Are you aware if your cat is drinking enough water? Sometimes it can be hard to tell. Cats, by nature, aren't natural water drinkers. Back in their wild days, cats got their hydration from catching and eating prey rather than drinking water. Today, despite often being fed a drier diet, cats maintain these minimal water drinking habits, which can make proper hydration more difficult.
Hydration is essential to your cat's health and overall well-being. Water intake helps your cat flush out toxins, helps support a healthy urinary tract and supports proper organ functioning. Here are our top tips on how to keep your cat drinking enough water.
How Much Water Should My Cat Drink?
It’s important that your cat gets enough water daily. However, how much water your cat needs depends on its weight, the time of year, and their activity level. On average, a cat should drink 60ml of water daily for every kilogram of weight 1.
Cats who eat only dry food will need to consume more water than cats who eat wet food. Dry food contains about 10% moisture, while canned food contains approximately 70-80%. Regardless of the kibble quality, the moisture content remains the same. So, while good quality kibble is beneficial for many other health reasons, it doesn't have adequate moisture for cats.
If you choose not to feed your cat wet food, you must make sure they're getting enough moisture elsewhere. Most cats are not substantial water drinkers, so you may need to get creative!
Tip: One possible test to see if your cat is hydrated is called the scruff test. Gently pinch your cat's skin between the shoulder blades and lift it. If the skin returns to its' normal state instantly, your cat is likely appropriately hydrated. However, if the skin remains to stand, your kitty needs more water.
Of course, this is only a guide and does not serve as a foolproof method for checking hydration status. Another way to tell is by looking at their skin. Is it scaly and dry? If so, this may be an indicator of dehydration.
Water Sources for Cats
Most cats prefer cold water, but not necessarily right from the fridge. The water must also be clean, so you may have to change it a couple of times a day. With whatever dish you serve the water out of, make sure it's rinsed thoroughly of any soap as cats are susceptible to any fragrant or chemical substances. The good idea is to keep the food and water dishes apart. To cats, food is a potential water contaminant, and the two should not be in the same area.
When choosing where to get your water from, the basic tap is always a reliable choice. Although you can use filtered water or bottled water, neither is necessary. Some cats love water straight from the tap. They like their water cold and running. Of course, this only works if you are comfortable with your cat sitting on, or even in, the sink.
Cat Water Fountains
If your cat insists their water needs to be moving and you don’t want to leave the tap on for them, you can always invest in a cat fountain. These fountains are great as the water is filtered, making it clean and cool. Additionally, since the water is consistently flowing, you won't have to be topping it up continually.
Some cats love to drink out of glasses. Ideally, short and heavy glasses with a wide mouth and base—something they can't tip over are best. Lots of cats drink out of glasses. Some dip their paws in and then lick the water off their paw.
Water Bowls for Cats
If your cat isn't fussy, use a regular water dish but stick with stainless steel, ceramic, or glass instead of plastic.; many cats can develop a skin reaction similar to acne on their chin when using plastic bowls. It is also important to make sure that water dishes are placed well away from litter boxes. Once you find a dish you cat likes it's a good idea to have several water dishes placed around your house as it encourages your cat to drink regularly throughout the day. Always ensure the water is clean.
Mix Up Your Cat’s Wet Food with Water
Wet food, is an excellent way for cats to get moisture. However, if extra moisture is needed, try mixing in some water with it. In this case, you don't want to use cold water. Cold food is thought of as spoiled to cats. We recommend using room temperature water or even heated water, if you're adding it to canned food that has been stored in the fridge. It's common practice to use hot water as a means of warming up canned food. You can also add a low sodium chicken or vegetable broth to their canned food or put a few tablespoons in a separate dish.
Supporting Healthy Kidneys and Urinary Tracts
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the most common diseases of older cats. Older cats, and especially those with CKD, may require fluids under the skin regularly. If this is something your cat requires, don't let this scare you. A vet can easily show you how to "Sub Q" your cat. It's effortless to do, and it will help your cat remain comfortable and eating. A dehydrated cat becomes nauseous and stops eating, which in turn dehydrates him even more.
Another issue that can be aggravated by dehydration is increased urine concentration, which can increase the likelihood of urinary crystal development. However, with a preventive mindset and making sure your cat is well-hydrated throughout the day, you can help support your cats’ healthy urinary tract.
Making sure your cat is always hydrated may be a bit of a complicated task to handle at first but find what works best for them! Whether it be many water bowls throughout the house or mixing in additional water with their food - proper hydration is key to support a healthy life for your cat.
1. Cave, N. Water – The Forgotten Nutrient. WSAVA proceedings 2013.