Does your cat drink enough water?
Would investing in a water fountain entice kitty to drink more water? Those are some of the questions we are going to look at today.
It should not be a surprise that getting cats to drink more water can be challenging. Cats are inherently desert hunters, and historically, they would have gotten most of their water from their prey such as mice or other rodents.
As more and more felines are inside-only cats, they are not getting their much-needed water from the prey. We humans need to make sure they stay hydrated to avoid dehydration and its potential detrimental side-effects.
How do we know if our cats are drinking enough water? Typically, cats need between 3.5–4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight per day.
How much water does your cat need?
If you have a 10-pound cat, they should consume between 7–9 ounces of water – about half an average bottle of water. Keep in mind, the keyword here is consuming, not drinking, as cats don’t need to get all their water just from drinking.
A can of wet food is about 70–80% water. So, if your cat is eating wet food, they might get between 3.85–4.4 ounces of water from a single can (an average 5.5 once can). That’s half their daily water right there. But they still need the other half to keep in optimal health.
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There are lots of tips and tricks to getting cats to drink more water. They include:
- Using ceramic or stainless-steel water bowls, not plastic, that can retain bacteria and smells from detergent.
- Clean and refill the bowl every day.
- Adding some flavor like tuna juice (no onions or garlic flavorings though.
- Filling the water bowl to the same level.
- Making sure the depth and width of the water bowl fits your kitty.
- Try giving your cat bottled or filtered water. Some tap water is treated with fluoride, which might taste – or smell – unpleasant to your cat.
- The water in your cat’s bowl may taste different depending on the material it’s made from, or the source of the water itself. Just like many of us finicky humans might prefer to drink from plastic, ceramic, or glass, your cat may prefer ceramic or stainless steel.
Additionally, cats may not like it when their water bowl is next to their food.
In the wild, they would not eat prey near water. First of all, the prey would pollute the water, and make it undrinkable, and secondly, bland, odorless water next to a delicious meal is not something cats find appetizing.
Why does my cat paw at the water bowl?
Cats have fairly poor depth perception as well as a blind spot right in front of their nose. This can make it difficult for them to see where the water in the bowl actually starts. Your cat may be dipping his paw in to test the water level.
If kitty does not like the shape of the water bowl, she may prefer licking her paws to drinking out of the water bowl.
If your cat does not drink enough water, remember cats often dislike deep, narrow food and water bowls which can push painfully back on their whiskers when they eat or drink.
Whiskers are sensitive, and cats don’t like to squish them. If the water bowl has a small diameter and the cat’s whiskers touch the sides when she tries to get a drink, she may opt to dip water out with her paw instead. A flat, shallow dish for water might encourage her to use her tongue.
Other reasons your cat may paw at the water include:
- Your cat may be trying to make sense of her environment
- Looking out for predators
- Or may simply be playing with the water
Some cats like running water
Does your cat drink enough water. You may be surprised. Some cats love drinking running water. They’ll run to the sink or jump in the bathtub, or stick their head in the toilet.
If your cat prefers drinking from a running faucet, it might be because they can hear the running water better than they can see the still water in the bowl.
Cats don’t like anything touching their whiskers, as those long facial whiskers are extremely sensitive, so much so they can even detect slight changes in the breeze. Whiskers also help with depth perception, as they let them know how wide an opening, like a doorway is.
Cats are subject to what is called ‘whisker stress’ when pressure is put on their whiskers while they eat or drink because these long facial hairs are touching the side of the bowl.
Still, other cats prefer to drink aerated water directly from the tap, a fountain, or even the toilet. Cats who splash their water before drinking may, in fact, be attempting to achieve a similar effect.
Why water fountains are good for cats
To summarize: here’s why a water fountain is a good investment for your cat.
- Cats do not like drinking from stagnant water sources.
- Cats are very cautious of what they ingest.
- Cats have a relatively low thirst drive.
Here’s a checklist of some things you should look for when purchasing your water fountain:
- They are ceramic.
- They have wide drinking surfaces.
- Their constant water flow inhibits bacterial growth.
- Their filters remove bad tastes and odors.
Once you’ve chosen a water fountain, read the instructions and set it up in a prominent area of your home. Cats in the wild drag their food away from their water source, so it’s best to set the fountain up across the room from any food dishes.
Don’t remove your cat’s previous water source right away. Cats sometimes time to get used to something new, and it’s important that your cat can still go back and get water from her old dish. Once you see your cat reliably drinking from the fountain several times per day, you can remove the old bowl.
Keep in mind, you must choose the water fountain that is right for you and your cat. Here we look at 5 water fountains you may want to try.