You may seldom see your cat at their water bowl, so you can’t be really sure how much they are drinking. While they likely sneak in a few gulps here and there, boosting these desert animals’ water intake is extremely important. Their ancestors may have thrived in arid conditions, making them especially skilled at extracting every drop of moisture from their diet and at conserving water in their bodies, but today’s cats need adequate hydration.

Dehydration can set in quickly, especially if your cat has a chronic health condition that interferes with water usage and conservation. Cats with diabetes, chronic renal failure, or liver disease need plenty of water for optimal health and to minimize any effects of chronic health issues.

Encourage your feline friend to increase their water intake and stay well-hydrated with these nine tips from our Aberdeen Veterinary Clinic team.

#1: Add canned food to your cat’s diet

If your cat eats a strict dry kibble diet, they will benefit from the addition of moisture-rich canned food. Dry kibble typically contains only 10% water, whereas canned food contains around 80% water, so some canned food each day will greatly increase your cat’s water intake.

However, a cat may be reluctant to try canned food for the first time because of the novel texture, so heat the food up for a few seconds in the microwave to increase the odor and make the food more appealing. Also, give your cat space to investigate and do not force the food on them.

#2: Add water to your cat’s food

Whether your cat normally eats dry or canned food, a small amount of water added to their meals will boost their water consumption. Keep in mind that wet food will spoil more quickly, so toss out uneaten food daily to prevent illness.

#3: Refresh your cat’s water bowl frequently

Nobody—least of all your finicky feline—likes stagnant water where food, dust, and other particles are floating. Refresh your cat’s water once or twice a day, and scrub the bowl daily, ensuring you remove every last trace of soap, which can make the water taste unpleasant and turn your cat off drinking.

#4: Swap out water bowls

Cats can have a quirky predisposition that leads them to drink from unusual vessels. However, the feline population seems to generally concede that they prefer their water in wide, shallow bowls, particularly glass and ceramic bowls, which are least likely to hold onto flavors and odors. 

If your cat’s food and water bowls are those plastic, two-in-one combinations, swap them out for separate dishes. Cats prefer some space between their resources, and your cat will likely drink more if their food and water bowls are separated.

#5: Try different water types

The water straight out of your tap may not be fit for drinking, or may still have an unusual flavor after filtering. Try bottled or distilled drinking water and see if that will boost your cat’s water consumption.

#6: Add flavor to your cat’s water

The same way that people add flavor to their “water” by drinking juice, tea, or coffee, you can flavor your cat’s water to improve the taste. Entice your cat to drink more by adding a little tuna juice or low-sodium chicken broth to their water dish. However, if you add flavoring, ensure you change your cat’s water more frequently, as the water will spoil more quickly.

#7: Let your cat drink from the faucet

If your cat loves fresh water from the tap, let them drink from there whenever possible. Allow your cat to hang out with you in the shower, perch on the counter as you wash dishes, or dabble in the stream from the faucet while you brush your teeth. 

#8: Purchase a pet drinking fountain

Leaving your faucet running all day for your cat simply isn’t feasible, so consider purchasing a drinking fountain. Most cats like a constant fresh water source and the fountain will greatly increase their water intake.

#9: Place water bowls throughout your house 

Your cat probably doesn’t enjoy drinking out of your mastiff’s giant water bowl—think of all the drool! Rather than make all your pets share the same water bowl, place several watering resources designed for cats and dogs throughout your house. When your cat has the opportunity to drink in every room, they will less likely be pushed away from the prime water bowl.

If you would like more advice on getting your cat to drink more, or your cat is suddenly gulping down water and draining every bowl dry, do not hesitate to contact our Aberdeen Veterinary Clinic team. Your cat may have an underlying health issue, so call us to schedule an appointment, so we can diagnose the cause of your cat’s change in drinking behavior.