If you’re concerned about the amount of water your furry friend is drinking each day you certainly have a good reason to be! Cats in general don’t really have a high drive to drink water so dehydration can be a serious concern for them. But before we get into how much water your cat should drink each day, let’s take a look at why water is so important to your cat and why they don’t tend to drink very much of it on their own.
Why Does My Cat Need a Water Supply?
Just like humans, cats are made up primarily of water, it is somewhere between 70-80% of their body. No surprise right? Most creatures on earth are heavily made up of water. Their bodies depend on water for almost all of their natural processes. Historically though, cats came from very dry climates. They were desert hunters. Wild cats would spend their time hunting prey and and just like the cat, the prey they caught was made up largely of water. This meant that when the cat ate it also consumed moisture.
These days most house cats don’t get the chance to go out and hunt because people are keeping their pets inside. Those cats that do go out and hunt seem to be more likely to bring their trophy home and dump it in the middle of your living room floor as opposed to eat it. Because cats are staying indoors they are also now eating dry food, often out of convenience for the owners. It is important to note that dry food on average is only made up of about 10% moisture.
The prey a cat might have caught in the wild had a water content much higher than 10% so cats didn’t really need to go find a water supply and drink often. Since we’ve migrated our cats to a different food supply and they haven’t yet had a chance to adapt this basically means your cat isn’t getting enough moisture if you’re only feeding your cat dry food.
If you are already feeding your cat wet food then your cat is likely in far better shape from a hydration standpoint. Canned food has somewhere in the area of 75-80% moisture depending on the brand and specific formula.
What Happens if My Cat Doesn’t Get Enough Water?
Dehydration. While it is much harder for a cat to get dehydrated than say a human, it is still certainly within the realm of possibility, especially on a dry food only diet. The biggest concern is that a dehydrated cat doesn’t show a lot of obvious outward signs unless you are looking & checking. Some of the very obvious signs are things like panting, lack of appetite & a cat being less active than normal.
If you are concerned your cat might be dehydrated but you aren’t seeing any of the above then you can use a simple but effective test. Gently pinch your cat’s skin on the top of their neck and then pull upward an inch and then let the skin go. If the skin you pulled on doesn’t return to its normal state quite quickly (1 second) then you might have a dehydrated cat. You can check out the video below for an example. Go to about the 1 minute mark for the cat check.
So what can happen to your cat if they get dehydrated? Dehydration can lead to many problems, but the most common two are kidney problems and urinary tract infections. Other common issues you cat could encounter are inflammation of the bladder, a ruptured bladder and even bladder stones which can block the urinary tract and even have the possibility of leading to death in extreme cases.
How Much Water Should My Cat Drink Each Day?
I’ll freely admit it is hard to know the exact amount of water a cat should drink each day. There are numerous different sources citing different amounts of water. But after reading through multiple sources, specifically from veterinarians**, it looks like between 8-10 oz of water a day is ideal for a 10 pound cat.
Keep in mind this does not account for any water your cat will consume by eating wet or dry food, both of which do contain moisture. So if your cat is on a strictly dry food diet you’ll want to encourage them to drink a lot more water than a cat that is on a strictly wet food diet. This means a 10 lb cat eating strictly wet food might only need something like 1-2 oz of water a day to ensure they stay fully hydrated whereas a cat on a strictly dry food diet might need closer to 6-8 oz of water each day.
How Can I Encourage My Cat To Drink More Water?
There are various methods you can use to convince your furry pal to drink more water, but every cat is different and you will likely experience varying levels of success with each method for each cat. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common methods:
- Availability: It may seem silly to mention this, but ensure your cat has access to water all the time. Make sure the water is available in places your cat frequents so they will constantly pass by it. If necessary place multiple bowls throughout the house.
- Cleanliness: Maybe another no brainer, but be sure the water is clean. Pour the water out each day and wash the bowl before refilling it. Making sure there isn’t any hair or any other objects floating in the water is a necessity, cats won’t drink dirty water.
- Placement: Be sure the water isn’t anywhere near a litter box or anything else dirty or smelly like the garbage.
- Using the Right Bowl: If you’re using a plastic bowl it may be a turn off for your cat. Just like for humans, plastic can leave a weird taste in your cat’s mouth. Switch to stainless steal bowls, they are more durable and always dishwasher safe as well. You can also check out this review for what is deemed The Best Cat Food Bowl in the world over on Asthma Cats. It has removable stainless, pretty slick.
- Switch The Diet: If your cat is currently on an all dry food diet then start to provide canned food as well or in place of the dry. Canned food doesn’t seem like it would provide a lot of water, but eating canned food each day will account for most of your cat’s water needs.
- Switch The Water: Some cats dislike the taste of extremely hard water or city water because it contains a metal taste or a hint of chemicals. It may sound insane to feed your cat bottled water, but try filtered or bottled water instead.
- Add Ice Cubes: Some cats are more likely to drink water when you add ice to the bowl, there’s no research that really shows why.
- A Dripping Faucet: In general cats tend to prefer moving water. Providing a dripping faucet, while not good from a conservation standpoint or for your water bill, can often entice a cat drink. This also of course assumes you’re ok with your cat on your counters.
- A Water Fountain: Never thought you’d buy a water fountain for a cat did you? Flowing water entices cats to drink more than still water. The theory goes that cats avoid stagnant water because it is more likely to contain bacteria/parasites. If you’re looking for a high quality water fountain at an affordable price check the Catit Water Fountain, it is one of the best on the market.
Wrapping it up
Visit your veterinarian if you even suspect that your cat might be dehydrated. As mentioned above, by the time your cat starts to develop visible signs of dehydration they can already be extremely sick and it might take quite some time for your cat to recover recover. In most cases of dehydration your cat will require an IV to provide additional fluids.
If you have any other thoughts on the what to feed your cat please leave a comment below or send me an email at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com so I can update this article or respond in kind.
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