The Importance of Drinking Water for Your Cat

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Find food that fits your pet’s needs

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Find a cat food that fits your pet’s needs

Orange tabby sitting behind tan couch next to lilac plant

Just like humans, about two-thirds of a cat’s body is made up of water. Cats need a healthy amount of water to survive and to maintain their health. When living in the wild, they obtain water from the moisture content in their food. This includes prey like insects, birds, and rodents, which also has a high water content. Your domestic cat has a very different diet, and gets their water delivered in a bowl!


Cats can concentrate their urine, which means they can survive on smaller quantities of water than other animals. They also have a low thirst drive, so they don’t feel the need to drink water very often. If your cat is dehydrated, you may not know until a problem develops. Dehydration can lead to bladder problems and urinary diseases, including kidney disease and feline lower urinary tract disease. Other common conditions from dehydration are bladder inflammation (cystitis), tumours, ruptured bladder and stones. Bladder stones can lead to life-threatening urethral blockages, particularly in male cats.

There are a few ways you can tell if your cat is dehydrated. One of the best tests is to pinch your cat’s skin and gently pull upward. If the skin does not return to its normal position quickly your cat is probably dehydrated. Also, pay attention to signs of panting, depression, lack of appetite, sunken eyes, dry mouth, increased lethargy and an increased heart rate.

Encouraging your cat to drink water

The amount of water your cat needs to drink varies depending on size, activity level, health and diet, but ranges from 5 to 10 fluid ounces per day. If you have trouble trying to get your cat to drink water, there are a few ways to encourage your cat to drink.

Location is essential. Put a few water bowls around the house, in areas with low foot traffic. Water bowls should also not be placed anywhere near the litter box. This could make your cat uncomfortable and cause them to stop eating, drinking, and using the litter box. They may not even like having the food and water bowls near each other.

Some cats are really particular about drinking water. Your cat may like cold water better so drop a couple ice cubes in the bowl. If there is a tendency to tip it over, switch to a wider one with a rubber base. They may not like the taste of the water, so if using a plastic bowl, try switching to a metal, ceramic or glass bowl. You should also replace your cat’s water regularly to keep the water fresh.

Some pickier cats won’t use a bowl at all, and would rather drink straight from your tap. In the wild, cats will usually only drink moving water, as they have learned that this helps prevent them from getting sick. If you see your cat continually tipping over the water bowl and drinking the water as it spills across the floor, they’re probably more comfortable drinking moving water. There are a number of ways to provide your cat with moving water without all the cleanup of a spilled water bowl. Consider motion censored cat water fountains that constantly circulate the water, or allow her to drink from the tap or a running bath faucet, remember to keep the water at a cool temperature.

You can also add more moisture to your cat’s diet. Wet food has a much higher moisture content than dry. We recommend Science Plan Cat Food for delectable varieties of wet food to suit your cat’s tastes. If dry food is prefered you can try adding a little water to the kibbles. A combination of dry food and wet food is also an option.

Whichever method you choose, it is important to encourage your cat to drink water. While many may think milk is a good substitute, it is only a myth, and can even cause digestive problems. Getting your cat to drink water is just as important as feeding the right nutrition. If you think that your cat might be dehydrated, talk to your veterinarian.