Do Cats Need To Drink Water? It Depends On Their Diet

By Category: Do Cats Need To Drink Water?
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Do cats need to drink water? Well, yes and no. We need 3.5–4.5 ounces of moisture per five pounds of body weight per day. But that moisture doesn’t necessarily have to come from a bowl. If we eat an all- or mostly-wet-food diet, we’ll get most of the water we need from our food.

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Speed Read

Do cats need to drink water? Yes, but it doesn't necessarily have to come from the faucet or a bowl.

Does your cat love to drink from the faucet?

Do cats need to drink water, Thomasina? My cat recently switched to an all-wet-food diet, and now I never see him drinking his water. How much water does a cat need? Should I be concerned? Worried 

Hey, Worried!
Yes, cats need to drink water.
We should have between We need 3.5–4.5 ounces of moisture per five pounds of body weight per day. But all of it doesn’t necessarily have to come from a bowl! If he’s eating all wet food now, he’s probably getting all the moisture he needs from his food. But if you’re concerned, you could add a little bit of water to his food. 

Do Cats Need To Drink Water? Yes, But It Should Come From Their Food

Maybe you already know this… we’re descended from desert wild cats (I think that’s just so cool).
Back in the day, when our ancestors were living in the desert without any humans to give them bowls of water, they had to get most of the moisture their bodies needed from their food. In case you’re wondering, their food was mainly lizards (eeeuuu) and mice.

Thousands of years later, our bodies haven’t changed all that much. We still don’t have a strong thirst drive and depend on our food to provide most of the moisture we need to stay healthy and well hydrated. Since a can of wet food is about 78 percent water, you can see why your cat isn’t drinking much now. He doesn’t need to.

That said, cats who eat all or mostly dry food need to get the moisture they need from somewhere, so they don’t become dehydrated. That “somewhere” could be a big, stable bowl, a dripping faucet, a cat fountain or outside, a stream or puddle of rainwater. 

How To Know If Your Cat Is Dehydrated

You probably don’t have to be concerned about this, Worried. But for other cat “moms” whose cats eat all or mostly dry food, here’s how to know if your cat is dehydrated.

If your cat’s eyes are dull and look sunken into the sockets, he could be dehydrated.

Check his gums. If they’re dry and sticky instead of pink and moist, he might be dehydrated.

♦ Another way to know if your cat is dehydrated is use one finger to press lightly on his gums. If the area you touched doesn’t turn from white to pink in just one or two seconds, most likely he’s dehydrated.

♦ Drooling thick, ropey saliva could be a sign of dehydration.

♦ Constipation can also be a sign of dehydration.

♦ An easy way to know if your cat is dehydrated is to pull up the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades. If it doesn’t snap right back into place, your cat’s probably dehydrated.

Dehydration can be very serious. It can cause electrolyte loss. And the loss of electrolytes and fluids affect your cat’s circulation, digestion and his ability to remove toxins from his body. If you suspect your cat is dehydrated, he should see the vet. And be creative and determined in your efforts to get him to consume more moisture.

Step one: Get him on an all- or mostly-wet-food diet

Getting A Cat To Drink More Water

Take it from me, Getting a cat to drink more water can be challenging. Since we’re evolved from those cool dessert wild cats, we don’t have a strong thirst drive. But since cats need to drink water. here are some things to try. 
1. Put your cat’s water bowl as far from his food as possible. Another room is best! We taste our water, and if it has crumbs of food in it, most of us won’t want to drink it. We also prefer to not smell our food when we’re getting a drink.

2. Use filtered water. It tastes better than plain tap water and is healthier for your cat.

3. Some cats like to play with ice cubes or a toy in a bowl of water (that would not be me! I hate wet feet), and that encourages them to drink. But these swimming fish look like fun. A toy or a bowl with some art on the bottom is also helpful for cats who have trouble seeing water in a bowl. 

4. Experiment with bowls. We all have different preferences. I like our big glass salad bowl, and Muffitt likes drinking from a glass. Just use glass or ceramic bowls instead of plastic. Bacteria can grow in the tiny cracks in plastic bowls and cause chin acne. And make sure the bowl or glass is wide enough to be whisker friendly, too.

5. If your cat likes catnip, run some cold water over a leaf when  you’re filling his bowl or float the leaf in the water. 

6. Many of us prefer moving water. A fountain could be a way of getting your cat to drink more water. This is the one we like best because the bowl is big enough for us to easily get a drink. But beware: Some cats just like to play with the running water and drinkn somewhere else. Yes, Belle. I’m talking about you!

7. Give your cat fresh water every day, and wipe out the bowl. Stale water tastes yucky and smells bad.

I hope this helps, Worried. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get on my way now. All this dictation has made me thirsty, and I need a drink from the stream behind our condo. The fresh, running water tastes so good!

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