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Do Cats Like Cold Water? Important Information & Tips

cat drinking water
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Kathryn Copeland

We all know that water is a vital part of life for all living organisms on Earth, and cats are certainly no different. Water keeps cats alive and healthy, as it can help prevent future health conditions such as urinary tract disease and kidney disease.1 We might love an ice-cold glass of water, but what about cats?

Many cats also prefer cold drinking water, but this entirely depends on the individual cat. Regardless, the water shouldn’t be ice cold. Some cats might like room-temperature water, so it’s up to you to figure out your cat’s preference.

Here, we discuss everything water and cats and why some cats prefer cold while others don’t. We also look at the best ways to give your cat water so you can ensure that they’re getting enough.

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How Does Water Help Your Cat?

Other than just keeping cats alive, water does provide a variety of different benefits:

  • Helps prevent bladder and kidney stones
  • Flushes toxins from the kidneys
  • Aids in maintaining body temperature
  • Helps with digestion
  • Helps the transportation and absorption of nutrients
  • Aids with circulation

The list can go on! Water is the essence of life, so what can happen if a cat doesn’t get enough?

cat drinking from faucet
Image Credit: Sample Stars, Shutterstock

What Happens If Your Cat Becomes Dehydrated?

If your cat isn’t drinking enough water, the more immediate issue will be dehydration. This occurs when your cat loses more fluids than what they take in.

Health problems that can occur with dehydration include:
  • Reduced blood flow and oxygen to the major organs
  • Severe electrolyte imbalance
  • Increase of harmful toxins in the body
  • Eventual death

Also, with a lack of water, there is an overall reduction in energy and health and an increased risk of urinary tract disease.

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How Much Water Should a Cat Drink?

The average 8- to 9-pound cat should drink an average of about 1 cup of water every day to keep their bodies in optimal health.

However, you don’t have to worry too much if you’re unsure if your cat actually drinks this amount of water, as cats can get water/moisture from other sources. Canned food contains as much as 80% water, and dry food has approximately 10% water.

So, a cat that has a diet comprised only of canned food will need about 1 ounce of water every day compared to the 6 or 7 ounces of water that a cat that only eats dry food needs.

Domestic cat drinking water
Image Credit: AleksandarMilutinovic, Shutterstock

What About the Temperature?

Most cats prefer cool to cold water because they prefer fresh, clean water over stagnant, warm water. A cat in the wild would opt for water from a clear and cold running spring, which can help explain this preference.

Some people place ice cubes in their cat’s water bowl in the summer as a way to keep the water cooler. However, if your cat likes to fish them out and try to eat them, you’ll want to use ice chips instead, as a big ice cube can damage your cat’s teeth. Otherwise, ice cubes can prove to be new and interesting toys for your cat to bat around.

Try to keep the water cool over freezing. Cats can experience brain freeze, and if this occurs, it could discourage your cat from drinking.

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What If Your Cat Is Still Not Drinking Enough?

If you’ve tried cold water for your cat but they’re still not drinking as much as you would like, there are other steps that you can take.

Black cat drinking from a raised bowl
Image Credit: netti67, Pixabay

Try Another Water Temperature

While most cats are fine with cold water, other cats prefer lukewarm water. You can try experimenting with different temperatures and observe your cat. You might find that your cat likes room-temperature or slightly warm water.

Water Container

This all comes down to your cat’s preference, but ceramic, glass, or stainless-steel water bowls that are wide in diameter tend to work well for most (but not all) cats.

First, plastic has a tendency to add a slight taste to the water. In contrast, ceramic, glass, or stainless steel are sanitary and won’t impact the water’s flavor.

Second, bowls with a wide diameter can be effective for many cats because they won’t experience whisker fatigue.

A cat’s whiskers are highly sensitive, so when they get pressed up against a narrow bowl (and this can happen with food bowls too), it can be uncomfortable, so many cats might not drink as often as they should with a narrow bowl.

Cats are known for their playful antics; one of the most common being pawing their water dish! The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl was thoughtfully designed with these adorable yet messy cat behaviors in mind. Not only is the bowl spill-resistant, it features a wide wrap-around tray explicitly crafted to catch any splashes or spills. The two stainless steel dishes fit securely within the PP plastic base, keeping your kitty’s water in the bowl and off your floor! If you are always combating spills or dribbles caused by drinking, the Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is the perfect option for you.

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

Cat Fountain

Instead of a bowl, consider investing in a cat water fountain. Many cats enjoy drinking from running water. If your cat only wants to drink water from a running tap, they might be a good candidate for a fountain, as it’s not practical to leave your faucet running all the time.

Cat fountains come with filters, so as long as you clean them regularly, the running water action can also make them more sanitary than bowls.

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Clean Is Key

Keeping your cat’s water bowl or fountain clean is super important. Fountains should be cleaned once a week, and the filter should be changed about once a month. Bowls must be cleaned and filled with fresh water every day. No one wants to drink dirty water.

cat drinking water
Image Credit: Pixabay

Location is Everything

It’s important to place the water in a location that is not close to the food bowl. It’s thought that cats in the wild do their hunting away from their water source, so it might help replicate this. However, you can try experimenting: Place the water next to their food and see if it makes a difference.

Additionally, make sure the water is in a quiet and stress-free location. If you have multiple cats, you might want to offer multiple water sources in different locations.

Canned Food

Canned food is approximately 80% water content. So, if you aren’t already giving your cat wet food, you might want to consider adding some to your cat’s diet. You can also add extra water to the canned food for a little moisture boost. Just be sure to not make it too soupy.

Adding Deliciousness to the Water

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and your cat just doesn’t seem to be drinking enough water, you can try adding tasty treats to the water. You can add about a ¼ of a teaspoon of salmon or tuna juice to the water. This only works in bowls, however, and shouldn’t be tried in fountains.

Just ensure that you only use canned tuna or salmon that has been packed in water, with no added salt or oil.

Cat drinking from a blue bowl
Image Credit: birgl, Pixabay

Type of Water

We know how finicky cats are, and there’s always the possibility that your cat isn’t drinking as much water as they should because they just don’t like it. Any water that is safe for you to drink is safe for your cat, which is something that you should always keep in mind. But if your cat seems put off by tap water, you could try collecting rainwater and giving that a try.

study found that when given a choice between drinking from bowls inside or puddles outside, more cats seem to prefer the outdoor water source. Of course, if you have an indoor-only cat, this isn’t feasible, but collecting rainwater can get you closer to a natural water source.

You can also use a water filter, so it can filter out excess chlorine and make it more palatable for your cat.

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Keep an eye on your cat’s drinking habits, and try adjusting things as you go. You might need to combine a few of these ideas to find the sweet spot for your cat.

Some cats will drink without any problems, while others will need everything to be just right, and it’s up to you to figure out what that means.

Running water or still, warm water or cold, glass bowl or stainless steel, rainwater or tap — these are all factors to consider when your cat isn’t drinking enough. Don’t forget to talk with your vet, as they can give you ideas to try too.

Hopefully, you’ll find the right methods that work well for you and your cat. Measure the water that you put into the fountain or bowl, monitor how much your cat is drinking, and keep track of their canned food intake. If you log this information every day, you should be able to know your cat’s water consumption, which can lead to action or peace of mind.

Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

About the Author

Kathryn Copeland
Kathryn Copeland
Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.

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