Kitties are similar to most mammals in terms of the water content of their bodies – they are made up of at least 60% water! This means that they simply must get a lot of water on board every day to keep themselves healthy and fend off dehydration. If you have a little kitten or a senior moggy, you need to be especially worried about your cat not drinking water as they are at the highest risk of dehydration. Read on to find out what you can do to help.
Finding Out Why Your Cat Won’t Drink Water
If your kitty has very suddenly stopped drinking water and has other symptoms such as a lack of appetite, listlessness, or seems to be in pain, you must take them to your vet to get checked out.
However, don’t expect to see a healthy cat gulping down water in the same way as a dog. Dogs will happily lap up water from anywhere including dirty puddles. Cats are a lot fussier! In fact, they can be incredibly choosy about the type of water that they drink and where they drink it from! You may have to put some effort into finding what suits them. Here are some possibilities that you could investigate.
They don’t like the water bowl
Plastic water bowls in particular can be very unpopular with cats! Try a metallic or ceramic bowl instead. The shape and size of the bowl is also important. They prefer larger bowls because they don’t like the feeling of their whiskers brushing against the bowl as they drink. It is highly distracting!
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They don’t like where the water bowl is
Cats are very sensitive to what is going on around them when they are eating and drinking. Is the water bowl in a noisy area or in a place that is used as a thoroughfare in your home? Try locating it in a more private area.
They don’t like still water
In the wild, a cat would avoid still water because it is most likely to contain harmful organisms that could make them ill. It also does not taste great. Given the choice, a cat would prefer to drink from running water. This is why many cat owners have a lot of success with cat water fountains. The water is constantly refreshed and aerated after passing through filters, so it tastes great!
How to Make Cat Drink Water
If you have tried out different bowls and a water fountain and still had no success, it may be time to try something new. Perhaps your kitty simply does not like the taste of your tap water?
You could try giving them bottled water or using a filter jug to remove odors and tastes from the water. Keep it in the fridge so that it is always chilled. There are a few other things that you can do to make the water more palatable. Temperature is important. Cats are unlikely to drink lukewarm water that has been hanging around all day. Make sure that you change the water at least four times a day. Add some ice cubes each time you change it and the temperature will remain cool for a few hours.
Some owners have had a lot of success with adding flavors to the water. The chicken broth seems to be a firm favorite with cats but many also love the taste of tuna juice. Obviously, this will need to be changed very frequently to prevent bacteria and insects from being attracted to the water bowl.
Why not combine flavor with ice cubes? Make your own kitty ice cube treats by combining some chicken broth or tuna juice from a can of tuna with some water and freezing it overnight in ice cube molds. When you tip them out into your cat’s water bowl they will gradually melt and give off an irresistible odor.
Cats That Must Drink Water
Dehydration is a serious health issue for all cats but there are some that can suffer more than most. Long-term mild dehydration can trigger kidney problems so this is an issue that you need to tackle.
A cat that has been suffering from vomiting and/or diarrhea is especially prone to dehydration and it is vital that you get some water into them. However, if they have been ill for more than a day or two you must take them to your vet because they may need specialist treatment.
If you have a cat that has already been diagnosed with a chronic health condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, it is important that you talk to your vet about how you can make sure that they are getting enough fluid.
Cats that are fed exclusively dried food need to be watched carefully as they are especially at risk of dehydration. They will only be taking in around 40 ml of water in their food but they need at least 200 ml of water a day. Very few cats manage to drink that volume of water.
Finally, you should be more concerned if your kitten won’t drink water or if your elderly cat is refusing to drink. These age groups are more vulnerable when it comes to dehydration.
Keeping a Cat Hydrated
So, how much water does your cat need? As a rough guide, they should take in the same amount of water (in milliliters) as the kilocalories they eat each day.
The obvious option is to switch to wet cat food. It can contain as much as 80% water. Cats are used to taking in water with their food rather than drinking water. They evolved from desert mammals who ate the whole body of small prey and that provided plenty of moisture.
Don’t make any sudden changes as this can result in stomach upsets and stress. Make a gradual change by mixing a little wet food with your cat’s usual food. Then, gradually increase that amount of wet food and decrease the dried food until they are on an entirely wet diet.
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