive and healthy. We humans might love an ice-cold glass of water, but what about cats?

Some cats may prefer cold drinking water, but this entirely depends on the individual cat. The water’s freshness and safety are far more important than its temperature. Regardless, it shouldn’t be at near-freezing temperatures. Some cats might like room-temperature water, so it’s up to you to figure out your cat’s preference.

Here, we discuss everything about water and cats and why some cats prefer cold water while others don’t. We also look at the best ways to give your cat water so you can ensure that they’re getting enough.

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Why Do Cats Need Water?

Water is the most important nutrient for all pets. Other than just keeping cats alive, it provides a variety of different purposes:

  • Hydration: Water is the single most important nutrient for maintaining hydration.
  • Transport: It’s used to transport substances and waste around your pet’s body.
  • Biochemical process: Water is a part of numerous biochemical processes throughout your pet’s body.
  • Thermoregulation: It aids in maintaining body temperature.
  • Homeostasis: Water is involved in many processes that maintain a sense of internal balance within your cat’s body.

The list can go on! Water is the essence of life, so what can happen if a cat doesn’t get enough?

cat drinking from faucet
Image by: Sample Stars, Shutterstock

What Happens If Your Cat Becomes Dehydrated?

If your cat isn’t drinking enough water, the more immediate issue will be dehydration. This occurs when your cat loses more fluids than they take in.

Health problems that can occur with dehydration include:
  • Alterations to almost all biochemical processes throughout the body
  • Impaired organ function (often manifests as lethargy at first)
  • Electrolyte imbalance

If left untreated, dehydration can progress to the impairment of vital organs, which eventually leads to death. For this reason, cats should have an unlimited supply of drinking water at all times.

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How Much Water Should a Cat Drink?

The estimation of the water requirements of a healthy cat in maintenance can be determined using the formula:

Hydration Formula

ml/kg/day = 80 x body weight 0.75

Body weight is expressed in kilograms, and the answer is provided in milliliters. This can be cumbersome to calculate if you are used to imperial units, such as pounds and cups. So, to estimate your pet’s needs, you can use the following steps:

Estimating Your Pet’s Water Requirements: Example
  • This is for a healthy, well-hydrated 8-pound cat.
  • Step 1: Convert pounds to kg by dividing your pet’s weight by 205. In this example, 8/2.205 yields 3.6 kg.
  • Step 2: Use the kg value in the formula: 80 x 3.675 yields 209 ml.
  • Step 3: Convert ml to cups by dividing your answer by 236.6. In this example, 209/236.6 gives us 0.88.
  • Therefore, a healthy 8-pound cat requires around 0.88 cups of water a day.

Please note that the requirements for pregnant and lactating cats are different, as are the requirements for kittens or cats with a medical condition.

Since water is so crucial for cats and the calculations are cumbersome and unrealistic to do on a regular basis, it is best to offer your pet cat access to unlimited amounts of drinking water at all times.

Domestic cat drinking water
Image by: AleksandarMilutinovic, Shutterstock

What About the Temperature?

Anecdotally, some cats may have a preference for slightly cool temperatures for their water. Others may prefer water to be slightly tepid or at room temperature. There isn’t any right or wrong way to offer water to your pet, as long as it isn’t freezing cold or boiling hot.

Some people place ice cubes in their cat’s water bowl in the summer as a way to keep the water cooler. However, if your cat likes to fish them out and try to eat them, you’ll want to use ice chips instead, as a big ice cube can damage your cat’s teeth. Otherwise, ice cubes can prove to be new and interesting toys for your cat to bat around.

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What If Your Cat Is Not Drinking Enough?

Determining whether your cat is drinking enough water can be tricky. Felines can obtain moisture from other sources, such as their food. Cats that are fed a high-quality fresh diet with high animal protein and fat content are likely to drink small amounts of water. Fats naturally contain water, and such a diet contains adequate amounts of moisture in general, reducing the amount of water that the cat would need to drink from their fountain or water bowl.

Conversely, a cat that’s on a kibble or dry diet will likely require more fresh water. This type of diet is high in carbohydrates, which offer less water per gram than fats, and it’s lacking in moisture content compared to fresh or canned foods.

The earliest sign of dehydration in cats is their mucous membranes becoming dry and tacky. This can most easily be noticed on their gums. In addition, their skin will likely lose some of its elasticity; if you gently pinch and raise their skin, it might not recoil normally.


Dehydration in cats is never considered normal and can be caused by many underlying issues. If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, seek prompt veterinary care.

Black cat drinking from a raised bowl
Image by: netti67, Pixabay

If your cat is otherwise healthy, you can encourage more hydration using the following methods.

Water Temperature

While most cats are fine with cold water, other cats prefer lukewarm water. You can try experimenting with different temperatures and observing your cat. You might find that your cat likes room-temperature or slightly warm water.

Water Container

This all comes down to your cat’s preference, but ceramic, glass, or stainless-steel water bowls that are wide in diameter tend to work well for most (but not all) cats. Switching your cat’s bowl might encourage them to drink more.

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Cat Fountain

Alternatively, consider investing in a cat water fountain. Many cats enjoy drinking from running water, as its flowing nature tends to pique their curiosity.

Cat fountains come with filters, so as long as you clean them regularly, the running water action can also make them more sanitary than bowls.


Keeping your cat’s water bowl or fountain clean is super important. Fountains should be cleaned once a week, and the filter should be changed about once a month (or according to manufacturer guidelines). Bowls must be cleaned and filled with fresh water at least twice every day. No one wants to drink dirty water.

cat drinking water
Image by: Pixabay


Make sure the water source is in a quiet and stress-free location. If you have multiple cats, you might want to offer multiple water sources in different locations.

Canned or Fresh Food

Canned food is approximately 80% water content. So, if you aren’t already giving your cat wet food, you might want to consider adding some to your cat’s diet. You can opt for food toppers that are made specifically for cats. Fresh food also offers your cat more hydration than dry food does.

Image Credit: Svetlana-Rey, Shutterstock

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Some cats may indeed prefer cold water, but this usually comes down to individual preference. As a general rule, cats can drink water that’s safe for humans to drink, and as long as the temperature isn’t at an extreme, your cat will be fine with their temperature of choice.

Hydration is of utmost importance for your cat, so if you think that your pet isn’t drinking enough water, your veterinarian should be your first point of contact.

Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

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