Cat Looking At Water But Not Drinking?

Cats have a simple solution to getting water.

If their thirst isn’t quenched, they will likely drink nothing but air. If cats don’t drink water, their health might suffer.

This is why you should provide your cat with water every day.

So, why is cat looking at water but not drinking?

Cats have a “thirst mechanism” that causes them to drink water only when their supply is low or their body temperature is high. Cats also tend to drink less if they are sick or stressed.

If your cat is sick or depressed, it might ignore food and water altogether.

Why Do Cats Lay Next To Water Bowls?

Cats sleep next to water dishes because it is a natural habit, she is thirsty, or she is sick or depressed.

This action is more noticeable in kittens and cats with health problems.

Because they are exceedingly thirsty and maybe unwell, they might need a lot of water.

Cats prefer reclining, resting, or laying down in certain areas of their homes or yards.

Regardless matter how thirsty your cat is it will not drink if it feels pain or if its stomach hurts.

There might be many reasons for your cat’s behavior either of which is none related to illness and thirst.

If your cat does not drink, he might not be thirsty or he might feel nauseous or weak.

Conditions such as blood loss, renal injury, vomiting, or diabetes could be causing your cat to not swallow any water.

These critical underlying health concerns need immediate care from a veterinarian.

If your cat still wants to drink despite its current health state, there can be other causes for this behavior.

Why Does My Cat Stare At Water?

Your cat glances at the water bowl while it sits and stares at it often throughout the day so it seems like they are observing the water as if it’s waiting for them to drink it.

If you keep your cat’s water bowl in an area where there is sunlight or in floor heating, your cat might stare at the water. Because it is not warm enough to drink, which is common.

If you place them in a cool area or refrigerated area, your cat might stare into the water because the water is too cold and may even refuse to drink the water.

Alternatively, you might keep the water in the warmest part of the home or outdoors because cold drafts often are the reason why most cats refuse to drink the water.

It’s easy to test that theory by placing your cat’s water bowl in the coldest place in the house and away from any drafts and then see if they start to drink the water.

If your cat is glued to the water bowl but doesn’t drink any water, it is because they learned that by staring at the bowl they can receive treats or affection from you.

Cats may be territorial when it comes to their food and water.

Why Is My Cat Hovering Over Water Bowl?

If your cat is hanging over the water dish and it is cool outside, they might be waiting for you to fill the water bowl with hot water because cats enjoy warm to hot water.

The degree of freshness of the water, the cleanliness of the dish and the possibility that your cat is being influenced by the dog’s food bowl.

Why Is the Cat Staring at the Water but Not Drinking?

Replace the Water

You should keep an unused water bowl under the faucet and fill it regularly with fresh water for your cat.

This is a simple way to avoid your kitty from drinking dirty or stale water as it always has fresh water on tap.

A cat may dislike what is in plain view, such as the cat’s food or water bowl.

Cats are picky about what they will and won’t drink because they dislike the taste of certain chemicals and will actively avoid drinking them.

This might be the cause why your cat rejects the water you give them.

You should immediately drain the dirty or stale water and replace it by fresh water.

See whether this makes your cat happy and then, you can determine if they need more clean water in their bowl.

If not, it might be time to consider switching to a more neutral smelling water so that your kitty will drink it more often without any interruptions.

Water Quality

Cats are clean animals; that’s why they only drink fresh, clean water and will probably avoid drinking water from a bowl that smells bad.

Your cat will most likely refuse to eat or drink when their water smells bad or dirty, or when they have a bad taste in their mouth.

Make sure to empty and refill your cat’s water bowl with fresh water daily to avoid problems with your cat’s taste in their mouth and to avoid bacteria growing in it.

Before filling the bowl with water, make sure it is clean.

Change the Water Bowl

It’s better to change the water bowl at least once a day to avoid the cat from having a bad smell in their mouth and taste in their mouth and to avoid bacteria growing in it.

It’s a simple modification that you can make to help alleviate the problem.

If a cat stares at the water but won’t drink enough of it, the problem may be in the bowl itself.

The water dish may have an odor that is unpleasant to your kitty or the bowl may have become stale and dirty.

This includes any dirt or bacteria from your cat’s paws or fur that has gotten into the bowl.

If a cat believes it is old or contaminated, it will avoid drinking it altogether.

The cat may try and eat the pebbles or dirt at the bottom of the bowl to try and get a clean taste in their mouths.

This is why, if you noticed your cat looking at his or her water dish and staring, but not drinking the water, you should check it out as soon as possible.

Reposition the Water Bowl

If a cat looks at the water but won’t drink enough of it, the problem may be in the bowl itself.

Some cats dislike drinking in a shallow container and will prefer a deeper water dish instead.

This is a difficult inclination for domestic cats because in the wild they are used to drinking from streams, rivers and lakes so they have to retrain themselves to drink from a shallow dish.

You must discover a technique to encourage your cat to drink from a shallow container so you can help them out.

Place it in a low-traffic area so your cat can get to it without obstructions.

Water Presentation

Cats are picky when drinking water and will usually pick out any impurities and reject it with their paws.

They dislike it when their whiskers come into contact with the edges of a drinking bowl and some of the times cats have rejected the taste of the drinking water by spitting it out.

Make sure your cat’s water dish is clean and smells nice and has no food particles in it.

Consult Your Vet

The last alternative is to investigate the situation with your veterinarian as the cause may be an illness that requires medical treatment.

One of the most common symptoms associated with dehydration is that a cat will avoid drinking water and will become lethargic or slink around and not show any energy at all.

The cat is constantly convinced that it has already consumed enough and doesn’t need any more water anymore and this will eventually result in dehydration.

It’s risky, and the health risk of doing so is considerable, but a side helping of ice cream may help your cat get over its fear of drinking from the bowl.

The best course of action is to consult with your veterinarian as there are a variety of diseases and health issues that may be the cause of your cat’s refusal to drink water.

Also See: Older Cat Not Eating But Drinking


A cat looking at water but not drinking means it’s not getting enough water. Your cat needs water every day to stay healthy. So, make sure to provide your cat with fresh water every day!

When a cat looks at the water but refuses to drink, the first thing to do is to clean the bowl and add fresh water to it.

A cat’s demand for water varies depending on their age, breed and health.

Other possible causes include being terrified by strange objects or sounds, and recovering from illness or recovering from surgery.

It’s advisable to experiment with the food and water that the cat is consuming, until you find out the exact cause behind the problem.

You’ll have a better understanding of what’s happening to your pet after you talk to your vet about the kind of changes you can make in their diet and routine.

If it does not receive enough water, it may lead to dehydration, which may result in muscle loss, high levels of stress and anxiety and in extreme cases death.