Most cats don’t drink enough water. Because cats are so self-sufficient, we assume they know what’s best for their health, and many times they do. But I learned the importance of making sure my cats drink enough water the hard way — with a medical scare.
A couple of years ago, my cat Pugsley was spending a lot of time in the litter box, straining to pee. Nothing was coming out. Something told me this was not good. When I picked him up around his middle and he cried out in pain, I knew he was in trouble. It was Friday night at 10 (of course) and I rushed him to the emergency vet. Thank goodness I did.
Pugsley’s urethra was clogged with urinary stones. They are like a “plug” of soft, compressible material consisting of minerals, cells, and mucuslike protein. Urine backs up and the kidneys can’t remove toxins from the blood or keep fluids and electrolytes in balance. This can lead to death within 24 to 48 hours if not treated immediately.
Thankfully, Pugsley was treated in time, but the vet told me the No. 1 way to prevent him from reblocking and possibly requiring surgery was to keep him hydrated. You better believe I started looking into ways to get my boys more water into their furry little bodies.
But a blocked urethra isn’t the only medical issue that can be improved with increased water intake. Just as with humans, cats’ urinary health is tied directly to water consumption, so things like urinary tract infections and crystals are less likely in a well-hydrated cat. Digestive health also benefits from increased water intake. I’ve made it a priority to try everything I can to up the water drinking in my house.
Here are strategies you can use to keep your cat hydrated and healthy:
Canned food simply has more moisture. According to my vet, this is the easiest way to get more water in your cat’s diet.
If your cat won’t eat wet food, add water or broth to dry food and see if he’ll eat that. If your cat digs canned food, add water or broth to it to make it even wetter. Some cats love the soupy consistency this creates.
It adds moisture and it’s like a little treat for the cat. The cube takes on the food’s flavor, and while your cat’s licking the cube, he’s getting water, too. Ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl also might make the water more interesting. Some cats prefer icy cold water, just like some humans do.
Eating prompts thirst, so smaller meals more often might also lead your cat to drink more as well.
Make it super easy for your cat to get himself a drink by offering multiple agua stations throughout the house. My cat Romeo loves drinking water out of my cups. Leaving a few strategically placed drinking glasses around might entice your cat to drink more, too.
Keep your cat’s water bowl away from his litter box. Would you want to drink near your toilet?
Cats like fresh water — and who can blame them? Make sure to change the water at least once a day and wash out the bowl completely with soap and water regularly to keep it from getting slimy and gross.
If your cat is attracted to running water, use this as a great opportunity to get him to drink more! Try running the faucet a few minutes several times a day. Build it into your morning and evening routine, for example, and create some good bonding time … over a long, cold drink of water!
You can try to entice your cat to drink more water by flavoring it with a bit of tuna juice or chicken broth.
Many cats like drinking out of fountains. It might take a while for them to get the hang of it, but once they do, they’ll love it! Fountains are attractive because the moving water is interesting to the cat and it stays fresh. This definitely helps if you forget to change your cat’s bowl every day. I’ve been using the Drinkwell Lotus lately. It works really well, looks nice, and doesn’t take up a ton of space.
Cats are finicky about just about everything (big shocker!), and you can go ahead and add drinking bowls to that list. Test a few out (glass, stainless steel, ceramic, or plastic) and you might discover your cat has a definite preference.
We can all stand to drink more water, and your cat is no exception. Helping your cat increase his water intake has many benefits. More water = more peeing = healthier kitty = happier everybody!
What methods have you tried to get more water into your cat? Let us know in the comments!