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My New Year’s Resolution: Make My Cats Drink More Water

My Ghost Cat hardly drinks at all, so I must find creative ways to get her the water she needs.

Heather Marcoux  |  Jan 6th 2015


Every night before I go to bed I fill a little stainless steel bowl with water and leave it at the top of the stairs in case my cats, Ghost Cat and Specter, get thirsty during the night. Sometimes when I wake up the bowl is empty — but more often than not, there’s plenty of water for me to pour out. On the days when the water is gone I praise my kitties for keeping themselves hydrated, but on the days when they’ve ignored their bowl, I worry.

My cats may not realize that they need to stay hydrated, but I do, and that’s why my New Year’s resolution is to convince my cats to drink more water (whether they like it or not).

2014 brought a lot of changes to our household, including a big move and the addition of three animals. It was a lot easier to measure how much Ghost Cat was drinking before Specter and the two dogs came into our house. Back when Ghosty was an only cat, I could just look at the water bowl and know she’d taken some of the water, but now I can’t be sure which of my four pets is drinking.

After adopting the other pets, I wanted to be sure that Ghost Cat was drinking enough, so I made a special effort to keep an eye on her whenever she was near a drinking bowl. Unfortunately for me, Ghost Cat is stubborn, and most often refuses to drink water if I am looking at her (which is weird, because she will both eat and poop in front of me, no problem).

I catch Specter drinking more often than I catch Ghost Cat — and while I’m pleased that my younger cat is hydrated, seeing Specter drinking so often makes me wonder why I never catch Ghosty doing it. I wish Ghosty would take a cue from Specter, because Ghost Cat is the one who’s experienced urinary tract issues before. Early last year I had to rush Ghosty to the vet after I spotted red in the litter box. It was a very scary situation, and I vowed to be more vigilant about making sure Ghosty stays hydrated. This task has proven to be challenging, because, as they say, you can bring a cat to water, but you can’t make her drink (unless you bribe her with her favorite food).

Of all the foods in her kitty kingdom, fishy canned wet food is what Ghosty likes best, and it is also my greatest weapon in making sure my water-avoiding kitty doesn’t dehydrate. When Ghosty had her episode of feline idiopathic cystitis last year, the vet recommended a wet-food-only diet for a few weeks. We fed her special cans of urinary vet food for a while, before transitioning her to regular wet food, and then eventually back to a combination of wet food and dry kibble.

For a long time, I relied on wet food to help get Ghost Cat the moisture she needs, but in the fall I grew concerned that the extra helpings of wet food I was giving Ghosty could be doing more harm than good, as her weight was creeping up again. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize the solution to this catch-22 was surprisingly simple — I just started adding water to Ghost Cat and Specter’s wet food. Ghost Cat doesn’t seem to like plain water, but she can’t resist deliciously fishy cat food, even when it’s extra wet (and half the calories).

When I first started adding extra water to my cats’ wet food I was afraid that Ghost Cat and Specter would try to pick out the chunks and leave the fishy water in the dish, but they didn’t — both kitties were content to lap up the stinky pink-brown water. I think the addition of broth-like cat food really helped up my cats’ water consumption in 2014, but more can be done in the new year. The soupy wet food is a good supplement, but what I really want is for both my cats to consume more plain water straight from the bowl.

I am currently comparison shopping water fountain systems, looking in particular for something that isn’t easily knocked over. I’ve got bowls of various shapes and sizes placed around the house, and I make sure to change the water daily, but no matter where I put the water, I can’t seem to get Ghost Cat to drink as much as Specter does.

Because Ghost Cat seems so bored, part of my 2015 plan involves bringing out Ghost Cat’s robot fish toy more often — I bought it for environmental enrichment, but the splish-splashing seems to tempt my furry girl into sipping. Also, when the weather gets warm again in a few months I plan to make my kitties some frozen treats. Beyond that, I think my best bet is to just put a water glass next to my laptop for extra temptation.

What else should be on my list for 2015? If you have any special tips for getting your kitty to drink, please let me know in the comments.

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About the author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten,GhostBuster the Lab and her newest dog, Marshmallow, make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +