elderly cat has forgotten how to drink

by Penny
(Aurora, IL U.S.A)

my 16 yr old cat has had trouble drinking without getting water in her nose for past yr. or so. has become progressively worse until she finally became dehydrated and ill. She used to drink some from my glasses of water so I left them out especially for her but she soon developed that same problem in them. I have tried every size bowl and glasses at different heights, even a watering fountain, but she seems to have forgotten how to drink. If she has developed senility how can I help her drink. She shows clear signs of thirst and continues to try without success. She is otherwise out of pain, eats and purrs. Vet says it doesn't seem as though she is in pain and that it should be o.k to let her pass quietly at home with me instead of terrified at the hospital. she sleeps next to my head often nuzzling in my hand and has become affectionately attached to me in the way she was as a kitten. I resorted to using a syringe which she took eagerly at first but has now forgotten how to do that as well tries to lick the middle of it by my fingers instead of the tip. I've been putting alot of water in her food but she is still thirsty. I don't expect her stay much longer but would like to find a way to keep her comfortable at home if i can before choosing euthanasia. leaving the house for any reason has always

terrified her but, the vet visits have always been traumatizing. I would hate for her farewell to be such. Is there anything else I can do to help her drink when she is thirsty? She won't drink from drips or faucets or toilet bowls and have never heard of any one else with this 'nose' problem before, or senility interfering with this particular function.

I am a little puzzled. Has the vet diagnosed her with anything such as diabetes etc? I am not sure from your question whether or not the vet has told you that she is dying or if she has a condition which would make her extra thirsty.

Most cats get most of their water from their food, so the fact that she seems extra thirsty may suggest an under lying illness. If this is the case then your decision to euthanasia may be easier to make at this stage.

You seem to have done everything to try and help her drink. Apart from squirting water down her throat with a syringe i can't see how else you can help her.

It is a very difficult situation for you. If you thought your cat was in distress or pain etc then as you say euthanasia may be the best option. But if this is not the case then all you can do is to provide her with all the home comforts and old cat deserves.

I do feel for you and i hope you find a solution soon

best wishes kate

Comments for elderly cat has forgotten how to drink

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Getting better
by: Anonymous

Just wanted to add a little hope here - my 14yo girl went through this exact thing after a particularly high dose of prednisolone. I was at the point of giving her water with a syringe. We've since got her meds down a little, and she's doing much better. I just watched her take a big, effective drink. It was a bit labored, but she did it.

elderly cat can't drink water
by: Karen

I have devised a makeshift device to help my cat drink. She is turning 19 and has so many medical problems. The water issue is really difficult and I believe it is an issue with multiple causes. Dementia, arthritis in the spine, vision. Always keep the bowl in a well-lit area to start. Even at night I provide a bright light. I took a large family sized plastic salad bowl cutout about a third of the base and flipped it over. She has a glass bowl that fits perfectly on the top. The cut out goes about 1/2 up the side and allows her to get her feet underneath while the large height of the salad bowl means she doesn't have to put her head down to drink. The glass bowl(you could use stainless as well) that sits on top has to be filled to the brim so she can lap to the side and not put her entire face into the bowl. I wish I could include a pic. I will look into it. This is the only thing that has helped her. Even the fountains were useless for this problem.

elderly cat can't drink or hold food in mouth easily.
by: Anonymous

i have the same problem of cat forgetting how to drink and also how to keep food in his mouth. hE'S 20 YEARS OLD and very thin. I've been feeding with a spoon him multiple times of day and night wet food. I've had success with this stuff called hydra-care. I got it from Chewy's. He seems to be able to lick it a little and I sometimes mix it into his wet food. I can't believe that veterinarians don't seem to know about this in cats. It seems to be very common but every vet I've talked to doesn't seem to know squat about it!

My cat seems to have the same problem
by: John

My cat quite often forgets how to lap water. I find tapping the water with my finger in time with the speed of what her lapping would be does get her lapping again. My cat also had trouble seeing because of a dust allergy so I wipe over her eyelids with a soft cloth soaked in saline. That always seems to clear that so I suspect that my cat has trouble working out the level of the water as well as her forgetfulness of how to lap. Have you tried tapping the water fast with your finger. That always gets my cat to drink once I do that?

Millie forgot how to drink
by: Anonymous

I have a 19yr old cat that also seems to have forgotten how to drink. Somebody mentioned that they thought it might be a stroke. This is what I think. Ive been feeding Millie with a syringe for two weeks now. Half the time she throws it right back up. Shes not interested in food at all. She shows much interest in her water bowl, but keeps tumping it over with her paw. Sometimes she hovers over it with her chin in the water, but she can't seem to figure how to drink it. I have a 4 oclock appointment with the vet to put her to sleep. She doesn't deserve to suffer like this anymore. My daughter is a vet tech there, so I know Millie won't be scared. Her and I have raised some really great children together. We are going to miss her so.

Not eating or drinking.
by: Anonymous

Took my healthy neutered 10 year old Male cat to vet for vaccinations. Teeth cleaning was recommended. Under sedation. He hasn't been the same. Developed horizontal nystagmus within 48 hrs, treated with cerenia & steroids by vet. But hasn't eaten or drank on own for 5 days. Have been injecting water in his mouth with syringe several times daily. Expresses interest in his food but seems to have forgotten how to pick up with his mouth & chew it. Even injected food in his mouth. Swallows but wont eat on his own. What to do? Going to different vet tomorrow. Suggestions? All healthy bloodwork. Could sedation have given him stroke?

I'm not alone...
by: ~ Lindi ~

Hi, I don't know how old this post is but thought I'd mention I'm going through something similar and Thank you for sharing your story..My 12yr old Cat Stinkerz has been diagnosed with Kidney Failure, Heart Murmur, spinal arthritis but doesn't seem to be in alot of pain, so I've been trying to hold on giving him the benefit of doubt but this thirst (unable to drink normally) thing worries me =(

Cat suddenly doesn’t know how to drink water?
by: Anonymous

Boy I’m so glad there’s a lot of company here! This happened right in the middle of the night to my 17 year old cat that has been attached to a water bowl lifelong. Suddenly I noticed she dipped her face right in the water, took it up her nose as if she was totally clueless about how to drink? She was recently diagnosed with kidney disease but that drinking of hers remained intact. I brought out different sized bowls she couldn’t aspirate in? Nothing solved it. Many attempts later she is clueless on how to drink from a bowl? We have been using Sub-q’s but that hadn’t affected her consumption. It’s like the skill is totally gone? Gonna try one of those self-watering machines but I doubt it will make any difference?

Re: Wits end...
by: Anonymous

U just totally described my cat. Every word is as though I had written it myself...

Wits End about the Water
by: Anonymous

Hi. I'm not sure how old these posts are, but my 19 year old cat is having the same issue with seeming to forget how to drink water. She did a similar thing with eating at age 17-- I started hand-feeding her with a fork back then, & now it's our daily routine. She had gotten really skinny (down to 5 pounds), & has since regained back up to 7 & 1/2 (she's a small cat to start with).

About 6 months ago, she quit drinking water. I think it was also getting up her nose, tho the vet says she has arthritis (which she's been medicated for daily since the diagnosis 1 & 1/2 years ago).

I take her for regular check-ups, & the vet makes all kinds of suggestions on how to get her to drink-- use flat plates, elevate the water, drinking fountain, ect. Nothing works. I got a feeding syringe which I use maybe 5-10 times with her daily & do sub-cutenous fluids twice a week. It's a bear. My social life is gone. I spend all my spare time cat caretaking, & worry each day at my 8-5 day job that I'll come home to find her gone.

She seems to have such a strong will to live-- though she seems mildly demented. But the only issue with her blood work is early stage kidney failure. It's maddening. She has been such a fantastic companion-- I've had her approximately half my life, & feel that I owe it to her to take care of her until the suffering to quality of life ratio tips. With her arthritis medication, she's still mobile. She purrs & cuddles & recognizes me-- keeps her routines. Sometimes she'll go & stare with her nose to the wall, but mostly she's okay. EXCEPT for the water thing (& food-- can't take a vacation bc of the necessity of hand feeding).

I even tried the rabbit water bottle idea. Nothing works but the feeding syringe.

If anyone else has cracked this issue, I'd love to hear about it. I'm reaching the end of my ability to put my life on hold for her after two years of dedication. But I get super emotional just thinking about the day she'll leave my life (was with me through my college years, deaths of my parents, marriage & divorce-- this cat has been my rock!!!).

Anyhow, sorry to ramble. It's my first time posting something like this. Thanks to everyone here for sharing their stories & struggles.

Cats who can't drink after the Vet
by: Anonymous

I have noticed a pattern in my cats and their not being able to drink water after a Vet visit - (high level of interest and they try to drink but the water just falls out of their mouths or they are only wetting their chins, not using their tongues) - in my experience, it seems to be something to do with anti-nausea injections...perhaps the drug used has an effect on the muscles used for swallowing or makes the mouth and throat sore

I have noticed the same "forgetting how to drink" behaviour in 3 of my cats over the years, most recently Charlie, my 8yr old Black Longhair, diagnosed with cancer last week :(

My love to everyone who's here looking for answers for their kitty's

From London uk

Are they simply more intuitive than we are.
by: Pooters mom

It's been 13 months since my little Pooter boy passed. We continued to struggle with the water until the end. Fortunately we were able to have someone come to the house and after an injection, Pooter fell asleep in my arms one final time. The hole in my heart remains but with a little distance I have had some time to reflect on his behavior in those final months of his life. He was 22 when he died. He had lived a long and healthy life. I have come to believe that he knew he was dying, or whatever it is that animals think of it as they instinctually know that the end is near. We have all heard of animals just wondering off to die. So I think they know and I think they may have been given something humans lack (for the most part) and that is an acceptance to not resist this event. To let it happen. Perhaps the inabilty to drink water, or the lack of desire in some, is their process and is rooted in their instinct to allow it to happen.

So Sad
by: Kathy Bray

My 15-year-old little girl just had a bout of vomiting which unfortunately turned out to be pancreatitis. The really unusual thing is the evening before the vomiting started she drank fine but afterward, since the vet exam and diagnosis the next day, she has forgotten how to drink water. She doesn't seem her old self but she was very sick and on the med given to stop the vomiting as well as an oral pain med.
Thinking this possibly was a result of the medication I tried reducing the pain med and waiting longer to give the antiemetic. It's just gone. The instinct to know how to get the water into her mouth using her tongue. With a lot of coaxing, encouragement and even by imitation I have on a couple occasions gotten her to try but I believe the attempt was more in the manner a dog would use than a cat.
She is just so confused it is absolutely heartbreaking. I truly believe some sort of a brain event happened possibly during the acute phase of the pancreatic attack. The rest of her blood work was perfect and the vets are completely dumbfounded.
She has been a perfect companion all these years and it is nearly impossible to imagine life without her but I will not let her live with water coming from an eyedropper waiting for the next dose of pain medication.
My heart and prayers go out to all those of you who have the misfortune to experience your pet go thru such a bewildering experience.

This seems more frequent then I thought
by: Anonymous

My cat does the same thing as almost every comment on this thread. I've tried most of the things people have said except sub-q fluids. It does seem like dimentia, but why? It started over night about 2 weeks ago, but before that she had a completely healthy appetite and could drink fine. I was wondering if a stroke may have caused her to have dementia problem. She is 19 now and a bit ,but not a lot over weight. Everything I've read looks like it could be kidney failure, but not sure. Problem also is she's really stubborn and now won't eat the canned food with water in it either now to the point that i tried most regular options of food and drink and she's not eating or drinking practically anything. Like someone said above she doesn't seem in pain,...i was wondering off it could be spacial problems due to blindness??? she also stays in the bathroom All day too. So presently I have bowls of hard food, wet food (2 kinds), water. Milk, cat milk, treats , ham lunchmeat, and more all laid out. She isn't touching any of them as anymore. Not sure what too do next but the vet wants about 800 dollars just to tell me officially that she had kidney failure, senior dimentia, dehydration, etc. Which I already know. They don't bill either. They want cash on the spot or they do nothing. I wonder now seeing that it is a common problem with older cats, an d if anyone has a solid answer.

going through the same ...
by: Anonymous

and I've been thinking about trying a rabbit's water bottle?

Has anyone else tried this?

My cat is doing this too
by: Anonymous

My 15-year-old kitty, Canaan, has this exact same problem. She tries and tries to drink but it gets up her nose and she is almost afraid now. I'm adding water to her food but it's heartbreaking to watch. Just came out of the blue. She's also on Sub-Q fluids every day now.

Here is something to try
by: Pooters Mom

Same problem with my declining 21-year-old kitty. Started him on Sub Q fluids yesterday. Its helping him feel better, but he still feels thirsty but is very reluctant to drink. We have a bird bath moved temporarily on the bathroom floor. Then, he only drinks if there is about a half inch of water and then only the water that covers my fingers.

So, another thing I have had a little success with is I got a little glass measuring cup that has the small spout. I tip the cup to his face (holding a towel under it to catch water that may flow out through the spout). This lets his lower lip and tongue touch the water with very little danger his nose will get near it. He has actually had several very lengthy drinks of water over the last two days with this.

I love my little Pooter kitty. I don't have much time left with him. He still seems to get some enjoyment with favorite foods and lots of cuddles. I don't think he is ready to go yet. I pray I recognize when he is.

Help for elderly cat
by: Anonymous

I am going through the EXACT same thing with my cat. Can you give sub q fluids at home? At first I was terrified but it takes all of ten minutes and my cat doesn't mind. She's still thirsty sometimes if you add tuna water or chicken broth it may help. I put treats in the water. Sometimes this helps sometimes it doesn't. Also I have a Foubtain that makes the sound of running water it's got two water falls on each side. Lastly they have fake milk for cats which may entice your sweet cat.
Good luck.

by: duchess

I thought I was the only one with this problem. Been siiting all night my my Doreen who's 15 trying to teach her how to lick the water. With no success. I know she is not dehydrated, all blood tests came back normal last night. She does have dementia so was assuming she had forgotten how to drink. Going to try putting water with her food.

Oh thank you....
by: Anonymous

Not sure if it really is the issue.. but not being able to drink right was definitely going on. Thank you google search and thank you for the broth idea. She seems to be at least satisfied now... time will tell

Slanted glass helps - Cat lapping 28 May 2013
by: Julie - UK

All interesting posts. Thank you. My Siamese cat Jynx can't lap water either. She is 13 years. I use a plastic syringe sometimes to help her and I have found some joke slanted glasses which help her as she is not getting water up her nose when she drinks out of one. Good luck :)

mine, too
by: Anonymous

4/11/13: My 18y.o. cat has started to have the same issue; she tries to drink but gets it up her nose. I've had some success tilting a cup for her so that the edge of the cup prevents her from sticking her head in so far that her nose goes under, but obviously I can't be around at all times to help her. Anyone who's found a solution to this, it would be so appreciated!

Same problem
by: Anonymous

Again, I don't know the age of this thread, but my cat has the same problem. No, she doesn't have a brain tumour, but at 20, and approaching the end of her life, she certainly has kidney problems. She is thirsty, she meaiows for water, but somehow gets confused about the lapping, and sneezes into the water repeatedly, often giving up. I also have been trying with various kinds of water bowl, tipping the bowl and also offering water in a glass, because she has always liked this, but to no avail. I feel it is confusion, inability to gauge the distance, perhaps. Cats don't scoop water up like dogs, they dip their tongues into the water a certain depth. It is deeply frustrating, and I sympathise with all other cat owners with this problem.

same issue new solution?
by: pam

Hi, I don't know when these comments were posted, today is 12/10/12. My cat is approx 15ys old. She has beginning crf. For the past yr she began meowing a lot, then really meowing, behavior changes, then circling. She ended up being diagnosed with an intracranial meningioma (brain tumor deep inside the head). It was surgically removed. Since then, she has not been able to drink water. Same thing as the others. She's thirsty, but snorts water up her nose and gives up. I started making chicken broth. Take the gizzards and maybe a leg, boil, cool, and then more water, poor into ice cube trays. I warm them in a sauce pan. This worked at first, but now I have to add a small amount of half and half. SubQ fluids will help too. I also add lots of water to her food and feed her about 4-5 x's a day.

Same Problem
by: Anonymous

My elderly cat also can't drink water. She can't lap it; she puts her nose in the bowl and snorts water, and gives up. She also drools a lot. My vet told me that she probably has a tumor in her lower jaw; she can feel a bone growth. The cat also has liver and kidney disease and is on subcutaneous fluid. She has been trying to drink for days, and crying over the bowls and sitting in the bathtub. But, strangely, I found out she can drink the fluid out of chunky cat food and she can chew a little bit of dry cat food. So today after hours of her whining, I almost called the vet to set up an appointment to euthanize her. But instead, I gave her expensive broth filled cat food, and then twice filled the remains with tap water, mixing the cat food for flavor. She drank all three bowls. Why she can drink broth mixed with cat food and not water, I can't say. It may not work permanently, but it's working now.

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