Everyone knows that water is a required component of survival for any animal. But for cats, water is especially important for maintaining kidney function, and overall health. Dehydration is a common problem, especially in older cats, that often sends owners and cats to the veterinary clinic.
In the wild, a feral, hunting cat would receive a very significant portion of their water requirements from the prey they would eat. Did you know that a mouse is 80% water? As you can imagine, a cat who is only offered a dry kibble diet is receiving almost NO water in their diet! Cats that eat dry food will need to drink 10 times more water than those who eat canned or raw food.
So, what can you do to increase your cat's water intake?
Offer canned food. All cats benefit from a high protein diet. Canned foods are higher in protein and water content. While a well balanced dry, kibble diet will supply your cat all its nutritional needs, at least of portion of your cats diet should be canned food. Dry kibble is often less than 10% moisture whereas an average canned food is usually 75% or above
Add water to your cat’s food. Water can be added to canned food to make gravy for cat’s to lick and enjoy. Even for cats that refuse canned food, a small amount of water added to dry kibble will often be tolerated. And some cats LOVE their canned food soupy!
Promote drinking by offering multiple water sources throughout your house. Be sure that water is changed at least daily and bowls are cleaned frequently. Water bowls should be kept a distance away from the litter box, as most cats prefer not to eat and drink in close proximity to their ‘restroom’ area.
Some cats prefer moving water and may benefit from being allowed to drink directly from the faucet or a running pet fountain. If you have a pet fountain, be sure to scrub it out regularly.
Offer bottled water, if your city water has an off taste. Cats, like people, will drink more if the water tastes good.
Make drinking fun! Cats love to play with water! Try dropping an ice cube in the water bowl. Your cat may enjoy batting the cube around and in the process, begin repeatedly licking her wet paw. You can also freeze a little low-sodium chicken broth in plastic ice cube trays and then periodically drop one into the bowl. If you do this, make sure you also have an additional bowl available with just plain water so your cat will have a choice. Some cats prefer very cold water to drink. And some cats LOVE to drink from a dripping faucet.
Below are listed some signs of dehydration. Watch for these especially if you have a senior cat:
Lethargy, General signs of ‘doing poorly’
Loss of appetite
Lack of energy and/or hiding and being antisocial
Dry, unhealthy appearance to the skin and/or fur
Less elastic skin; prolonged skin tent
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Dark, concentrated and/or strong smelling urine
Constipation, straining to defecate, dry and hard stools
An examination at Fox Valley Cat Clinic is the best way to determine if you cat is dehydrated. Also contact your veterinarian if you notice a change in your cat’s water consumption. A notable increase in drinking with no associated food change can indicate kidney, blood sugar, or other health problems.
Can your cat drink too much water daily? NOPE! The more the better!
Fox Valley Cat Clinic