Most cats don’t drink enough water. Because cats are so self-sufficient, we assume they know what’s best for their health, and they often do. But I learned the importance of getting a cat to drink more water – with a medical anxiety that a dehydrated cat was involved in. So, is your cat not drinking water or not drinking enough water? We’ve covered what you need to know about drinking water for cats, how to get your cat to drink water, and more:
The cautionary story of a dehydrated cat
A cat who does not drink water can lead to serious complications. A few years ago, my cat, Pugsley, spent a lot of time in the litter box trying hard to pee. Nothing came out. Something told me this wasn’t a good thing. When I picked him up in the middle of him and he cried out in pain, I knew he was in trouble. It was 10 a.m. on Friday night (of course) and I took him to the ambulance. Thank god i did.
Related: How Much Water Should a Cat Drink?
Pugsley’s urethra was blocked with urinary stones – one of the side effects of a cat who doesn’t drink water or a cat who doesn’t drink enough water. They are like a “plug” made of soft, compressible material made up of minerals, cells and slimy protein. The urine builds up and the kidneys cannot remove toxins from the blood or balance fluids and electrolytes. This can lead to death within 24 to 48 hours if not treated immediately.
Fortunately, Pugsley received timely treatment, but the vet told me the best way to prevent him from getting blocked again and possibly having surgery is to keep him hydrated. You better think I was looking for ways to get my cats to drink more water.
However, a clogged urethra isn’t the only medical problem that results from a cat who doesn’t drink water. Just like humans, cat urinary health is directly related to water consumption, so things like urinary tract infections and crystals are less likely in a well-hydrated cat. Digestive health also benefits from increased water intake. I’ve made it my business to try everything I can to get my cats to drink more water.
Is your cat not drinking or not drinking enough water? Avoid a dehydrated cat by getting your cat to drink more water:
1. Switch to a predominantly wet diet
Canned foods simply have more moisture. According to my vet, this is the easiest way to get your cat to drink more water and avoid a dehydrated cat.
If your cat isn’t eating wet food, add water or broth to the dry food and see if he is eating it. If your cat is digging canned food, add water or broth to make it even more moist. Some cats love the soupy texture it creates.
2. Try ice cubes in your cat’s food
It adds moisture and is like a little treat for the cat. The cube takes on the taste of the food, and as your cat licks the cube, it will also get more water. Ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl may work even with a cat who doesn’t drink water. Some cats prefer ice cold water, just like some people.
3. Serve smaller, more frequent meals
The food makes you thirsty, so a cat who doesn’t drink water may drink more water if it is fed more often.
4. Place bowls of water around the house
Make it easy for your cat to get a drink by offering multiple Agua stations throughout the house. A cat who doesn’t drink water may have trouble accessing the water in question. My cat Romeo likes to drink water from my cups. Leaving a few strategically placed drinking glasses lying around can encourage your cat to drink more water, too.
5. Pay attention to the position of the water bowl
A cat that doesn’t drink water may not like the location of its water bowl. Keep your cat’s water bowl away from their litter box. Would you like to drink near your toilet?
6. Make sure the bowls are refilled regularly
Cats like fresh water – and who can blame them? Change the water at least once a day and regularly wash the bowl completely with soap and water to keep it from getting slimy and coarse.
7. Tap the faucet
If your cat is attracted to running water, use this as a great opportunity to get her to drink more! A cat who doesn’t drink water may just need you to turn drinking water into a fun game. Try running the faucet for a few minutes several times a day. For example, incorporate it into your morning and evening routine and create a good bond time … with a long, cold drink of water!
8. Flavor the water
A cat who doesn’t drink water can drink flavored water! You can try to get your cats to drink more water by flavoring it with some tuna juice or chicken broth.
9. Use cat fountains
Many cats like to drink from fountains. It may take you a while to get the hang of it, but once you do, you’ll love it! Fountains are attractive because the running water is interesting for the cat and stays fresh. This is definitely helpful if you forget to change your cat’s bowl every day.
10. Experiment with different types of cat bowls
Cats are fussy about almost everything (big shock!), And you can add drinking bowls to that list. Test some of these (glass, stainless steel, ceramic, or plastic) and you may find that your cat has a particular preference.
The bottom line on what to know about a cat who doesn’t drink water
We can all drink more water, and your cat is no exception. There are many benefits in helping your cat drink more water and will help you avoid the dangerous health problems of a dehydrated cat. More water = more pee = healthier kittens = happier everyone!
Top photo: Konstantin Aksenov / Getty Images