It is very difficult to determine if your cat is drinking enough water. Let’s be honest, how often do you actually witness your cat drinking from their bowl? Rarely, if ever, right? Their wild cat ancestors got most of their water from their prey, so domestic cats have a very low thirst drive. This paired with no prey can be a challenge for your cat.
Cats need between 5 and 10 ounces of water per day to maintain optimal urinary health and overall well-being. Pets with normal hydration typically have adequate saliva in their mouths, so your finger should slide easily over their gums. If your cat is dehydrated, the gums can feel dry or “tacky” to the touch. (see additional signs of dehydration here). Over-drinking is also an issue as it can be a sign of an underlying ailment such as diabetes or kidney disease. If you are concerned about your cat over or under drinking, contact your veterinarian to schedule an examination.
If you believe your cat is dehydrated, encourage them to take in more water with these tips and tricks:
Clean, Fresh Water: Clean your cat’s water bowl daily to remove any unpleasant odors and potentially harmful bacteria. They should have fresh water in their bowls and glasses daily.
Filtered Water: If your cat isn’t digging your tap water, try filtering it (Brita or a pet-specific bowl-side filter) or switch to bottled water. Tap water can be heavily chlorinated or have too high a concentration of minerals for their finicky palettes.
Wet food: Dry food is only 10% water, while canned is approximately 80 percent water. Obviously your cat will be more sufficiently hydrated on a wet food diet, but if more water is needed, you can add it to the canned food. You can even try feeding baby food to your cat as long as it doesn’t contain onion or garlic. And if wet food isn’t an option, dry kibble can be soaked in water or other liquids. Just be sure your cat finishes the food you put out quickly so it doesn’t spoil.
Increase Water Sources: Placing bowls or cups of water in your cat’s favorite places to hang out around the house makes it easier for them to grab a drink and encourages them to do so. This is especially true if you have multiple cats, as the smell of another cat can discourage them from sharing the same water.
Get Rid of Plastic: Sometimes plastic leaves an undesirable taste behind. Try using glass or stainless steel bowls instead.
Running Water: Studies show cats drink more water when it comes from a fountain. The constant flow keeps them interested. Fountains also purify water, eliminating dangerous toxins and filtering it to provide the best tasting water. Just remember to clean the fountain regularly to prevent unpleasant material from accumulating inside. Water from a faucet captures your cat’s interest as well and is always fresh. So if your kitty likes to drink out of the faucet, turn it on for them a few times each day and let your cat have a little fun.
Ice Cubes: Place a few ice cubes in their water bowl. Some cats find cold water more appealing and adding an ice cube or two to their bowl can make all the difference. Plus, many cats are fascinated by the sound and look of bobbing ice cubes, and will happily go in for a few laps.
Enhance the Flavor: Tuna, clam juice or chicken broth (no onion or garlic) can be added to your cat’s water dish to encourage them to drink more water, but you’ll need to change the water several times per day to maintain freshness.
It’s very important to pay attention to your cat’s average water consumption and take note if that amount happens to change. Any significant increase or decrease in your cat’s daily water intake could be a sign of illness and constitutes a trip to the vet.
If your cat isn’t drinking enough water, try one of these tricks and let us know in the comments if it helped!