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Several common syndromes in cats, such as kidney disease and irritation of the bladder and lower urinary tract, are helpfully treated by enticing cats to drink more water. Unfortunately, the age-old adage about mankind’s inability to force horses to drink also applies cats.

Cats are picky consumers of water. It is widely accepted that cats will drink more if multiple sources of water are available, and if the water is very fresh. Some cats seem to prefer water that is continuously circulated.

A recent study outlined in the November, 2008 North American Veterinary Conference Clinician’s Brief sought to answer another question: do cats generally prefer tap water or purified water? Here is a quote from the Brief.

The drinking water behaviors and preferences in cats were investigated using cats in a rescue center. The study was double blinded and each cat was exposed to 2 water sources (local tap water and purified water) over a 48-hour period. The bowls were identical in shape, different in color, and the amount of water consumed was measured and the bowl refilled every 12 hours . . . [t]he results showed that cats drank more water during the day than night. The only factor found to be significant on statistical analysis was the water source: cats preferred tap water over purified water.

In my opinion this study is too limited in scope to draw the definitive conclusion that all cats should be offered only tap water. But it does suggest that purified water is not necessarily the best choice for cats.

About the photo: Alita seems to like her water straight from the tap!

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