Thanks to their desert-dwelling ancestors, cats possess a low thirst drive and can survive on much smaller amounts of water than other animals. Still, cats need to drink about ½ cup of water for every 5 lbs of body weight daily. If they don’t, they could develop kidney problems or other illnesses.
That’s why we’ve curated this list of the best and most creative ways to encourage your feline to drink. We know how fussy cats can be, but with some experimentation, you should be able to get your cat drinking in no time.
Make Tuna Water for Your Cat
Cats love tuna, but many vets warn against feeding your felines this canned treat because of its high sodium content. A healthier alternative is to dilute tinned tuna water (not oil) with fresh water - this will reduce sodium, making it a healthier option for cats. And it’s an excellent way to encourage your feline to increase their liquid intake.
You can experiment with different products and flavors, such as chicken broth. Just check the content of each beforehand and avoid products that are high in salt.
Always check the ingredients beforehand, and never feed your cat foodstuffs that contain onion, garlic, or other toxins.
Change The Location of Your Cats Water Bowl
A common mistake pet owners make is placing their feline’s food and water in the same location. Many commercial feeding bowls come with the two dishes attached. But this proximity could be off-putting for your cat because of the potential contamination that can occur when food particles get into the water.
Cats also have a genetically programmed aversion to having their litter nearby, thanks to their African Wildcat ancestors who would keep toileting away from water sources. This evolutionary adaptation helps them stay healthy by avoiding contact with bacteria or other contaminants in their food or water.
For these reasons, ensure your feline’s water bowl is away from food, litter trays, or anything else they might consider a contaminant. And try to place it in a low-footfall area of your home, as constant noise and disruptions can be off-putting for them.
Use Different Bowls
Have you ever noticed the off-putting smell (and taste) from using a new Tupperware container or stainless-steel flask? This happens because water is highly absorbent of ambient odors, which means it takes on the scent of any odorous substances nearby.
Using a plastic or metal dish for your cat’s water could taint the water with an undesirable flavor, making your cat less likely to drink. Instead, try using a glass or ceramic bowl and see if that makes a difference.
Additionally, the size and style of the water bowl can make a big difference to your cat’s willingness to drink. Felines generally prefer a wide bowl with room for their entire face - many don’t like the sensation of having their whiskers pressed against the edges of a container. Fill the container as fully as possible because cats prefer to drink from full vessels.
Alter the Water Source
Most owners provide tap water for their pets, but many factors can influence its taste: the source of the water, the treatment processes it goes through, and even the minerals in the soil. If you’re struggling to get your feline to drink, it could be because they don’t like the taste of this tap water.
Some will prefer the taste of bottled water over tap water because it is often filtered or treated with minerals to improve its flavor. Others might prefer to drink “natural” water collections, such as rainwater collected in a dish.
If your cat has an outdoor area where they like to play, try placing a clean bowl outside that can collect rainwater. You could even top this up with bottled or tap water if your cat is keen to drink outside.
Buy Them a Fountain
Cats have a natural preference for drinking running water rather than still water. This is because running water contains more oxygenated molecules, making it taste better and fresher. Additionally, cats instinctively know that running water is much less likely to contain contaminants that might have settled in the standing water. By drinking running water, cats can get the freshest and cleanest source of hydration available. Thus, cats are naturally drawn to drinking from running water sources like faucets and streams.
And your cat may find the sound of running water soothing, which can help them relax.
A water fountain could be a good investment if your cat enjoys drinking from the faucet. They provide an easy source of fresh, clean water that cats can access anytime. Plus, the moving water is more interesting for cats than a still bowl of water, encouraging them to drink more and stay hydrated.
Make Drinking Fun
Many cat owners purchase puzzle feeders and other gadgets that enrich their feline’s feeding. What they don’t think so much about is how to make drinking fun. It stands to reason that if you add enrichment to your cat’s water source, they will be more likely to drink it.
One way to do this is to fill a large container with water and add a couple of ping-pong balls to the mix. Your cat will love watching the balls bob around and might try to pull them out with their paws. As they have fun, they’re more likely to take a drink from the source of their enjoyment.
You can also add ice cubes to their water dish for them to explore and play with. Only add one to begin with, as it can alter the temperature of the water. Still, if they enjoy this, you can experiment with flavored cubes (such as tuna water or broth) to keep them hydrated on hot days.
Let Them Drink Milk (the cat kind)
Cats and milk seem synonymous with one another - but did you know that most cats are lactose intolerant, so drinking this dairy treat can make them sick? Still, it’s very likely that, given a chance, your cat will lap up this creamy treat. That’s why a number of manufacturers have designed a lactose-free milk variety, especially for your felines. You’ll generally find “cat milk” in the pet aisle of the supermarket or within a variety of pet stores. And this can be a great treat to encourage your cat to stay hydrated.