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Can Cats Drink Salt Water? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Advice

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Can Cats Drink Salt Water? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Advice


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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We all grew up knowing that we shouldn’t drink salt water. That said, gargling with salt water seems to be a safe practice. It can even reduce tooth and gum pain. But we know better than to swallow the salt water for fear of becoming dehydrated or hurting our kidneys. It would make sense that this is the case for all living creatures on this planet. But this isn’t true! While we humans should never drink it to try and curb our thirst, cats definitely can drink salt water! Here’s what you should know.

cat face divider 2Cats Can Drink Salt Water and Survive

According to an article published in the American Journal of Physiology, cats have the biological capacity to process salt water in their bodies. Their kidneys are capable of secreting excessive sodium so the water can hydrate them. This doesn’t mean that cats can live on salt water and food alone. While not guaranteed, continual intake of so much salt could lead to the same dehydration that humans tend to experience after drinking salt water. Cats don’t need seawater to survive, but salt water can help them survive when times get tough.

On average, a 5-kg cat needs around 250 ml of water a day. 250 ml of seawater contains about 8.75 g of salt, and the fatal dose of salt for a 5-kg cat would be 20 g salt. In other words, this ability works within certain limits, so please don’t go out of your way to give salt water to your cat.

A proper species-appropriate diet and fresh, clean water from the tap are all it takes to keep your cat happy. However, since not all cats are effective at drinking water, they might need to get some of their hydration from ingesting moisture-rich food, such as fresh or wet cat food. But don’t worry if you see your cat drinking the salt water out of your swimming pool—unless they seem lethargic or sick afterward.

cat on the Black Sea in Odessa_Anna Vangorodska_shutterstock
Image Credit: Anna Vangorodska, Pixabay

Health Effects of Cats Drinking Salt Water

Although sodium is important for your cat’s health and they don’t seem to have problems dealing with excess amounts of it, they should get it in the form of animal meat, organs, and bones. Saltwater isn’t something that your cat should get used to drinking unless they are stranded someplace where fresh water isn’t available.

There is also no reason to add salt to your cat’s water to ensure that they get enough sodium in their diet. Making sure that they are fed high-quality food that’s formulated especially for cats should be all it takes to keep your cat filled up with the right nutrients needed to maintain a long and happy life.

What to Do If Your Cat Won’t Stop Drinking Salt Water

It’s nothing to worry about if your cat takes a drink from your saltwater fish tank or swimming pool now and then. But if you find that they are continuously doing so throughout the day, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. They could have developed a mental condition or a health problem that drives them to drink the salt water. Whatever the case, your vet can help you identify the problem and come up with a solution.

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The Bottom Line

A drink of salt water here and there isn’t likely to hurt your cat in any way. But keep an eye out for how much salt water they are drinking to make sure that they do not become obsessed with it. Clean fresh drinking water is the only kind of water that you should make plentifully available for your cat, both indoors and outside. Doing so should curb any interest that they have in salt water.

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Featured Image Credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969, Pixabay

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