Talking about cat hydration and making sure your cat drinks enough water may not seem exciting, but it’s an important topic for any parent with a cat. Dehydration is no big deal! In fact, it is a serious medical problem that can be caused by many things, including lack of interest in drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, heat stroke, diabetes (which causes excessive urination), kidney disease and other illnesses.
The good news is that there are several creative ways to encourage your cat to drink enough water so that he or she can stay healthy, and some simple ways to catch dehydration early so that your cat can get the right treatment before things get worse!
How much water does your cat need?
The average healthy cat needs about 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. So, if your cat weighs 8 pounds, she or he needs about 8 ounces of water (1 cup) per day.
This is an estimate based on the activity level of each cat, the temperature of the environment the cat is in and its unique physiological needs. Another important factor is the type of food the cat eats. Cats that eat canned food tend to consume less water because there is already a lot of water in the food. Cats that eat dry food tend to drink more water.
Tip 1: Make sure your cat always has a bowl of fresh, clean water
One of the easiest and most important ways to make sure your cat has enough water to drink is to make sure she or he always has fresh, clean water. Cats usually prefer fresh water, so don’t add water to a bowl where the water level has dropped. Empty the entire bowl, wipe the slime off the bottom, and pour in fresh, cool water.
If you have any doubts, ask yourself: When you are thirsty, do you take a half-full glass of dirty water out of the sink or a clean glass full of fresh, cool water out of the cupboard?
Tips2:Be creative when providing water
Cats are naturally curious. To make sure your cat is well hydrated, you can take advantage of this curiosity by providing water in different containers in different parts of the house.
Some cats are fascinated by water presented in a non-traditional way. For example, if I leave a cup of water unattended on the coffee table, my cat will stick her face in and drink it. If I need to encourage her to drink, I leave the cup of water on the coffee table.
Another effective method for some cats is to “put a bowl of water in a new place, such as the corner of the living room or bedroom; (it) may interest the cats to drink the water.
By providing water in different types of containers or in different rooms, you are actually achieving two important goals at once: in addition to encouraging your cat to drink enough water to stay healthy, you are also providing an enriching environment that all cats need in order to stay healthy and happy.
Tips3:Use pet waterer
Pet water fountains are a great solution for cats who are attracted to tap water. Many cats love running water, so a fountain-style water bowl can encourage them to drink more. In addition to providing a recirculating source of flowing water that’s more environmentally friendly than leaving the faucet on all the time, many pet waterers include a water filter to ensure your cat gets the cleanest, freshest water possible. But just like bowls, pet waterers need to be cleaned regularly.
Tips4:Gravy may be your cat’s best friend
Occasionally adding a small amount of low-fat, low-sodium broth (chicken or beef) to your cat’s water bowl can entice your cat to drink more water. If your cat likes cold water or prefers ice, you can pour the diluted broth into an ice cube tray and freeze it. When you change the water, simply toss a cube or two into your cat’s water bowl. This is another example of helping your cat stay hydrated while providing a bit of enrichment!
Tips5:Canned cat food is provided daily
One of the easiest ways to ensure your cat stays hydrated is to offer canned food every day. Canned food has a much higher water content and, since most cats have to travel over mountains to get the moist, meaty taste and texture of canned food, this is one of the easiest ways to increase your cat’s daily water intake. You can even add some fresh water or diluted broth to the canned food to further increase your cat’s consumption of water.
Signs that your cat may be dehydrated
There are several signs of dehydration; some of the most common include:
- Dry Gums
- Reduced skin elasticity – gently pinching the cat’s skin at the shoulder before it slowly returns to its original position will cause the skin to “tighten”
- Loss of appetite
- Sunken eyes
- Less than normal urination (although some diseases can cause increased urination in cats, which can lead to dehydration)
What to do if your cat gets dehydrated
If you suspect that your cat is not drinking enough water, try some of the tips discussed earlier. If these don’t seem to work, or if your cat is showing any warning signs of dehydration, it is important to call your veterinarian immediately. Your cat’s doctor will examine your cat and perform some diagnostic tests to determine if your cat is dehydrated. If your cat is dehydrated, you will need immediate medical attention to identify the underlying cause and begin to correct your cat’s dehydration levels.
If left untreated, dehydration can lead to serious secondary health problems. If you are concerned that your cat may be dehydrated, the best first step is to call your veterinarian immediately!