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Is My Cat Drinking Enough Water?

Is My Cat Drinking Enough Water?

We all know how important water is, but even so, how many of us always get our 8 glasses a day? It’s even trickier to make sure your cat is drinking enough water. Cats originally came from desert environments, where access to water is scarce. As a result, they evolved to have very low thirst drives, meaning they often won’t feel the need to drink until they’re already dehydrated.

Signs of Dehydration In Cats

Just because cats don’t feel thirsty doesn’t mean dehydration isn't dangerous for them. It can prevent the flow of blood and oxygen to their organs and allow toxins to build up. In severe cases, it can cause brain swelling and kidney failure too.

One easy way to test for dehydration is to gently pinch the skin between their shoulders upwards, then let go. If it doesn’t snap back down straight away, this is a sign of dehydration and should be checked out by a vet.  

Keep an eye out for these other symptoms of dehydration:

  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Sunken or dull eyes
  • Dry mouth or dry, sticky gums
  • Elevated heartrate
  • Panting
  • No or low appetite
  • Hiding
  • Constipation

Cats need around 60ml of water per kilo of body weight every day. How, then, do you make sure your cat is drinking enough water, especially in the scorching summer heat?

Bowl Them Over

Indigo Oasis bowl for dogs and cats

Indigo Oasis bowl for dogs and cats - £10

Cats, as we all know, are fussy creatures. The problem may be as simple as their water bowl! Your cat may get annoyed if their whiskers are brushing against the bowl while they drink, so experiment with shallower or wider shapes.

Location can also be a problem. Cats won’t trust a water source too near to their food or litter box, because in the wild, this water would be dangerously contaminated. Also, if you have an anxious cat, try moving their bowl to a quiet room in the house. Try placing multiple bowls in different locations, to see if one appeals to your cat more than others.

Plastic bowls are a good, low-cost option for pet owners. But over time they can absorb odours and harbour bacteria in scratches, making the water taste odd to your cat. Replace their bowl regularly, or switch to stainless steel, ceramic, or even glass. Make sure their water is fresh and the bowl cleaned daily. Remember that cats have very sensitive noses, so rinse thoroughly to avoid any lingering smells. Tap water can also put cats off due to the chemicals used to treat it, so filtered water can be the answer for picky cats.

Make it More Interesting


Even humans can find water too bland for their tastes! Try adding a little flavour to kitty’s water dish with some low-sodium tuna juice or chicken broth – just make sure there’s no garlic, onions, or other dangerous ingredients. Your cat won’t be able to resist having a drink!

Fun Fact: Did you know cats can stay hydrated by drinking sea water? It’s still best to avoid adding extra salt to their diets, though.

Another great technique for the hot summer months is to pop a few ice cubes in their bowl. Cats often prefer chilled water, and they’ll love playing with and trying to catch the slippery cubes!

Alternatively, many cats prefer a moving water source. A water fountain might be just the thing to entice your cat to drink – but they might also enjoy taking a few laps from a running tap, too.

Food, Glorious Food

Since cats evolved to fulfil most of their water needs from their prey, the easiest way to ensure your cat is hydrated is to switch to wet food. Dry cat food contains less than 14% water, compared to wet food, which usually contains over 60%. Dry food does have great benefits for your cat’s teeth – and for your budget – so a mix of both in your cat’s diet is a good way to go. Remember to introduce changes to your cat’s diet slowly, and consult your vet first if your cat has any dietary or health concerns.

If you’re set on sticking to dry food for your cat, try adding a little water to moisten it and help your cat to take in more fluids. It’ll help bring out the flavour too, which is always a plus!

Have you ever seen your cat drink out of something strange?

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