Just like humans, a cat’s body is made primarily of water. For that reason, staying hydrated – by drinking plenty of water – is an important function in keeping your cat healthy. Cats originated from a desert environment and relied on moisture in the food they ate to keep them hydrated. That said, many modern-day cats don’t drink enough water and are in a state of mild dehydration because they eat a lot of dry food.
Cats should drink about 8 ounces of water daily per 8-10 pounds of body weight to stay hydrated. If your kitty isn’t getting enough water, he could become dehydrated, which can eventually lead to serious illness.
Signs of Dehydration in Cats
There are several ways you can check to see if your kitty is well hydrated. First, his skin should have a lot of elasticity. Gently pinch and pull up the skin at the scruff of your cat’s neck. When you release it, the skin should spring back into place. If it doesn’t, there’s a good chance your cat is dehydrated. Dry, flaky skin could also be a good indicator that kitty needs water. And, he should be urinating two to three times a day if he’s well hydrated.
Here are some ways to encourage your cat to drink more water:
Add More Water Bowls
It’s a good idea to provide your cat with more than one source of water – especially if you have more than one kitty in your home. Place water bowls in several areas of your home so your cats have easy access at all times. Also, many cats don’t like drinking water if it’s too close to their food source or the litter box. You may find that simply moving your cat’s water dish and adding additional water bowls will encourage him to drink more.
Consider Feeding Wet Food
One of the easiest ways to increase your kitty’s water intake is through his or her food. Dry cat food only contains about 10% moisture, but wet cat food has about 80% water! It’s a good idea to feed your cat wet (or raw) food as much as possible because it more closely mimics your cat’s natural diet.
Add Water to Your Cat’s Food
If your kitty is a kibble addict and refuses to eat canned or raw cat food, see if she’ll eat her dry food with a bit of water added to it. That said, do not give your cat milk instead of water. It may come as a surprise, but most kitties are actually lactose intolerant – so drinking milk could give them diarrhea, which will actually lead to more dehydration!
Change the Type of Water
Some cats don’t like the taste of chlorinated water or some types of well water. Consider using bottled water, a water filter, or even collecting rainwater. Some cats will be enticed to drink water if you add a bit of chicken broth or the juice from a can of tuna to their water dish. Just a little bit of flavor might be enough to encourage him to drink it. Just be sure to wash the water dish and change the water frequently, especially if you’re adding flavor to it. Provide bowls with different types of water until you discover her preference.
Try a Water Fountain
Many cats prefer to drink from a flowing water source, and absolutely will not drink from a bowl! If your cat likes to drink water from a faucet, consider getting your cat a pet water fountain. The fresh, moving water bubbling from a fountain encourages many cats to drink more!
Test Different Bowls
Experiment with different shapes, sizes, and materials for your cat’s water dishes. Some cats don’t like to see their reflection in a stainless steel bowl and won’t drink from it. Try offering water in ceramic or glass instead. Also, consider getting a low and wide water dish, to prevent “whisker stress,” which happens if your cat’s whiskers touch the edges of his food or water dish, making drinking uncomfortable. Check out this collection of “whisker friendly” cat dishes that your kitty may prefer.
Always pay attention to how much water your kitty is drinking. If it’s not enough, try the steps above to encourage her to drink more. If you suspect your cat is dehydrated, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Dehydration can be very dangerous, and even fatal, if not recognized and treated right away.
What are your cat’s preferences when it comes to drinking water? Tell us below!
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