Encouraging Your Cat To Drink

As a species, cats are not very good at drinking sufficiently.  Their thirst drive is not as strong as other animals.  Encouraging water intake in all cats is important, but for those with certain health conditions, it is vital.

Chronic Kidney Disease causes an increased loss of water in the urine.  Cats usually do drink more to compensate but even this is often not enough to prevent dehydration.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease may be caused, or aggravated, by concentrated urine.  Encouraging cats to drink more and therefore produce more dilute urine is key to the management of this condition.

Cats often baffle their owners by not drinking the nice fresh water in the clean bowl that they have put down, but instead drinking out of bowls or puddles in the garden.  So what can we do to increase our cats’ water intake?

Increase water content of the diet

The simplest way to increase the fluid intake of a cat is to feed them wet food instead of dry.  Wet food is normally about 80% moisture, whereas dry food is usually less than 8%.  You could even sneak a bit more in by mixing the food with extra warm water!

Provide running water

Lots of cats prefer to drinking running water, rather than stagnant.  They may obtain this directly from the tap, but a more efficient method is to use a cat water fountain.

Try different types of water

Some cats simply do not like the taste of tap water and prefer rainwater.  Collecting this in clean containers can help to provide this resource for your cat, without risking causing other problems.

Some cats will drink filtered or bottled water, rather than tap water.

Fat tabby cat drinking water outside
Cats acting aggressively towards each other

Give your cat a choice of where to drink

Particularly if you have several cats in the household, your cat may feel unable to drink from their bowl.  Some cats can guard resources like water and stop other cats using them (this is not always obvious to their owner!)

Cats usually don’t like to drink near their food or litter tray so try to space these things out around the home.

Give flavoured water

Using the water from tins of tuna in spring water, or a basic chicken broth (no salt or onions) can flavour the water to make it more palatable to your cat.  Some cats will drink the water that vegetables have been cooked in.  You could also try diluting a bit of cat milk to taste (this is not recommended to feed concentrated).  Oralade is a chicken-flavoured electrolyte solution which is great for preventing dehydration.

Try different water containers

Many cats will prefer ceramic or stainless steel to plastic water dishes.

Cats usually prefer a wide, shallow bowl to drink from so that their whiskers don’t become bent.


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