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Is Your Cat Drinking Enough Water?

February 20, 2013

Just like with you and me, hydration is an important part of your cat’s life.

Staying hydrated can lessen the risk of several health issues, plus water regulates your cat’s body temperature, and helps in the digestion of food and vitamins.

Photo courtesy Dave Dugdale

Unfortunately, making sure your cat drinks enough water is a bit of a challenge – especially when you think about their ancestors. Traditionally, cats would hunt and eat their prey, which would contain most of their water intake. But today we’ve trained our cats to eat dry kibble and drink from a bowl of water – a far cry from their ancestors’ diets.

Consequently, some cats live in a constant state of being mildly dehydrated. Most don’t drink that much, let alone get it from their dry food, which contains only about 10% water. This can cause a host of issues like bladder infections and crystal formation.

Just how much your cat needs daily can vary, so ask your vet for his opinion. I’ve seen some claim that cats only need about 2-4 ounces of fresh water daily (this can vary depending on your cat’s size and diet); others claim cats should drink 2.5 times the amount of kibble she eats. (So if your cat eats four ounces of dry food each day, she should drink ten ounces of water.)

One of the easiest ways to increase your cat’s daily water intake is to feed your cats canned food, which is about 80% water. It can be a bit more inconvenient and costly, but in the long run it can really be the easiest way to add more water to your cat’s diet while preventing disease.

So how do you know if your cat is drinking enough?

Photo courtesy MarkelConnors

There are several signs you can look for, including:

Your cat’s skin should be rather elastic. Gently pull your cat’s scruff at his neck. It should spring back into place. If it doesn’t, that could be a sign that your cat isn’t well hydrated.

Also look for a shiny coat. Dry flakes could be another indication of dehydration.

And don’t forget to check that litter box. Hydrated cats use the box two to three times per day and will leave medium-sized clumps.

If you’re concerned that your cat isn’t getting enough water to drink, don’t worry – here are some ideas on how to increase your cat’s water intake. Incorporate a few of the ideas into your cat’s routine, and watch to see which one your cat responds to best!

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