A tip on getting your cats to drink more water

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Cats often do not drink enough water to stay as hydrated as they should be. This is because cats in the wild would get a lot of moisture from eating raw prey, but cats who are fed dry kibble are not getting that valuable hydration from their food. Cats don’t generally have a strong thirst drive, as they have evolved to get the moisture they need from the prey that they eat. A mouse’s composition is close to 80% moisture. A tiger’s meal consists of meat, bone, organs and moisture. If they encounter a stream, they might have a drink, but they don’t have to seek out a water source to get the moisture they need to survive. A house cat is built the same way as a tiger, with a body that’s built to eat a meal of meat, bones, organs and moisture. (Please see the blog entry about the value of feeding raw food, especially to cats) Kidneys are organs that are especially vulnerable to disease in cats, and they need that extra hydration to help their kidneys  and their urinary tracts to be healthy, especially as they age. Canned food can actually go a long way towards helping them stay hydrated, especially if you add a few teaspoons of warm water to soup it up (kitties often like “gravy” like this, (bone briths can be useful for this as well) and the warmth helps to make wet food that’s coming out of the fridge seem fresher). However, it would be good to get them to drink more on their own. Many cats like to drink from faucets. I know there are many folks out there that leave a little water running in the bathroom, just for the cats to drink. This is of course could be very wasteful. For those cats, please consider a drinking fountain for pets that recirculates and filters the water.

Another nifty tip is one that we stumbled upon entirely by accident. One day Mike was drinking water from a glass down in our basement TV room, and Zoe kitty suddenly was very interested in what was in the glass. So, he showed it to her and she clearly wanted some – he put it down on the floor for her to check out. She drank about half the glass. We ended up refilling it and leaving it on the floor in the basement where it was, and every day she drank quite a bit from that glass. I had been trying to get her to drink more (she was about 20 years old, so I wanted her to drink), and though I thought it was silly, I figured “whatever works!” When she passed and Otis came to us, we set him up with a drinking glass on his favorite mantle, and it worked like a charm.
We have found that all cats tend to drink better if you move their water glass away from their food.  We believe that cats might drink better from glass or ceramic bowls than from metal, though our cats eat well from stainless bowls. Please note that plastic can sometimes be the source of skin irritation for cats around the mouth.  I have water bowls downstairs and upstairs and one in the bathroom, as well as one next to the food bowl

If you’re looking to get your cats to drink more, get a glass or ceramic bowl and put it in another area of the house than where the food bowls are, and let me know if you find that this works for your cats as well. Have any other tips for getting your cat (or dog) to drink more? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

3 Responses to “A tip on getting your cats to drink more water”

  1. Sue

    I have plastic bowls of various kinds in various rooms, and a Corningware casserole dish in the kitchen. I catch my cats drinking out of the various bowls. I think they appreciate the variety, and having water handy when they get thirsty.

  2. Christine Mason

    On a very personal note, thanks for the information! We brought our cat, Floyd, home from a Saturday through Monday hospital stay while he was being treated for FLUTD. We are very concerned with helping him fully recover stay well, The doctors are concerned that Floyd may have sustained kidney damage, and key part of kidney health is, of course, drinking plenty of water. Thanks for the ideas. I am sure we will try them all. Perhaps we will wind up rotating different ways of providing water to keep Floyd, and our two other kitties, interested.

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