If you’re a new cat owner, you may wonder if you should leave water out for your cat at night. Besides, will they even get up to drink during the night? But if so, how much water should you leave out? How do you keep it fresh during the night? Are there times when it’s best not to leave water out for your cat overnight? Here’s everything you’ll need to know.
So, should I leave water out for my cat at night? It is generally recommended that you do leave water out for your cat at night. Cats will drink as and when they need to, and individual cats need different amounts of water depending on whether they eat mostly dry or wet food.
While putting out water is typically a good idea, just make sure your cat has access to the toilet.
It could be access to a litter box, or it could be use of a cat flap if they go outside.
Either way, they are likely going to want to pee during the night.
But chances are you still have some questions about a cat’s water requirements when the sun goes down – so let’s delve into them!
Will Cats Drink Water At Night?
Cats will drink at least a small amount of water at night, although for some reason, most cats prefer to drink most of their water during the day. No one knows why!
Here are some different factors that influence whether your cat will drink water at night or not:
- The age and size of your cat. The older and bigger your cat, the more water she will need.
- The temperature of the environment. If temperatures are high, your cat will drink more water than in colder weather.
- Dry food vs. wet food. If your cat eats primarily dry food, she’ll need more hydration from water than those cats who eat mostly wet food.
- How often your cat eats. The more often she eats, the more water she’ll need.
If you see that your cat is suddenly drinking lots of water at night, however, you may need to bring her to the vet.
Excessive drinking (both during the day and at night) could be a sign of:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Anxiety or stress
In addition to the excessive drinking, a vet visit is in order if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Weakness in limbs
- Patchy fur
How Much Water Should You Leave Out For Your Cat At Night?
Cats need the same amount of water at night as you’d leave out for them during the day. Even though they drink less at night, it’s good practice to let them decide when and how much they’ll drink.
Many cats seem to have a frustrating tendency to drink water when we’re not looking, so you may find it tricky to tell if your cat is getting enough water.
As long as you leave out clean water for your cat, she should be fine.
Given that cats only need half a cup of water per five pounds of body weight per day, you won’t always notice the difference in water levels in her bowl.
It may seem like you’re emptying and refilling a full water bowl every day, but usually, she will drink her fill, day or night.
If you think that your cat could be dehydrated, look for the following signs:
- Tacky, sticky gums (they should be moist)
- Skin taking longer to fall back into place when you lift the skin between their shoulder blades (test the skin on the back of your hand to compare)
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Sunken eyes
- Hot paws
Dehydration is very serious in cats and requires immediate veterinary attention.
How To Leave Water Out For Your Cat At Night
There are various things worth bearing in mind when leaving out water for your cat at night. Many of these rules apply to your cat’s daytime drinking, as well.
Keep Her Water Bowl Far From Her Food Bowl
Don’t put your cat’s water next to her food bowl (this rule applies during the day, too).
Cats will instinctively avoid water that’s near their food or their litter box. Experts believe this is because of a natural tendency to avoid contaminated water.
Cats also like to see what’s behind them and in front of them, so try to avoid putting her water bowl in a corner.
Several water bowls throughout the house are even better, where possible.
Try putting her water bowl in different places in the house to see where she prefers drinking from. You may be surprised!
Use The Right Kind Of Water Bowl
Cats prefer to drink out of bowls made of glass, ceramic, or metal (stainless steel).
Plastic bowls are best avoided since the plastic can taint the water, and your cat will then avoid drinking it. Plastic bowls can also cause chin rash in some cats.
Deep or small bowls are also to be avoided: cats have highly sensitive whiskers, and they can become overstimulated if they have to poke their heads into bowls that are too deep.
This is why you see some cats scooping out food with their paws to eat it – they aren’t doing it to be cute.
They’re avoiding being overwhelmed with neurological information from those powerful whiskers!
The best type of bowl for your cat is shallow and wide – wide enough so that she can avoid touching her whiskers on the sides.
Here is an ideal one with amazing reviews on Amazon:
How To Keep Your Cat’s Water Fresh At Night
Keep Your Cat’s Water Clean
Your cat always needs access to fresh water, which means freshening it on a daily basis.
You may even need to refresh her water again if at any point you notice it has gotten hair or other debris in it.
Make sure you are cleaning and rinsing her water bowl every day.
And don’t offer much, if anything else than plain water!
Try Running Water With A Cat Drinking Fountain
Many cats love it when you turn on the sink or bathtub faucet so that they can drink running water.
You might be tired of doing this for your cat (and you won’t want to do this at night!)
You can encourage your cat to drink more water with a kitty fountain. A good fountain will provide your cat with running water, which is more appealing to cats.
Running water mimics rivers and streams that a cat would drink from in the wild.
The only thing to remember with water fountains is that you need to keep them plugged in as well as change the water filter regularly.
Provide Cool Water When Possible
Cats generally prefer cool water, as that’s the usual temperature of the water they’d find in nature.
There are some exceptions where you might need to adjust the temperature slightly for your kitty, but overall, cooler is better.
While most cats do fine with room-temperature water, you can treat your kitty to a nice cool drink by getting a water bowl that can keep her water cold for hours.
Some products are water bowls with a frozen base: you simply put a stainless steel bowl over the base, and the water will stay cool for hours.
When You Might Want To Take Your Cat’s Water Away At Night
Generally speaking, you don’t want to take your cat’s water away at night. Cats need access to water at all times, even though they can technically go without water for three days.
The exception to this is if your cat is scheduled to have surgery involving the use of an anesthetic.
Your vet may suggest you remove both food and water after midnight because your cat’s stomach needs to be empty before anesthesia.
Anesthesia can cause vomiting in some pets, which could lead to pneumonia.
Your vet will give you advice on whether your cat needs to fast and if you need to take away their water before surgery.
How Much Water Should A Cat Drink During the Night/Per Day?
Adult cats usually need about half a cup of water for every five pounds of body weight per day.
For example, a ten-pound cat should be drinking approximately one cup of water every day (this includes whatever she drinks at night).
Your cat will need more water than usual when the weather is warm – perhaps double the amount.
Offer her as much as she’ll drink – it’s better to have too much water available than not enough.
Sometimes cats can become overheated, which can be dangerous for them. Signs to look out for include:
- Panting. Cats normally breathe through their noses, not their mouths, so panting is a signal that something is wrong.
- Change in the color of their gums. Overheated cats can have gums that turn either very pale or bright red.
- Drooling and a rapid heartbeat. Drooling is often accompanied by a rapid heartbeat when a cat is overheated. Check this by placing your hand on your cat’s chest.
- Lethargy. Cats can become either distressed, agitated, or very lethargic when overheated.
- On your way to the vet, offer your cat some cool water. Soak a cloth in cool water and place it on her fur.
Note: Don’t use icy water or put your cat in a cold bath, as this could cause shock. A cat that cools down too quickly can be in just as much danger as a cat with heatstroke. Let your vet help your cat and use the above tips in the meantime.
For the most part, leaving water out for your cat at night is a good idea.
There may be instances where it’s not as ideal, but you will likely know when this is the case – it will probably be suggested and recommended by your vet.
Just be sure that your cat has access to a toilet – whether inside or out, and that the water you provide is clean, fresh, and safe for consumption!
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.