Drinking enough water is as important to our feline friends as it is for us. Proper hydration supports cat’s organs, facilitates digestion, lubricates joints, helps flush waste products, and is in general vital for many different biological functions. But how to increase water intake for fussy cat drinkers?
Some cats just don’t like drinking water unless their water bowl is up to their standards – some like wide bowls that don’t touch their whiskers, others prefer very shallow dishes, and some demand running water. Whatever your cat’s preferences, know that with the right bowl, you can encourage her to drink more. To help you in your search for the best water bowl, we read hundreds of reviews, tested dozens of products and finally, came up with a top 10 water bowls for cats. Read on to get your kitty the water dish she deserves.
Best Water Bowl for Cats Buying Guide & FAQ
Drinking enough water is essential for feline’s health, but some cats appear to have missed the memo. They either drink too little or barely any water at all – if that’s your cat, you know the struggle of making a stubborn furry animal do something she doesn’t want. Luckily, a right cat water dish can turn things around and help you keep your kitty healthy, happy fand hydrated. The only problem? How to pick the right watering bowl.
With so many different products on the market, it’s easy to get lost in a huddle and feel confused about what’s best for felines. There are simple, traditional kitten bowls, cat water fountains, raised water bowls for cats and just so many different products, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed.
But that’s why we’re here – to help you find the best of the best for your pet. In this buying guide, we’ll discuss all different types of water containers for cats, what to consider when looking to purchase, and indeed, what makes a good cat bowl. Make sure you also read our answers to commonly asked questions, as they can help you make a truly informed purchase.
What To Consider When Buying Water Bowl for Cats
To get a good water bowl for your kitty, you need to think about a few things:
- What your pet likes and what he doesn’t like
- The quality of the bowl
- Your own convenience
- Cat’s preferences
So let’s start with your cat’s likes and dislikes. If you’ve noticed your cat prefers drinking from wider dishes, make sure you take that into account when making a purchase. Some cats hate when their whiskers touch things, which is why they may drink only from wide bowls. On the other hand, if you’ve noticed your kitty likes to push things around, including his water bowl, it’s best to avoid lightweight watering bowls to prevent spillage and overall mess.
What about your cat’s personal preferences? Like people, some animals have quirky preferences, and that should be okay. For instance, you may purchase a great-quality water bowl that you love the look of, but your cat may – well, hate it. Things like this happen, and it’s not wise to force an animal to change its habits. So, if your kitty is a creature of habit, make sure his new water dish looks similar to the old one – this should make the switch easier.
- Quality of the product
It’s important to get a watering bowl of good-quality. The material should be long-lasting, safe for cats and easy to clean. It’s never a good idea to buy a water dish that’s not safe for animals, such as BPA-containing plastic or materials that quickly absorb odors and are bacteria-friendly.
The general advice is to look for materials that are durable and pet-friendly, such as stainless steel, ceramic or BPA-free siplastic.
- Your own convenience
And finally, think about your own convenience, meaning money and maintenance. Sure, it’s not hard to find a great-quality cat bowl that looks fantastic and fits your decor and your feline companion likes – but does it fit your budget? If the watering bowl costs more than you’re willing or able to spend, simply look further – it’s absolutely possible to find a great water dish that you and your cat will love and that also fits your budget.
Also think about cleaning – it’s a huge bonus if the bowl can be washed in a dishwasher (which is why most of the reviewed cat water bowls in this article are dishwasher safe), but it’s not an absolute must. Ultimately, you want a kitten bowl that is easy to clean, so if all it takes is a little soap and water to make it sparkle, that’s ok. However, if you hate manual washing, it’s wise to pick the dishwasher-safe product so your kitty can always have clean water.
Different Types of Water Bowls for Cats
There are four main types of water bowls for cats: traditional, self-filling (gravity waterer), cat water fountains and raised bowls.
- Traditional cat water dishes
Simple, no-frills water bowls, or traditional cat water bowls are the most common types of kitty bowls. They’re affordable, easy to clean and safe to use (though this depends on the material). Many cats are perfectly ok with plain water bowls and will happily drink from them – however, there will always be those finicky felines who prefer their water with a little bit more jazz. For instance, some cats will simply refuse to drink from a dish of standing water if it’s not perfectly fresh and clean. If that’s your kitty, move on to one of the following water bowl types.
- Self-filling (gravity) water bowls
If you hate re-filling your cat’s water bowl, or you’re often away from home, a self-filling waterer is an excellent choice. These waterers are super-convenient for you and your pet, as the bowl keeps re-filling itself as your cat drinks. This means more time for you, and more clean water for your cat. Granted, it’s not fresh water that’s getting topped up, but at least it’s cleaner than the water that’s been sitting in a bowl all day. Plus, some waterers have filtration systems that actually make water cleaner, safer and overall better.
- Cat water fountains
Some cats refuse to drink standing water no matter how fresh. This is actually understandable, as felines instinctively know that stagnant water in the wild comes with risks (bacteria, infections, poison, etc.). These kitties will avoid still water like the plague but will gladly drink from taps and other running-water places. Clearly, you can’t always run to the bathroom to turn on the water for your thirsty cat – it’s not practical and it’s not comfortable for your cat. But getting him a cat water fountain? Probably the best idea.
These waterers are usually driven by small electric motors that keep the water circulating. Some cat water fountains contain filters to keep the water as clean and fresh as possible and some can even cool the water – perfect for those scorching hot summer months. If you’re interested in these systems, check out our recommendations for the top rated cat water fountains.
- Raised (elevated) cat water bowls
An elevated cat bowl is not a bowl type per se, as both traditional and self-filling waterers can be elevated, but don’t have to. Regardless, it’s good to mention raised cat water bowls as well, as they’re particularly helpful for kitties with certain health issues.
If your feline friend is an elder or has joint pain, a raised cat bowl can make him more comfortable while drinking. Because the cat doesn’t have to crouch down while drinking from a raised water dish, joints and bones are spared the strain and pressure. Furthermore, elevated waterers improve digestion as they’re the height of your cat’s chest while standing.
Q: How long can a cat go without drinking water?
A: Although cats have evolved to be thirst-tolerant, hydration is of utmost importance to feline’s health. As mentioned, being properly hydrated is crucial to cat’s various biological functions, so encouraging your kitty to drink more water is always a good idea.
But what happens when a cat doesn’t drink any water for days? Maybe you found a stray kitten and don’ know how long it’s been since she had any water, or maybe your cat run away and you’re not sure if you should visit the vet. In any case, how long can a feline go without drinking water?
Unsurprisingly, the answer is not straightforward. The water requirement of a cat depends on many factors, including:
- Its size: smaller cats require less water than bigger cats,
- Its age: some younger, more active cats may require more water than elder cats;
- Its health problems: diabetic cats require more water than healthy felines,
- Its diet: cats eating only dry food require much more water than those eating wet/moist food.
As you can see, how long a cat can go without water depends on a wide array of factors, but since water is the most important thing when it comes to cat health (it’s even more important than food when it comes to basic body functions!), it’s obvious a feline can’t live without any water longer than a few days.
Experts agree cats can survive for a maximum of several days -four to five – without drinking any water, after which they will experience hepatic failure and die.
Q: What is the best material for water bowl for cats?
A: When trying to find the best water bowl for your cat, it’s crucial to consider the material the container is made from. Most cat bowls are either made from plastic, metal or ceramic.
- Pros: cheap and convenient, plastic bowls are easy to come by and use. They can be wide and large, narrow and small and everything in between, so it’s easy to find the one your cat prefers. Some are sturdy and fixed, others are collapsible and easy to take with you on the travels. Since they’re the most affordable of the three, it’s not too much of a waste to try a few different bowls to find the one your cat loves the most.
- Cons: some plastic water bowls are not safe for long-term use as they can crack easily and allow bacteria to grow, and some can even start to degrade after a while. This can cause cat rashes and allergies. Also, most cheap plastic bowls start absorbing odor over time, which can discourage your kitty from drinking. Therefore, if you’re looking for a plastic water bowl, make sure it’s high-quality, BPA-free and food grade plastic/silicone.
- Pros: metal bowls are usually made from stainless steel which makes them high-quality, safe, easy to clean (most are dishwasher safe) and comfortable to drink from (they don’t absorb odors!). Most cat bowls on the market are made from stainless steel, so finding the one your kitty loves shouldn’t be a problem.
- Cons: some metal bowls are very lightweight which makes them easy to knock over. However, this entirely depends upon the model of the bowl, as some have anti-slip feet and are quite sturdy.
- Pros: like a stainless steel bowl, a ceramic dish is perfectly safe, of great quality and is easy to clean. Another plus is that these water dishes are a bit heavier than metal bowls, which makes them more difficult to knock over. For these reasons, a huge number of cat water bowls on the market are made from ceramic, so finding your and your cat’s favorite should be easy.
- Cons: like plastic bowls, ceramic dishes can also crack and develop places that allow bacteria to grow. Also, some glazed ceramic bowls may contain lead and other harmful compounds, but it’s important to note that most modern ceramic dishes are perfectly safe.
Q: What are the safest cat water bowls?
A: As you can see above, all cat water bowls have their own pros and cons. However, it’s clear that some waterers are safer than others. Generally speaking, if you’re looking for the safest cat water bowl, you want to focus on either stainless steel bowls or ceramic bowls.
Stainless steel water dish is unbreakable, super-easy to clean thoroughly, and doesn’t absorb odors. Likewise, a ceramic water bowl is easy to clean, it doesn’t absorb smells and is difficult to knock over. Good-quality plastic bowls are also safe if they’re made from food-grade plastic, but it’s best to replace them every few months or so.
The verdict? The safest cat water bowls are stainless steel and most ceramic dishes.
Q: What is whisker fatigue?
A: While whisker fatigue may sound like something made up, we assure you it’s a real condition that affects many cats. To explain it, let’s talk about cat whiskers first.
The long, thick hairs growing on your cat’s face are not there to make your pet look cute (though we must admit, they do add to feline’s overall adorableness); they have a real, important function. Equipped with a special organ called proprioceptor, the whisker’s role is to detect changes in the outer environment, which is what allows your cat to respond even to the slightest vibrational changes in the air and hunt and move in the dark.
Because they’re so sensitive, whiskers can get fatigued or stressed when over-exposed to stimuli. So, if your cat’s whisker hairs are frequently touched involuntarily, such as during the time she eats and drinks from the narrow bowl, she can become over-stressed, irritated and even lose her appetite.
To prevent whisker fatigue, get your cat wide and shallow food and water bowls that do not touch her whiskers.
Q: Where should I place my cat’s water bowl?
A: To encourage your kitty to drink more water, water dish placement should be considered. In the wild, cats like to eat and drink in peace, with a clear view of their surroundings. Usually, food and water are not right next to each other, meaning cats tend to walk some distance in order to get to a body of water they can drink from. You can try to mimic these tendencies in your own home and:
- Place a water bowl in the open to ensure your kitty can see what’s happening around her (especially important if you own other pets)
- Place the bowl away from food dish to make your feline companion act as she would in nature.
Of course, all cats are different, and to find what works best for your pet, you should experiment a little. Some cats absolutely love to have food and water right next to each other, in which case double bowls are a way to go. Whatever you do, make sure the water bowl is:
- In a quiet space
- Far away from the litter tray.
Q: How often should I change my cat’s water bowl?
A: If given a chance to drink from a bowl containing fresh water and a bowl containing stale water, all cats would choose the fresh water – no exceptions. Therefore, to encourage your kitty to drink more water, it’s crucial to change her water bowl regularly.
In general, it’s best to change a pet’s water dish two to three times a day, but if you don’t have the time to do that, once a day is also good enough. It’s also advisable to clean your cat’s water bowl every day – if the bowl is not dishwasher safe, soap and hot water work fine.
Of course, if your kitty has its own self-filling waterer or a water fountain, there’s no need to change the water that frequently, especially if the system has some form of a water filter. In that case, changing the water every couple of days is more than enough.
Q: What size water bowl should I buy?
A: The size of your cat’s water bowl depends on his size – generally speaking, the bigger the cat, the bigger the bowl should be. However, it’s always a good idea to buy wide and shallow water bowls, to avoid whisker stress.
Keeping that in mind, here are some general guidelines:
- Buy a water dish that can hold enough water for your kitty to drink for 24 hours
- Most cats drink between 3.5–4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day (that’s about half an average bottle of water for a 10-pound cat), so calculate the right size for your pet specifically
- If you have two cats but one water bowl, make sure it can hold enough fluid for both of them.