Water is an essential nutrient for humans — and it’s the same for our pets as well. Cat owners might not know that felines are inefficient at drinking fluids compared to dogs or other pets, which can lead to dehydration or other issues.
“Although water is the most necessary nutrient for cats and serves a variety of physiological functions, cats tend to be poor drinkers,” says Dr. Deborah S. Greco, Senior Research Scientist at Purina. “Unlike dogs, cats are inefficient at lapping thin fluids like water and only consume approximately 3/100s of a teaspoon with each lap.”1
Feline hydration: An overlooked yet critical issue
Hydration is often an overlooked issue by cat owners who assume their cats are drinking enough rather than actually knowing how much they drink. In fact, according to a recent Purina survey2, 79% say they believe their cats drink enough water each day; however, only 37% say they know how much their cats actually need to drink on a daily basis. What’s more, 14% of cat owners surveyed say they have no idea how much water their cats drink daily.
When cats don’t get enough water, dehydration can occur in healthy cats as well as cats with urinary issues. Dehydration can lead to many other concerns from sluggishness and irritability to disorientation and organ failure. To help support healthy hydration in your cat, Greco says it’s best to take proactive action.
5 steps to encourage cat hydration
Step 1: Try a supplement
Cats need daily hydration, and it might take time to determine the right methods to encourage drinking. That’s why starting with a hydration supplement is a good first step. Then you can try other strategies to help your cat drink more water. Designed to be given in a third bowl alongside food and water, Hydra Care from Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements is a hydration supplement for cats that has been shown to increase total liquid intake when compared to cats consuming only water in addition to dry feeding. In fact, when offered the supplement, cats consumed 28% more liquid on average than cats who were only fed water and dry food alone. In addition to its liver flavor, the nutrient-enriched water also offers added nutritional osmolytes, molecular compounds that support water absorption and healthy hydration. Learn more at proplanvetdirect.com.
Step 2: Regulate water temperature
If it appears your cat isn’t drinking much, you may want to try different temperatures of water. While some cats enjoy room temperature water, others will drink much more when it’s cold. The only way to know is to try and observe differences when you offer various temperatures. If you find your cat prefers cool water, use a chilled bowl to keep it cool for longer periods of time.
Step 3: Replace the bowl
If it’s not the temperature of the water, it might be the water container that is deterring your cat. Try out different bowls and see if your cat drinks more from one versus another. When selecting a bowl, opt for shapes that are wider and lower; cats may not like their whiskers hitting the side of the bowl. Additionally, stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowls are better options than plastic because they are heavier and easier to clean, so they don’t tip over.
Step 4: Replace water regularly
Your cat has a much stronger sense of smell than you. What might look fresh to you, might not be to your cat. Therefore, remember to replace the water regularly to help encourage your felines to drink more. This might mean replacing their water multiple times a day, depending on your cat’s preference. To keep things fresh, clean the bowl with soap and hot water once a week.
Step 5: Consider a cat fountain
Because their eyesight is adapted for distance vision versus near vision, cats poorly visualize the water in a bowl, which is how most pet owners provide hydration to cats. Research shows they prefer fresh, moving water and are sensitive to both the presentation and taste of water.3 A cat fountain moves water, which appeals to felines, and many have filters to keep the water clean.