When it comes to keeping your cat healthy, hydration is crucial. Your cat should be drinking sufficient amounts of water in order to maintain healthy organs and skin, regulate body temperature, and support circulation, digestion, and nutrient absorption.
As any cat owner knows, cats can be extremely finicky when it comes to their personal preferences. If you’re having trouble convincing your cat to drink enough water, read on for some of our favorite tips for keeping your cat hydrated.
How Much Water Do Cats Need?
The amount of water your cat should be drinking on a daily basis varies depending on a few factors: activity level, weight, diet, health conditions, and weather/temperature (especially if you have an outdoor cat).
Typically, cats should be consuming about one ounce of water for every half-ounce of dry food, or pound of body weight. The key word here is “consume,” since cats can get a significant amount of their water intake through their food. Cats that mainly eat dry food tend to need more water than cats who eat more canned wet food, due to its high concentration of water and moisture.
Regardless of your cat’s diet, she should always have 24/7 access to clean water. You won’t see her gulping and sloshing like her canine counterparts, though—cats are much more dainty. Just make sure she’s sipping her water a few times a day, and getting plenty of supplemental moisture in her food.
Signs Your Cat is Dehydrated
If your cat is expelling more fluids than she’s consuming, she can become dehydrated. This could due to a few reasons: she’s not drinking enough water, she’s urinating too frequently, or experiencing health issues.
Signs your cat may be dehydrated include:
- Dry gums
- Appetite loss
- Increased heart rate
- Digestive issues
- Decreased skin elasticity (if you gently list the skin on the back of your kitty’s neck, it should quickly fall back into place rather than stay in a “tented” position)
- Changes in urination habits
If your cat is dehydrated even though she seems to be drinking plenty of water, she may have a health condition that needs to be addressed.
How to Keep Your Cat Hydrated
If your kitty is refusing to drink her water, there could be a few different reasons behind her reluctance. Maybe she doesn’t like the taste of her metal bowl and wants a ceramic one instead. Maybe the water is too cold or too lukewarm for her preferences. Maybe the bowl simply needs to move to a different spot.
It may take some trial and error, but take some time to test out different materials and locations to see what works well for your cat so she can stay healthy and hydrated. Some cats even do well with multiple drinking stations to choose from as they go about their day.
Always keep your cat’s water bowl clean and fresh—this could mean cleaning and refilling it multiple times per day. You wouldn’t want to drink from a dirty, dusty cup, either!
Cater to curiosity, too. Some cats are intrigued by ice cubes bobbing up and down in their water bowls (and some prefer the taste of cold water). Others are more interested in moving water, so it may be worth buying a cat fountain to entice your kitty to drink more water.
If your cat simply isn’t interested in water, you can still make sure she gets plenty of moisture from her food. Hydrate your cat with canned wet food on a regular basis; you could even mix water with her dry food.
Low-fat and low-sodium meat broths—especially bone broths—can also be a beneficial addition to your cat’s diet. Add a small amount to her water bowl for added flavor, or freeze diluted broth into ice cubes to give to your furry friend. We advise against adding flavor to cat fountains, though.
If your kitty loves to come running anytime she hears and smells you preparing salmon or opening a can of tuna, you can use this to your advantage by letting her lick the leftover juice, or dropping it into her water bowl for flavor.
It may be difficult to monitor your cat throughout the day to see how much water she’s drinking. Instead, measure her water intake by comparing the amount of water in the bowl at the end of the day compared to the beginning.
If the above-mentioned tips aren’t effective and you’re concerned about your cat’s hydration, it never hurts to contact your vet to rule out underlying health issues.
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