Did you know your cat probably doesn’t drink enough water? Urinary problems are the reason behind many vet visits, whether it’s treatment for bladder stones, cysts, or other problems falling under Urinary Tract Disease. Urinary problems are actually the leading cause of death in cats,1 and dehydration is a real issue, especially if they’re on a dry food diet. Since cats already don’t drink enough water, H2O is the way to go when giving your cat something to drink. However, there are a few other safe options. Let’s talk more about what does and doesn’t belong in your cat’s water dish.
The 3 Non-Water Drinks That Are Safe for Cats
Due to their finicky digestive system, water is the only completely safe beverage option for cats. However, in certain instances, goat’s milk, broth, and cantaloupe might be okay in small amounts.
1. Goat’s Milk
Even though we’ve seen cats drinking milk in cartoons and other popular culture, cats really shouldn’t drink a lot of milk because many of them can’t process it due to the lactose in it. If you want to indulge them, goat’s milk is a safer option than cow’s milk, though, because it contains less lactose. Plus, it’s a source of beneficial probiotics that support a healthy GI tract. Just make sure it’s plain, with no added sweeteners or flavorings, and only give them a little bit every once in a while after they are weaned. You can use a small teaspoon and even dilute it in water, to begin with. This will probably entice your cat to drink, but if you notice your cat experiencing an upset stomach after drinking goat’s milk, it’s best to avoid this drink too, since goat’s milk does still contain some lactose.
2. Cantaloupe Water
Some cats like the flavor of cantaloupe – and that’s actually okay. While you don’t want to give them more than a piece or two because of the sugar content, cantaloupe is made up of 89% water and has some healthy vitamins for your cat, as well as being a refreshing summertime snack. If you’re giving your cat cantaloupe, squeeze a couple of chunks directly into their water dish for the freshest serving. Cantaloupe is a great way to keep your cat hydrated if they want something other than water; just make sure they do not consume the seeds and rind nor lick the outside skin.
Another tasty, hydrating option for cats is broth, provided that it is low in sodium and free from seasonings such as onion and garlic. Broths and soups may or may not be okay, depending on the ingredients. Common seasonings such as garlic and onion in all forms are highly toxic to cats but are frequently included in commercially produced broths.
Most broths, soups, and canned meats may also be dangerous to some cats because of the high amount of sodium. Salt is a tricky ingredient for your feline since some cats benefit from extra sodium, but some do not. While a certain amount of sodium is necessary for life, a salt-laden diet is generally not recommended. If your cat is on an AAFCO-approved diet, they’re already receiving all of the sodium they need.
If you’re going to give your cat broth, it’s best to make sure that you pick up an option from your local pet store that is designed for pets instead of humans to ensure that the ingredients and salt content are safe. Alternatively, prepare your very own homemade bone broth for your cat.
Can Cats Have Milk?
Like humans, most felines are born with the ability to process lactose, but cats gradually lose the necessary enzyme to digest this sugar as they age. Cow’s milk contains an abundance of lactose, fat, and sugar. None of these ingredients are super beneficial for your cat. Felines are obligate carnivores that need cat milk as kittens only. After they’re weaned, cats should eat a meat-based diet with little carbohydrates, fats, or sugars from other sources, even if they’re not yet lactose intolerant.
What Drinks Not to Give Your Cat
Almost all of the drinks in our refrigerator or pantry pose potential health risks to our cats for various reasons, including most fruit juices. Here’s why:
1. Fruit Juices
Your cat’s digestive system doesn’t know what to do with fruit, since they don’t really need the high sugar content in a well-balanced diet. In addition to the unhealthy added sugars, some fruit juices are even potentially toxic, such as grape or orange juice.
2. Coffee and Tea
We may brew it to keep us going in the morning, but coffee and tea are cups of trouble to our pets. Caffeine is a toxic stimulant drug that can wreak havoc on your cat’s neurological, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. Excessive consumption can result in seizures and even death. Be sure to keep them away from the mugs of hot cocoa, too.
It doesn’t matter if it comes in a glass of wine or bottle of beer. All alcohol is highly toxic to both cats and dogs. If ingested, it can cause a cocktail of problems, including liver damage, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, and death.
Water is definitely the safest beverage to give our cats. Chronic urinary problems prove that our stubborn felines already aren’t drinking enough to keep them healthy. If you want to treat them to something a little extra fancy, you might indulge them with a small taste of goat’s milk or some cat-safe broth to keep their GI tract happy. Be sure to keep potentially toxic drinks out of your cat’s reach.
Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay