My cat, Taco, is obsessed with knocking over water glasses. Thankfully, most of the cups in my house are plastic, and Taco now has me conditioned to never leave a full cup unsupervised. But even though Taco is constantly creating puddles of water for me to mop up, he never seems to drink it. I started noticing that compared to my dog, Taco barely drinks at all. This, of course, had me concerned. My solution was to try new ways to ensure my house cat stays hydrated. If you have the same concern, check out these tips on how to get your cat to drink more water.
Cats are Especially Vulnerable to Dehydration
Drinking only the bare minimum of water is a habit that most cats have in common. It stems from their wild ancestors that lived in desert conditions and were forced to survive with little water. Our pampered cats don’t have to worry about finding their own food or water, but their biological urge to drink (or not) is still there.
When cats don’t drink enough water, they are at risk of dehydration. Even though they don’t feel thirsty enough to dip their tongue into their water bowl, their body craves water and can start to shut down without it. Cats that don’t drink enough water are more prone to health issues including kidney disease and bladder issues. A lifetime of being slightly dehydrated can take a serious toll on a cat’s overall health.
It’s important to monitor your cat’s water intake to prevent dehydration. If you notice your cat hardly ever takes a drink, try these tricks to encourage them to drink more water.
1. Have Multiple Water Bowls
If you live in anything bigger than a studio apartment, your cat should have multiple water bowls. Cats don’t always hang out in the same area, and they’re not likely to travel far for the sake of taking a drink. You’ll encourage your cat to drink more water simply by making more water available and easily accessible.
2. Don’t Put the Water Bowl By the Litter Box
A lot of cat people have “cat stations” in their homes where they keep all their kitty’s things. The litter box, food bowl, and water bowl, are all in one convenient area. This arrangement may suit your purposes, but it’s not ideal for your cat. A lot of cats flat-out refuse to drink from water sources that are near where they go to the bathroom. Their gut instinct (correctly) tells them that poop and drinking water should never mix. Even though the water in their bowl might be clean, you can encourage your cat to drink more water by moving the bowl away from the litter box.
3. Refresh Water Frequently
Even if the water looks clean to you, that doesn’t mean it meets your cat’s high standards. Cats typically prefer fresh, clean, cool water. Some cats like to dunk their toys in their water dish or drop bits of food into the bowl, and this can make keeping the water clean feel like a full-time job. Either way, your cat is more likely to drink more water if the water is fresh and clean.
4. Use a Shallow Bowl
It’s tempting to give your cat a deep water bowl you won’t have to refill that often, but cats actually drink more water when that water comes from a shallow container. This has to do with their whiskers. Whiskers are extremely sensitive, and they stick out pretty far from your cat’s face. They serve an important purpose, but they can also get in the way when your cat is trying to drink. A lot of cat’s don’t like the sensation of their whiskers hitting the sides of the bowl when they lower their heads to drink. It’s a lot more comfortable for them to drink out of shallow bowls that are less likely to squish their whiskers.
5. Get a Water Fountain
A cat water fountain can both improve the quality of water you give your cat and encourage them to drink more water. A lot of cats are more attracted to moving water than they are the stagnant stuff that sits in their dish. The movement suggests the water is cool, fresh, and clean. Cats also probably like the way it reflects light. If you already know your cat likes to drink water from a running faucet, there’s a good chance they’ll also like a water fountain.
Depending on your cat, you might have to try all of these tips at once to convince them to drink more water. We all know cats can be stubborn, but staying hydrated is too important to give in. Keep trying different techniques to get your cat to drink more water, and talk to your vet if you’re worried about their health.