Most cat owners can attest to the fact that cats are finicky. They will only eat certain kinds of food out of a certain type of bowl. What many people don’t realize is that this rule applies to water as well. In general, cats do not drink enough water and this can lead to various health problems, but these problems can be avoided simply by observing the likes and dislikes of a feline with regards to water preferences.
To entice a cat to drink more water takes a little trial and error, but once the magical combination is found, a cat owner should have no problem with their cat remaining hydrated. Below are seven tips to encourage your furry friend to drink up!
1. Water Type
Many people think water is water, but this is not entirely true. There are various types of water from tap water to distilled to mineral. Each cat will have their own preference. Try putting out several bowls of different types of water and see which one they prefer, but make sure all the bowls are identical, as this can be a factor as well in whether or not a cat will drink.
The type of bowl makes a huge difference. Stainless steel or ceramic will have the highest rate of success. Plastic is a porous material and tends to soak up odor. While a human may not be able to smell it, a cat will and may not want to drink it thinking the water is tainted. One must remember that cats are generally very picky about cleanliness.
Water bowls should be cleaned with hot soapy water on a daily basis. Nobody likes to drink out of a dirty glass. It’s logical to believe a cat does not enjoy it either.
Cats also have a preference of where they want their water placed. Try placing several bowls throughout the house and see which ones show signs of having been used.
5. Multiple Cats
Having multiple cats in the home means having multiple food bowls, but it also means having multiple water bowls as well. Smelling another cat around their water bowl can deter the desire to drink water. Nobody likes drinking after another human being and cats do not like drinking after another cat either.
6. Food Additive
Until a cat owner is able to find the best way to encourage their cat to drink water, it may be necessary to use it as a food additive to ensure the cat stays hydrated. Water can be added to either dry or wet food. A bowl of water may also be “flavored” by adding chicken broth or some tuna juice. Normally a cat that will not drink water will go after a bowl of watered down broth.
7. Running Water
If all else fails, chances are the feline is one that prefers running water. It must be an instinct from the wild to prefer running water as opposed to stagnant, but many cat owners report their cats will only drink running water. To check the cats’ preference, simply turn on a faucet part way (high water pressure will most likely scare the poor thing) and place the cat next to the sink. There is a good chance the cat will investigate it cautiously at first and then start to drink. If the cat enjoys this, it will be obvious when they begin jumping up to the faucet and trying to drink without the water running. If they do indeed seem to like getting their water this way, a pet drinking fountain may be purchased to facilitate this.
The Importance of Hydration
Feline dehydration can be caused by many different factors from lack of available drinking water to illness. It’s extremely important to ensure a cat doesn’t become dehydrated, especially for those felines afflicted by diabetes or renal failure, as those two illnesses in particular cause increased urination which in turn causes increased risk for dehydration. The symptoms of dehydration are constipation, lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes, increased heart rate, poor skin elasticity, and poor capillary refill time. There are two tests an owner can perform to check for skin elasticity and capillary refill.
To check skin elasticity, grasp some skin at the base of the neck and then release. If the skin does not spring back immediately, the feline is in a state of dehydration.
To check capillary refill time, press a finger against the cats gum. Once the finger is removed, a white spot will be present. Time how long it takes for the white spot to turn pink again. It should only take one to two seconds. If it takes longer than that, the cat is dehydrated.
Enough cannot be said about ensuring a feline remains hydrated. A cat stuck inside a home or apartment 24/7 without water to drink that they enjoy, can easily lead to a state of dehydration. It’s extremely important to monitor a cat’s rate of water consumption and, if low, take measures to improve that rate. Dehydration can greatly shorten a feline’s life, but it’s normally a very preventable problem that only takes a little observation and trial and error to correct.