Is your cat dehydrated? Cats need 60 ml of water per kilo of bodyweight. Felines rarely drink enough water to meet their daily requirements. But there are some really easy ways to get your cat to drink more water that can be introduced almost instantly.
Move your cat’s water bowl to a better position. Most felines are reluctant to drink water if they smell food or their litter box is nearby. Use a water fountain. Many cats consider plain, static water to be dull. If your pet remains water-averse, consider offering several, smaller meals of wet food per day. Also, chunks of textured fruit, such as watermelon, will hydrate your cat quickly.
If your cat refuses to drink water, you need to find an alternative way to keep your feline hydrated. Just because your cat ignores her water bowl doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. There are quick and easy modifications that anyone can make to get a cat to drink water again.
How to Check for Hydration in Cats
Hydration is important to felines. As Petcha explains, their bodies are made up of 80% water. This means that drinking enough water ensures that a cat’s internal organs function optimally.
If your cat becomes dehydrated, then various mental and physical functions will be affected. Common symptoms of dehydration in cats include:
- Sunken eyes
- Pale and discolored gums
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy and depression
However, the easiest way to detect feline dehydration is by testing the elasticity of her skin. Pinch the skin between your cat’s shoulders gently and release it.
If your pet is sufficiently hydrated, the skin will spring back into place. If your cat is dehydrated, it’ll very slowly return to its position.
Dehydration must never be ignored. If it’s left long enough, dehydration can be fatal to felines. Your cat should be encouraged to drink. If she refuses to drink water, a vet may need to provide IV fluids.
Why Is My Cat Not Drinking Water?
Cats are descended from desert animals. This means that they retain water well. However, they don’t retain it well enough not to drink all day. Why, in this case, are cats so reluctant to drink? There are three reasons why a cat may not want to drink. These are as follows:
- The water smells like it’s contaminated
- She finds plain water boring
- She doesn’t like their water bowl
My Cat Thinks Her Water is Contaminated
Cats are rightly fussy about the water that they drink. Felines in the wild are innately distrustful of stale and stagnant water sources, lest they end up sick/poisoned. This means that they will avoid drinking from a water source that they consider is likely to be contaminated.
This suspicion of contamination all comes from your cat’s sense of smell. Take tap water as an example. When humans drink tap water, we find it taste and scent-neutral. This is a result of the chlorine that has cleaned up the water. Many cats find the scent to be overwhelming.
It’s not just chlorine that upsets your cat’s sense of smell. Most pet owners keep food and water bowls side-by-side. If her water is kept too close to her food, the scents will mingle. This will leave your cat fearing contamination. The same applies if your cat’s water is too close to her litter tray.
My Cat Finds Plain Water Boring
Many cats find a bowl of plain water to be dull. It’s not how they would come across water in the wild, after all. That’s one of the reasons why some cats like to drink from the toilet bowl.
Most cats will tap the side of their water bowl to make the contents move. Your cat’s water bowl may move if it’s lightweight. This will likely make a scraping sound that upsets your cat. If your cat walks away from her water bowl without drinking, think about making the water more appealing.
My Cat Doesn’t Like Her Water Bowl
The bowl that houses your cat’s water can be a source of much consternation. Think about the material the bowl is made from, it’s size, and how full it is.
Be aware of any allergies that your cat may have. Many cats are allergic to plastic. If your cat’s water bowl is irritating or hurting your cat, she will learn not to drink from it.
Another way that a water bowl can hurt a cat is through whisker fatigue. As your cat’s whiskers received information all day, they grow tired and weary. If they then brush against the sides of the water bowl, it will hurt. Your cat may start to associate water with pain and steer clear.
You’ll need to ensure that you’re consistent with the quantity of water that you provide. Cats notice things like this. If her bowl is usually half-filled, she’ll be suspicious if it’s full to the brim. Equally, if you provide less water than usual, then she’ll wonder what’s going on. Consistency is essential.
How to Keep Your Cat Hydrated
We have now established how important hydration is to felines. However, explaining that your cat is rarely enough. Employ the following techniques to ensure your cat remains hydrated.
1) Switch Your Cat to Wet Food
Changing your cat’s diet isn’t always advisable. Felines can be very fussy about their food, after all. If your cat is reluctant to drink water, dry food will only aggravate the issue.
Most wet food is made up of around 10% water. This means that your pet will gain hydration from it. It’s also easy to obtain high quality, protein-rich wet foods from a local store.
The downside to this is that you cannot free-feed wet food. It needs to be served at a particular time and temperature. Once again, routine and consistency are essential to cats.
If your cat is used to grazing, the change may cause her stress at first. Of course, you can still leave small amounts of dry food. Just reduce the wet food allowance sufficiently. On balance, consuming wet food leaves your cat more likely to remain hydrated.
2) Offer Hydrating Treats
If you offer snacks that are high in water, your pet will be more hydrated. Most cats are indifferent to fruit as they cannot taste sweetness. However, watermelon chunks are the exception to the rule.
It gives off a distinct scent akin to meat, which tempts your cat to eat it. Watermelon is also 92% water. That’s a great way to ‘trick’ your cat into getting enough water and staying hydrated.
However, there are caveats that surround this fruit. It is a fruit that contains sugar and this can cause an upset stomach. Feed watermelon to your cat in moderation. Always remove the rind and seeds as these can be lethal to a cat if left intact.
3) Move or Change Your Cat’s Water Bowl
Your cat’s water bowl can be the reason why she won’t drink. Follow this checklist:
- Move your cat’s water bowl away from her food
- Move your cat’s water bowl away from her litter tray
- Provide multiple water bowls throughout the home, each in different rooms
- Use solid, immovable water bowls
- Ensure that your cat is not experiencing discomfort from her water bowl
4) Invest in a Water Fountain
As cats are often bored by static water, many pet owners invest in water fountains. These provide a constant stream of fresh water for your cat to enjoy.
If you get a water fountain, you can leave it running all day. This should start your pet drinking water. Just ensure that you clean it regularly to remove any food/debris.
5) Use Bottled Water
If the aroma of chlorine in tap water deters your cat, there’s a simple solution. Invest in bottled mineral water and use this to fill her bowl. This may seem expensive, but it’s cheaper than the veterinary bill for treating dehydration in cats. Alternatively, consider using a water purifier.
6) Leave Water Laying Around
Another fun fact about cats is that they always want to claim what isn’t theirs. Water in a bowl that belongs exclusively to her is boring to a mischievous feline. Consider tricking your cat into drinking through alternative water sources. You could achieve this with one of the following tricks:
- Take a sip of water and leave the glass unattended. Your cat may imitate your behavior.
- Leaving a tap lightly running and then walking away. Cats enjoy drinking from running water sources. If you tap on the faucet, your cat is likely to show more interest in it.
- Fill a clean sink with water, and then pull the plug and walk away. Your cat will relish the chance to lap at the swirling whirlpool of water.
All of these techniques will need to undergo safety protocols, so watch from a distance. Just keep out of your cat’s line of vision.
7) Feed Electrolyte-Heavy Meals
If your cat will not drink, it’s time to consider a liquid meal. Chicken and beef broth are ideal. These are also great meals if your cat has been unwell. That could be anything from feline flu to a stomach upset. Whenever a cat is sick, or has a stomach upset, they lose fluid.
A broth, whether chicken or beef, will replenish electrolytes. This will leave your cat feeling much better. Naturally, it also fills her belly.
8) Add Flavor to Your Cat’s Water
If your cat will not drink plain water, you could add flavor. A little scent can go a long way with a cat. Try a few drops of tuna juice from a can or a hint of meat stock.
You could use fruit infusions. While cats cannot taste sweetness, they can smell the fruit. Try infusing her water with a hint of strawberry. Just avoid citrus aromas as these smells will deter a cat.
9) Make Use of Ice Cubes
Ice cubes can provide a means of hydration during the hottest months of the year. The easiest way to convince a cat to take an interest in ice is through scent. Fill your ice cube tray with traces of gravy or another meat smell.
These gravy ice cubes can also be applied to food during the hottest months of the year. They’ll soon melt, providing a meat-flavored liquid to rehydrate your cat quickly. However, some cats are deterred by cold temperatures and will walk away from their food bowl.
10) Use a Syringe
Pick up a form syringe from a pharmacy or a vet, and fill it. Don’t pour an entire syringe of water into your cat’s mouth at once as this can be dangerous. Cradle your cat and squeeze out a little water at a time. Typically, 4ml per pound of body weight each hour is optimal.
How Much Water Does a Cat Need Per Day?
According to MedicAnimal, cats should drink 60ml of water for every kg of their body weight. The average domestic housecat weighs around 10lbs, so that’s 4.5 kg. Larger cats will need more, and all pets must replenish their water during the summer.
That’s a little less than half a pint of water. Remember that not all of that hydration needs to come from her water bowl. Wet food and hydrating treats can also be used. Wet food is advisable for a cat that doesn’t drink enough water. Dry foods and kibble can be dehydrating for cats.