It’s a common misconception that cats can survive with drinking little to no water - just like us, or any other pet, our cats need to drink enough water to stay hydrated. Yet, despite their need to drink water, many cats don’t really enjoy drinking water, and tend not to drink sufficient water on a daily basis.
If your cat doesn’t drink enough water, it could potentially lead to a whole host of problems associated with dehydration. These include diarrhea, vomiting, heat stroke, urinary diseases and kidney problems - which will affect your cat’s quality of life in the long term. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that our cats stay hydrated to keep them healthy!
Getting your cat to drink enough water:
1. Running water
The best way to encourage your cat to drink more water is by switching to a water fountain or allowing them to drink running water from the tap. Cats are often suspicious of still, unmoving water as they instinctively link it to contaminated water. A water fountain appeals to your cat’s sense of hearing (the trickling water) and also excites him when he sees the water moving - attracting him to lap up the moving water.
2. Water bowl/water fountain location
Many cat owners put their cat’s water bowls together with their food bowl in a designated “cat eating and drinking area”. Yet, this is what often discourages cats from drinking, as they do not like their water to smell like their food and they don’t want their food to contaminate their water. Cats specifically want to keep their food and water separate from each other, so it’s important to place them away from one another.
Cats also don’t enjoy feeling vulnerable - which occurs when their water source is placed against the wall or in a corner. Drinking from a bowl placed against the wall would mean leaving their backs exposed, and they would be worried about sneak attacks from behind. Place your cat’s water bowl or fountain in a spot where they are able to take in their surroundings while drinking, so they won’t avoid drinking just to feel secure!
3. Provide more water bowls around the house
Just as bringing a water bottle along with us encourages us to drink more water, having more water bowls around the house will similarly encourage our cats to drink up! This is especially applicable if you have more than one cat living in your home, as some finicky cats don’t like sharing their water. Place the water bowls around your cat’s usual lounging areas, so that he or she can hydrate after a little activity!
4. Drinking bowl size and shape
Most cats prefer drinking from a wider, shallower bowl or dish. This is because of their whiskers sensitivity, which will get wet and squashed if their water bowl is deep or narrow. It’s also advisable to get an elevated water bowl, rather than simply placing the bowl on the floor, as they would have to bend down and expose a large area of their neck (making them feel vulnerable). Water bowls can also be placed at an inclination angle of about 15 degrees, which improves their posture when they lap up their water.
5. Fresh water
Cats are sensitive to the water you provide them, from the taste to the smell and dirt that might fall into their water bowls. Clean your cat’s water dish at least once a day, and change out the ‘old’ water for fresh water. Scrub your cat’s water dish properly, removing any unpleasant smells or bacteria that has accumulated inside. This also gets rid of any dirt and unwanted debris that might fall in or be blown in by the wind, or even left by your cat if he or she enjoys playing with the water with their paws.
Image Credits: RawPixel
6. Add wet food into your cat’s daily diet
Being hydrated doesn’t mean only drinking plain water, wet food is also an excellent source of liquid to obtain hydration. Wet canned food has between 75% to 85% of water (as compared to dry food which typically has at most 10% water) - and is a great way for cats to stay hydrated. Instinctively, cats have always been used to getting their water from their food, so adding wet food into your cat’s daily diet is a great way to help with their water intake! You can also add in extra water or unsalted broth together with your cat’s food. It’s important to note though, that wet food does not completely replace your cat’s water intake, but just helps to increase the overall water consumption to prevent dehydration!
7. Bonus Hack: Ice Cubes
Cats enjoy looking at and playing with moving objects - adding in ice cubes into their water source definitely spices things up (or should we say, chills things up?!). The floating ice cubes will be a source of excitement for your cats, as they observe the bobbing effect of the ice cubes in their water. On days when your cat is simply refusing to drink any water, try out this hack to entice them to hydrate! .
Image Credits: Jon DeJong
Ultimately, one key thing to note is that you should never try to force your cats to drink water (be it through forcing their head into the water bowl, or syringing them unless absolutely necessary). Cats will form negative associations with forceful water feeding, and is likely to further discourage them from drinking water in the future. We hope these tips will be useful in getting your cat to drink more water! Try out as many options as you can to get your cat to drink water regularly, to ensure that our cat stays hydrated, but most importantly healthy!