There are often times when it is necessary to increase your cat’s fluid intake. Cats by nature are not huge water drinkers. In the wild, the majority of their water comes from their food. Wet food/prey is made up of approximately 70% water. Dry diets only contain 10% water, and therefore cats need to consume more water to make up for this difference. Inadequate water consumption leads to concentrated urine, which can result in the formation of urinary crystals. It is, therefore, important to ensure your cat consumes enough water to avoid this.
There are a number of ways you can encourage water consumption.
Switch from a dry diet to a raw or canned diet
As we have already said, dry food has a much lower water content than wet and most cats don’t make up this shortfall by drinking more water. So, if you can, switch your cat to a wet diet. If you do change his diet, make the transition gradual as a sudden change can cause stomach upsets.
You can also add 1-2 tablespoons water or a meaty flavoured ice cube (see below) to canned or dry food to increase the water content.
Provide water fountains
Some cats prefer to drink running water. There are a range of water fountains available now to cater to your cat’s needs. These fountains aerate the water, making it taste fresher.
Have several water bowls
Scattering water bowls around the house can also help to encourage drinking, even more so if there are several cats.
Keep the water fresh
Water should be changed at least once a day, more during warmer weather. Wash water bowls (including fountains) once a day to prevent the development of a sticky biofilm on the sides which can affect the taste and smell of the water.
Try different types of bowls
Some cats prefer a wide, shallow water bowl, others prefer one that is deeper. Experiment with different types of water bowl to find out what your cat prefers. Also, cats can often be fussy when it comes to plastic water bowls, which can make the water taste different. Try switching to a glass or porcelain bowl instead. I also think that a thick porcelain bowl helps to keep the water cooler in the summer months.
Think about your choice of location
Think about where your cat’s water bowl is placed. He should have at least one water bowl next to his food dish. These should be well away from their litter tray. Cats don’t like to eat and drink near where they go to the toilet. Would you?
Showers, baths, and sinks
Some cats seem to be drawn to drinking the drips of water from the shower or bath. If your cat is one of these, then place a wide bowl or plate underneath the tap/shower head for your cat to drink the drips.
How much water should a cat consume per day?
Again, bear in mind that a cat will obtain water from his diet as well as via drinking.
A cat should drink approximately 60ml per kilo of body weight. Or 30ml per pound of body weight.
My cat is drinking a lot of water
Increased water consumption is medically known as polydipsia and should be a warning. Kidney disease, diabetes, pyometra (infection of the uterus, Cushing’s disease, liver disease, and hyperthyroidism. It is always important to have your cat checked by a veterinarian if you noticed he is drinking more water. Increased water consumption usually goes hand in hand with increased urination (polyuria/polydipsia).
How do I know if my cat isn’t drinking enough?
You can check your cat for dehydration by grasping the skin on the back of your cat’s neck between the thumb and index finger, lift it up and then release. In the well-hydrated cat, the skin will spring back immediately, the more dehydrated your cat is, the slower this will take.
Meat flavoured ice cubes
Make ice cubes out of chicken or beef broth and add to your cat’s water bowl. Homemade is the best as you can guarantee it is salt and onion free.
To make meat flavoured ice cubes you will need:
- 1 cup of ground beef (mince) or chicken
- 2 cups water.
Add all ingredients to a pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Strain water into an ice cube tray.